On the day briefing: Next steps on aligning the work of NHS England and NHS Improvement

NHS Improvement (NHSI) and NHS England (NHSE) have published a joint paper setting out proposals for aligning the work of the two organisations. This On The Day Briefing summaries the proposals, and our views on the proposals, which include:

 NHSI and NHSE will also align their core processes so that all interactions with the frontline NHS are conducted once. This includes establishing a single financial and operating planning process for the NHS, a single performance management process and the alignment of regulatory interventions, a single internal management process and a single process for establishing and reviewing national strategic programmes such as cancer, mental health and digital. The two bodies will establish a joined up and aligned approach to reporting and sharing information about the system.

There will however be some functions that remain distinct to each organisation. NHSI’s regulatory functions in relation to pricing, competition and patient choice, and its hosting of the Healthcare Safety and Investigation Branch, and NHSE’s responsibility for tariff currency development, commissioning of specialised services and primary care, and Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR), will remain separate and distinct.

These proposals represent a significant change for NHSE, NHSI and the wider NHS. Over time they could herald a profound shift in the way the NHS is led at national and regional level and how trusts experience that leadership on the ground. We think they offer significant potential benefits, but there are also significant risks, and a lot depends on successful implementation and some major cultural/behavioural changes that are far from assured. We have set out the potential benefits, the risks and the critical success factors, as we see them, in this On The Day Briefing.

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