Streamlined decision-making must not mean loss of focus on key tasks

22 November 2021

Responding to the announcement that Health Education England (HEE), NHSX and NHS Digital are to merge with NHS England and NHS Improvement, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

"There is a logic to placing overall responsibility for NHS workforce issues, which are so central to the success of the NHS, with NHS England and NHS Improvement. Similarly, we also understand the logic of centralising the leadership of NHSX and NHS Digital into NHS England and NHS Improvement.  This is a further step in streamlining national decision-making processes within the arms-length bodies created by the 2012 Health and Care Act.

"Trust leaders tell us that workforce issues are currently their biggest problem and that digital transformation is essential to improve patient care and health outcomes. So enabling NHS England and NHS Improvement to take responsibility for these areas, alongside their core responsibility for the successful day to day operation of the NHS, makes sense.

"The challenge for NHS England and NHS Improvement will be to ensure sufficient focus on the important, complex and detailed work being undertaken by these organisations in their current separate forms. HEE has a key role in the commissioning and oversight of health education and training. NHSX and NHS Digital have key roles in the successful operation of core NSH digital services and in enabling NHS digital transformation.

"But we should remember that the NHS still desperately needs a fully funded long term workforce plan, irrespective of where accountabilities sit. NHS Providers also looks forward to continuing to support trust boards with their digital agendas."

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