NHS England and NHS Improvement have revealed their intention to work much more closely together to maximise efficiencies and reduce duplication.
While legislation prevents a formal merger between the two organisations, the plan is to combine forces for functions where integration is possible and beneficial.
From September 2018 (subject to board approval), the groups intend to increase integration and alignment of national programmes and activities, led by one team where possible, as well as integration of NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams, to be led in each case by one regional director working for both organisations.
A more joined-up approach across NHS England and NHS Improvement will enable the groups to work much more effectively with commissioners and local healthcare providers “to break down traditional boundaries between different parts of the NHS and between health and social care”.
It would also allow for use of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s collective resources more effectively and efficiently to support local health systems and the patients they serve, and remove unnecessary duplication, the groups note.
“The public see the National Health Service as a single organisation so, as we work to improve care for patients, it is right that the national leadership of the NHS work more closely. Together we are more than the sum of our parts,” said Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England and Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, commenting on the move.
“Our members have been seeking greater co-ordination of activity and policy between national organisations for some time, and it is important that [arms length bodies] hold themselves to the same standards relating to collaboration and integration as they hold the NHS,” said Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
“This is therefore a positive step, and we look forward to representing our members’ needs in the further work to realise this announcement.”