Adams replaces Matt Tee who left to work as a consultant in April 2003. Deputy director of comms Rebecca Gray had been standing in as acting director since.
Adams will managing the 20-strong comms team, which includes a six-strong press office, publications staff, events and internal comms and public affairs. Adams reports to CEO Anna Walker.
Under Adams are two deputies: Gray, who heads marketing and publications, and Graham Capper, who is leading external comms and strategy.
Adams said: ‘Our first major project will be writing the State of Healthcare report for parliament which will come out in June or July, and later in the year we will be working out the second stage of the complaints process. [The challenge is] we have a very broad range of work that we have to do and, being a new organisation, it is new work.’
The HDA is not currently looking for a replacement for Adams.
The position is being filled by Dr Tonya Gillis on an interim basis, who reports to director of communications Geoff French.
The Health Commission opened last week and replaced the Commission for Health Improvement, but with responsibilities for inspecting the private and voluntary sector as well as the NHS.
The Health Commission rebranded from its original title The Commission for Health Audit and Inspection (Chai), which was thought to be too similar to its predecessor the Commission for Health Improvement (Chi).
A spokeswoman said: ‘The Health Commission is easier for people to remember.’