The must read stories and talking points in health from Thursday
- Today’s must know: Jeremy Hunt to stay at DH
- Today’s talking point: Major contract collapse reveals ‘significant risks’ to patients
- Today’s risk: Jim Mackey – ‘The NHS is in a mess’
The man’s not for moving
Jeremy Hunt remains health secretary – one of only two cabinet ministers staying in the same post following today’s massive clear out by the new prime minister, Theresa May.
If only it had seemed that simple at 11am. It was variously reported by well regarded media outlets – and HSJ was culpable in this, for which we apologise – that Mr Hunt had been sacked from the cabinet altogether, moved posts, voluntarily stepped down, and had his department expanded.
The cries of “in, out, shake it all about” were quickly declared a political hokey cokey – largely, it seems, of journalists’ own making.
At 12.44pm it was at last, 100 per cent confirmed that Mr Hunt had just remained in exactly the same post.
As you can imagine, all this confusion got a lot of people worked up, excited, distraught, etc.
What it does mean is that Mr Hunt now knows the sort of public reaction he would get if he had gone. There were plenty of people celebrating his departure, of course – indicating the major morale and relationship challenge Mr Hunt still has on his hands. However, quite a few took the moment to praise his focus on patient safety. Junior doctor Natalie Silvey tweeted: “May be unfashionable to say it but I do believe Jeremy Hunt genuinely cares and did have patient safety at the core of his time as minister.”
Let’s hope people are saving these social media micro obituaries for when they are needed.
For his part, Mr Hunt, once he was safe in the knowledge of his job security, tweeted with humour: “‘Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated…’ Thrilled to be back in the best job in Government.”
Regulation, regulation, regulation
The National Audit Office this week delivered the latest withering official post-mortem of the £750m UnitingCare Partnership contract fiasco.
The report boldly underlines the “astonishing array or errors” that resulted in the collapse of the older people’s services contract, many of which were first flagged up by previous investigations into the disastrous deal.
It provides a handy case study on how not to approach a significant service reorganisation – which will be a useful record to help the NHS not make the same mistakes again.
Another move required to ensure similar mistakes are not repeated is reform of the NHS’s fragmented regulation system. No single oversight organisation has a “holistic view” of the system, the NAO report says, allowing issues to fall beneath the cracks.
The report warns: “Without closer joint working or a more holistic view, there are significant risks for the sector that individual oversight decisions will not lead to the best outcomes for patients or for the system as a whole.”
The document also reveals that the Department of Health, NHS England and NHS Improvement are “developing their approach” to regulating new models of care such as lead provider contracts.
As HSJ has previously considered, the current blurring of the purchaser and provider roles by a variety of new models of care, including lead provider contracts, helps make the case for collapsing NHS Improvement and NHS England (some would argue the CQC too) into one. The points raised in the NAO’s report only add further weight to this idea.