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Revealed: Bennett's plan to split Monitor board

Monitor is likely to face “numerous” allegations of improper conduct unless it can clearly separate its future healthcare regulatory role from its responsibility for foundation trusts, its chairman has warned.

David Bennett, chairman and chief executive of the FT regulator, also conceded that responsibility for both regulatory roles “could constitute too much work for a single chief executive”.

Newly published board papers reveal for the first time the detail of Mr Bennett’s plan to avoid conflicts of interest when Monitor takes on responsibility for the entire healthcare sector, under the Health Bill.

In a 30 November report, Mr Bennett admitted there were “real and perceived potential conflicts of interest in discharging these two different regulatory responsibilities”.

“In the coming years, Monitor will have a number of difficult decisions to make,” his paper argued. “Reasonable stakeholders may disagree, for example, over what constitutes an efficient price, what constitutes an appropriate degree of competitive intensity, or whether Monitor should have done more to protect the survival of an NHS FT.

“Unless Monitor can clearly demonstrate it has acted properly, allegations and challenges around improper conduct owing to undue influence being exercised by one regulatory function or the other are likely to be numerous.”

He proposed to create “powerful senior executives as the leaders of the different parts of Monitor”, and a distinct committee of the board to oversee its FT regulator role.

However, he said the case for creating a separate committee for the healthcare regulation role granted to Monitor in the bill was “less clear cut”. While such a committee could further reduce conflict of interest concerns, “in practice many more decisions in this area will have to pass the full board until policy becomes more settled”.

He added that a “clear split” had other advantages: “Sector and FT regulation require different skill sets, making it easier to appoint to the leadership roles if they are separate. Indeed, a joint role could constitute too much work for a single chief executive.”

Senior sources told HSJ in November that there was a disagreement between Monitor and the Department of Health over the degree of separation needed between its two roles, with the department favouring the appointment of separate chairs. Both bodies denied the suggestion of a conflict between them.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Watch this space. I would place a big wager on this being a device to (1)acknowledge that there is a glaringly obvious and potentially deal breaking conflict of interest in the two roles of future Monitor, yet at the same time (2) David Bennett and his senior team will do everything in their power to retain internal control over both roles, consolidated under Bennett's chairmanship.

    The two roles need to be separated completely. Two chairs, two boards. You can't set the exam questions for a whole marketplace ( including the IS) yet have a vested and conflicting interest in ensuring that a subset of that market passes the exam.

    Allow the economic regulation role to be chaired by Bennett and his policy team but accept that provider development needs to be better integrated with the NHS at large. The present confusion is deeply unhelpful. And why is there still no effective mechanism for the deauthorisation of not only failing but already failed FTs? There are a number of FTs that are absolutely no longer going concerns and are only being saved by clandestine multi million pound 'bungs' arranged by Monitor. Whatever happened to the requirement to be 'effective, economic and efficient'?

    Let the NTDA take on the development and compliance role.

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  • Great way to reduce overhead costs...

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  • It is perfectly clear to me that the role of Chief Executive and Chairman of the current Monitor should be seperate and not held by one and the same person. How can David Bennett say this this new proposal will provide a conflict of interest, when he occupies a role which does exactly that already. He is the only member of the board from the team of directors, along with non-executive directors. None of the other directors are even present for private parts of board meetings.

    Monitor have been doing their own thing in their own way for far too long and should be a shining example of how governance is done here.

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  • I agree very poor corporate governance - what does the organisation promote... oh yes good governance...

    Keep on having your say on the e-petition to stop the bill (google e-petition) 31,641 and counting

    To note it currently has less votes than 'Keeping Formula 1 free to air in the UK' but more than 'Thatcher state funeral should be privitised!' But only just - don't just complain do something about it...'

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  • Let's have a clean sweep of this self preservationist regulator. It's days of glory are over.

    Send Bennett back to McKinsey. also Hsj should FOI Stephen Hays salary and benefits package and ask whether it is right the taxpayer should double pay this individual? just see how much extra he gets from being a NED at dept of local govt when Monitor pays him Again for the same days he doesn't turn up for work at matthew Parker street.

    I resent this waste !

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  • Is there a smugger man in the nhs than David Bennett? Please advise....

    Oh, and wasn't he healthcare private venture a loss making pile of nonsense?

    Who is he to tell me an NHS exec for 25 years what to do?


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