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

A group CEO has branded a move by NHS England to withdraw central funding for a national training programme aimed at improving quality “very odd”.

Glen Burley, who runs four acute trusts in the Midlands, said trusts use the “quality, service improvement and redesign programme”, which consists of a suite of training programmes coaching a handful of staff from each organisation, “to great effect”.

QSIR has been run in-house by NHSE but was recently transferred to the Advancing Quality Alliance (Aqua), a membership organisation funded by NHS trusts. 

After being told the programme would cease to be funded by NHSE, Aqua told trusts that charges would need to be introduced from April. It means organisations will pay £730 per individual while each new enrolment will cost £1,030.

Mr Burley was among several CEOs to share concerns with HSJ about the change.

He said it seemed a “very odd time to start charging frontline services to use the NHS’s own tool”.

The decision to stop funding is understood to have been made by the new national improvement board created within NHSE last summer. It was set up to pinpoint a “small number of shared national priorities” for quality improvement and delivery.

You ain’t seen nothing yet

There can’t be many chief executives with the breadth of experience of Peter Reading, who has just been appointed as the permanent chief executive at Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Mr Reading, an NHS “lifer” apart from a brief period with PwC, has run several acute trusts as well as a mental health trust. Seven months ago he was drafted into YAS as an interim, as part of a major shake-up of chief executives in the region. Now – in his late 60s – he has decided to stay. As one commenter on HSJ’s story put it “he keeps coming back for more”.

It could have been very different – 17 years ago Mr Reading left the chief executive’s job at University Hospitals of Leicester Trust following the collapse of a plan for a private finance initiative deal to refurbish the trust’s hospitals. There were rumours of conflict with the then strategic health authority and claims he had been made a fall guy.

Mr Reading could have opted for an early retirement but instead has gone on to do various interim jobs. After nearly 25 years as a chief executive, he seems to relish a new challenge more than a gold watch.

Also on today

In our new expert briefing Carbon Copy, Zoe Tidman reveals that £10m in penalties has been issued to NHS trusts for not meeting emissions targets over the last three years. And we report that several commissioning boards have been routinely failing to pay the money they owe to care homes in a timely fashion.