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Almost one year since first announcing he was leaving his role as NHS England’s transformation director, Tim Ferris is back – or seemingly, he never left.

As revealed by HSJ this week, the former national tech chief has been providing his expertise to NHSE on a part-time basis as an “expert consultant” since stepping down as national director in the summer.

Dr Ferris was behind the managed convergence policy at NHSE, which called for a reduction in the number of different tech systems used in each integrated care system.

In his role as a consultant, Dr Ferris has been advising NHSE chief finance officer Julian Kelly on how best to spend the £3.4bn of tech funding pledged to the NHS in the government’s spring budget announcement.

He has also been providing advice over how to maximise research data opportunities, including genomics.

A tsar is born

Last month we saw the first tangible step towards NHSE relinquishing its grip on the specialised commissioning purse strings when it delegated responsibility for commissioning some specialised services to some of the 42 integrated care boards in England.

This year, four joint committees made up of the 20 ICBs in the North West, Midlands and East of England have been given responsibility for commissioning and control of the budget for 59 of the 154 specialised services.

Giving up this control is a significant step from the centre and a major new responsibility for the ICBs.

Each of the regions has made one of their ICBs the designated host for the new specialised commissioning function. One of them, the East of England, has gone one further and hired a new senior executive to oversee the operation of its new responsibilities.

Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes has appointed Lynelle Hales as managing director for specialised commissioning. Ms Hales, who recently returned to the UK from running a primary care provider in Australia, will take on considerable new authority as the ICB and its regional neighbours start exercising their control over a new £1.5bn commissioning pot.

Also on

In The Download, Nick Carding digs deeper into the return of Tim Ferris and what it might mean for the NHS, and the trusts with the worst breach rates of mixed-sex ward rules in hospitals are revealed by HSJ analysis in the wake of national levels hitting a record high in 2023–24.