The must read stories and debate from Tuesday

Top teaching trust in special measures

St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust has been placed in special measures by NHS Improvement after it was rated inadequate.

Inspectors rated the trust inadequate in terms of being safe and well led, and requires improvement for being effective and responsive. Its services were rated good for being caring.

Earlier this year chief executive Mile Scott stepped down, following regulatory scrutiny of the trust’s sudden financial decline in 2015. Acting chief executive Paula Vasco-Knight was then suspended over serious financial allegations less than two weeks after Mr Scott’s departure. In June she pleaded not guilty to three counts of fraud, with the case due to be heard in January.

Interim chair Sir David Henshaw told HSJ “a very poor board and senior management decisions in the past” were to blame for many of the challenges now faced by the trust.

Inspectors found several of the trust’s buildings were not fit for purpose.

Chief executive Professor Simon Mackenzie said an “inferior building, complete with 1970s wiring, plumbing and heating” was hindering a very talented pool of staff.

“The task now is to improve those things. But getting the funding is a real challenge. We are in discussions with NHS Improvement and NHS England because of the amount of funding that is required is more than the trust can generate itself.”

The 4 per cent

HSJ analysis has found only 4 per cent of GP appointments are currently made online despite NHS England saying last year that 97 per cent of patients were served by practices offering digital bookings.

A projected 14 million GP appointments will be made or cancelled online in 2016, out of 340 million estimated total appointments, our analysis of official data collected by NHS Digital suggests.

Digital uptake remains low, despite a push by NHS England over the last few years. NHS England said last May that “over 55 million people” were served by GP practices with online booking systems.

Merger latest

Derbyshire Community Health Services Foundation Trust and Derbyshire Healthcare FT have announced plans to merge and create a single organisation.

Last week the two boards agreed to further explore a preferred option for the trusts to fully merge through acquisition, with Derbyshire Community Health being the acquiring organisation. One trust is required to lead the transactional process but both organisations say this is being done in the spirit of collaboration as a merger.