The must read stories and debate in the NHS

Bonus pot

NHS regulators have seen sense and changed their mind over the distribution of up to £600m of sustainability and transformation funding.

According to guidance published only last month, this “unearned” share of the £1.8bn STF in 2017-18 was all set to be dished out to providers that met their control total, in another bonanza for many of the same trusts that received extra cash the previous year.

But following criticism of the distortive impact this would continue to have, NHS Improvement has changed to rules to allow trusts that miss their financial targets to retain access to their allocations on a sliding scale according to performance.

The change of tack is the second encouraging step taken by NHSI this week, following the letter on Wednesday asking for more realism in their plans for 2018-19.

Friday’s letter suggests the regulator, and perhaps its Whitehall masters, are not only willing to change their mind when they’ve got it wrong, but are prepared to move away from the giant carrot and stick approach that has governed NHS finances since the start of 2016-17.

The B word

The B word has reared its head again this week on hsj.co.uk, after NHS England published guidance for prospective overseas GP recruits.

The guidance, published this week, makes quite clear that ahead of Brexit, the national commissioner is targeting GPs in Europe as part of its drive to recruit 2,000 doctors from overseas by 2020.

What it also makes clear that the new recruit’s European qualifications will be recognised in the UK until 29 March 2019 – when the country is set to leave the EU.

However, neither NHSE nor the Department of Health and Social Care could clarify whether GPs who qualify after Brexit will have their qualifications recognised.

If the answer is no, this could put a big dent in NHSE’s ambitions, or at least slow it down, one expert told HSJ.

As it stands, any GP qualifications in the EU are recognised in the UK due to agreements over commonality in their training. However, if this commonality is taken away after Brexit, GPs from the continent will be subject to the same “laborious” immigration process as doctors from outside it.

This process is harder as employers need to prove the GP has the equivalent quality of training to UK GPs. The expert we spoke to warned that the further afield you go, the harder it gets check.