NHS Future Forum Report - new timetable needed for reforms

The listening exercise heard major concerns about the pace of change of the NHS reforms - some complaining that change was happening too fast and others too slow.

Forum chairman Professor Steve Field said the challenge to the forum was to strike a balance to ensure that the pace of change would be determined by what was in ‘the best interests of quality and safety and therefore the best interests of patients’.

The report recommends that for the period of transition the principle of ‘earned autonomy should prevail’.

And the DoH has been asked to set out a new transition timetable to provide clarity for all staff.

The key recommendations on the pace of change are:

  • The NHS Commissioning Board should be established as soon as possible.
  • Those commissioning consortia that have demonstrated they are ready to take control of budgets and the commissioning process should be allowed to do so from April 2013.
  • Where commissioning consortia are not ready, the NHS Commissioning Board should commission services on their behalf but provide all necessary support to enable the transfer of power to take place as swiftly as possible.
  • All areas should have shadow health and wellbeing boards as soon as possible
  • Healthwatch England should be established as soon as possible
  • Changes to the system of education and training must not be rushed. However, Health Education England should become operational as soon as possible to provide focus and leadership while the rest of the education and training architecture is planned.
  • All NHS Trusts should continue to work towards achieving Foundation Trust status by 2014 as authorisation is about clinical and financial sustainability. However, 2014 should not be an absolute cut-off date in the Bill.

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