HSJ’s must read stories and talking points

Major contract to end early

A large hospital trust is looking to terminate a contract with a private company worth £200m over five years amid concerns due to poor standards.

A leaked email from Nottingham University Hospitals Trust chief executive Peter Homa, seen by HSJ, confirmed the trust is looking to agree “a managed exit” from the estates and facilities contract with Carillion after months of warnings.

In October, we reported that nurses were cleaning ward areas after Carillion staff had finished their work. There have also been complaints over rats, overflowing bins, a shortage of linen and lack of availability of equipment and portering services.

The trust warned the company in July that unless there were improvements it would terminate the contract and last month the board agreed there had been “insufficient progress”.

Mr Homa said on Monday: “NUH and Carillion are commencing discussions to determine next steps. Estates and facilities staff will remain employed by Carillion until such time as future arrangements are agreed by both parties, which we anticipate to be January 2017.” The company declined to comment.

Funding games

Editor Alastair McLellan has written in this week’s leader column about the consequences of the government and the NHS’s standoff over funding.

He warns: “In this game of financial chicken many in the NHS believe they have time on their side, that a bailout is just one or two scandals away. It is a dangerous assumption.”

Joint board starts work

City Hospitals Sunderland and South Tyneside foundation trusts have created a new joint leadership team.

The 12-strong executive is made up of directors from both trusts, which cover a population of 430,000 across their patches. The trusts already jointly provide some services such as stroke and paediatrics.

The new team will be responsible for running all hospital and community services in the region, but boards from each trust will hold it to account.

Plans for the board were announced in August and it officially started work last week. There are still two vacant posts: head of communications and a director of estates and facilities.

It follows the chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland, Ken Bremner, being appointed leader of both trusts in September, with South Tyneside’s Steve Williamson as deputy chief executive. The joint board includes medical directors from each trust.

The leaders of both trusts have stressed the new set up will not trigger a merger.