The departure of Department of Health director general for commissioning and system management Mark Britnell has left hearts broken across the NHS, not least at the Care Quality Commission.

Mr Britnell pulled out of the NHS Confederation’s annual conference at the last minute to tend to his begonias, while awaiting confirmation of his move to the private sector.

CQC chair Baroness Young was not amused. Lamenting the state of commissioning during a panel debate that Mr Britnell was supposed to be taking part in, she said: “We’re behind pace in terms of the development of commissioning. It’s a pity we don’t have anyone from world class commissioning here today.”