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

Capital grab

In an update to mental health providers late last week, the Care Quality Commission’s mental health lead Paul Lelliott told trusts the regulator will start to look at how actively they pursue any capital funding they need

The new criteria will sit in the “well-led” part of the CQC’s inspection and is designed to monitor how active mental health trust leaders are in addressing poor estate. Alongside this, leaders will also be judged on how aware they are of the quality of their estate.

Most would find it difficult to argue against the need for boards to have greater awareness of their estate. It is a significant patient safety issue and will likely be on the agenda, or at least on the to-do list, of most chief executives.

The state of the estate has been a bugbear of those charged with overseeing the system for some time, too. Sir Simon Wessely called it some of the “worst estate the NHS has” in his review of the Mental Health Act last year, while Dr Lelliott himself raised concerns about the “hundreds” of inappropriate dormitory style wards still in use in an earlier interview with HSJ

But the CQC’s announcement may well have irked frustrated mental health trust chiefs, who would point out getting the necessary funding is easier said than done.

Justice delayed

You could write a PhD on the vagaries of the NHS’ internal disciplinary processes.

The inconsistencies that emerge and governance problems it creates keep armies of HR people and lawyers in employment.

And aside from the issue of delivering justice for staff, these processes become doubly important when the cases involve whistleblowing.

Which makes a recent case involving NHS Professionals, details of which were made public last week, unsettling.

The government-owned company supplies hundreds of thousands of shifts to dozens of trusts so you would hope they had clear and efficient processes for when a staff member raises concerns about their temporary employer, or vice versa.

The case HSJ reported, in which a staff member was left on suspension for almost three years because his case had gone uninvestigated, suggests these processes are not fully ironed out, or that they are inconsistently applied.

The case has now been through both an employment tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal yet the results of the initial whistleblowing complaint, about understaffing, remain unclear.