London's 34 non-foundation provider organisations will be performance managed by a new agency to help them push towards foundation status.

London's 34 non-foundation provider organisations will be performance managed by a new agency to help them push towards foundation status.

The new NHS Provider Agency for London, due to be established in April, would also help decide the future of trusts with no chance of becoming a foundation trust.

NHS London advertised this weekend for the posts of chair and chief executive of the new arm's-length body. The chief executive advertisement, which appeared in The Sunday Times, asked for candidates with experience 'in an organisation delivering complex public services - strategic thinking [and] some exposure to start-ups'.

NHS London chief executive Ruth Carnall told HSJthat the agency's independence from the strategic health authority would enable it to push the provider reform agenda more effectively.

The body will develop and run a regulatory regime demonstrating to providers in shadow form what it is like to be a foundation trust regulated by Monitor, and it will examine what providers had achieved following their fitness for purpose action plans agreed with Monitor and the five former London SHAs last year.

Ms Carnall admitted that not all of London's providers - 26 acute trusts, seven mental health trusts and the London Ambulance Service - would reach foundation status.

She said that possible solutions would come in the form of mergers or takeovers with current foundation trusts; the development of community foundation trusts; or assessing the need for NHS provision where there is already too much private sector capacity.

The agency's board will include a representative from Monitor and a chief executive and non-executive director from one of London's six current foundation trusts.

It will have a 'fixed lifespan' and will be slowly wound up from 2008 once the future of all London's NHS providers has been established.

Central and North West London Mental Health trust chief executive Peter Carter said that the agency was a 'terrific idea'. He said previous health authorities in the capital had failed to 'take the tough reconfiguration decisions that were needed'.