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

Executive groupies revealed

After many months of umming and ahing, the top national and regional directors in the merged NHS England and Improvement management structure have been revealed.

But this is not any new top team – NHS E and I have been at pains to stress all the recruits will be part of “a single NHS Executive Group, which will be led by NHS Improvement’s chief executive, Ian Dalton and NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens”.

You can see who has made the national team and who the regulators have persuaded to take up their seven joint regional director posts on HSJ.

If you’re feeling disappointed that the arrival of this news might signal an end to national restructure upheaval for a few moments, don’t fret.

News on four national posts is still to come (chief commercial officer, chief improvement officer, chief people officer and chief provider strategy officer).

Meanwhile, directors leaving the organisations will continue in purgatory, not expected to actually escape until the end of the financial year, while watching the next phases of restructure in the rungs below them.

Reorganisation, taking out 20 per cent of admin management cost (NB: Not programme budget cost) from the two organisations, will go on through 2019-20.

The NHS executive groupies are expected to hold their first NHS Executive Group meeting in January, and Daily Insight looks forward to observing what will no doubt be public sessions, or watching on the live stream, as per NHS England’s board meetings so far.

Data transfer

Google DeepMind’s partnership with the NHS to develop its Streams clinical app has rarely strayed far from controversy.

The agreement with Royal Free London FT, under which the app was tested using personal data from 1.6 million NHS patients without their explicit consent, attracted heavy criticism and was eventually deemed unlawful.

Now an independent review panel put in place to address some of these concerns will be disbanded as the Streams app is subsumed into Google proper.

The distinction between being part of DeepMind, a London-based AI focused research and development company Google acquired in 2014, and part of Google is meaningful.

The company says the purpose of the move to the larger entity is to turn Streams into a product with billions plus users globally.

As HSJ reported on Tuesday, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy has sought assurances from the company the NHS patient data will be safeguarded in this switch (assurances that have been received, HSJ was told, but not publicly disclosed in detail).

Putting aside data privacy concerns, the move highlights the urgency with which the NHS needs to develop clear standards to ensure the service extracts “fair value” from sharing NHS patient data with industry.

If Streams, developed in London with input from NHS clinicians and NHS patient data, becomes a multibillion-pound global business, those profits will flow to Google, not the NHS.

The Department of Health and Social Care published its initial guidelines, or “code of conduct”, to explore this sort of dilemma, among others, in September.

It was light on detail but an updated version, expected in early 2019 following consultation, needs to provide clearer directions for how the NHS can safely share data with industry to the benefit of patients and the service.