Foundation trusts and the Monitor board have raised concerns that the government has not yet appointed a chair for the regulator, with less than three months until its current executive chair leaves the organisation.  

The Department of Health insisted the process was going to plan but said it was not close to a decision.

The last thing we need is uncertainty

Stephen Thornton, a non-executive director of the regulator, said the board was concerned there had not yet been an announcement.

Mr Thornton told HSJ: “I want to reiterate the importance of a chair being appointed as soon as possible, particularly as Bill [Moyes] has been the founder and longstanding executive chair. It is inevitable there will be a period of uncertainty and we want to minimise that period.”

Executive chair Bill Moyes’ term ends at the end of January and the government decided to replace him with a separate chair and chief executive.

Foundations are concerned the post is proving unattractive because of a perception that the current government is not committed to Monitor, or to foundations’ independence or to all NHS providers becoming foundations. There is also uncertainty about the future of the regulator.

University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust chair Sir Peter Dixon, who did not apply, said concern about government support for Monitor and foundation reform had made the post unattractive.

He said: “We need a clear steer on what the role is going to be and the fact that Monitor remains independent. That isn’t clear at the present time, so I would have expected a lot of people to say, ‘There is too much uncertainty.’

“It is critical we get somebody good in that role with a clear remit very quickly.

“The last thing we need is uncertainty.”

In September health secretary Andy Burnham said he wanted “to see FT applications coming through in the pipeline”, but none have been authorised since July.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have said they will significantly expand Monitor into a “systems regulator” for all providers to the NHS.

Foundation Trust Network director Sue Slipman said that foundations were getting “very anxious” about the timing.

Ms Slipman said: “People are looking for a very strong statement of commitment to the reform process and foundation trusts as a model.”

The deadline for applications to the post was 8 October and interviews were carried out at the end of last month.

It was advertised with a salary of £58,000 for a two day a week commitment. Mr Moyes’ pay in 2008-09 was £235,000. Care Quality Commission chair Barbara Young earned £105,000 for a four-day-per-week commitment until 30 June 2009, and has since earned £79,284 for a three-day-per-week commitment. Baroness Young’s post was initially advertised at £60,780.

A DH spokesman said: “The interview process is under way. An announcement on the outcome is expected by mid December.”