Independent Chair Appointed to Berkshire West’s Accountable Care System

Berkshire West have appointed an independent chair to accountable care with the intention of ensuring that all parties involved in the system are held “mutually to account”.

The incumbent is Luke March, who was previously the chair of Salisbury Foundation Trust from 2005 to 2013, and who has also been deputy chair of Barts and the London Trust.

March has also been in position as a non-executive director in the NHS since 1998.

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is one of the six separate organisations involved in the accountable care system in the region.

Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust and Berkshire Healthcare FT have also jointly agreed to deliver care to patients across Reading and West Berkshire.

Cathy Winfield, chief officer for the Berkshire West CCGs federation, has already confirmed that all parties involved in the system have voluntarily agreed to work together, while also retaining independence.

Despite this new collaboration, all parties will remain separate statutory entities.

The role of the chair is intended to ensure that independence is part of the governmental discussions in delivering the program in Berkshire.

And Winfield believes that cooperation will be central to the way that the system operates going forward.

“It’s not about one person being able to tell people what to do, that is not really the aim of the game,” Winfield commented.

March has already indicated in public comments that his position as chair should be considered a facilitatory role.

With an intention to facilitate discussion and co-operation in the Berkshire region, March indicated that he will attempt to “find a middle course” should disagreements arise.

Despite the prominence of this new position, it has also been emphasised that March will not be imbued with the power to mandate co-operation between clinical commissioning groups and / or trusts.

March indicated that the position was attractive to him due to the unique setup in the system, indicating that plans related to this new program can be considered very ambitious, but nonetheless well worth implementing.

Meanwhile, the organisations involved in this new collaborative agreement have hired PriceWaterhouseCooper in order to assist with the creation of an alternative approach to payments.

This will address the way that resources are shared between the providers, finding new and innovative ways for organisations to work together.

“The new financial framework, which will also allow the ACS board to see a financial report of the whole system, will enable the group to flow resource to the right parts of the system… to bring a rebalancing of primary, acute and community care into a reality,” Winfield asserted.

Conducting operations with frugality will be high on the list of priorities, with NHS trusts having accrued a collective deficit of approximately £2.5 billion in the most recent financial year.


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