Chief executives in North Staffordshire have responded to a scathing report in which senior managers were criticised for failing to collaborate over reconfiguration plans.

The plans revolve around the Fit for the Future programme to redevelop services in North Staffordshire and expand community-delivered services.

An external review, commissioned by NHS West Midlands, said the scheme suffered from a "lack of an agreed list of projects, clear milestones and activity targets."

"The underlying assumption at senior levels appears to be that work will be done separately and joint work will take place only when absolutely necessary," it said. The potential for changes to have an adverse impact on the overall health system "was not always understood", while medical staffing targets in the approved plans was "particularly low".

Following the review, NHS West Midlands chief executive Cynthia Bower asked the four chief executives involved in the scheme to write an action plan. This was presented at the strategic health authority's board meeting last Tuesday. It states that senior managers and clinicians have a strong commitment to joint working but accepts that more visible evidence of this is needed.

An over-arching plan for the programme is being developed, and events are being held to improve communication with social services and practice-based commissioners.

In a joint statement, University Hospital of North Staffordshire trust, North Staffordshire primary care trust, Stoke on Trent PCT and North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare trust said: "[We] remain committed to the Fit for the Future programme and have responded positively to the challenges set out in the external review.

"The programme is vitally important to the health and well-being of all residents of North Staffordshire, and progress will continue to be made to ensure its successful delivery."