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The impact of industrial action on the NHS can’t be underestimated, and commissioners have been taking steps to share their own reflections.

Representatives from six integrated care boards have met on three occasions to share experiences, thoughts and points to consider, as the NHS braces for its next set of strikes on Saturday, when junior doctors walk out for five days.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the more striking reflections was the sense that the initial camaraderie between managers and senior medics had “eroded” as the strikes went on.

With the consultants themselves striking, and managers leaving few unturned stones to mitigate the impact, tensions have run high, and relations have become increasingly strained across the manager/clinician divide.

The commissioners developed several matters of consideration for ICBs in 2024, with strike preparation increasingly now becoming “business as usual” for managers.

These included how to measure the impact of elective delays on primary care, whether ICBs should work together collectively to influence derogation processes, and to consider the cost of diverted clinical and managerial time and its impact on efficiency and transformation programmes.

New era for mental health

NHS England is embarking on a groundbreaking move by seeking its inaugural medical director for mental health and neurodiversity, while bidding farewell to its national clinical director for mental health.

The alterations signify a significant revamp in the national clinical leadership for mental health services.

Psychiatrist Professor Tim Kendall, who served as NCD for mental health since 2016, departed at the end of last year, and NHSE has yet to secure a successor.

NHSE is looking to fill a fresh role: medical director for mental health and neurodiversity, under the guidance of national medical director Sir Steve Powis.

The job listing for this new position highlights its “central role” within the medical directorate and its collaborative involvement with the NHSE chief operating officer’s team.

The advertisement articulates: “NHS England anticipates this role to bolster ongoing service transformation and enhance outcomes for individuals with mental health requirements.”

The chosen candidate will offer clinical guidance on care standards, formulate “future strategies beyond the NHS long-term plan,” facilitate medical workforce evolution, and collaborate with other directors to engage clinicians.

Also on today

In The Download, Lawrence Dunhill looks at a paper which suggests virtual wards might not be the undisputed holy grail of cheaper care they’ve been built up to be, and in Comment, Sean Duggan says that new impetus, more funding and innovation is needed to tackle long waits and growing demand in children and young people’s mental health services.