The must read stories and talking points to end the week

Trusts stick together

More trusts have declared their intentions to merge next year.

Birmingham Women’s Foundation Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust have formally agreed to merge the organisations, with a spokesman telling HSJ on Friday that by “early 2017” was the aim. They have had the same chief executive for over a year.

Later in the day, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Foundation Trust was named as the “preferred acquirer” to take over struggling neighbour Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, pipping Pennine Care. GMW is expected to take responsibility for its services by January. Creating a city-wide hospital trust has also been proposed for the city.

Afer going out of fashion for a little while, provider mergers seem to be very much in favour for 2017.

Earlier in the month Peterbrough/Hinchingbrooke confirmed they want to be one entity by next April, while this week HSJ reported on two Derbyshire trusts’ intentions to look at “closer working between the two trusts”.

The Ipswich/Colchester merger is on the back burner but still expected in the next “18 months to two years”, their joint chief executive told us this week.

Keogh’s five point plan

Sir Bruce Keogh writes on hsj.co.uk: “Our junior doctors are the next generation of consultants, GPs, academics and NHS clinical leaders. They are vital to the future of the NHS. Unfortunately, they have become increasingly discontented over the last few years over aspects of their training and the way they are treated by some NHS trusts.”

The NHS England medical director and his team of clinical fellows have set out five ways to improve their training and morale.

NHSI: Pay bill list intended to start discussions

NHS Improvement has told HSJ that its list of trusts with high pay bill growth was “intended to start a discussion” and organisations are “not being targeted for cuts to their workforce”.

Chief executive Jim Mackey issued a statement to clarify its position following the NHS financial reset announcements last week by NHSI, NHS England and the CQC.

The reset document included a list of 63 trusts which, it said, according to NHS Improvement’s analysis, had seen “significant growth” in their pay bill “in excess of inflation and pension effects” since 2014.

HSJ has reported that it was understood that where trusts could not justify this growth to NHS Improvement, they would be required to make additional savings, and that some had been told their control totals may be revised.

However, Mr Mackey’s statement says it is “incorrect to suggest that providers will be penalised financially over pay growth”. He also says it would be “unworkable and unsafe” to suggest that the entire “excess” identified in the document, of £356m, should be cut from pay spending.

The statement says: “There are legitimate reasons why individual providers may have reported recent growth in pay costs, taking on new services or addressing concerns raised by the [CQC] for example. We will work with providers and the CQC to identify where savings can be made without compromising patient safety.”

Earlier this week we reported objections and concerns raised by chief executives of several trusts on the list, including that the analysis did not account for where there was a historical baseline of poor staffing, increases in activity, or changes to services.