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

Coronavirus update

If you’ve been listening to the government’s daily coronavirus briefings, you’d be forgiven for thinking the UK’s covid-related deaths in hospitals tracked behind those of France. 

However, despite the global death comparison charts being presented as for hospital deaths only, the French curve has included data on both hospital and community deaths.

HSJ took a closer look at the figures on Tuesday and discovered that, if only the hospital deaths for France were included, the French curve would join those of Germany and South Korea in being well behind the UK deaths count.

France’s public health website clearly differentiates between hospital and community deaths.

When asked about the discrepancy at Tuesday’s briefing, neither Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, nor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, acknowledged the error or apologised. Professor Doyle added: “It can be very difficult to understand what you’re looking at.”

Meanwhile, private sector IT experts drafted in to help the NHS address the coronavirus pandemic were warned this week they would lose their jobs if they exploit their position “for personal or corporate gain”.

NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould issued the warning in an email to NHSX employees, urging staff to speak to a member of the senior team if they fear someone has exploited a conflict of interest.

Mr Gould went on to say that challenges faced when working with contractors need to be carefully managed, and all should declare any conflicts of interest, or risk losing their job.

He told staff: “If we found a conflict has been exploited for personal or corporate gain, the contractor or company would be asked to leave immediately.

“I hope this underlines the seriousness with which I take this issue.”