The must read stories and debate in health on Wednesday

Back to the abacus

As David Cameron criticised the British Medical Association for “scaremongering” and its inaccurate pay calculator on the junior doctor contract during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, HSJ was revealing that NHS Employers had admitted its own pay calculator may not actually predict pay for all junior doctors.

After launching its new pay calculator last week along with sample rotas, NHS Employers accepted that it wasn’t possible for junior doctors to know exactly what their rotas would be.

The body said it accepted there would be “variations” between the pay calculated by its calculator versus the actual pay doctors would receive in their new jobs.

It has also apologised for misleading junior doctors after sample rotas including consecutive weekends, which health secretary Jeremy Hunt said would never happen.

NHS Employers said consecutive weekends could be included on rotas but only with the agreement of doctors. It said it accepted that the rotas published last week “may have been misleading for some doctors” and it has changed them to remove consecutive weekends.

GOSH’s gap in knowledge

The steady growth in the waiting list for elective procedures becomes more and more concerning.

Often eclipsed by the louder performance problems in A&E or the more emotive ones in cancer, it is shaping up as a legacy problem for the current health secretary.

With even NHS England admitting the total waiting list may be at 3.5m, the revelation that Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children could not account for 7,000 patients it discovered in January is worrying.

It is one of nine trusts, many of them large, that are simply unable to tell the national organisations how long all their patients have been waiting.

The latest data showed the NHS missing the main elective waiting times target, even without these trusts.

HSJ has carried reports before about other trusts “gaming” the system on clock-stops and other dodges to make the numbers look better.

There is a risk of serious clinical failings in this context.

GOSH does not think patients have come to harm as a result of not being recorded properly – but this is still being assessed.

One senior figure has told HSJ that organisations might even be tempted to claim they can’t report data in order to treat year-plus waiters without being fined by their commissioners.

Have your say in HSJ’s inquiry

On Wednesday, HSJ launched its Inquiry on Maximising the Contribution of NHS Non-Clinical Staff.

Editor Alastair McLellan notes that “non-clinical staff” covers a huge range of roles and departments; from finance to estates management; facilities to technology; administration to procurement; HR to legal services. However, they are “strangely under-researched”.

Our inquiry aims to address this and work out how best to maximise the contribution of the non-clinical workforce. The inquiry will:

  • plot the size and scope of the NHS non-clinical workforce, exploring how it has changed and is changing;
  • capture the current contribution the non-clinical workforce makes;
  • set out how that contribution might be increased; and
  • campaign to promote the “forgotten NHS workforce”.

HSJ readers are invited to submit examples of good practice, observations and thoughts on how the non-clinical NHS workforce can and will adapt to the demand and resource challenges facing the service over coming years, to help inform the inquiry’s evidence gathering sessions.

Evidence should be emailed to