HSJ’s pick of the must read stories and debate from Wednesday

Board talk

NHS Improvement is courting more than a dozen FTSE 100 companies, including Barclays and IBM, to find new non-executive directors to sit on NHS trust boards, HSJ reported on Wednesday.

In a letter to trust chairs, the regulator said firms could offer their “top talent” to the NHS as part of efforts to support top table leadership at trusts. NHSI is also working on a strategy to support board development, and reiterated its desire to have a 50/50 gender balance on boards by 2020.

While some HSJ readers welcomed the idea and shared positive experiences of NEDs from multinationals – “I’ve got one on my board. His contribution is extraordinary” – others were sceptical.

“The perception that the private sector has all the answers is both disingenuous and a folly,” said one commenter. Another added: “What top talent in the FTSE 100? Why is there is an automatic assumption that they have what the NHS needs?”

A number of other readers suggested that recruiting non-execs from outside the NHS would be the main challenge: “We struggle to get non-execs from these backgrounds and it is hardly surprising! Why would they want to do something when the centre is micromanaging everything?”

In resonse, the letter’s author, NHSI director of corporate affairs Helen Buckingham, wrote in the comments section: “We’re not just working with the FTSE100 (many of whom are of course looking at how they can improve diversity themselves, no one is perfect…) but also looking at other ways to improve the diversity of boards across a number of areas. All thoughts on how best to do this will be very welcome.”

Trusts gets fourth boss in 12 months

A fourth chief executive in year has been appointed at a troubled NHS trust in the North West, while three former senior officers face disciplinary hearings.

Iain McInnes has been appointed interim chief executive at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust, on secondment from NHS Improvement where is he a portfolio director.

In August 2015, four senior officers at the trust, including chief executive Jonathan Parry, were “excluded from work” following whistleblowing complaints.

Following an investigation into “serious conduct issues”, the trust said there was “a case to answer for three individuals” and disciplinary hearings will now be arranged.

A&E at ‘crisis point’

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has set out plans to temporarily close Grantham Hospital’s emergency department at night because of staff shortages and patient safety concerns.

The trust said the “situation is now unsustainable”, services were at “crisis point”, and that patients could be put at risk “if we don’t act”. A decision on the proposals will be finalised in the coming days.