HSJ’s round-up of the must read stories and debate in health policy

Contract dispute re-emerges

Less than 24 hours after HSJ reported that some NHS trusts had been chastised for breaching terms of the new junior doctors’ contract, the issue was again making headlines after a message to British Medical Association members revealed a bid for new industrial action by the union.

Chair of the junior doctors’ committee Ellen McCourt, who took over from Johann Malawana earlier this year, told BMA members that despite trying to get issues resolved with the health secretary there had been no progress.

She revealed the junior doctors’ committee had decided to continue its dispute and would be requesting approval from the BMA Council for “rolling industrial action” starting as early as next month.

It’s not yet clear what form this industrial action could take but it would mean disruption for NHS providers and patients and potentially more cancelled operations and greater costs.

It is also unclear what appetite there is among junior doctors for strike action. In a vote on the proposed contract, 42 per cent voted to accept the deal, with 58 per cent against.

Pennine Acute rated inadequate

As previewed by HSJ earlier in the week, on Friday Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission, which raised concerns about staffing levels, infrastructure, systems, culture and leadership.

The large provider, which offers services across four sites in Greater Manchester, was found to provide “inadequate services” at North Manchester General Hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital. Fairfield General Hospital was rated requires improvement, while Rochdale Infirmary and the trust’s community services were rated good.

It has been widely known that serious concerns were raised during the inspection earlier this year, with Sir David Dalton of Salford Royal Foundation Trust taking over as interim chief executive as a result. The CQC confirmed his appointment meant the trust avoided being put into special measures.

Sir David said: “The CQC report doesn’t make comfortable reading and whilst staff will be very disappointed with the trust’s overall rating, we welcome this report which I believe is a fair assessment of the issues facing the trust.

“The CQC report is holding up a mirror to the organisation and reflects very much what staff have been saying for some time.”

The former chief executive, Dr Gillian Fairfield, apologised for not tackling the organisation’s problems more quickly.