HSJ’s round-up of Wednesday’s must read stories and talking points

Trust placed in special measures

Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust became the latest trust to be put in special measues on Wednesday – for concerns over quality, following three trusts being put in the financial special measures regime on Monday.

The Care Quality Commission highlighted serious concerns around patient safety, leadership and the Essex trust’s failure to hit key targets. Last weekend, it declared a “black alert” meaning no beds were available.

NHS Improvement put the trust in special measures, and an improvement director has already started working with the trust.

A CQC statement said inspectors had observed a deterioration in the quality of some services since an inspection last year: “There was a lack of management oversight in some departments and staff concerns were not always escalated to board level.”

Chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards added: “The vision for the trust was not clearly articulated by the senior team and staff. The executive team provided us with different visions, risks and strategies for the future, which did not assure us that the team were working cohesively.”

Phil Morley, the trust chief executive, said: “We are of course disappointed with this rating; we know that we deliver good care here and that patients have good outcomes from their treatment at PAH.”

Blow to landmark project

A private healthcare firm has pulled out of a high profile partnership with the NHS, which is due to develop a £120m multipurpose complex.

Ramsay Health Care UK has been involved in the project with Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust since 2013, and had been appointed to run a 90 bed hospital as part of the complex.

The company took the decision to pull out shortly after the EU referendum, HSJ understands. However, it has declined to comment on the reasons for withdrawing, including on whether they were related to economic uncertainty following the vote.

The news of a fresh blow to this flagship NHS infrastructure project comes as the service faces questions about how it finances capital projects when capital funding is in desperately short supply. The project, known as “the Forum”, has been seen by some as a potential model for new infrastructure elsewhere.

The other parties have said the project will continue, but it is now unclear when the development will be completed.

Lamb breaks silence

Former health minister Norman Lamb has written an article on hsj.co.uk recalling his daily fight in the coalition government to keep mental health on Jeremy Hunt’s agenda.

The Lib Dem MP writes: “Mental health didn’t get a look in until we introduced the very first waiting time and access standards for psychosis interventions and psychological therapy.

“I became acutely aware through my time as minister that you have to advocate for mental health every single day. You have to challenge awful assumptions. And you have to contest the extent to which mental health gets left off the agenda. I fear that the momentum on this has now slipped.”

He argues that better use of data is now absolutely critical to correct lost momentum and ensure equality in mental health treatment.