HSJ’s round-up of Wednesday’s must read stories

CCG shake-ups

Last week HSJ reported that the three year freeze on CCG mergers could be coming to an end, and a wave of consolidation could be on the cards.

Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern CCGs, both in Buckinghamshire, have applied to NHS England to merge at the beginning of 2017-18 – but this is yet to be formally considered and approved.

But other forms of consolidation, if not full mergers, have begun in earnest.

We revealed on Tuesday that five north London CCGs have appointed a single chief officer to cover their entire STP footprint.

Helen Pettersen, a former CSU managing director, has been named chief officer for Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington CCGs.

Last year Simon Stevens used the north central London STP footprint as an example of an area that could adopt the “NHS equivalent of combined authorities”. Mr Stevens said the grouping could span hospitals and commissioners, and consolidate CCGs.

Then we reported that Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset CCGs have recruited a joint chief officer – Julie Ross, chief officer of North West Surrey CCG and the lead for Surrey Heartlands STP will take up the role in June.

In July, NHS England placed South Gloucestershire and North Somerset in the new financial special measures regime. It directed them to work with Bristol CCG “to move towards a single commissioning leadership structure across the STP footprint”.

Fraud figures analysed

Following a number of high profile NHS fraud trials in recent months ending in conviction, one might think prosecutions are on the rise.

But analysis by HSJ reveals the number of NHS fraud prosecutions has actually declined significantly over the past six years.

Figures taken from the annual reports of NHS Protect and its predecessor body show the number of prosecutions decreased by three-quarters from 2010-11 to 2015-16.

Successful prosecutions from NHS Protect over this period fell from 105 to nine, while those from local counter-fraud services (which are sometimes contracted out) went down from 288 to 82.

NHS Protect said that since 2011 it has restructured and taken responsibility for “conducting the most serious and complex fraud investigations” and that “the nature of such investigations is that they are intrinsically more complicated to pursue”.