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Health and Care Bill should be opportunity to reset overly centralised NHS

Response to Health Secretary Matt Hancock's comments on the ability to sign off appointments of senior managers in the NHS.

17 March 2021

Responding to Health Secretary Matt Hancock's comments to the Health and Social Care Select Committee on the ability to sign off appointments of senior managers in the NHS, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “It is unclear what problem the Secretary of State is trying to solve by expressing this intention.

“The Health and Care Bill should be an opportunity to reset what is already an overly centralised NHS and create much greater opportunities to let local leaders collaborate and lead. 

“Local NHS organisations already have clear processes for how they recruit and appoint senior leaders, which are supported by good governance and informed by the Nolan Principles of Public Life, albeit there is important work to do to increase the diversity of NHS Boards.  

“There is clearly considerable work to do to complete the legislation and supporting guidance for these reforms, which enjoy the broad support of our membership.  The need for accountability of the NHS as the nation’s largest public service is understood.  

“It is important, however, that there is transparency about where the Secretary of State uses their powers of intervention or appointment, and where these do and do not support local decisions and NHS recommendations and why. This will reassure NHS leaders that there will not be unnecessary overreaches of ministerial power.”