HSJ’s round-up of Tuesday’s must read stories

Three chief execs in a fortnight

In a dramatic turn of events at St George’s University Hospitals in London, staff were told on Tuesday morning that the trust has been forced to suspend its acting chief executive – less than two weeks after the substantive chief executive stood down.

A leaked email revealed Paula Vasco-Knight was suspended last week after serious financial allegations were made against her relating to a role at a previous employer.

The suspension of Ms Vasco-Knight comes after the trust announced last month that substantive chief executive Miles Scott would be standing down. His departure followed weeks of speculation about his future at the troubled trust and almost three weeks of annual leave.

It’s the latest controversy to afflict the scandal-hit trust after its finances collapsed in 2015 shortly after it was awarded foundation trust status.

Trust chair Sir David Henshaw would not say which previous employment the allegations against Ms Vasco-Knight related to, but described the situation as “deeply disappointing”.

She had been working as interim chief operating officer at St George’s before stepping up last month, and was previously chief executive at South Devon Healthcare FT. She resigned there after being accused of nepotism.

Following Ms Vasco-Knight’s suspension, medical director Simon Mackenzie is taking temporary charge to become the trust’s third chief executive in a fortnight.

NHSI aims to avoid embarrassment

Capital funding is usually a pretty remote issue in the big scheme of the NHS, but could become big news in 2016-17.

In recent years there have been repeated raids on NHS capital budgets at a national level to prop up the revenue account.

And last year, as well as another big national transfer, trusts were also asked to do their own bit of local manoeuvring.

HSJ has obtained details about dozens of NHS capital schemes deferred from 2015-16, with the money being used to boost the revenue account.

Much of the deferred spending relates to projects such as building maintenance, IT infrastructure and the purchase of new equipment.

Trusts said they have received guarantees from regulators that the capital funds will be made available in 2016-17 instead, but a statement from NHS Improvement didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

Asked if trusts that agreed a capital-to-revenue transfer in 2015-16 would get the capital funding back this year, the regulator said they “will not be disadvantaged”, which was quickly translated by one HSJ reader as “NHSI speak for nobody is getting any money next year, so you won’t be disadvantaged compared to anyone else”.

As one trust source told us, it will be “highly embarrassing” for NHSI if the money is not returned.