A nursing director will be one of five executive board directors at the NHS Commissioning Board, the new body which will oversee much of the health service from October.
Plans for the board, which were published last week, say it will have a nursing director; medical director; finance, performance and operations director; and commissioning development director, along with a chair and non-executive directors.
The leading candidates for the nursing role are said to be NHS North West nursing director Jane Cummings and deputy chief nursing officer for England David Foster.
The commissioning board will also have five “professional leads” who are expected to be either nurses of doctors. The professional leads for patient safety and patient experience will report to the nursing director.
It is expected the professional leads will have a significant role in leading work on commissioning specialist care and producing guidance for local clinical commissioning groups – previously called GP consortia. The commissioning board will also decide when individual commissioning groups are ready to take over from primary care trusts, which are due to be abolished in April 2013.
The plans say this arrangement will mean “healthcare outcomes and professional and clinical leadership [are] at the heart of the board’s business”.
Overall the board will have about 3,500 staff, of which about three quarters will be based in the organisation’s regional and local branches, the document says. It is currently unclear how many of these staff will be nurses.
It also speculates that the commissioning board may be renamed NHS England to avoid confusion between the commissioning board itself and its board of directors, who are also likely to be referred to collectively as the board.
It states: “This is potentially confusing, and it may therefore be more appropriate for the NHS Commissioning Board to be referred to by another name in practice, so that confusion between the organisation and its board of members does not arise. An alternative operating name for the NHS Commissioning Board could be NHS England.”
As reported by Nursing Times earlier this year, the current chief nursing officer role will be split into two with a nurse director on the commissioning board and a separate senior nursing lead in the Department of Health who will oversee public health issues (news, page 3, 8 March).
Present CNO for England Dame Christine Beasley is due to step down in October, having delayed her retirement several times.