The must read stories in health policy from Monday

Rose tinted rewards

As well as trying to prevent trusts from falling behind their financial plan, regulators are desperate to persuade a few more organisations to be even better behaved.

NHS Improvement has confirmed that “bonus payments” will be offered to those trusts that meet their control totals – from the unused part of the £1.8bn sustainability and transformation fund – with those bettering their target getting an even larger bonus.

The pot is likely to be worth well over £300m, which is a significant amount to divert from struggling organisations to those that are doing OK.

And there lies the main concern – that the policy risks exacerbating the financial problems for those which already have little hope.

The move didn’t go down brilliantly with the HSJ comment brigade, with one reader saying: “I cannot understand why this is supposed to motivate me in leading my organisation in any way whatsoever.

“In fact, I find it quite offensive. Why would some non-recurrent cash at the end of the year make any difference to how I behave? And why is the assumption that I and my board are not working as hard as they can to keep people safe, keep staff morale up and hit the targets not understood? This has made me really quite angry.”

Another said: “Where does one buy and which procurement framework does one use for the rose tint that’s been applied to the outside of Wellington House?”

Hunt on safe ground

It has been a tumultuous year for Jeremy Hunt, with the SoS battling junior doctors through a series of strikes and rumours about his employment in the first few days of Theresa May’s government. But he has ended 2016 as the longest serving health secretary, and has been discussing one his preferred subject areas: patient safety.

In an exclusive HSJ interview, the health secrerary warned trusts risk getting a poor CQC rating if families are not involved in investigations of avoidable deaths.

He said facing up to the problem of avoidable deaths in healthcare was one of the most important reforms since took on the role in 2012, and was “a problem in global healthcare”.

Mr Hunt also said he had lobbied the prime minister to get legislation on new reforms to the health service to be included in next year’s Queen’s speech, including the creation of new “safe space” protection for staff during investigations into mistakes in patient care.

On the subject of regulation, he said he would not consider merging the Care Quality Commission with any other body before 2020, and the future of NHS England and NHS Improvement would be determined after the STP process had run its course.

“My view about all these structural changes is that we had our fill in 2012 and I don’t think anyone wants any big structural change now, but that is not to say anything is set in aspic,” he said.