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

A plan for the plan

The scope of the long term NHS plan promised by the prime minister during the spring finally began to fully reveal itself yesterday.

Former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, his successor Matt Hancock and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens had already dropped heavy hints about what the plan might contain – and the announcement of 14 “workstreams” to develop ideas for the plan therefore contained few surprises.

As expected cancer, mental health and cardiovascular will be among the plan’s “clinical priorities”, but these were fleshed out with the addition of respiratory to the latter’s workstream stream and a standalone group on learning disabilities and autism.

Among the 10 cross cutting workstreams there is the expected focus on workforce, prevention, children, integrated care and technology.

NHS England medical director Steve Powis and chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Carrie MacEwan lead what will – no doubt – be the most controversial workstream exploring how NHS performance targets should be reformed.

Likely to have a much lower profile, but to be just as important to HSJ readers, is the efficiency and productivity workstream lead by NHS Improvement executive director of operational productivity Jeremy Marlow and Manchester University Foundation Trust chief executive Mike Deegan.

NHS England and Improvement told HSJ there may be “up to” 20 workstreams when the plan’s scope is complete. All concerned will need to get their skates as the first proposals are needed by the end of September, head of consultation in October and the plan’s publication in November.

Toing and froing

After more than three years of toing and froing, the end is in sight for the drawn out saga of transferring spinal services from Portsmouth Hospitals Trust to University Hospitals Southampton Foundation Trust.

The latter will start taking over the services (with around 200 patients) from November, subject to both boards’ agreement.

Portsmouth’s spinal service was viewed as unsustainable due to staff shortages, but the transfer will incur a loss of more than £500,000.

Southampton, a tertiary trust, also took over vascular services last year, but PHT told HSJ there are “no plans” for further services to go west.