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

Changing systems to make improvements takes time and inevitably it will never come fast enough, especially for those trying to effect the changes. So said the chief executive of NHS Supply Chain late last year as he defended his agency from criticism.

Andrew New was frank when speaking to HSJ in November, saying “there is a level of change management that just had to take a period of time, and that’s frustrating for us all”.

Part of those promised improvements are in NHSSC’s physical and digital infrastructure.

There are plans afoot to update the network of warehouses and the software used to manage those sites. There will be improved inventory management systems, too. And there is going to be a new digital commerce platform, its front door through which trusts access products and consumables.

Last week NHSSC awarded a contract for just such a platform to Deloitte, worth £9.3m over five years. This should be a positive change and an improvement on the status quo. And the contract is signed so it’s not even “jam tomorrow”. But, assuming it does deliver tangible benefits to users, with a two-year rollout period to get it to the trusts it’s not coming fast.

One more for the collection?

Respected trust boss Nick Hulme’s appointment as interim chief at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust, as we reported on Monday, will no doubt raise a few eyebrows.

The East Suffolk and North East Essex FT chief executive began his tenure in the East of England running Colchester hospital in 2016, which was subsequently merged with Ipswich two years later.   

Could Mr Hulme be on the way to adding another trust to his portfolio? Stranger things have happened, and Glen Burley recently picking up his fourth trust suggests it’s not something system leaders would be against.

Mr Hulme played down this idea, but in doing so, appeared to choose his words carefully. After his six-month interim CEO stint at NNUH expires in February 2024, he told HSJ he expected to return to ESNEFT.

He also said he had “no plans” to apply for substantive NNUH role – which again leaves some wriggle room.

So, while the odds are very much against Mr Hulme taking on additional responsibility for such a large trust, which also has much to address in terms of quality, culture and performance, people, not least trust bosses, have been known to change their “plans”.

Also on today

NHS England’s handling of whistleblowing concerns at The Christie FT will be subject to a judicial review in the High Court, writes Lawrence Dunhill in this week’s North by North West. And in news we report that NHSE communications director James Lyons will leave this summer to join TikTok.