Essential insight into England’s biggest health economy, by Ben Clover

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London Eye was moved by the frankness of a hospital chief executive in a local paper this week.

Mark Davies, who has occupied a number of roles in London and now runs Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust, has never been known for being forthcoming before – but he told the regional press that he had been put in a “piggie in the middle position” by the CQC and NHS Improvement, after being ordered to open new facilities to improve care and save money.

A common problem, but one people rarely say on the record.

And of course it applies in the capital also.

HSJ has spoken to senior staff who say the Treasury’s plans to scrutinise ever smaller dribblings of capital money into the system could jeopardise a long running and contentious reconfiguration; one that has taken years to progress to this stage.

Mergers latest

London has seen most of the acute sector mergers it is likely to see for a little while, London Eye reckons.

But last week saw the announcement of a merger between North East London Commissioning Support Unit and South East CSU. Both work with around 28 CCGs in and around London.

It can be hard to tell how equal a partnership a merger will be, although the fact that the new organisation will be called “North East London Commissioning Support Unit” might give us a clue in this case.

Nor should we assume there will be redundancies but if there are then staff would do well to remember that the Treasury is looking to change the rules on redundancy payments in the near future.

Chairs’ salaries

Staying with north east London, Barts Health Trust was revealed to be one of the trusts that had asked for, and been granted, ministerial permission to raise its chair’s salary.

Barts had the single biggest increase, from £24,000 to £45,000.

The general principle was that NHS trust chairs are paid less than FT chairs, who typically earn £45,000.

There was some complaint about the significant percentage increases but I don’t think anyone can really quibble with the idea that chairing the £1bn-plus turnover Barts didn’t deserve £45,000 a year.

The general argument from the centre is that these kinds of sums are needed to attract the strongest talent.

John Bacon was appointed to the trust in July 2015, and the increase went through two months later.

At other trusts it looks like organisations applied to increase their chairs’ pay where a big job needs doing.

Former Chelsea & Westminster chief exec Heather Lawrence was appointed to chair London Ambulance Service, which is in special measures, in February this year.

The remuneration for the role went from £21,000 to £40,000 two months earlier.

London Eye features a look at what’s going on in England’s biggest health economy. London has the best and worst regarded hospital trusts in the country. It has excellence and dysfunction in commissioning and primary care. I will cover all of this.

Please get in touch to tip me off about stories you think I should cover: ben.clover@emap.com.