Monitor executive chair Bill Moyes has told foundation trusts to defend their independence by “refusing to jump” in response to Department of Health demands.

And he has admitted that Monitor and the DH did not form a successful working relationship during his time as executive chair.

Mr Moyes said one of the biggest challenges to foundation trusts was the government’s recent adoption of the principal that it is ultimately responsible to Parliament for all NHS services - not to FTs directly.

“It will not be long before the DH and strategic health authorities behave as if they have the right to direct your decisions, your priorities and your actions.”

Monitor executive chair Bill Moyes

Speaking to the Foundation Trust Network governance conference today, he said: “It will not be long before the DH and strategic health authorities behave as if they have the right to direct your decisions, your priorities and your actions.”

In response FTs should avoid failing, ensure they are locally accountable and challenge DH and SHA demands, he said.

“Those of you who jump when the SHA tells you - releasing staff, making deals on payments, making inappropriate investment decisions - should think carefully about the consequences in the long term.”

Mr Moyes, in what will be one of his last speeches before stepping down in January, said Monitor’s biggest failure during his time as executive chairman had been its relationship with the DH.

He said: “We have simply not managed to forge the partnership that is essential for a regulator and a government department to work together properly.”

He said there were “faults on both sides”.

“At Monitor we are all too ready to snap back at times when occasionally we should pause and reflect.”