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Nicholson to head up NHS Commissioning Board

By Gareth Iacobucci

NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has unexpectedly been handed the key task of heading up the Government's new NHS Commissioning Board.

Sir David had been expected to leave the NHS at the end of his five year term as chief executive next year, but will instead be charged with heading up the new board, which will oversee GP consortia's management of £80bn of the NHS budget from 2013.

The surprise appointment is rumoured to have been driven by growing concerns from within Government and professional bodies that pushing through the biggest power shift in the NHS's history at a time of such financial crisis was a huge risk, with Sir David seen as safe pair of hands to help ease the strain of the transition service.

The board will play a pivotal role in driving forward the Government's commissioning agenda, with its responsibilities including intervening in the event of GP consortia failure or risk of failure, holding consortia to account for improving outcomes, financial management, and holding GP practice contracts.

In its response to its consultation on the reforms, launched last week, the Government announced plans to consolidate PCTs into sub-regional 'clusters' ahead of the staged handover to GP commissioning consortia to help provide a strong organisational backbone for the transition.

In a letter to NHS bosses, Sir David wrote: ‘The change agenda set out is perhaps the most significant and complex that the NHS has faced. It will be undertaken in a highly challenging financial context, and at a time when staff and leaders across the NHS face personal and professional uncertainty about their futures. And it must delivered while maintaining a strong grip on current performance.

‘Nevertheless, the vision for the new system is clear and builds in many areas on previous reforms, giving us a clear understanding of the task ahead of us. Success will ultimately be determined locally by the ability of commissioners and providers, of managers and clinicians, to bring the new system into being while continuing to deliver high quality care for our patients.'

Sir David Nicholson Do you have the knowledge and expertise to make a success of commissioning?

Attend the Essential Commissioning Skills seminar on 15 February (London) and 03 March (Manchester) to gain advice and guidance to adapt to change and meet the challenges ahead.

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