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

Please Sir, we want some more

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have both made clear that the NHS would get “whatever it needs” to respond to covid-19, and regions are subsequently lining up with their begging bowls ahead of winter.

One such region - the West Midlands - is asking for resource to deliver an extra 1,000 acute beds this winter - according to documents published by West Midlands Ambulance Service Foundation Trust. 

The request is partly due to the bed capacity lost as a result of covid-19 infection control measures, which is expected to reduce capacity nationally by up to 10 per cent.

The West Midlands might think it needs 1,000 extra beds, but it’s unclear if it will get its request granted by NHS England/Improvement given uncertainties over funding and delivery. 

Additionally, as one HSJ reader pointed out, even if the money and space for 1,000 beds is found it will still be hugely challenging to staff them. 

Supply Chain under scrutiny

NHS Supply Chain wasn’t exactly popular among trust procurement teams before covid-19, and the pandemic has only served to expose its failings in the most tragic way.

Getting adequate personal protective equipment to staff on the frontline is a matter of life and death, but many procurement sources have pointed the finger of blame for the well-documented PPE problems at Supply Chain Coordination Limited - the company which operates NHS Supply Chain. 

On Wednesday it emerged SCCL is now the subject of a review by the Department of Health and Social Care with the help of the Cabinet Office, although the DHSC insists this has nothing to do with SCCL’s role in the PPE crisis.

Regardless, it seems an under-statement to suggest that the DHSC-owned company – which is in the process of being taken over by NHSE/I – is set for a less-than-favourable review. The work will be finished later this year.