As part of a new ‘Success Regime’, healthcare regulators in England are stepping in to tackle under-performing NHS services across three regions in a system-wide approach that also encompasses community and social care.

Announcing the plans at the NHS Confederation’s annual conference this week, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said his organisation, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority would be providing support to services - initially across Devon, Essex and Northumbria - to root out and address deeply ingrained system failings impacting care.

“The three areas are facing some of the most significant challenges in England. They will begin work to make improvements this summer and further areas may enter at a later point,” Stevens said.

Under the radical move, which comes after previous strategies to help struggling NHS services - including placing trusts in special measures - has failed to improve performance, local managers will retain their positions but will follow the direction of the three regulatory bodies as they strive to transform services under the new system-wide approach.

A strategic plan

Building on existing work, the Success Regime will look at the financial situation across the whole health economy, as well as governance and other issues including workforce, recruitment and retention. It will aim to produce a single strategic plan for the local health and care system, shared by all local stakeholders.

“We know we can do so much more collectively, working across organisational boundaries, than we can individually. That is a central message of the scheme,” noted NHS England’s Director of Commissioning Operations for the South West, Anthony Farnsworth.

However, British Medical Association head Mark Porter has reportedly warned that “the need for this sort of dramatic intervention is likely to increase if the government continues to pursue its drive for yet more efficiencies instead of properly addressing inadequate NHS funding in the face of rising demand”.