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NHS England, the Care Quality Commission, and other national bodies have been ordered to impose a “complete recruitment pause” in what could be the final days of the health and social care secretary Steve Barclay’s short-lived tenure.

The freeze, which is subject to a “small number of exceptions”, forms part of an efficiency review that is also targeting spending on management consultants.

NHSE told HSJ it has already implemented this process as it looks to cut as many as 6,000 jobs, but did not say whether high-profile vacancies will be advertised publicly.

The CQC is in a similar position, with several senior positions currently being filled on an interim basis. The care watchdog said it was awaiting more information from the Department of Health and Social Care but already had “strict controls” on recruitment in place.

The edict says DHSC officials will now meet with NHSE and other agencies to “understand each organisation’s plans” on recruitment. Perhaps more ominously for the agencies involved, the DHSC savings review is also said to be considering long-term reform options for arm’s-length bodies.

Worth the wait

It has been a long time coming, but finally plans to reconfigure emergency care at one of the country’s most troubled trusts have passed the first hurdle.

The outline case for a single emergency centre for Shropshire at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital – and downgrading of Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital to an “A&E local” with a 24/7 urgent care centre – has been in the pipeline for the best part of a decade. It will also see women’s and children’s inpatient services moved to a single site at Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust’s controversial overhaul has suffered a series of setbacks this year alone, with NHSE sending back the original outline case in January after it emerged inflation had pushed costs to at least £500m. That was significantly higher than funding originally allocated in 2018 of £312m. 

HSJ understands Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System has now come up with an option compliant with the original £312m, and the scheme now needs outline and full business case approval before building work can start. 

However, HSJ has also been told a number of “significant risks” will remain if the scheme’s wider ambitions, including improving patient accommodation at Shrewsbury, are not funded.

Also on today

The CQC has sent another enforcement notice to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, regarding problems inspectors found within its maternity services. Meanwhile, Ming Tang, NHSE’s interim chief data and analytics officer, has admitted the organisation has failed to adequately involve trusts in plans for a controversial new data-sharing project.