Decision on new health regulator quango delayed

Monitor, the foundation trust regulator, is to be left for months without a permanent chairman or chief executive after the Department of Health announced that it was to re-advertise the post of chairman.

William Moyes, the executive chairman, is stepping down in January. Interviews with candidates were completed in mid-October, but Andy Burnham, the health secretary, has only now decided to reject the two candidates approved in the interviewing process.

These are understood to be Chris Mellor, the deputy, who is thought to have withdrawn in frustration at the process, and Keith Pearson, chairman of the East of England strategic health authority. Mr Mellor is to act as interim chairman.

The delay comes when the finances of NHS foundation trusts, which Monitor oversees, are coming under pressure from the squeeze on public spending.

At the same time, David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, has said he wants to accelerate the much delayed process of converting ordinary NHS hospitals to the free standing businesses that foundation trusts represent.

Finding good candidates to chair Monitor and then appoint a chief executive may prove a challenge in the run up to the general election- not least because the Conservatives, if they win, plan to turn Monitor into a broader economic regulator. 
As a result, candidates will be uncertain about quite what job it is they are applying for.

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