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

HSJ features a moving and thought-provoking comment piece by Yvonne Ormston, CEO of Gateshead Health Foundation Trust, who first implemented covid restrictions and then saw them from a different angle when she was faced with her own real-life emergency.

She begins by detailing the uncertainty experienced by staff at the outset of the pandemic. “I could sense the range of feeling, from a Dunkirk style spirit and a strong sense of duty to those who were feeling extremely frightened and vulnerable.”

She goes on to explain the areas that she found “extremely challenging”, such as what approach to take with staff for PPE non-compliance, and on the need for staff to take breaks and to what extent to limit visits. 

“At a personal level things changed for me dramatically after an acute illness at Christmas after which I was diagnosed with breast cancer… At a human level I couldn’t receive the hugs that so many people obviously wanted to give and I would have so gratefully received.

“My first chemotherapy session took place at 8am on a freezing cold, bleak, dark Friday in January. I found myself experiencing first hand the harshness of not being able to have my husband with me.

“He was adamant that he would sit in his car in the car park for several hours just so he could be close to me and I could take comfort from knowing he was close by. In time I came to recognise many partners/relatives sitting in our car parks.”

Read Yvonne’s full story here.

£800k fraudster caught

A former NHS IT boss will face sentencing later this month after admitting to defrauding his employer out of an eye-watering £800,000 over several years.

Barry Stannard, 53, admitted to four charges – two of fraud by false representation, and two of cheating the public revenue – at Chelmsford Crown Court on 26 May.

It comes after an investigation found he was the director of two companies which had received significant sums of money from Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust, where he was its head of unified communications, from 2012 to 2019.

It is a huge sum of money and one which trickled out of the trust’s IT budget. Mr Stannard, of Chelmsford in Essex, is due for sentencing on 30 June.