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

£14bn is roughly the size of the entire British gambling industry, or 10 per cent of the annual (pre-covid-19) NHS budget. It’s also (roughly) the figure the Department of Health and Social Care expects to spend on personal protective equipment this year.

The cross-government £14bn funding envelope, agreed with the Treasury, is thought to cover PPE spending not just for the NHS in England, but for kit across the four nations and crown dependencies in settings from acute hospitals to social care.

So far some £6.5bn is thought to have been spent – much of it through emergency procurement measures that bypass the usual public calls for competitive bids.

This means hundreds of directly awarded deals will be posted online in the coming weeks. Remember the PestFix scandal? There are likely to be plenty more controversial contracts yet to be revealed.

Sanctions slated

It’s not often you get trust chief executives speaking out directly against government policy – although the occurrence has become more frequent during covid-19.

The latest policy to spark disgust from a trust chief is the government’s plans to reinstate benefit sanctions. These penalise people for not adhering to certain conditions placed on their benefits - such as attending appointments at the job centre.

They’re widely thought of as detrimental to the mental health of people receiving benefits and also disproportionately impact those with mental health illness.

In March, ministers agreed to suspend sanctions in the wake of the pandemic. However, this week the government signalled their return.

Among those criticising the decision was Paul Jenkins, chief executive of specialist mental health trust Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust.