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

Trusts are now wondering how many of the NHS workers who resigned over the government’s covid vaccine mandate would want to return in the wake of a juddering last-minute U-turn.

We are now a week removed from when furious senior leaders hit out at the “shambles” of ministers’ decision to revoke a policy requiring all patient-facing healthcare workers be jabbed against covid by 3 February.

Some staff quit before the deadline while others held out in hope the government would change course – which it did.

Now, NHS England has urged trusts to contact workers who were handed a notice of dismissal and “reach a mutual agreement” to withdraw it with “immediate effect”.

Published in a frequently asked questions document on Tuesday, NHSE advised organisations to contact individuals who have resigned “as soon as practicable”. As in, pronto.

Leaders are still smarting over the aftermath of last week’s chaos, and the saga is unlikely to end, there remains the prospect of legal action being explored. Whether much comes from that remains to be seen.

The government has still stressed that it remains a “professional duty” for workers to get vaccinated against covid. However, given recent events this messaging could ring hollow.

What’s up, doc?

Just a few weeks after the government announced it would be reforming the national clinical excellence awards scheme, it emerged there was no such luck for the local awards scheme – after two years of talks unions have rejected the government’s offer for consultants’ additional pay.

HSJ understands the main sticking point for the unions were concerns around national funding and variation in availability of money across trusts and regions. Both the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association and the British Medical Association branded this a “postcode lottery” and suggested it was a retrograde step in trying to modernise the awards scheme.

BMA consultants committee chair Vishal Sharma said the proposals would see some trusts having “very little funding” to spend on new awards, which could see younger consultants, a great proportion of who are women, denied opportunity to new awards.

So what now for the doctors? Due to an agreement in the last round of LCA negotiations in 2018 (a sore spot between the unions – the HCSA rejected it whilst the BMA did not) they will revert to a “default” option that will see only award holders have them honoured, but with little clarity about what the scheme for this year will look like.

Also on today

In this week’s London Eye, Ben Clover looks at the biggest joint trust chair announcement yet, and in our HSJ Partners section, Habib Naqvi and Owen Chinembiri highlight developments made by the NHS Race and Health Observatory since its inception a year ago.