Ministers seek powers to veto local NHS trust appointments

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Ministers would have the power to veto the appointment of NHS chief executives and trust leaders under plans to reform the health service, it has emerged.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs he wanted the ability to sign-off appointments of senior managers in the NHS, and that separately he was open to the idea of regulation for senior managers.

The powers will be included in a new Health Bill to come before Parliament this year. Once approved it would hand much greater control over who runs local NHS organisations to Whitehall than has been the case for more than a decade.

It comes after ministers have been repeatedly accused of cronyism during the pandemic, with a lack of transparency over government contracts and appointments such as Baroness Dido Harding, wife of Tory MP John Penrose, who has been handed the role of chair of the new National Institute for Health Protection.

Appearing before the health committee, Mr Hancock said he wanted more accountability for the NHS.

On appointments he said: “The proposed approach on appointments, is that the NHS would make appointments, but they would need to be signed off by the Secretary of State. So, it is effectively moving appointments to joint appointments, in which the Secretary of State would have to be content that an appointment was appropriate.

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