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

When will the governance problems in Cornwall’s NHS end?

In March, the county’s mental health trust chief resigned abruptly amid external reviews into governance and financial failings.

This included paying controversial overtime payments to board members for work during the early days of the pandemic.

But now it seems Cornwall’s acute trust has also had issues over pay to senior leaders.

Sources told HSJ that an investigation last year followed whistleblowers raising concerns over “inappropriate payments” to board members.

The trust confirmed that a review had been carried out and that it had identified that payments were processed  “incorrectly”, a spokeswoman told HSJ. It is taking “remedial action”, but refused to provide more details over the payments.

Trust CEO Kate Shields is also leaving the organisation for the top job in the ICS.

Although she took RCHT out of special measures, she leaves behind an organisation with several quality and governance concerns to be resolved.

Region bucks covid trend

Covid’s downward trajectory in most parts of England is slightly offset against data showing admissions of covid positive patients to hospitals in the North West are edging up.

In the seven days to 16 May there were 118 covid admissions in the North West NHS region, a 30 per cent rise on the same figure recorded on 1 May.

The figures mean the region is seeing the greatest number of admissions, higher than London, Midlands and North East and Yorkshire in that time-frame.

The level of admissions in the North West is now approximately the same as one month ago. Seven-day admissions in the region peaked on 29 January at 2,159.

At the same time, the number of deaths of covid positive patients in English hospitals is nearing a record low.

Several of the areas of England identified by genetic sequencing as having substantial cases of the B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India, are in the North West. Two of those — Blackburn in East Lancashire, and Bolton in Greater Manchester — saw the largest absolute growth in covid-19 admissions of any trusts over the week to Tuesday. For full data and maps, read our story here.