The way that Monitor regulates NHS foundation trusts is to be reviewed, with the aim of ensuring they have room to innovate and take calculated risks, England’s health services regulator has announced.

“We recognise that in order to promote innovation we have to let healthcare providers take measured risks, and will be working to take a balanced approach when there are ideas for change,” said chief executive, David Bennett, as Monitor’s annual plan for 2014-15 was published. The plan highlights as a focus for the year the importance of ”promoting change through high-quality analysis and debate, and by encouraging innovation.”

“The need for change in the NHS is well-known but it shouldn’t be seen as a threat – it is an opportunity for radical and lasting improvement,” said Dr Bennett.

Over the coming year, Monitor will examine the opportunities of integrating and localising healthcare, identify possible new models of care and learn lessons from models used in other countries, says the report. 

Other planned actions for 2014-15 include:

• researching how patient choice and competition can affect the healthcare market to find out how it can better serve the interests of patients and help develop new patterns of community-based care;

• designing a new payment system so that payments to providers are based on evidence of good patient care, and research and share actions that providers can take to cut costs and use savings to improve treatments for patients;

• researching local health economies, including the use of smaller acute providers and possible new community healthcare models, to inform its approach and support provider organisations in exploring new ways of working;

• working with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to make sure Monitor has the same approach to measuring leadership and care, to align with their new inspection handbook;

• developing and publishing a new framework for how it will regulate independent healthcare providers; and

• reviewing and developing the agency’s approach to approving and regulating foundation trusts, including the risk assessment framework, the content of provider licenses and the way in which it intervenes when things go wrong.

Monitor’s corporate strategy for 2014-17, published in April, reported that the agency’s anticipated budget requirement for 2014-15 is £57.3 million, an increase on previous years. This is mainly due to its broader regulatory remit and expected further increase in workload during the year, with staff numbers planned to grow from 365 in post on March 31 2014 to more than 500 in the period to April 2015, it says.