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

Consultant contract tough talk

The government’s team of contract negotiators better buckle up – according to consultants committee chair Rob Harwood the British Medical Association is going to stop playing nice when it comes to talks over a new deal for this influential part of the workforce.

Dr Harwood told members the union will review the “measured collegiate approach” it has taken with this government so far, as it may no longer be the best way forward, considering the “derisory” pay offer announced by the government last month.

The committee’s chair warned that the year-on-year reduction in pay cannot continue and suggested the 1.5 per cent pay lift would make members less likely to vote for a multiyear deal.

Such a stance isn’t surprising following some overwhelmingly negative reaction that Matt Hancock’s pay award was met with in the profession and could signal that the road ahead for future negotiations won’t be a smooth one.

The memory of the junior doctors’ strike is still fresh in the memories of both union and government officials and fighting talk such as this could make people nervous.

However, HSJ understands the different parties are yet to sit down around the table and discuss an offer.

Meanwhile, it’s not plain sailing for the Royal College of Nursing. Following revelations that the union misled members about the Agenda for Change pay deal, its chief executive Janet Davies has stepped down after a “mutual agreement”.

How the chaotic chain of events will impact on the rest of the union’s senior leadership remains to be seen, perhaps all will become clear after its planned emergency general meeting in September.

Winter is coming

A Kent trust which cancelled hundreds of operations earlier this year is moving elective work to a new site in an attempt to avoid cancellations this winter.

East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust will move planned orthopaedic operations from the William Harvey Hospital, in Ashford, to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, in Canterbury, at a distance of 15 miles.

The trust also plans to make use of spare capacity in its private wing at the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother Hospital, in Thanet to continue planned surgery there without affecting its ability to admit emergency patients. The trust said it did not expect this to affect the private patients service or the income from this.

In the first six months of 2018, the trust cancelled 359 planned operations – the highest number of all trusts in the south east. It has also seen a growth in demand for planned orthopaedic inpatient surgery, which is putting pressure on waiting lists.

This article was updated at 11:05am on 22/08/2018 to correct the fact the doctors’ pay deal was not backdated