Responding to media reports that the Government is set to announce another shake up of the NHS in the form of academy-style hospitals or ‘reform trusts’ to further improve performance, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“This kind of speculation is very unhelpful as NHS leaders have spent the past two years grappling with the immense pressures and fall out of COVID-19 and we are already taking forward the biggest legislative reforms to the NHS in a decade.
“A key question that ministers will need to answer is how these new ideas fit into the direction of travel set out in the Health and Social Care Bill that is making its way through Parliament. On top of this we are also expecting the imminent publication of a white paper on health service integration which will have major implications for NHS organisations and leadership. These reforms are geared towards empowering local systems to work in partnership so the risk is that these latest ideas undermine this agenda before it has even been fully implemented.
“These ideas also appear to ignore the fact that NHS leaders are already subject to significant checks and balances on their performance through the Care Quality Commission and are continually looking for ways to improve performance. We already have the tools in place to empower high performing providers through foundation trust status, as well as tackling under performance through the special measures regime. A number of providers also operate in group models to ensure they are consistently achieving high standards across different providers that are connected to a shared leadership.
“The government owes it to the NHS and wider public to bring coherence to their reform agenda to ensure NHS leaders and their teams are not distracted by ill-thought-through attempts to grab headlines.”