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Hakin heads up commissioning handover to GPs

By Ian Quinn

Former GP and NHS Employers lead negotiator Dame Barbara Hakin has been appointed to lead the transition of commissioning powers from PCTs to GPs, as NHS chiefs attempt to stop disaffected managers from derailing the Government's plans.

The chief executive of NHS East Midlands, who has been involved in several pitched battles with GPC negotiators over the GMS contract, was appointed today by NHS chief executive, Sir David Nicholson, as national managing director of commissioning development.

Sir David said her role would be to keep the Government's QIPP agenda on course and ‘maintain a strong grip on quality, finance, operations and QIPP delivery,' as some senior NHS managers openly spoke of their disillusion over the Government's decision to cull both PCTs and SHAs.

In a letter to all NHS managers, Mr Nicholson said: ‘We need to learn the lessons from previous reorganisations and ensure that we do not lose vital organisational or corporate memory, including on issues of safety and quality, and to ensure that we retain aligned assumptions between commissioners and providers during the transition.'

Mr Nicholson, who himself recently caused controversy after he claimed Mr Lansley's timeframe for switching to GP commissioning was over-optimistic, called on NHS managers to get to grips with the need to make savings and make a successful handover to the new system, despite the axe hanging over their heads.

‘Your leadership behaviour will absolutely set the tone for the period we are now in and directly impact upon our chances of success,' he said.

However, there appeared to be widespread disaffection among senior managers at a King's Fund conference today. It had originally been called to discuss the impact of World Class Commissioning but ended up as a wake for the project.

Professor Robert Harris, director of commissioning at NHS East of England, warned that achieving the Government's £20bn efficiency savings target would be made far more difficult because all PCT and SHA staff knew their organisations would fold in three years time.

He said: 'For the majority, they are just winding down until the lights and turned off. Are they going to save £20bn?'

Steve Phoenix, chief executive of NHS West Kent, added: 'I've confessed to finding this a bit difficult. It feels like the beginning of the end of the NHS I came into. There is a real issue about pace, capacity and capability.'

Richard Alsop, director of strategy and system management at NHS Northamptonshire, said: 'It would be remiss to discard all the good things from WCC. The process might be dead, but it is incumbent on PCTs to start a legacy and transfer skills.

'The future does look very different, but elements of what we have done are very relevant.'

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