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Acute trust chiefs identified by NHS England as being the most at risk of missing key elective and cancer recovery targets are facing “periodic calls” with ministers over how the situation can be addressed.

A list of the ‘at risk’ trusts, revealed by HSJ, shows that NHSE has deemed around 39 trusts as facing significant challenges in meeting the key targets of having no patients waiting 78 weeks or more for elective treatment by April 2023, and returning the 62-day cancer waiting list to pre-pandemic levels by March 2023.

The trusts identified represent almost a third of acute providers in England and feature some of the country’s lowest performers on cancer and electives.

They have been placed by NHSE into two ‘tiers’ of oversight. ‘Tier one’ involves oversight from national teams and “periodic calls between ministers and CEOs”. The trusts in ‘tier two’ will have oversight from regional teams.

NHSE said it would work “directly with the most challenged providers to ensure sufficient oversight and to provide practical improvement support where needed.”

Payouts phased out

Deaths from the most recent waves of covid will not qualify for the covid death assurance scheme, it has emerged.

Since it was set up in April 2020, the fund has paid out £60,000 lump sums to the estates of 688 workers. A further 42 cases have been declined and 29 applications are still being processed.

The scheme has been notified of six deaths which occurred in the first three months of 2022 and families have until 31 March 2023 to make claims for any relatives who died before the 31 March 2022 cutoff date. 

The scheme closed on 31 March, despite pleas from the Royal College of Nursing to keep it open. 

The Department of Health and Social Care said the scheme was always intended to be time-limited and closed at a point where the number of staff deaths had fallen sharply, with the rollout of the vaccination programme. 

Also on today

In this week’s podcast we ask how tensions between a mental health trust and an ICS got so bad that the trust’s chief executive resigned, and Julian Patterson reveals a letter from NHS England which includes plans to “encourage staff to try harder, for example by sharing inspirational videos of Amanda Pritchard thanking staff…”