There are 216 in England, which provide acute, specialist, ambulance, community and mental health care. They are each responsible for giving patients care and treatment, within specified waiting-times, sticking to their budgets and hiring staff. Trusts have worked together as never before during the pandemic, for example by accepting critically-ill Covid patients from nearby areas.
A body quasi-independent from the Department of Health and Social Care that oversees the running of the NHS in England, distributes its budget and sets its priorities. Its chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, has known Boris Johnson since they were at Oxford University together in the 1980s. He regularly gives evidence to parliamentary committees and has appeared at several No 10 Covid briefings.
Represent England’s NHS trusts. Its chief executive, Chris Hopson, a regular interviewee on broadcast outlets, has a long track record of highlighting issues of concern to hospital bosses, for example the inadequate supply of personal protective equipment for NHS staff last spring, the shambles of the government’s Test and Trace programme and demand for tougher restrictions on personal freedoms in order to drive down coronavirus infections. Canny and a highly effective communicator, he is also well-connected in Whitehall and is taken seriously by ministers and Stevens as is the public face of the people running NHS hospitals.
It performs a similar role to NHS Providers, with two differences. It represents NHS bodies in Wales as well as England, and it also represents England’s 1,260 primary care networks – local groupings of GP surgeries – so speaks for GPs who send patients for care, not just the trusts that provide it. The confederation’s link with family doctors mean it has been much more closely involved in the ongoing rollout of the Covid vaccines than NHS Providers.
British Medical Association
It is the main trade union representing about 70% of the UK’s 240,000 doctors. As such ministers have to heed its views, not least because it negotiates doctors’ pay. But it is also a professional body which produces guidance to improve care both with specific conditions and across health more generally. Its chair of council (leader), Dr Chaand Nagpaul – a London GP – is probably the country’s most high-profile doctor, and offers his views daily on the latest developments with the pandemic.
The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association
A smaller medical trade union than the BMA, set up a few years ago. Its president, anaesthetist Dr Claudia Paoloni, is also often quoted in the media.
Doctors Association UK
A campaigning network of grassroots medics across the UK which was only formed a few years ago. It uses insights and testimonies from frontline medics to expose what it sees as failings in government or NHS policy, such as bullying or difficulties obtaining a visa to work in the NHS. Its main public face is Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, an intensive care doctor. She is an articulate and accomplished media performer and regularly uses Twitter to highlight issues.
Similar in make-up and purpose to the DAUK, highlighting frontline doctors’ experiences. Its founder, Dr Julia Patterson, who trained as a psychiatrist, has recently become its chief executive as part of its plans to become more professional and less ad-hoc in a bid to expand its role, reach and influence. It is holding the first of what it intends to be regular press conferences this week.