The NHS Future Forum is considering recommending “no more top-down reorganisations” of the service in its report to the prime minister, HSJ has learned.
The pledge was made by the Conservatives before the general election last year, and again in the “coalition agreement”.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley later announced the abolition of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities in his July white paper.
A briefing on the first meeting of the NHS Future Forum last week, seen by HSJ, says there was “a strong mood in favour of the report recommending ‘no more top down reorganisations’”.
The note on the meeting was sent by National Voices chief executive Jeremy Taylor to the organisation’s members, which are mainly patient organisations and charities.
It says several members’ view of restructures was: “At best they have a neutral effect on real behaviour; at worst – as for example, now – they are a damaging distraction”.
Prime minister David Cameron established the Future Forum, a group of about 40 mainly NHS staff, earlier this month to review the Health Bill proposals as part of a “listening exercise”. It is due to make recommendations at the end of May, although the group is now also thought likely to continue meeting beyond that initial report.
Mr Taylor told HSJ the review group members realised proposing “no more top down reorganisations” was unlikely to stop the current changes. That is because they are already underway, and the group has been told to recommend “improvements” to current plans rather than suggest scrapping them.
However he said it could still call for all political parties to commit to no further reorganisations in future.
Mr Taylor said several members of the group argued it should not confine itself to suggesting technical changes designed to “make the bill more acceptable” to those currently opposed to it.
He said he in particular wanted to address the NHS and social care service cuts which are already happening as investment is cut.
He said: “It is important for us to comment on the funding issue. The government has closed that issue down, but there are plenty of signs of in-year cuts.
“The government has called a period of pause and reflection – well this is something to reflect on. It is not clear this funding settlement [for the NHS] is actually sustainable.”