HSJ’s round-up of the day’s essential health stories

History lessons

This week marks the four year anniversary of the publication of the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry, and its chair, Sir Robert Francis QC, has delivered a stinging rebuke to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the NHS’s most senior figures in an interview with HSJ.

Sir Robert, a non-executive director at the CQC, said the NHS was facing an “existential crisis” and that “depressingly familiar” pressure on NHS chief executives meant it was “inevitable” that mistakes that led to the Mid Staffordshire scandal would happen again.

He warned that the measures in the Five Year Forward View and sustainability and transformation plans (more of which below) were “unrealistic” and a “make do and mend” attitude was “neglecting adult social care”.

The lawyer, who has remained a leading figure in patient safety since the publication of his mammoth report, also outlined the unfinished business he believes needs to be dealt with, including a change to the system of regulation in the NHS and regulation of NHS managers.

There is plenty there for Mr Hunt and his advisers to consider as they continue to balance quality and safety.

Joining Sir Robert in criticising the government this week was Lord Carter, who in a speech to guests at a royal college dinner, questioned the NHS’s £640m spending on external management consultancies.

The efficiency tsar also likened policy makers to a dog watching television, saying: “He can see it, but he doesn’t get it.”

The future of STPs

STPs are “here to stay” and the Five Year Forward View delivery plan, due next month, will “beef up the implementation capability which exists at STP level”, Simon Stevens told NHS England’s board meeting on Thursday.

Mr Stevens said the plan will propose STPs are given “decision rights”, “not only over many of our activities, but also the ability to recommend changes to the configuration or governance of constituent statutory organisations in those geographies where the STP believe that veto power or inertia is getting in the way of the bigger strategic change agenda, which is required in that part of the country”.

He also sought to pour cold water on suggestions that the plan was an attempt to reopen spending negotiations between the NHS and the government.

He said: “It is not a bidding document for NHS funding. What it is, is taking as a starting point something which the government has allocated to the NHS… and then… saying what realistically can the NHS deliver over that period.”