The biggest stories and talking points from Friday

Land sale mystery

A trust in the West Midlands has signed a deal to transfer its surplus land to the Homes and Communities Agency.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust has agreed to sell land on its City Hospital site to the HCA – a quango that funds affordable housing across England.

Both the trust and the HCA have refused to confirm the value of the deal, but a finance report published on 3 August by the trust showed a forecast land sale receipt of £10m for August.

Around 750 homes are expected to be developed on the site, which will be freed up once acute services are moved from City Hospital to the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital. The trust also plans to move acute services from Sandwell General Hospital to the new hospital by spring 2019.

New direction

Three clinical commissioning groups have been given legal directions from NHS England amid ongoing financial difficulties, including one CCG involved in a major merger.

NHS England has given Solihull, North Lincolnshire and North Derbyshire legal directions after each was rated inadequate in its 2016-17 year-end assessment.

In total, 23 CCGs were rated inadequate by NHS England for 2016-17, many of which were subject to legal directions last year.

The three CCGs have been ordered to produce, or comply with, financial recovery plans. North Derbyshire has been told to appoint a turnaround director and Solihull must appoint a permanent chief financial officer.

Solihull CCG must also produce an integration plan, ahead of its planned merger with Birmingham CrossCity and Birmingham South and Central CCGs, which were rated good. The three have proposed creating the biggest CCG in the country, covering 1.2 million people, by April next year.

Whistleblower warnings

An ambulance trust has been accused of putting targets ahead of patient safety and creating a culture in which staff are too scared to raise concerns by a senior whistleblower within the organisation.

East of England Ambulance Trust has consistently denied putting patients at risk because of its focus on targets and said it encouraged staff to raise concerns.

However, it accepted the findings of an unpublished independent report, shared with HSJ, which found it needs 1,000 extra staff to hit safe levels – this would be a 35 per cent increase on its existing 2,700 workforce.

The experienced senior manager, who contacted HSJ on condition of anonymity, said the trust was facing a “crisis like at Mid Staffs” with employees too scared to speak out.

They said operational decisions were putting patient safety at risk, particularly relating to the use of rapid response vehicles in place of ambulances. Staff that had spoken out in the past “have either not been listened to or in some cases completely ostracised and sidelined by those above them”, they said.

The trust said it “did not recognise this specific concern”, it “encouraged” staff to raise concerns and it “took all concerns seriously”.