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

“Don’t call them tents, call them ‘temporary external structures’” sounds like a line from The Thick Of It.

But senior sources have told HSJ this instruction has been recently issued, verbally at least, by NHS England officials to their local counterparts regarding the temporary treatment areas which are increasingly being erected outside overcrowded A&Es.  

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has raised fundamental concerns – in uncompromising and stark terms – about the safety and morality of these temporary treatment areas.

Of course, such facilities have been used by various hospitals for years, so why is the college raising the alarm now?

The college’s intervention appears to have been prompted by its understanding that regions have been told to prepare to erect more of these facilities outside their major EDs as part of plans to get a grip on ambulance handover delays, which have reached record highs in the last two weeks.

But RCEM president Katherine Henderson warns: “Using tents is just wrong on every level… We’ve been down this route before. It doesn’t work. It’s a huge distraction [which] creates the appearance that people are taking action when it’s not the action that will deal with the problem.”

Nice doing business with you

Another week comes and goes and with it another new chair for a health body with a background in the financial services sector.

This week the Department of Health and Social Care announced the new chair for the NHS Business Services Authority, which provides back-end business support services across the NHS, will be a former banker.

Sue Douthwaite spent much of her career in senior positions at UK institutions focusing on business banking – particularly small and medium sized businesses. More recently, she has become something of a professional board member, taking up non-executive posts at institutions in the financial sector and at two universities.

Her appointment for a three-year stint chairing NHSBSA comes after NHS England and the Care Quality Commission put former City execs among their board chairs, and after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence appointed a chief executive with a background in insurance.

Doubtless they’ll bring with them some of that much-vaunted business nous to help the health sector run more efficiently.

Also on today

Tune in to HSJ’s Health Check podcast for our panel’s take on growing demands for the health service to make efficiency savings, and enlighten yourself with a simple explanation of ICSs by NHS Blithering’s Martin Plackard…