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

The NHS’s greatest generation. That was how HSJ editor Alastair McLellan described the health service’s current workforce, for reasons that are surely obvious.

His tribute came on the night of the “largest and most fiercely competitive programme of its type in the world”, a night of celebration after the NHS’s toughest year. 

“Most people faced with the challenges NHS staff have had to endure over the last 18 months would have been happy just to get through the working day,” he said. “But that was not enough for the HSJ Awards finalists – and of course tens of thousands of others within health and care. They carried on innovating, finding ways to save and enhance more lives.”

Around 1,600 people converged on London’s Evolution centre to hear comedian and presenter Sue Perkins, along with Mr McLellan, announce the winners at the culmination of a process that had involved two judging stages, 136 judges and 1,008 entries.

A total of 204 finalist projects were in contention in categories spanning the healthcare experience, including acute care, mental health, digital, race equality, freedom to speak up and many more. This year also saw ICS of the Year and the introduction of Provider Collaboration of the Year.

Friend or foe?

An amendment to the Health and Care Bill limiting the involvement of people from private healthcare companies on integrated care system boards has encountered flak.

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor told HSJ the proposed change could damage systems where services are provided by social enterprises, community interest companies and independent and voluntary organisations.

The amendment says ICSs’ constitutions “must prohibit a person from appointing someone as a member if they consider that the appointment could reasonably be regarded as undermining the independence of the health service because of the candidate’s involvement with the private healthcare sector or otherwise”.

It is unclear how the amendment will be applied in practice, but Mr Taylor and Social Enterprise UK have both told HSJ they have serious concerns about it.

Social Enterprise UK, which represents some organisations providing health and care services, said government “hasn’t thought through” the amendment, and that key providers should be involved.