NHS chief executive unequivocal about huge transfer of budgets from DoH

Greater power will be devolved from the Department of Health as chief executive David Nicholson aims to shift 90 per cent of resources to local budgets.

Speaking at the launch of the new Primary Care Trust Network, hosted by the NHS Confederation, he said: 'There will be an increasing shift of resources from the DoH to the NHS; we have already started that process, that year of moving the central budget to the NHS. I want to see 80-90 per cent of resources which have been held by the DoH to be in the hands of the NHS.'

Mr Nicholson said next year's NHS operating framework, due out next week, is intended to give managers space to develop local framework and targets: 'We are increasingly looking at ways to give you more space, to give you more room for innovation. Increasingly we will tell you to find the best fit for your local area.'

And he set out his five priorities for PCTs: leadership and engagement in and with the local community; accountability; having a more businesslike approach; being data driven and having an ambitious strategy.

At the launch, which coincided with the publication of two reports setting out the clinical case for reconfiguration, prime minister Tony Blair and health secretary Patricia Hewitt set out the reasons why service change was necessary.

Mr Blair said clinicians could be far more persuasive than politicians in setting out why change was required. 'It is necessary for us to explain why these changes are happening,' he said.

'If politicians do this on their own they are not as effective or persuasive as clinicians. Clinicians need to be the vassals of change and we must have confidence to make the argument for service improvements.'

Questioned by a delegate about the NHS's responsibilities towards the environment, he also said the national model contract for acute secondary care, due to be published next week, will say that commissioners should not do business with organisations that are not committed to tackling climate change.

Mr Blair thanked managers at the launch for their work: 'I congratulate you, and I am grateful to you for the work you do.'

Further information

To read the clinical case for change in emergency access click below:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/14/10/18/04141018.pdf

To read the recommendations for the future of heart disease and stroke services click below:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/14/10/17/04141017.pdf