NHS Providers on proposed legislative changes

01 March 2019

Responding to the engagement process on proposed legislative changes, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"The NHS has spent the last five years trying to find ways to create integrated local health and care systems within a legislative framework based on competition and individual institutions. This isn't a straightforward task. It adds risk, uncertainty and complexity to the job of frontline leaders already grappling with significant financial, demand and workforce challenges.

"As the service works to fulfil the ambitions of the NHS long term plan, it makes sense to review whether we can make enabling changes through legislation, recognising that there are other possible ways of addressing the tensions between the current legislative framework and the desired direction of future travel.

It is vital that we consider any changes carefully, work through the detail and co-create any changes with those affected, as the Health and Social Care Select Committee has suggested.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"It is vital that we consider any changes carefully, work through the detail and co-create any changes with those affected, as the Health and Social Care Select Committee has suggested. We therefore welcome NHS England's and NHS Improvement's first step in announcing this engagement exercise and their commitment to a process of co-production.

"We will consult NHS foundation trusts and trusts, but we think there are proposals here that the provider sector will welcome and find helpful. We will wish to explore with providers the cumulative effect of the proposals, and we will want to talk to our members about two particular areas.

We will wish to explore with providers the cumulative effect of the proposals, and we will want to talk to our members about two particular areas.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"First, the principle of trust boards being completely accountable for all that happens within their trust, and having the appropriate power and freedom to discharge that responsibility effectively, is central to the way the NHS currently works. It is the key governance mechanism to manage the level of safety, clinical, operational and financial risk inherent in the frontline delivery of hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services. As much as we all support integrated care within local health and care systems, we must approach anything that cuts across this clear trust board accountability with caution. We will therefore want to look very carefully at the proposals for NHSE/I to take powers to direct trust level merger and acquisition activity and set their capital limits.

"The second is how we manage the transition from an NHS legal framework based on competition and individual institutions to one of collaborative, integrated local health and care systems. The changes proposed are targeted as they seek to avoid a wholesale restructure and another top down re-organisation. However, they do create something of a halfway house and we must ensure that this half way house would deliver more effectively for patients than what we currently have, and that it would be robust, appropriate and consistent. We will therefore want, for example, to carefully consider proposals such as joint committee decision making between commissioners and providers and the ability of the Secretary of State to create new integrated trusts in this context."

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