The essential stories and talking points from Thursday

Competition: still an issue

The Competition and Markets Authority has been busy in the NHS in the past two days, particularly in Birmingham.

After clearing a merger between Heart of England Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham FT on Wednesday, the regulator announced on Thursday that it had passed a public/private deal involving the latter trust.

UHB has reached an agreement with American private company HCA Healthcare to build a £65m public/private hospital on trust land. The specialist facility will have 138 beds, 72 of them for NHS patients.

For the trust it will create much needed extra beds while avoiding a big upfront capital cost. UHB also expects to gain some revenue from the deal – although exactly how, and how much, are not yet clear.

HCA Healthcare is no stranger to partnering with the NHS, striking a slightly different deal to move in with Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT in February.

For five other trusts, the news out of CMA today was less welcome, after the regulator highlighted them for not supplying data on their private patient work (read the story to find out who).

The CMA issued directions against five trusts for missing the May deadline to supply the Private Healthcare Information Network with the information.

The requirement dates to a CMA direction in 2014 that ordered providers of private patient care, NHS or otherwise, to publish quality information, such as mortality and readmission rates.

The theory was that consumers of private healthcare had a right to the same level of information as consumers of publicly funded healthcare when making an informed choice.

At least some trusts seemed to have been dragging their feet because of information governance concerns. They were worried they would be breaching their obligations as custodians of patient data.

Most trusts told HSJ they had every intention of complying with the direction. But one, Royal Devon and Exeter FT, said it was working on “a proposal to the CMA which will enable us to supply the information required whilst protecting patient confidentiality and addressing our information governance concerns”.

The CMA has warned “further action”, which could include prosecutions, awaits trusts that do not start supplying the data.

Proceeds of crime

A court has told a disgraced former NHS chief executive she must provide details of her financial assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

In March Paula Vasco-Knight was given a 16 month sentence suspended for two years after pleading guilty to fraud.

The former South Devon FT chief used NHS money to pay more than £11,000 in November 2013 to pay her husband Stephen for work which was never carried out.

Following the sentencing a timetable was set through the Proceeds of Crime Act for Ms Vasco-Knight to repay the money. However, neither she nor her husband have responded to the POCA request.

At a hearing at Exeter crown court on Tuesday this week, prosecutor Gareth Evans said a new repayment timetable would have to be set.

But Ms Vasco-Knight must tell the court if she agrees with an assessment of her and her husband’s financial assets provided by the prosecution.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed to HSJ that Ms Vasco-Knight has 14 days to respond to the prosecution’s financial statement. If she fails to comply, then the case will progress to a proceeds of crime hearing.

A date for the next hearing has not yet been set.