NHS Plus commercial activities to be separate from staff role

NHS Plus is to rebrand and reposition itself, separating its commercial activities from its work to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.

The move was unveiled in a letter to members in August written by Professor John Harrison, NHS Plus chairman. In it, he explained that NHS Plus had decided “to recast the mission and aims for the network to reflect the post-Boorman Review context for the NHS”.

To this end, with immediate effect, NHS Plus will reposition itself as the “NHS Health and Work Provider Network”.

“A subset of the network would wish to engage in large-scale commercial activity and these would form a consortium within the network, badged as NHS Plus,” Harrison continued.

Both the original network and the new consortium will be supported by the existing NHS Plus Project Team (director Kit Harling, project manager Keith Johnston and associate director Andrew Gilbey), at least until central funding is due to run out in 2011/12, he added.

The new NHS Health and Work Provider Network will concentrate on improving the health of NHS staff, building a robust evidence base, developing best clinical and business practice and exchanging information and expertise.

It will also work to develop “cross-network opportunities” and to act as “the voice of NHS occupational health providers”.

Alongside this, any NHS Health and Work Providers choosing to provide commercial services to other public and private sector bodies will now be grouped into a new sub-network called the NHS Plus Consortium.

A constitution is being drawn up, with the aim of being formally launched in April 2011.

In a separate development, the network has begun the process of recruiting a successor to Harling who is due to retire in January. He has been working as director on a part-time basis since February 2002.

In a briefing document to prospective applicants, NHS Plus made it clear that any successor’s role should include leading NHS Plus into a new organisational model from April 2012.

It has also published a work programme outlining its planned activities.

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