Seasoned campaigner Louise Ansari has been appointed as the new National Director at Healthwatch England.

Louise has a strong background in health communications, social policy and local services.

For the past five years, she has been Director of Communications and Influencing at the Centre for Ageing Better, having previously held senior leadership roles at Diabetes UK and Lambeth Council, and also working as a media specialist at Which? Magazine, the Food Standards Agency, and the Health Education Authority.

Louise will start work on 14 February 2022, leading the network of Healthwatch services that last year supported more than two million people to share their experience of care or to access advice and information.

She will take over from former National Director Imelda Redmond CBE, who has stood down after five years in the role.

Announcing the appointment, Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England, said:  “I’m thrilled to be welcoming Louise as our National Director. Her vast experience across communications, policy, evidence and health programmes, combined with her ability to identify opportunities to help create social change, will build on what we have achieved over the last four years.

“Healthwatch has a vital role in championing the views of patients, and I’m confident that Louise will advance our work to help tackle the challenges the NHS faces, reduce health inequalities and deliver the better care we all want to see.”

Louise added: “I feel privileged to have been appointed Healthwatch England’s National Director. I am passionate about and committed to ensuring that those who are most disadvantaged are heard across every level of health and care.

“Healthwatch’s unique position to listen and champion people’s voices in health and care will be more important than ever as services recover from the pandemic and start to tackle the health inequalities that COVID-19 has starkly highlighted. I look forward to plotting a course towards a better future with our staff and volunteers and partners across the sector.”