The NHS Commissioning Board has resolved to write to its staff to thank them for their efforts in “extremely difficult” circumstances.

The decision to do so was made this morning at its inaugural meeting as a statutory body, in London.

Chairman Malcolm Grant said: “The board is unanimous in the respect and gratitude it has for [its] staff.

“The last 11 months have been extremely difficult, and I make no promise that the next 11 months are going to be any easier.

“We do as a board have the very greatest expectations of our staff.”

Non-executive director Lord Adebowale suggested the board write to all staff to thank them for their work - a suggestion Professor Grant said he would be “delighted” to endorse.

Human resources director Jo-Ann Wass told the meeting that most of the board’s staff were “on loan” from other NHS bodies.

“Many of them are working very long hours on very complicated issues and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to say thank you because without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”

She also pledge to “sort their futures” by the end of December.

However at the board’s meeting in Newcastle last month, Ms Wass detailed contingency plans for use if the board was unable to complete the staffing transition on time. She told HSJ it was likely that some staff would be “lifted and shifted”, with further staff cuts likely during 2013-14.

Opening the meeting, Professor Grant said it was an “historic day” for the NHS.

“What is different? From the perspective of the board, what is overwhelmingly different is that our focus will be relentlessly on patients and on the population at large.”