The must read stories and talking points from Wednesday

ICO ready to go

HSJ readers sometimes get a bit hacked off by all the coverage given to Salford Royal Foundation Trust.

But the provider is becoming harder to ignore than ever, due to its involvement in some genuinely innovative projects that could reshape how health and social care services are delivered.

By July, more than 400 council staff are set to transfer to the FT to become part of a new “integrated care organisation” with a budget of £213m.

Subject to final signoff by NHS Improvement, the Salford ICO will be among the first new care models supported by the national vanguard programme to be formally up and running.

Although Salford Royal will be the “prime provider” by delivering and subcontracting acute, community, mental health and social care services, much of the hard work has been done by Salford Clinical Commissioning Group and Salford City Council. The two organisations are also doing their own bit of integration by effectively pooling their commissioning teams.

As one senior figure in Greater Manchester told HSJ recently: “It’s not all about Salford Royal, even in Salford.”

The new investigators

The new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will be up and running from this autumn. It’ll have a budget of £3.6m to carry out approximately 30 investigations a year.

HSIB is designed to deliver a revolution in incident investigation in the NHS on a par with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in aviation. Its emphasis will be on learning, not blame, and it will operate in a legal “safe space” to encourage openness with those it is investigating.

A chief investigator, whose job it will be to build the new unit over the summer, is expected to be appointed in the next few months – but the development of HSIB has already been controversial.

HSJ reported on Wednesday that Jeremy Hunt rejected the advice of his own expert advisers, brought in to help inform the government on how best to establish HSIB.

The final report from the expert group was published by the Department of Health earlier this month but the legal directions setting up HSIB were issued on 1 April.

The key areas where the health secretary took a different view to the experts was around the independence of the new body and its ability to share information with patients and families affected by the incidents under investigation.

The group said HSIB should be established with primary legislation to make it independent and that relevant information must always be shared with patients.

HSIB will instead be hosted by NHS Improvement and regulations for the chief investigator say only that information “may” be shared with patients.

National patient safety director Mike Durkin has said HSIB is a major opportunity to improve, and that it could create an “exemplar model” for NHS organisations seeking to better their own investigations.

Its success or failure will rest on the shoulders of the chief investigator.