NHS Confederation chief resigns over failed HR membership model

The NHS Confederation’s chief executive has resigned in the wake of the failure of the organisation’s HR membership model.

Steve Barnett is stepping down as head of the NHS Confederation, which represents 95% of organisations in the health service, following the failure of its Member Model Project.

The confederation ditched the NHS Employers’ proposed pay-as-you-go HR services scheme in March, despite having committed £3.4m to the project.

The decision to shut it down came after fewer than 20 trusts signed up to the HR services scheme, and the Department of Health moved to re-tender the NHS Jobs website, which was a key offering to members of the scheme. Auditors were also called in to investigate the project’s financial management and governance.

Barnett said: “Colleagues will be aware of the issues we have recently faced surrounding the NHS Employers Member Model project. While I cannot and should not accept responsibility for the actions or omissions of others, I have never shied away from or attempted to dispute the fact that accountability for oversight should properly rest with me as chief executive.

“I have concluded that this decision is the right one, both for the organisation and for me personally and professionally.”

Keith Pearson, chair of the NHS Confederation, added: “I would like to make it very clear that Steve’s resignation should not be perceived as any admission of personal responsibility for the issues the organisation has faced of late.”

Sian Thomas, former director of NHS Employers, previously resigned to set up a consultancy offering similar employment services to health trusts, as well as GPs and social care employers.

Thomas recently insisted to Personnel Today that the HR membership model was viable.

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