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Sajid Javid plans NHS revolution modelled on academy schools

Academy-style hospitals will be set up to improve patchy NHS leadership under a shake-up planned by Sajid Javid to deal with post-pandemic waiting lists.

The health secretary is formulating the reorganisation to give well-run hospitals more freedom as well as forcing failing trusts to improve. A new class of “reform trust” will be established as Javid signals an appetite for wide-ranging changes to deal with a “huge” variation in performance across the health service.

Modelling reforms on the Blairite academies programme could lead to failing hospitals being forcibly turned into reform trusts, as happens with schools that are rated inadequate. It is possible that chains of hospitals will be run by leading NHS managers, or even outside sponsors, although this is yet to be decided.

Boris Johnson is said to want to focus on cutting NHS waiting times as part of an “operation red meat” designed to shift the focus from rows over Downing Street parties. Allies of Javid say, however, that his desire for reform long predates the prime minister’s present problems and that as the Omicron wave recedes he believes he has a “six-month window” to introduce changes before planning for next winter takes over.

His proposals raise the prospect of ministers embarking on another NHS reorganisation, even before the government’s Health and Care Bill — itself designed to reverse previous Tory reforms – becomes law.

The plans are still at an early stage but are due to feature in a white paper that will set out Javid’s plans for dealing with weak leadership and slow adoption of best practice in parts of the NHS. A Whitehall source said: “Sajid’s reform agenda is all about driving up performance across the NHS. To achieve that we are going to apply some lessons from the academies programme.”

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Source: The Times, 18 January 2022

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Is there anyone in the health and social care system who has been asking for this? Are there any very senior leaders who think it's a good idea?

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