One of Mr Stevens’ first acts when he replaced Sir David Nicholson at the helm of NHS England in May was to offer CCGs the chance to co-commission primary care.
It wasn’t the wisest move if he was hoping to win the hearts of GP leaders. Delegates at the annual LMCs Conference described the plans as ‘the ultimate poisoned chalice’.
He has been lauded as the man who saved the NHS from certain doom as a key advisor to the last Labour government, at a time when investment rather than austerity was the watchword. And he may well have won some votes when he took a 10% paycut on the £211,000 salary he was offered for the top job.
But to his critics, he is the man who is to blame for getting the ball rolling on the opening up of the health service to the private sector.
Our panel expects him to make a ‘real difference’ but just how the former United Health vice-president manages to steer the NHS through an unprecedented budget squeeze we shall watch with interest.