The long-awaited NHS Improvement organisation has finally launched, with Monitor, the Trust Development Authority and numerous other regulatory bodies being replaced immediately.
NHS Improvement will amalgamate the work previously done by Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority, Patient Safety, the National Reporting and Learning System, the Advancing Change Team and the Intensive Support Teams.
In addition, the new organisation will be tasked with ensuring that healthcare providers are held accountable when appropriate, while offering support to these critical institutions.
Richard Murray, director of policy at the King’s Fund, wrote a blog post on the subject in which he welcomes the introduction of NHS Improvement, while also outlining some of the challenges that the organisation faces.
“The current stresses in the NHS are clearly worst in the provider sector. To overcome this, NHS Improvement will need to provide an honest assessment of what NHS providers can realistically deliver and ensure that its voice is heard. This does not mean becoming the national representative of NHS providers, but it does mean ensuring national plans are built on a solid understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the provider sector.”
Jim Mackey, former CEO of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has been appointed CEO of NHS Improvement.
But collaboration has been placed at the heart of the ethos of this new organisation, and the newly created body will therefore be advised by panels of NHS trust chief executives and chairs.
NHS Improvement is also intended to play a major role in the efforts of the NHS to address its current financial malaise.
Central to the decision to merge Monitor and the Trust Development Authority was the government’s plan to take a new approach to economic management of the health service.
Although the primary purpose of NHS Improvement is to be a regulator, the organisation will also play a central role in aiding tough decisions regarding financial and clinical sustainability.
It is also hoped that NHS Improvement can assist organisations and health economies with embedded systems for improvement.
The creation of NHS Improvement will also resolve some confusion in the NHS regarding the responsibilities of various central bodies.
With Monitor, the Trust Development Authority and the Care Quality Commission having previously possessed remits that somewhat overlapped, it is hoped that the simplification achieved by the creation of NHS Improvement will lead to more efficient operations in the health service as a whole.
The new organisation will be helping providers embed processes to drive quality and safety, backed up by managerial and clinical leadership development.
Monitor had previously been established in 2004 under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003, which made it responsible for authorising, monitoring and regulating NHS foundation trusts.