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Editor's blog Monday 11 October 2010: NHS Confederation suspends FT Network director Sue Slipman

The NHS Confederation has confirmed that Sue Slipman, the director of their foundation trust network, has today been suspended from her role.

Acting Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said, “The NHS is changing significantly and the NHS Confederation is clear that we need to change too so we can support our members effectively and respond flexibly to future challenges. We will be asking for members’ views shortly on how our current networks can evolve into a wide range of expert business forums that bring members from across the health industry together to discuss topics of shared interest.

“Members’ feedback will help us to decide which business forums to set up, and once they are established they will be able to pick and choose which forums they want to get involved in.

“We know our members value our ability to speak on behalf of the NHS collectively and authoritatively, and our stakeholders value and listen to our work because it is informed by our members and the experience and knowledge they have of every part of the NHS.

“The FTN Board has discussed becoming a separate standalone organisation. We are concerned that this proposal runs counter to the views of the many chairs and chief executives who have been speaking to us over the last few months about how the NHS needs to respond to the difficult financial and reform environment it faces.  They tell us this is just the time when a collective voice for the service is required.  They recognise that the NHS Confederation is the only place where the whole system can come together, and this will be crucial in the next few years”.

Clearly, there is likely to be an internal procedure with regards to the suspension. It is unsurprising that thinking has emerged among the FT network board about going it alone.

Equally, the future is not here yet. Transition to the new system represents the biggest risk that the NHS faces today.

This disagreement about how to respond to the challenges of an Equity And Excellence future will be the first of many.