The NHS Confederation has renewed its hunt for a chief executive in light of findings from a strategic review of the organisation.

Trustees met on Tuesday to debate the confederation's future as concerns mount over the fact it has failed to appoint a chief executive eight months after the post was vacated by Gill Morgan.

An initial recruitment round failed to attract enough candidates and the role has been carried out on an interim basis by Steve Barnett, who has moved over from his chief executive role at NHS Employers.

An recruitment agency has now been hired to search again, with the aim of conducting interviews in mid to late February.

A revised job description and personal specification will be available for previous and new candidates.

Gill Morgan's legacy

While Mr Barnett is seen to have "warmed up" in his role, trustees believe it will be impossible to find someone with Dr Morgan's skills.

In September, confederation chair Bryan Stoten said the organisation was "looking for someone who walks on water and does all the things Gill did, only better".

Speaking before Tuesday's meeting, one trustee said applicants might be put off if they felt the confederation was looking for an exact replacement for Dr Morgan.

"I heard him [Bryan Stoten] say it would be impossible to replace Gill Morgan," the trustee said.

"I don't think he's looking for another Gill Morgan. That's part of the problem. At least if we were looking for another Gill Morgan we'd have a photoprint of who we were looking for instead of starting from scratch.

"Maybe what the people should do is make it more widely known that they're not looking for another Gill Morgan."

Strategic review

The strategic review examined how the NHS Confederation could ensure it was fit for purpose as the membership body representing all parts of an increasingly complex health service.

The trustee said the biggest challenge for the organisation was the increasing number of foundation trusts, as members may cancel their network memberships if they are also paying for the FT network.

"The challenge is how it's going to position itself in a world where FTs are getting more and more enormous and the FT network becomes more powerful."

The trustees will meet again on 22 January to consider the available options and discuss the confederation's future governance and organisational form.