HSJ’s round-up of Wednesday’s biggest health stories

Comings and goings at Richmond House

Lord O’Shaughnessy was announced as the new minister at the Department of Health by Number 10 on Wednesday – taking on the role of parliamentary under-secretary of state, as well as becoming a government whip.

He is a former Downing Street aide, and was director of policy for David Cameron from May 2010 to October 2011.

Lord Prior makes way for the new face and moves to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to be parliamentary under-secretary of state there.

Former CQC chair Lord Prior was made a minister in 2015 following the general election, and had overseen drugs spending, life sciences, NHS commercial issues, and blood and transplant since July after Theresa May reappointed Jeremy Hunt as health secretary.

Waiting game for special measures trust

The CQC has recommended that East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust should exit special measures, having made significant improvements since it was placed in the regime in 2014.

The final decision to take the trust out of special measures will not be made by NHS Improvement until February. The regulator said it will need to review the trust’s financial position in more detail before deciding if it should come out of special measures.

East Kent is currently not meeting its agreed savings plans and is forecast to finish 2016-17 further in deficit.

It also continues to struggle against key performance targets. For example: only 76.8 per cent of A&E patients were seen within four hours between July and September 2016, compared with 91.3 per cent in summer 2014.

Undeterred, trust chief executive Matthew Kershaw said: “We will not take the foot off the gas now that we are recommended as being out of special measures but instead continue the momentum of improvement at pace to deliver services that better meet the needs of patients both now and in the future.”

Sounding off

HSJ’s finance correspondent Lawrence Dunhill has been “sounding off” on Twitter, taking issue with the Deparment of Health’s response to the Commons health committee on NHS spending. He says the DH has been “misleading in several places”.

See his full explanation at @Lawrence Dunhill.