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

Discontent is brewing within the Care Quality Commission. Following a pay freeze for almost all staff announced last year, trade unions have been balloting for strike action.

Frustration at stagnant pay and not feeling valued is also apparent in a survey done by five trade unions and also from the CQC’s 2021 Staff Survey, which has been seen by HSJ.

But could a solution be on the cards? According to notes from a staff forum, and since confirmed by the CQC, proposals have been submitted to the Treasury lobbying to have it removed from the civil service pay structure, in which it currently sits.

If successful this could give the regulator more control over staff pay and reward and help smooth over some of the current frustration bubbling among staff.

But this isn’t its only problem, concerns have also been raised in both surveys about the CQC’s future strategic direction and how it is being implemented, with particular worries about a switch to more online inspections.

Transformation is never easy, and even harder when your staff base is already disgruntled.

New chief, new buildings?

West Yorkshire trust Airedale FT has appointed a new chief executive from a nearby integrated care system.

Foluke Ajayi, who is the director of strategic transformation at Humber Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, will replace Brendan Brown this spring.

Mr Brown is leaving to take the helm at Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust, whose CEO Owen Williams left to head up large Greater Manchester hospital group Northern Care Alliance.

Ms Ajayi knows the Bradford and Airedale area well, having started her career in audiology at Bradford FT – after which she held senior roles at the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS Employers.

She will join as the trust prepares to open its new theatre and intensive care units. Airedale FT is also one of several trusts that is bidding to be part of the final cohort of the government’s “40 new hospitals” programme.

The hospital is believed to have “the largest single flat roof” – around 30,000sq metres – which has reportedly resulted in the” most roof leaks in the country”. It is also believed to be the oldest aerated concrete hospital in the UK, which poses a dangerous risk to its overall infrastructure.

After the hospital “far exceeded” its expected 30-year lifespan, a trust document said a cost benefit analysis found the most cost-effective solution was to build a new one rather than repair the existing one. It also strives to be Europe’s first carbon zero hospital. Ms Ajayi is certainly coming on board at an interesting time.

Also on today

In our comment section, Laura Fulcher explains how and why barriers to good cancer care need to be explored and dismantled, and don’t forget to catch up on Heath Check, the HSJ podcast, which this week features discussion about our interview with Sir Jim Mackey, the man in charge of the elective recovery plan.