The essential stories and debate in health policy

Essential reading on the EU referendum

After months of debate, the UK finally goes to the ballot box for the EU referendum on Thursday (polling stations will open shortly after this email reaches inboxes).

The NHS has been used in arguments by remainers and leavers throughout the campaign to support their stance.

HSJ has rounded up five must read pieces on the NHS’s relationship with Europe – by Michael White, Lord Darzi, Tamara Hervey and others – for you to consider before voting.

Something big on the horizon

In his speech at the NHS Confederation conference, Simon Stevens said there would be a “re-set” on NHS finances next month. As HSJ reported, this is expected to be a major intervention, with substantial input from government.

In our finance expert briefing, David Williams writes that while HSJ reporters were at Confed they “detected from many senior leaders a profound unease about what next month will bring. There was a palpable sense of the collective breath being held”.

He continues: “It is widely acknowledged that something is on the way, it is coming from Whitehall, and will make life extremely difficult for many leaders.”

Mr Stevens said he was trying to send a “Bat signal” to let people know a significant move was coming up. A new post-spending review deal is in the process of being agreed between NHS England, NHS Improvement, the Treasury and Number 10. That and purdah (lifted on Friday) have prevented much being said openly to date.

But there are some things we can say. David writes: “The ‘re-set’ is being driven by the Treasury as much as the Department of Health, and Number 10 will also be involved…

“Whatever the result of these discussions both the NHS and the government face making some hard compromises which will be very difficult to sell to NHS leaders. A fudge is still possible, but increasingly unlikely.”

Provocative private matters

The chief executive of England’s biggest private hospital group has said the NHS is in a similar position to the British car industry before its collapse.

The attention grabbing statements came from BMI Healthcare chief executive Jill Watts. At an event on Tuesday, she said: “The NHS is clearly failing. The level of delusion that surrounds the NHS is similar to that of the British car industry that rather complacently thought it was the envy of the world.”

She also argued the independent sector could provide the “additional capacity that is so greatly needed within the system”.

Her comments unsurprisingly sparked a lot of debate below the line about how the NHS should relate to the private sector.