HSJ’s must read stories from Monday

‘Joined up government at its best’

Fire service chiefs say they were not consulted over the “practicalities” of conducting urgent fire safety checks at hospitals this weekend in response to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Senior officers from England’s nine fire and rescue services were understood to be “seeking further clarity” from central government on Sunday after health secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered checks on hospital inpatient units to be completed over the weekend.

In correspondence seen by HSJ, one fire service director said the sector “did not appear to have been consulted over the practicalities of the request”.

A meeting between government officials and the national lead for fire service response was understood to have taken place on Sunday afternoon to discuss Mr Hunt’s request for urgent safety checks.

One trust chief executive told HSJ there was “chaos” in the capital, with London Fire Brigade refusing to carry out checks because of the lack of planning and the volume of work it was already undertaking in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

Another trust chief in the East of England said: “Our fire service had not heard anything about it from their end so when the NHS trusts started to ring them, it was all new news… Plus they are inundated with safety checks on residential blocks. Joined up government at its best.”

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Foundation Trust chief Sarah-Jane Marsh said on Twitter that she only found out about the NHS Improvement request after it was revealed by HSJ on Saturday evening.

Another emergency meeting of some fire chiefs was due to take place on Monday to discuss the response to the NHS’s request.

Mann names his price to hit A&E target

The NHS’s clinical lead for A&E says the chances of hitting the 95 per four hour target by next year is contingent on addressing delayed transfers from hospitals.

You knew that already, of course. But what Cliff Mann has now told us is he estimates that the NHS needs to persuade councils to spend £100m of £1bn worth of new social care cash allocated for this financial year on reducing delayed discharges.

Dr Mann describes it as a “relatively small proportion” – but even getting this will prove challenging, judging by the mood music coming from councils, which are looking to use it to plug existing holes after years of funding cuts

His comments on the staffing pressures facing emergency departments make sober reading. He said “at a conservative estimate we are 50 per cent short of the [consultant] numbers” the NHS needs”.

HSJ understands there is high correlation between the areas of the country struggling to recruit and retain staff, and poor A&E performance.

NHS Improvement, Health Education England and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine are currently putting together an emergency medicine workforce plan. It will need to be well funded to address what is a significant and growing problem.