The new NHS Commissioning Board should develop a relationship with pharmaceutical and medical technology suppliers "which supports its strategic approach to innovation and development," according to a new document outlining NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson's initial thinking on the Board.
All the proposals contained within the document - entitled Developing the NHS Commissioning Board - remain subject to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill. However, Sir David writes that he is publishing his initial thinking now because he wants to "give a sense of direction to stakeholders, partners, pathfinders and staff who may potentially work for the Board so I can continue, through co-production, to challenge and test the design principles which underpin the Board operations."
In the paper, Sir David - chief executive designate of the new Board - concentrates on his vision for the culture, style and leadership of the Board, as well as on the processes it needs "to make sure it achieves maximum health benefit for the nation from around £80 billion of resources invested," he says.
The document notes that, alongside its key relationship with clinical commissioning groups, the Board will need to work with a range of other organisations at national and local level to achieve its goals. These groups fall into two broad categories - those organisations to which the Board will be accountable and those with which it will work in partnership.
The Board will be accountable, once it is fully established, to the Department of Health and its Ministers for delivering the agreed mandate and it will, through the Department, be accountable to the Treasury. "Finally, the Board will answer to patients and the public for progress through its annual report and through more general communication and engagement," says Sir David.
Its most important partnership relationships will be with:
- patient groups, including Healthwatch England and other key representative groups, which will also have a strong voice at national level;
- the healthcare professionals, whose expertise and input will need to be built into the workings of the Board;
- healthcare providers, including those from primary, secondary and social care at local level, from specialist providers at regional and national level and from the public, private and voluntary sectors;
- local government, which will need to work closely with the Board - this is critical, given local government's increased strategic role through the new Health and Wellbeing Boards, the new arrangements for Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies, plus the need for joint working on emergency resilience and promoting joint commissioning;
- industry, including pharmaceutical and medical technology suppliers, developing relationships which support the Board's strategic approach to innovation and development; and
- other national organisations, which will be accountable directly to the Department and to Ministers, including Monitor, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the NHS Trust Development Authority, Public Health England, Health Education England, the Health Research Authority, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS and Social Care Information Centre.
Subject to passage of the Bill, Sir David envisages a timetable for the Board's establishment which will begin with publishing arrangements for senior and priority appointments this month and, in October, setting up the Board in shadow form as a Special Health Authority.
By October 2012, it is envisaged that the Board will be established as an independent statutory body and in the following April take on its full formal statutory accountabilities, he says.