Your essential news round-up from HSJ

Bye, bye Bob

More comings and goings (or not going) at the top of NHS Improvement.

Bob Alexander, deputy chief executive and director of resources, is leaving later this month to lead the Sussex and East Surrey STP – but he will formally remain in post until January “to support a smooth transition” and initially work for the STP three days a week.

The news follows Baroness Dido Harding being confirmed as the preferred choice to be next chair of the regulator and take over from Ed Smith.

Mr Alexander has been a “very important cog” at the centre of the system, especially in financial management, so his absence will be felt, as a number of commenters on have mentioned.

He’ll be taking on a challenge with his new role – Sussex and East Surrey STP was one of five (out of 44) rated “needs most improvement” by NHS England in the summer. But as former finance director of the South East Coast SHA, he knows the patch.

One person who isn’t leaving yet is Jim Mackey. The NHSI chief executive, who was due to return to Northumbria at the end of the month, has extended his tenure and could stay until Christmas if his replacement is not able to start work immediately. The regulator hopes to announce the new boss in early November.

A&E worries

Trusts have fallen short of NHS England’s first milestone towards hitting the national emergency performance waiting time target, official figures reveal.

A&E attendees last month were seen within four hours 89.7 per cent of the time – down from 90.3 per cent in August and 90.6 per cent a year earlier, NHS England data shows.

The monthly data is significant because NHS England pledged in March that 90 per cent of A&E attendees would be seen within four hours by September, and then 95 per cent in 2018.

The results will fuel concerns about the NHS’s prospects for this winter. It follows Simon Stevens telling MPs more funding will be needed from next month’s budget.

The A&E waiting times target has not been hit since July 2015. The performance of the NHS’s major A&E units (type one) remained in the mid-80s – 84.6 per cent in September, against 86 per cent for September 2016.

Eleven trusts recorded performance at 80 per cent or below, while 34 trusts recorded performance below 85 per cent. The top performer was Luton and Dunstable with 98.5 per cent.