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Fruit salad

It’s too easy to give clinical commissioning groups a hard time over how they allocate their cash at a time when the numbers are looking increasingly impossible for everyone.

NHS England’s mental health dashboard, which launched last year, was meant to increase transparency on what was being spent in the sector and whether new cash was reaching frontline services.

But rather than shining a light on CCGs’ performance, it is being used as a blunt instrument with which to browbeat commissioners over their spending.

Either they are not spending enough on mental health services in general, not enough on specific services, not as much as planned, or not raising their spending enough.

On Friday, HSJ revealed that analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found a wide variance in CCG spending on children and young people’s mental health services.

When we have approached CCGs about general or CYP mental health spending, some have said the data does not paint a complete picture of what they are spending on the sector.

This is a major problem with the dashboard – because if every CCG is submitting different data about its mental health spending we can’t compare like with like.

It makes trying to use the tool impossible because we do not know if we are comparing apples with apples and pears with pears, or apples with pears.

This is not uncommon for the NHS – new datasets are often something of a fruit salad in this regard.

While the dashboard appears to give clarity, it may actually be adding to the confusion over how resources are being used.

Until data quality issues are sorted out and we get complete and comparable data from every CCG in the country, we won’t know if promises are being broken or kept.

GOSH vs Libya

Earlier this week, HSJ reported that Great Ormond Street Hospital was owed more than £30m by international private patients.

But the identity of the customer that GOSH is pursuing legally for £1.5m was a mystery.

We can now reveal that the children’s hospital is taking legal action against the Libyan government over the unpaid debt.

The trust would not confirm the identity of the debtor but HSJ understands the country is being pursued for the sum by the trust’s lawyers. A spokeswoman confirmed the organisation is not currently accepting private patients referred by the Libyan government.