HSJ’s round-up of the day’s must read stories and debate

Sticking it to the multi-headed hydra

Kingsley Manning’s exclusive interview with HSJ was likely to ruffle a few feathers, not least those of former NHS England director Tim Kelsey.

The outgoing chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre singled out Mr Kelsey as he argued muddled leadership and competing agendas were damaging the NHS’s digital agenda.

Mr Manning said more was achieved in a four month period after the former national director for patients and information left in December than in the previous three years.

“There is always a problem about visionary missionaries [like Mr Kelsey], and I think it’s about delivery, detail, breadth of understanding of the practical reality of delivery,” he said.

Mr Kelsey, now a commercial director at Telstra Health in Australia, in response, said he was “proud of the delivery record” during his time. Read his full response on hsj.co.uk.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Mr Manning also said the imminent appointment of a new NHS England chief technology officer would likely only add to the “multi-headed hydra” of health service decision makers.

Organisations and their big beasts are always likely to rub up against each other, especially in periods of austerity. But NHS England and NHS Digital (HSCIC’s new name after an imminent rebrand) will hope future relations are more cordial, as they go about the extremely difficult task of dragging the NHS into the digital age.

The appointment of NHS England’s new chief information and technology officer, which is expected this summer, will be crucial.

Fast tracking innovation

The life sciences industry has been waiting for the government’s accelerated access review with baited breath.

It  has huge hopes that it will go some way to addressing one of its major bugbears with the NHS – a perception that it takes too long for “breakthrough” drugs to get funded and used by the health service.

Unfortunately companies will have to wait a bit longer before they find out its recommendations – the review has been added to the pile of government business which has been pushed back until after the EU referendum.

However, one of the contributors to the review, Richard Barker, has given a few hints about what to expect.

Professor Barker has said a handful of products with the potential to have a “transformational impact” on patients or NHS efficiency will be fast tracked into the health service each year.

The review is also likely to recommend marrying up technology planning and the NHS budgeting process, and the creation of a new national “innovation partnership” to shepherd innovations through the system.

Contract talks continue

Talks to resolve the junior doctors contract dispute have been extended until Wednesday next week.

Both the BMA and NHS Employers have been in intensive negotiations this week, with talks going into the night on several occasions.

Acas chair Sir Brendan Barber said: “Both parties have committed themselves over the whole of this week to highly intensive negotiations in an effort to resolve this long running dispute. The talks have been conducted in a constructive and positive atmosphere. In my judgement some real progress has been made to address outstanding issues.”