The NHS can look forward to a 'relatively stable' 2007-08 before moving into a 'transformational year' in 2008-09, according to Department of Health director of provider development Andrew Cash.
Speaking at an HSJ conference on leadership, Mr Cash said that in 2007-08, the existing tariff for payment by results would be extended to rehabilitation and diagnostics.
He suggested that real change would come the following year, as the NHS returned to 'historic' levels of funding increases, the government's 18-week total waiting time pledge was met and primary care commissioning took off.
Mr Cash indicated that the DoH was still considering the future of the district general hospital. He said that his team would be developing 'seven or eight' models for local emergency, 'pathway' and elective services, each involving varying degrees of competition and co-operation.
At the same event, former Greater Manchester strategic health authority chief executive Neil Goodwin said leadership development was a 'top priority' of NHS chief executive David Nicholson: 'I think he will take [leadership development] seriously and it will become core business for chief executives across the service [to deliver it],' he said.
Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe, professor of leadership studies at Leeds University, said that the NHS needed a new type of leader, who could thrive in the world of both competition and partnership working, and engage staff in the need for change. She said staff engagement was the 'holy grail'.