Will restructuring the NHS regions improve health services?
NHS leaders have released plans to create seven joint NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams led by directors tasked with developing more integrated local leadership.
The directors will be responsible for the performance of all NHS organisations in their region in relation to quality, finance and operational performance. Their role will be to achieve more integrated and sustainable models of care through the development of local sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care partnerships (ICSs).
Senior roles are to be assigned as soon as September, with all necessary changes to the current system made by the end of the financial year.
A paper discussed at May’s joint NHS England/NHS Improvement board meeting says the ‘locus’ of decision making will be centred on regional directors and their teams as ‘translators’ between national and local health and care systems. National teams will provide support and intervention where agreed.
At present there are five regions: North, Midlands and East, London, South East and South West. The plan is for the London, South East and South West regions to remain in the current configuration. The other four regions, which will produce new regional boundaries, will be:
- North West
- North East and Yorkshire
- East of England
The board paper adds that the move will ‘mobilise national implementation resource for the forthcoming NHS 10-year plan’, a financial and strategic settlement promised by the government, for which more details should be available in the next few weeks.
Plans include NHS England and NHS Improvement establishing an NHS executive group, membership of which will comprise all national directors and regional directors.
Also, a body provisionally titled the NHS Assembly will be created, drawn from national clinical, patient and staff organisations; the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; NHS arm’s-length bodies; leaders from ICSs, STPs, trusts, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities. It will be a forum for members to oversee progress on the NHS five year forward view and help co-design the NHS 10-year plan.
At a national level the functions of NHS England and NHS Improvement will increasingly align, says the paper.
NHS Improvement: Board papers for 24 May 2018 board meeting