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

Access to NHS IT systems and its content is a highly touchy subject, which can give ministers sleepless nights.

In an unusual development, experts working at the National Cyber Security Centre — part of the Government Communications Headquarters — have been granted legal powers to order the NHS to hand over information about its IT systems and networks until the end of 2020.

According to the directive, GCHQ can only request this information where it relates to the “security” of the NHS’ systems, and a spokesman for the agency told HSJ it had “no desire” to receive patient data.

But, at a time when the NHS is developing a covid-19 contact tracing app, the news will likely cause some concern for privacy campaigners.

Meanwhile, a further 3,000 overseas healthcare workers have had their visas extended by an extra 12 months, as they help the country fight the covid-19 pandemic.

The Home Office announced the decision covers midwives, radiographers, social care workers and pharmacists, working both in the NHS and in the independent sector.

It follows a previous government announcement which extended 2,800 overseas NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics’ visas by an extra year last month.