An independent NHS board: What will it mean for nursing and nurses

01 July 2010
Proposed in the Conservative Party’s 2007 White paper on health 'NHS Autonomy and Accountability', on the 20th May 2010 the Coalition Government announced its intention to “establish an independent NHS board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidelines”. Details of the independent board’s composition, scope and role are expected in the Government’s forthcoming health White Paper this summer. In the absence of specific details about the independent board at this stage, the Conservatives’ 2007 health white paper is the best indication of the board’s future design and scope. Using the Conservative’s vision for the independent board as a basis, this paper seeks to begin a discussion on what an independent board will mean for Nursing and nurses. It will consider what are the important questions and issues likely to arise from its creation, and discuss what the Government should consider when developing and implementing its decision.
A key driver for creating the independent board and placing it in charge of the day-to-day running of the NHS is so that the Department of Health (DH) can focus on (public) health, rather than providing services to cure ill-health. The Conservatives had originally intended for the DH to become the Department of Public Health - to symbolically embed this shift - but the costs associated with re-branding means this change has been dropped. However, the new focus for DH is still an aspiration. The creation of the independent board, being responsible for the NHS, helps to define DH's specific prevention and health promotion.

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