NHS England and NHS Improvement have appointed joint regional directors.
The thinking behind this is to pilot the concept of a more integrated approach between the two critical healthcare organisations.
Under the new arrangement, a joint director for the South East and South West have been appointed.
Anne Eden, currently NHSI’s regional managing director for the South and Jennifer Howells, who is currently NHS England’s regional director for the South West and its interim for the South East, will take up these positions.
The move will be seen as part of an overall ethos aiming for increased collaboration in the healthcare system.
Sharing regional directors has been considered by the authorities for some time, with separate roles still existing in London, the North, the Midlands and the East.
It is acknowledged, though, that the conflicting responsibilities of the two organisations will make such a move complex.
Matthew Swindells, NHS England Director of Operations and Information, has informed interested parties that the alteration to working is neither a formal legal nor employment change.
Swindells outlined the way that the process will operate once it goes live.
“From autumn onwards, we will continuously evaluate the changes to tweak and improve the operating model before deciding whether any changes should become permanent, at which point they will become subject to consultation.”
NHS England’s Director of Operations and Information outlined how this new arrangement fits into the overarching vision of the two organisations.
“Since the launch of STPs in early 2016, NHS England and NHS Improvement have been urging local health systems to put on one side their organisational interests and to focus on joint working to improve the service we provide to the public and reduce costs.”
And Swindells suggested that the new approach will help NHS organisations deliver improved results.
“Increasingly, across the country, we are seeing primary, community, acute service and CCGs break out of the constraints created by the ‘payment by results’ payment system and find solutions that are the best possible for their patients, even if the costs and benefits are not evenly distributed between the NHS organisations.”
In an email to NHSI staff, Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHSI, indicated his belief that this new collaborative way of working would produce superior results.
“This approach will help us to get the very best out of two highly talented teams. There are lots of things we will need to work through together from now until the autumn to inform how this will work, such as on accountability and objectives, and we’ll learn from the shared roles we already have in place.”