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

Knockin’ on the Treasury’s door

Health education may have been left out in the cold when it came to the NHS’s long term funding settlement, but its chief executive has put out a fresh bid for its fair share.

In an exclusive with HSJ, Ian Cumming said the arm’s length body will be asking for new money to enable it to tackle widespread workforce shortages in the NHS. He pledged to invest as much of this money as possible into the education and training of the existing workforce, as retention of existing staff is the biggest issue that NHS leaders need to tackle.

Although CPD budgets will see a welcome boost of up to £90m, Mr Cumming admitted they still won’t reach the same level of funding they were at four or five years ago – something the chief executive pledged to change.

For those in need of some autumn reading material, the delayed workforce strategy is now expected in November and Mr Cumming confirmed it would be a standalone document that aligns with the long term plan. A lot could rest on the reception of this document – it may be HEE’s last chance to make a case for an essential funding boost.

Pharma chiefs warning over Brexit

HSJ has spoken with senior pharmaceutical industry figures about contingency plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the warnings were stark. The government’s plans to stockpile drugs and medical devices have been left late and there is a risk that patients could go without the vital medication and devices they need.

Plus, any rush to stockpile medicines by community pharmacists could see drug prices “shooting up” in the autumn, as supplies run short.

While health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has announced plans to start stockpiling medicines and medical devices, it is still not clear how the government intends to do this.

HSJ understands that the Department of Health and Social Care is discussing options with industry and will begin more formal implementation discussions from September onwards. The government is also due to issue new instructions to pharma after 1 August which should clarify what it expects of the sector.

Beyond that, there is no clearer idea on the volumes which the government plans to stockpile, where they will obtain stock or where and how they may store them. These are all issues that have been raised as serious concerns by industry and which, unless quickly resolved, mean there is no guarantee stock will be available.

There is also no discussion yet on who will foot the huge costs that stockpiling is expected to incur.