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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 15:25 GMT
New top civil servant appointed
Dame Gillian Morgan
Dame Gillian Morgan is expected to start her new job in May
The Rhondda-born head of a health service organisation has been appointed as Wales's top civil servant.

Dame Gillian Morgan, 54, has been named as the Welsh Assembly Government's new permanent secretary.

Dame Gillian, who hails from Llwynypia, is currently chief executive of the NHS Confederation and is expected to take over the post in May.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said the appointment could only be described as a "major coup for Wales".

Dame Gillian will succeed Sir Jon Shortridge, who steps down in April.

She said she would use one of Wales' most powerful jobs to deliver better public services.

Dame Gillian has been chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health trusts and boards, since February 2002.

It follows a career in medicine and management, ranging from work as a GP and in hospitals, to executive and public health roles.

'Clarity of direction'

She was part of the team led by Sir Jeremy Beecham in 2006 to advise the assembly government on public services reforms.

"I am delighted to be returning to Wales at this exciting time in its history," she said.

"We are about to embark on the next phase of devolution, as the assembly government uses its new legislative powers to drive forward its distinctive made in Wales agenda," she added.

Mr Morgan said Dame Gillian was a "highly respected figure," with an "enviable track record of leadership and delivery".

"We can all take pleasure in being able to welcome her home to Wales and I look forward immensely to working with her."

The NHS Confederation's chairman Bryan Stoten paid tribute to her "thinking and clarity of direction."

He added: "I will miss her enormously as will her friends and colleagues in Whitehall, Westminster and throughout the NHS."

Outgoing permanent secretary Sir Jon Shortridge wished her every success.

"The fact that we have attracted someone of her calibre demonstrates that devolution has really put Wales on the map," he said.

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