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A multi-year framework agreement worth up to £10bn to provide services at around 150 planned community diagnostic hubs is being set up by NHS England and Improvement.

As we reported yesterday, a contract notice, published on, said providers who wanted to be involved should register an interest by 7 July.

A significant expansion of the number of CDHs was under consideration by system leaders even before the pandemic struck last year. But the need for them has become even more pressing due to a mushrooming diagnostic backlog from the covid crisis.

Sir Mike Richards’ independent review for NHSE/I on the health service’s diagnostic capacity, published last year, recommended the service establish around 150 of the new hubs, as HSJ revealed in September 2020.

Establishing this framework agreement represents another necessary step in moving towards this important goal for addressing the huge elective backlog and making the service sustainable for future years.

Tough at the top

It’s one of the biggest public sector jobs so it’s no surprise that candidates for the post of NHS England chief executive will face a gruelling 10 hours of interviews and a full day of psychometric testing.

HSJ has learned that the initial interview will be with senior representatives from Number 10, the Treasury and the Cabinet Office, including Cabinet secretary Simon Case.

The shortlisted candidates will also, separately, be interviewed by those NHS England and Improvement non-executive board members who are not represented on the final panel. The board will conduct these interviews in groups of three – meaning candidates may face at least two interrogations at this stage.

HSJ understands the candidates still include KPMG partner Mark Britnell, NHS Improvement chair Baroness Dido Harding, Northumbria Healthcare and former NHS Improvement chief Sir Jim Mackey, NHSE deputy chief executive Amanda Pritchard, and Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan.

HSJ is told they are joined by Kevin Smith, president and CEO of the University Health Network in Canada, and that Ernst Kuipers, the leader of the Dutch Erasmus healthcare system, has also been in discussions about the role.