NHS England and NHS Improvement: working closer together

NHS England and NHS Improvement are today announcing some key steps that we are taking to bring our organisations closer together.

We have one NHS: commissioners and providers in each part of the country are serving the same people, and we need to use the resources that Parliament gives the NHS to greater benefit for local patients. This requires a much stronger focus on collaboration and joint working nationally as well as in local health systems.

Subject to our boards’ approval of more detailed proposals, we will begin to establish the following working arrangements from September 2018:

  • increased integration and alignment of national programmes and activities – one team where possible
  • integration of NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams, to be led in each case by one regional director working for both organisations, and a move to seven regional teams to underpin this new approach

A more joined-up approach across NHS England and NHS Improvement will enable us to:

  • work much more effectively with commissioners and providers in local health systems to break down traditional boundaries between different parts of the NHS and between health and social care
  • speak with one voice, setting clear, consistent expectations for providers, commissioners and local health systems
  • use NHS England and NHS Improvement’s collective resources more effectively and efficiently to support local health systems and the patients they serve
  • remove unnecessary duplication and improve the impact from our work, delivering more for the NHS together than we do by working separately

There are a number of examples of how we are working together already, including a number of joint national and regional appointments and a single national programme for urgent and emergency care, winter planning and A&E performance.

NHS England and NHS Improvement still have distinctive statutory responsibilities and accountabilities and nothing we are proposing cuts across these. The legislation also means that a formal merger between our organisations is not possible, instead we propose to combine forces for those functions where we can better work as one.

Over the coming months we will work with our staff and our partners on the details of how this new approach will work, design these joint ways of working, and agree how we will measure success with all of the organisations that they will affect.

The public see the National Health Service as a single organisation so, as we work to improve care for patients, it is right that the national leadership of the NHS work more closely. Together we are more than the sum of our parts.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and Ian Dalton, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement