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Editor's blog Wednesday 24 November: A weather eye on who's next at Monitor

The chair of Monitor is going to be a serious power in the brave new world. They will be the economic dictators of the new system: setting tariff; doing anti-trust; promoting NHS competition; and having regard to quality.

You will have seen Dave West and Sarah Calkin’s story in Health Service Journal, regarding Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s effective un-appointing of Monitor chair Steve Bundred. HSJ also have copies of the letters from Lansley to Bundred and Bundred’s reply.

Lansley’s letter says ”Monitor will in future have a quite different set of requirements from its current role, including taking on the current responsibilities of the Co-operation and Competition Panel … I consider it essential that we consider the governance model and, over time, put in place new arrangements. The forthcoming Bill will set in place requirements for a larger Monitor Board, with an appropriate balance of executive and non-executive members. You have confirmed your support for this approach, recognising that this necessarily begins with the recruitment and appointment of a chair with the future role in mind … I am grateful for your agreement to remain in post, leading the board, until such time as the appointment is made”.

Bundred’s reply states, “I fully recognise that the new Monitor envisaged by the proposals in our White Paper will be a very different body from the one I was appointed to chair. Subject to Parliamentary approval it will have not just a wider role but a completely new set of functions and as such I acknowledge that it is appropriate for the new body to have a new board”. He also promises to “assist you in delivering your vision of a higher quality, more devolved and better managed health service”.

All well and good … though if I were Bundred, I would have looked carefully at the employment law situation. Perhaps a behind-the-scenes entente cordiale has been reached between the parties,

No. Bundred will be allowed to apply, for the sake of form – and despite his being New Labour by association. There is evidently a reasonably serious animus, with Bundred’s former parish the Audit Commission on course towards its abolition.

Someone who is by no means against Bundred accurately described him as “an acquired taste”: evidently not one acquired by Lansley and co.You can read bits about Bundred here, here  and here.

Who'll get the job? Lord Carter of Coles, chair of the NHS Co-operation & Competition Panel, has already entered the stakes – indeed, did so prior to general knowledge of this vacancy.

If it is to be Lord Carter, then a fascinating signal will be sent that is utterly contradictory to Earl Howe’s reassuring messages to the NHS Alliance conference that the White Paper’s competition / any willing provider emphases were in fact aiming to pretent gross anti-competition, rather than in Earl Howe’s striking phrase “Monitor is there to police unfairness in competition; not to drum up artificial competition where there is none”.

Bill Moyes again? He did well before; although the job now is a very different beast. Moreover, Moyes was very clearly the executive chair and supreme power in Monitor. It is unclear which job will be the alpha male’s in neu-Monitor (featuring the Co-operation and Competition Panel on guest vocals).

Moreover, in our previous interviews, Moyes did call for the creation of an NHS economic regulator …

Who else?

The job suggests a numbers person and a competition true believer.

So, in descending order of seriousness:

Kenneth Clarke?

Terry Leahy?

A Tory Party donor?

Gerry Robinson?