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

Saving for a rainy day

As of this month, 21 of the 45 NHS organisations in the East of England region are in deficit. Now, the new NHS England and Improvement director, Ann Radmore, wants a reserve fund to support the patch through the next four years.

Ms Radmore wants to take out a touch under 1 per cent from the region’s £11bn annual allocation to build up the risk reserve to cope with any organisations that continue to falter financially over the next four years; to ensure they meet the long-term plan target of having all NHS organisations in financial balance by 2023-24.

She has asked the four sustainability transformation partnerships and two integrated care systems that cover her manor to hold back to build in “additional stretch” to financial plans. This would equate to 0.5 per cent allocations for commissioners and 0.5 per cent of income for providers.

In all, it would add up to an annual reserve of between £85m and £93m to be held “for the next four years to be used to mitigate risk as it arises and to ensure the long-term plan financial commitments can be met”.

The future of Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Trust and its acute services have been uncertain for several years, with snail-like progress being made to determine its future.

The trust has deep financial problems, while the current clinical configuration is widely deemed unsustainable.

Whether the trust gets acquired by a bigger neighbour, broken up, or somehow struggles along will be a primary consideration for the well-regarded Trish Armstrong-Child, the newly appointed chief executive.

Joining from Bolton Foundation Trust, where she was said to have played a key role in the trust’s recent “outstanding” rating in the leadership domain, Ms Armstrong-Child will take over from Silas Nicholls, who is moving to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust at the end of October.

She will be the trust’s seventh chief executive in four years, which included a succession of interims.