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


A big sigh of relief has been taken in the Black Country after the government announced it would provide the rest of the funding required to complete the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital.

The hospital – built for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust – was a victim of construction company Carillion’s liquidation, with a third of the facility yet to be built when the firm went under in January.

Following eight months of negotiations with affected parties, trust chief executive Toby Lewis described the government’s promise as “fantastic news”.

The hospital, with its 15 operating theatres and 670 beds, is now set to open by 2022 – four years behind schedule.

It is unclear exactly how much it will cost the government to complete the hospital, but a trust report last month claimed the remaining work would cost around £320m.

The government declined to answer if the trust will have to repay all, or a portion, of the money.

Midland Met was funded under a PF2 deal previously (very similar to private finance initiative), which would have seen the trust make annual payments of between £13m and £27m up to 2048-49.

Mr Lewis told HSJ the deal was “not a bailout”, and added costs would be incurred through maintenance and larger cost improvement programmes.

Further north, health chiefs on Merseyside continue to await a decision into the future of the new acute hospital in Liverpool, which was also being built by Carillion.

Unanswered questions

NHS Improvement wants to draw a line under the financial meltdown at Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.

There have now been three investigations into what happened at the troubled provider, including the role played by a senior employee of NHSI, and the regulator considers the matter resolved.

But the terms and nature of the investigations, as well as the findings themselves, prompt further basic questions for the regulator.

HSJ does not feel the questions and concerns have been adequately addressed, but you can make up your own mind by reading the questions and response in full.

Climbing the rankings

A mental health trust has been rated “outstanding” by Care Quality Commission inspectors – the third in the country to achieve the highest ranking.

Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust was given the highest overall rating following inspections of six mental health and community services by the CQC in June and July.

The trust has fought its way up the rankings after initially being rated “requires improvement” in its first inspection in 2015 and then “good” last year.

The mental health and community services trust was rated “outstanding” for the caring and well led categories, and “good” for being safe, effective and responsive.

The inspection report, published today, makes the FT the third mental health trust to be given the highest ranking after East London FT and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear FT were ranked “outstanding” in September 2016.

Both ELFT and NTW have successfully retained their top ratings this year after being reinspected by the care quality watchdog.