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

There can only be one winner

While the rest of the country worked itself into a frenzy over which couple would secure the honour of winning Love Island’s latest instalment on Monday, Daily Insight only had eyes for another hotly-contested competition.

Redesigning adult community services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire has been a fairly high-profile exercise following the vocal concerns about the project from Labour Bristol South MP (and former NHS commissioner) Karin Smyth.

But the local clinical commissioning group has continued with its procurement despite Ms Smyth’s protests, and revealed on Monday social enterprise Sirona has been named as preferred bidder for the contract.

Given that Sirona’s two rivals for the contract – North Somerset Community Partnership and Bristol Community Health – had agreed to merge if either of them won, mathematically it was a victory against the odds.

Sirona’s win is probably not quite as surprising as Amber and Greg’s triumph, but the organisation’s success marks the start of a new chapter for community patients in the region.

The CCG insists having one provider of the £120m-a-year services across the patch will ensure care is joined up. With this being one of the first and biggest contracts tendered since the publication of the NHS long-term plan in January, the pressure is on to make sure it does just that. 

Behind the headlines

Since 2017, the government has made several headline grabbing announcements about NHS capital funding, by “allocating” around £2.5bn to dozens of local schemes.

But two years on, just 3 per cent of that amount (around £92m) has so far been released to the service, in part due to the torturous sign-off processes in which projects frequently get stranded.

The suspicion here is that the process is deliberately drawn out because the cash simply isn’t there to distribute.

Despite announcing the “new” money with lots of fanfare, the Department of Health and Social Care’s budget has only increased by around £1bn in real terms since 2016-17. To reach the average level of capital spending for developed nations, it should have risen by around £3.5bn.

As has been extensively documented by HSJ, there are multiple problems with the way capital funding is controlled and distributed for the NHS.

Major hopes now rest on prime minister Boris Johnson, who talked of “20 hospital upgrades” in his maiden speech and who, with Hillingdon Hospital in his constituency, will be familiar with how bad the NHS estate can get.