Women’s Services Committee Chair’s Briefing - November 2023

Chair of NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Raj Jain

In my last chair’s briefing, I explained that we were in the process of reviewing how we organise the women’s services programme, to make sure that we had effective arrangements in place to deliver this critical piece of work.

As a result of discussions over the last few weeks, a proposal to make some changes to the way the programme is structured has been developed. This week, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB) will be asked to approve these changes, which if they go ahead would mean separating out some responsibilities which currently sit with the Women’s Services Committee.

You can read the full report in the ICB papers on the NHS Cheshire and Merseyside website, but in summary, the changes would mean:

  • The Women’s Services Committee, which was set up to oversee the development of a safe and sustainable future care model for women’s hospital services in Liverpool, would retain an oversight role. It would be focussed on ensuring that the work required was delivered, and followed the right processes. However, the committee would no longer be responsible for also developing and delivering this work in the first place – currently, the committee is responsible for both doing the work, and providing the assurance, which means it has a dual role.
  • A new Programme Board would be established to manage the development and delivery of the programme plan. It would take on some of the current delivery functions of the Women’s Services Committee, such as overseeing the development of a case for change, and exploring potential options for services.

Under the proposals, I would continue to chair the Women’s Services Committee, and James Sumner, Chief Executive of Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Interim Chief Executive of Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, would chair the Programme Board. The Programme Board would report to the Women’s Services Committee, which would continue to report to NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board.

Subject to the board approving this approach, the Programme Board would be set up during December and January, so that work on the programme could continue. The Women’s Services Committee would then meet in January, to put in place arrangements to support its new role.

I hope this is a useful update. I appreciate that there is a strong appetite to see this work progress, but this is a complex programme, and it’s really important that we organise ourselves in a way that makes sense. I’ve previously written about how important it is that we hear the voices of patients and the public throughout this process, and this remains a key principle for the programme. Although it’s been necessary to take some time to get our structures right, it remains the case that no proposals for services have yet been made – as soon as we are at the stage where we can begin developing potential options for the future, we will be involving people in this work, including those with lived experience of these services.

In my next briefing, I’ll provide a further update on how we are moving forward with this process.

Raj Jain

Chair, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB, and Women’s Services Committee