Two members of NHS London’s non-executive board, including its chair, resigned last week after health secretary Andrew Lansley’s “halt” of its capital-wide reconfiguration programme.
Strategic health authority chair Sir Richard Sykes resigned on Wednesday. In a letter to Mr Lansley he said his decision was directly linked to the health secretary’s move to effectively cancel the Healthcare for London reconfiguration plans based on a 2007 review by former health minister Lord Ara Darzi.
Sir Richard wrote: “Our visions of healthcare delivery bear so little in common that it would make no sense for me to continue in this role.”
He warned: “Other members of the board of NHS London are also considering their positions, but that is a matter entirely for them.”
The next day a second member of NHS London’s board, Gerry Acher, also resigned.
As HSJ went to press a further five of the remaining six non-executive board members were also seriously considering stepping down. SHA chief executive Ruth Carnall told HSJ she was keen to clarify that by the end of the week. She has also made clear it was her “firm intention” to stay in her post.
Analysis for the SHA by the consultancy firm McKinsey - similar in approach to the England-wide analysis released by the Department of Health this week - shows the capital faces a funding shortfall of up to £5.1bn by 2016-17.
The SHA published the analysis last month - a day after Mr Lansley cancelled its plans. It shows implementing Lord Darzi’s plan to centralise certain acute care services, improve long term conditions and shift care into polyclinics would save some £3.3bn of the £5.1bn gap.
But the new health secretary has said an SHA’s role in reform should be to “set out a range of innovative and challenging solutions” rather than to “dictate the decisions made”.
Ms Carnall said that meant where proposed changes had support from the “majority” of local GPs, they would be able to go ahead. But she admitted that was not the case for most.
Instead the SHA would now focus on identifying GPs to act as “leaders” to develop fresh ideas and will follow its publication of the funding gap analysis with data on the comparative quality of acute and primary services across the capital.
Ms Carnall said: “We have to see this as a bit of an acid test of our proposals. Either GPs will go through our analyses and proposals and come to the same conclusions, or they won’t.”
With SHAs due to be abolished on 1 April 2012 she said that was the ultimate “deadline” for alternative plans to be put in place.