Jim Easton will not be replaced, and the functions of his department will be split between four of the other NHS Commissioning Board national directors, HSJ has learned.

Mr Easton last month resigned from his posts as Department of Health national director for improvement and efficiency, and the board’s director of transformation, to become managing director of Care UK.

It is understood his day-to-day commissioning board responsibilities have already been divided and passed to other staff.

The moves will leave no single person responsible for the high profile quality, innovation, productivity and prevention programme, which aims to help the NHS change services to reduce costs.  

NHS South West chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers will chair a new committee, leading the NHS’s work on innovation. Sir Ian has not sought a full-time job in the commissioning board. He is currently overseeing work on innovation in the service for NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.

HSJ understands that following an internal review it was decided Mr Easton will not be replaced on the basis that his directorate was designed to match his specific skills, so the post could not easily be filled. The move will also reduce spending on senior management at a time the board is known to be struggling to remain within its management cost limit.

How the functions of the directorate will be split

  • The medical directorate under Sir Bruce Keogh will gain innovation; improvement, and responsibility for the new NHS improvement body. The improvement organisation’s work will be led by the five clinical domain directors, and a programme board overseeing it will be chaired by Sir David.
  • The policy directorate, under Bill McCarthy will gain strategy, including medium-term strategy for the QIPP programme; and equality and health inequalities.
  • The HR directorate under Jo-Anne Wass will be responsible for the Leadership Academy. The academy will also be overseen by a programme board chaired by Sir David.
  • The operations directorate under Ian Dalton will be given responsibility for productivity improvement and delivering change, previously part of QIPP.
  • The finance directorate under Paul Baumann will record progress on productivity improvement, previously part of QIPP.

Senior staff who were due to report to Mr Easton will now be part of the other directorates (see above).

The review was carried out for the board by Anthony Kealy, a deputy director in the board’s policy directorate. The changes are expected to be announced on Thursday, the day of the commissioning board’s next board meeting.

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