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Exclusive: Jim Easton's commissioning board role to be split up

Jim Easton will not be replaced, and the functions of his department will be split between four of the other NHS Commissioning Board national directors, HSJ has learned.

Mr Easton last month resigned from his posts as Department of Health national director for improvement and efficiency, and the board’s director of transformation, to become managing director of Care UK.

It is understood his day-to-day commissioning board responsibilities have already been divided and passed to other staff.

The moves will leave no single person responsible for the high profile quality, innovation, productivity and prevention programme, which aims to help the NHS change services to reduce costs.  

NHS South West chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers will chair a new committee, leading the NHS’s work on innovation. Sir Ian has not sought a full-time job in the commissioning board. He is currently overseeing work on innovation in the service for NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.

HSJ understands that following an internal review it was decided Mr Easton will not be replaced on the basis that his directorate was designed to match his specific skills, so the post could not easily be filled. The move will also reduce spending on senior management at a time the board is known to be struggling to remain within its management cost limit.

How the functions of the directorate will be split

  • The medical directorate under Sir Bruce Keogh will gain innovation; improvement, and responsibility for the new NHS improvement body. The improvement organisation’s work will be led by the five clinical domain directors, and a programme board overseeing it will be chaired by Sir David.
  • The policy directorate, under Bill McCarthy will gain strategy, including medium-term strategy for the QIPP programme; and equality and health inequalities.
  • The HR directorate under Jo-Anne Wass will be responsible for the Leadership Academy. The academy will also be overseen by a programme board chaired by Sir David.
  • The operations directorate under Ian Dalton will be given responsibility for productivity improvement and delivering change, previously part of QIPP.
  • The finance directorate under Paul Baumann will record progress on productivity improvement, previously part of QIPP.

Senior staff who were due to report to Mr Easton will now be part of the other directorates (see above).

The review was carried out for the board by Anthony Kealy, a deputy director in the board’s policy directorate. The changes are expected to be announced on Thursday, the day of the commissioning board’s next board meeting.

Readers' comments (12)

  • This is potentially a damaging decision as there will be no single person responsible for this critical brief at a time when this area is key to surviving and thriving. It is very hard to understand the rationale.

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  • Surely it should read - Jim Easton resigned to become 'a Managing Director within Care UK'?

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  • "his directorate was designed to match his specific skills so he could not easily be replaced"....hmmm well well well, so even if they had done the right and proper thing and put the NCB senior positions out to a true competitive recruitment process then no one would have stood a chance anyway (yawn). I’d be interested to see if the NCB put this in writing or if HSJ are just surmising as surely by putting it in writing that they created a role for someone in the old boys network that no one else could touch can lead to some kind of challenge? That aside how credible does QIPP now become without a single accountable officer at the top? You couldn't make it up.

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  • It would be far better to least have one director as the lead for QIPP, even if the detailed functitons are split between the senior team.

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  • I wonder if Jim will be applying for a nice fat redundancy cheque now that his post has been abolished. Or was this the plan all along?

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  • I am not surprised Jim is not being replaced.
    Interesting to understand how Nicholson will explain this decision to his Non Execs. Either he appointed a friend(ex?) or he got his top structure wrong after having more months,than any Chief Exec in recent times to consider, consult and get it right! Still, if the later, perhaps there are others who will/should be moving on? He has certainly suffered,through not having a closer cadre of Senior experienced Commissioning Advisors and it is never to late....

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  • It is common knowledge within he NHS CB that Jim was not delivering. It is equally no surprise that Sir David doesn't need to replace him.

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  • I heard a rumour today from a well informed source that DN was planning to leave as early as next April

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  • While anything is possible - I think that particular rumour (which has been doing the rounds for quite a while) is bogus. My intelligence is that DN plans to stay at least until the next election.

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  • Harry Longman

    It is telling, and sad, that Jim Easton is not being replaced. Reading the list of responsibilities being parcelled out, the overlaps are only too obvious. People will trip over each other, with the result of inaction. The NHS can't afford to take the foot of the improvement pedal.

    By the way, good morning Anonymice. I see you're out to play today. Be ready to scuttle back to your holes though, could be big boots about!

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  • Harry Longman

    It is telling, and sad, that Jim Easton is not being replaced. Reading the list of responsibilities being parcelled out, the overlaps are only too obvious. People will trip over each other, with the result of inaction. The NHS can't afford to take the foot of the improvement pedal.

    By the way, good morning Anonymice. I see you're out to play today. Be ready to scuttle back to your holes though, could be big boots about!

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  • It wouldn't surprise me if DN left by April. The NHS will be in a shambles by then with all the restructuring and CCG authorisation. It will 'break even' and the then go hurtling off the fiscal cliff at an unprecedented scale.

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