The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership

Long waits

Hospital trusts discovering large backlogs of patients waiting more than a year for treatment are a feature of acute healthcare at the moment.

The latest is Barts Health Trust, which saw 2,000 people wait more than 52 weeks for elective treatment over the four years its systems were not producing decent enough information to share with the national datasets.

The trust started reporting the data again last month and said no patients had come to harm as a result of the long waits. It would not disclose whether harm had come to a sub-set of patients, those identified as high risk .

In some cases a patient will chose to wait longer for treatment, to fit in with their plans or to see a specific consultant, but in many cases this is simply a capacity or administration issue.

Barts was brought together from several smaller organisations with different IT systems so some teething problems were to be expected. But the merger was six years ago, and it is not clear why it took so long to begin re-reporting the data.

NHS harm review assessments put patients in the categories in no-harm, moderate harm, severe harm or death. The assessment looks at it if the patient’s condition deteriorated as a result of the delay.

It takes no account of whether they simply lived in pain for longer than they should have done.

Sooner or later patients will start taking legal action in these cases, pointing out the NHS Constitution means they have a right to treatment within 18 weeks.

Grant departure

The town hall takeover of clinical commissioning groups in Greater Manchester has hit a glitch after the sudden resignation of one of its new joint leaders.

Theresa Grant, chief executive of Trafford Council, had also become accountable officer at Trafford CCG in April, as part of the region’s integration of health and social care services.

But three months later she has stepped down from both roles, after the local election in May resulted in Labour taking over the council’s leadership from the Conservatives.

The CCG’s corporate director of commissioning, Sara Radcliffe, will take on day-to-day responsibility of the commissioning body, with oversight provided by Salford CCG’s Anthony Hassall.

It is likely that a permanent replacement will be sought to restore the joint arrangements, but the changes and uncertainty will clearly make it difficult for the borough to progress with its transformation agenda.