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

Integrated care boards, which represent one key strand of the Health and Care Bill currently going through Parliament, are now due to be launched in July, following a three-month delay.

But the other main strand of the legislation – the scaling back of competition rules around NHS healthcare contracts – will not be ready in time.

The Department of Health and Social Care launched a consultation on a new ‘provider selection regime’ yesterday, which details a far more flexible process for commissioners to follow when making decisions about contracts.

This broadly followed the proposals put forward by NHS England last year, with a bit more detail added, and an expansion to include some social care services.

But the department also admitted that due to “time constraints”, the new regime would have to be implemented “as soon as possible” following the creation of ICBs, assuming the bill is passed.

Curtain down on theatres plan

The impact of covid has been blamed for the scrapping of a major trust’s plan to build eight operating theatres in partnership with a devices supplier.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust in London told HSJ that it had ended a deal – worth up to £310m – that would have seen medical device firm Johnson & Johnson build the theatres for orthopaedic procedures.

The deal, struck in 2017, was originally for the construction of the theatres, plus a “managed equipment service” that would have seen the large US firm manage the supply chain and procurement of prosthetics, surgical instruments and other consumables for orthopaedic surgery.

The latter part of the arrangement, contracted to last 15 years, will remain, and has been in operation for five years.

A spokesman for the trust said: “The impact of covid and the changes in the needs of the trust’s patient population mean that it now requires a greater degree of flexibility than was originally envisaged in the way that the new theatres can be used.”

Also on today

In a comment piece, Andrew M Wardley says expanding outreach cancer services can help catch cancer earlier and reduce health inequalities, and in The Download, Nicholas Carding looks at the realities of making electronic clinical decision support “the norm”.