Concerns remain as NHS commissioning board established in shadow form

The NHS Confederation warned that the NHS Commissioning Board (NCB) still faced potential 'bear traps' ahead of its establishment in 'shadow' form on Monday.

Mr Farrar: ‘NCB faces a number of potential bear traps.'
Mr Farrar: ‘NCB faces a number of potential bear traps.'

The Board, led by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson, becomes a shadow NHS special health authority from 31 October, and will become a statutory organisation from April 2012, a year ahead of the date when clinical commissioning groups will assume full control of NHS budgets.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said the NCB must be a success otherwise the NHS as a whole will face a 'very big problem'.

He said in its early actions the NCB must work to avoid the danger of being seen as unaccountable to the public and overbearing to the health service.

It must therefore work to demonstrate public accountability and clinical leadership and show that it will not hold on to power or drown commissioners in guidance and bureaucracy, he said.

He added that the Board must also empower new clinical commissioners, not stifle their enthusiasm.

Mr Farrar said: ‘The creation of a national body with a single-minded focus on making the system work for patients and taxpayers is a major opportunity. However, the Board faces a number of potential bear traps.

‘The Board will require the strength and vision to lead the system through the most significant financial challenges the NHS has ever faced. It will need to support new commissioners in managing complex, strategic change including the reconfiguration of many acute hospital services.

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