The must read stories and talking points from Tuesday

Hunt’s greatest hits

Jeremy Hunt took to the stage at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday to give a speech that was relatively light on policy.

In fact, bar the well trailed announcement about plans for the NHS to “grow its own” doctors, there wasn’t much new in his Birmingham set.

What those of us in the hall did get was a selection of Mr Hunt’s “greatest hits”: a speech which would be familiar to most people who have seen the health secretary talk in the past few years.

Stats about how much work the NHS is doing compared to six years ago, about the number of avoidable deaths, shocking “never event” examples, the metaphor of a “plane crashing out of the sky every week”, and blaming Labour for Mid Staffs, all made an appearance.

Having done a lot of work in the last few years to stake out his ground on patient safety, it is still clearly the territory where the health secretary feels most comfortable – and where there is still much work to do.

What was different from Mr Hunt’s previous party conference speeches were the references to the junior doctors’ strikes, which have loomed over everything he’s done this year.

On that subject he was typically bullish, referring to the “eight recent studies” demonstrating a “weekend effect” and calling on junior doctors to “play their part” in delivering a seven day NHS.

When he directly addressed the BMA and urged them to “call off the strikes for good”, it drew the biggest applause from the audience of his entire speech.

Some people may have questioned his handling of the dispute, but the Tory rank and file clearly approve of the tough line this minister has taken with this union.

New CCG ratings released

Over 85 per cent of CCGs are failing to hit required standards on cancer performance and must improve, according to a set of new ratings launched by Mr Hunt (one of the few new numbers in his conference speech).

The controversial ratings, published by NHS England, said 180 out of the 209 CCGs were in either the “needs improvement” (156) or “greatest need of improvement” (24) categories.

Just seven CCGs secured the highest rating of “top performing”, while 22 were “performing well”.

NHS England said the overall rating for cancer was based on four indicators or metrics: early diagnosis, one year survival, 62 day waits after referral, and overall patient experience.

The new way in Essex

South Essex Partnership Foundation Trust and North Essex Partnership Trust, which began talks on a tie-up in late 2015, are now targeting April 2017 to become a single organisation with a new name: Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust.

The merger is being driven by tight funding settlements, increased demand and fears among senior managers that neither trust is sustainable on its own, but the trusts have warned that the timetable could be delayed by regulatory hurdles.