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

Trusts facing the costs of fire safety warnings

Almost a year since the Grenfell Tower disaster HSJ has revealed today that several trusts are still yet to deal with fire safety risks raised by cladding on their buildings which were inspected after the tragedy last year.

HSJ has also reported that at least seven trusts served with fire enforcement notices with some saying the work is not expected to be completed for another year.

In a number of cases the costs of upgrading the buildings, which at the Mid Cheshire Hospital Trust date back to the 1970s, could run into millions.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust was served with a notice on its Lincoln hospital on the day of the Grenfell Tower fire, and also has one on the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston. It says it needs £46m of capital investment to be fully compliant.

These are serious issues the NHS faces and the Grenfell Tower inferno, which claimed the lives of 72 people, is a stark reminder of the importance that needs to be placed on fire safety.

Mind the gap

A new analysis from the Nuffield Trust has delved deeper into the gender pay gap in the NHS and revealed that even for a staff group that is 81 per cent female, men still come out on top.

At first glance the 3.9 per cent Agenda for Change pay gap favourable to women looks like good news, but in reality, men are “disproportionately” represented in the higher pay bands, according to the think tank – the overwhelming female majority is what accounts for the 3.9 per cent figure.

For staff not on the AfC contract, such as doctors and managers, the situation is even more challenging as there is a 47 per cent pay gap in favour of men. The Nuffield Trust explained this is down to significant imbalances between the numbers of male and female highly paid medical consultants.

Perhaps the newly commissioned government review on the gender pay gap in medicine could take a wider look at why men seem to rise faster through the ranks than women?

A rock and a hard place?

In a classic example of the rock and the hard place that NHS managers can often find themselves between, two clinical commissioning groups are being forced to plan stinging cuts to their local community services.

Hastings and Rother CCG and Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG had predicted a £57.4m deficit in 2018-19 but the governing bodies were unable to agree a budget in March. Now they are being told there is a “non-negotiable” offer of a £32m deficit across the two organisations matched by £32m from the commissioner sustainability fund.

But to get there they must agree to back a five per cent cut in non-acute spending, excluding primary care and mental health. Commentators were quick to point out the folly of cutting services that should be being expanded in line with the ambitions of the Five Year Forward View.

The cuts also come less than a week after Lord Carter’s review of the sector and the revelation that key recommendations to boost the community services sector voice at NHS England was taken out of his report at the request of NHS England itself.