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NHS announces top-tier collaboration and integration

NHS England and NHS Improvement to merge some teams, cut duplication and improve consistency

Mark Gould

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

NHS England (NHSE) and NHS Improvement (NHSI) which oversees NHS trusts, foundation trusts and independent providers of NHS care, have announced plans which will see the two organisations working closer together.

As NHSE and NHSI still have distinctive legal and statutory responsibilities and accountabilities a formal merger is not possible. Instead it proposes to combine forces for those functions where the two can better work as one.

The changes will mean some regional and local team mergers to cut duplication but NHSE would not say whether the changes would mean job cuts.

"Over the coming months we will work with our staff and our partners on the details of how this new approach will work, design these joint ways of working and agree how we will measure success with all of the organisations that they will affect."

It cited a number of examples of existing joint working including a number of joint national and regional appointments and a single national programme for urgent and emergency care, winter planning and A&E performance.

"We have one NHS: commissioners and providers in each part of the country are serving the same people, and we need to use the resources that parliament gives the NHS to greater benefit for local patients. This requires a much stronger focus on collaboration and joint working nationally as well as in local health systems."

From September this year NHSE says there will be increased integration and alignment of national programmes and activities - under one team where possible.

NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams, will be led in each case by one regional director working for both organisations, and a move to seven regional teams to underpin this new approach.

NHSE says a more joined-up approach will enable the two bodies to ‘speak with one voice’, and to work much more effectively with commissioners and providers in local health systems to break down traditional boundaries between different parts of the NHS and between health and social care.

NHSE chief executive Simon Stevens, and Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHSI said: “The public see the National Health Service as a single organisation so, as we work to improve care for patients, it is right that the national leadership of the NHS work more closely. Together we are more than the sum of our parts.”

And Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “Our members have been seeking greater co-ordination of activity and policy between national organisations for some time, and it is important that arm's length bodies (ALBs) hold themselves to the same standards relating to collaboration and integration as they hold the NHS.

“This is therefore a positive step, and we look forward to representing our members’ needs in the further work to realise this announcement.”

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