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New NHS bodies must help not hinder NHS leaders 

As several of the new NHS bodies begin to take on new responsibilities today (1 October), the NHS Confederation has urged them to have a collective impact because a "myriad of conflicting policies" will hinder, not help, NHS leaders.

hospital ward staffThe Government's NHS reforms have created a range of new organisations to run the NHS in future, with at least seven impacting on the NHS day-to-day.

As several of these new organisations start to take root today, amid a changing NHS landscape in which many people still face uncertainty, the NHS Confederation says its members are ready to face the challenges positively. But success will depend on listening to the concerns of NHS leaders and empowering local leaders to do the right thing for their patients.

Mixed reaction

Our recent survey of NHS chief executives and chairs revealed mixed reactions concerning the readiness of some of the new bodies to effectively discharge their responsibilities in 2013, when several become fully operational. 

While 68 per cent were confident about the readiness of Monitor in its new role as economic regulator, and a majority also confident about the NHS Commissioning Board and the NHS Trust Development Authority, 80 per cent were not confident about Healthwatch, with two-thirds unconvinced about the Care Quality Commission.

Three-part prescription

Writing in the Health Service Journal (HSJ), Mr Farrar has offered a three-part prescription for the new organisations to make sure they provide leadership and support to the service. Emphasising the points again today, Mr Farrar said;

“To be successful, these new organisations must listen – and keep listening – to NHS leaders. They must avoid overwhelming NHS organisations with complexity and instead focus on the critical overarching concerns that will matter most in the end.

“It’s essential that national bodies ensure they are driving towards the same goals, not subjecting the NHS to a myriad of conflicting policies. Otherwise the NHS will be pulled in different directions and unable to make progress.

“They need to minimise the burdens their policies place on the system by making it as easy as possible to comply. With so many new structures, the danger of a tsunami of new bureaucracy is obvious. The NHS must stay focused on patient care, not repeatedly providing information in different formats to multiple bodies.” 

Taking root

From today, the following bodies will be established or take on new functions and responsibilities:

  • NHS Commissioning Board – established as an independent body; it will carry out limited functions such as establishing and authorising CCGs until it is fully established in April 2013
  • Healthwatch – and local HealthWatch are established
  • Health Education England – operating in shadow form, taking on some functions
  • Monitor – starts to take on its new regulatory functions
  • NHS Trust Development Authority – taking on responsibility for non-executive appointments to NHS trusts and for overseeing the 2013/14 planning round
  • Clinical commissioning groups –  some clinical commissioning groups will become statutory bodies and by April 2013, they will take on full responsibility for commissioning strategy.

Find out more

The NHS Handbook 2012/13 is the must-have guide to help you navigate and make sense of the changing shape of the NHS. Find out all you need to know about the changing NHS landscape

Read Mike's article in full on the HSJ website.

Find out more about the NHS reforms and transition to the new system.

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Francesca Reville
020 7799 8633

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