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

The path to mandatory staff vaccination had been tempestuous for weeks – and now the government’s controversial policy has well and truly hit the rocks, with senior sources telling HSJ they expected a “full and complete U-turn”.

The eleventh-hour decision, which followed weeks of speculation, was described as a “mess” and a “shambles” by senior leaders, including a former chief executive of NHS England.

Judging by the strength of feeling in the comments section, many HSJ readers echoed this sentiment.

Several shared concerns about the boost a U-turn could give to anti-vaccination campaigners – while others expressed fears over the hit their credibility may take, particularly in the eyes of staff.

Some were angry that it has taken this long – many reeling from weeks of painful conversations with employees.

And it is being viewed as a kick in the teeth for the tens of thousands of social care workers who lost their jobs to the mandate last year. Despite the policy now being withdrawn, there are doubts that sacked workers will return.

There is a silver lining this time around. As one commenter highlights: “We don’t now have to dismiss much loved and valued colleagues… that’s got to be a good thing.”  

Grand designs

Intense competition to be accepted on to the government’s New Hospitals programme has resulted in nearly two thirds of trusts put in an application, HSJ has learned.

Sources said that 128 “expressions of interest” had been submitted by trusts hoping to be part of the final cohort.

Of those, only eight will be selected to receive the large sums required to fund the building project they believe is needed, often amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds. These will make up the final projects of the 48 that government has promised will be delivered by 2030.

The remaining 120 developments that local trusts (of which there are about 210 in England) have said are needed will be rejected and go unbuilt.

The NHP leadership team is currently evaluating all the bids and plans to create a long list of schemes which will be published by the government in the next few months.

One of the trusts bidding to be part of the NHP, Hull University Hospitals Trust, said in a board report that NHP funding was “massively oversubscribed”. The trust is part of a Humber-wide bid to rebuild Scunthorpe Hospital and make improvements to Hull Royal Infirmary, Castle Hill Hospital (also in Hull) and Grimsby Hospital.

Also on today

Get up to speed with health coverage beyond HSJ’s walls in our weekly column The Primer, and in North by North West read what our correspondent Lawrence Dunhill makes of NHS England’s long-awaited review into the research division at The Christie.