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

The human cost

Three people died of cancer and another four came to severe harm after their endoscopies were delayed, a teaching hospital trust has confirmed.

Harm reviews for patients at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley, south London, were carried out after a backlog was uncovered in May.

Newly published minutes for King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said a backlog of more than 1,000 patients requiring endoscopy had been identified. 

A King’s FT spokesperson told HSJ: “We accept that the trust has not met the expectation of providing quality and safe care and have apologised to the patients and their families. Additionally, we are currently reducing the backlog of patients waiting for an endoscopic procedure.”

Endoscopy capacity at the PRUH has been an issue for two years with a business case for more decontamination facilities going to the board in November 2017.

In February 2018, the trust admitted it had a problem with PRUH endoscopy performance as its beds were used as overflow for patients coming through the emergency department.

Not-so-common sense

A group of NHS trusts have lost a High Court battle with local authorities over their business rates.

The judgement at the High Court on Thursday meant the providers losing out on a potential windfall of £1.5bn, after a judge ruled they should not be classified as charities.

The case — brought by University Hospitals of Derby and Burton Foundation Trust and 16 other NHS providers, against 45 councils — examined whether an NHS provider could be classified as a charity under the Local Government Finance Act 1988, which would have given them a significant discount on local business rates.

The Local Government Association said it was “pleased this common-sense decision will not see them having to pay NHS trusts and foundation trusts £1.5bn in unfounded backdated business rates relief nor see them eligible for 80 per cent relief going forward”. A statement which, presumably, those bringing the case.