Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has been appointed as the new medical director of the NHS.
Sir Bruce, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon, will take on the role of championing clinical engagement throughout the service and will also act as deputy chief medical officer.
NHS chief executive David Nicholson said: "The NHS is just over half way through a major programme of investment and reform, but we can only transform services if our staff understand and are engaged in what we are trying to do.
"I am delighted that Bruce Keogh has accepted the post of NHS medical director. This will put the department's management of the NHS on a stronger clinical footing and support the NHS locally to provide better clinical leadership - helping to support clinicians to drive change at a local level in order to drive improvements for the benefit of patients."
Sir Bruce said: "I'm looking forward to my new role - it's an exciting opportunity to harness the expertise, experience and talents of clinicians working on the front line to guide and implement the continuing transformation of the NHS for the benefit of our patients.
Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: "Bruce will be an integral part of the department's world class clinical leadership team and I look forward to working with him on key priorities such as patient safety and the quality of health services."