Your essential update on the biggest stories in the NHS

No easy answers

Senior leaders in the NHS have believed owning up to mistakes was not the right thing to do for too long, the new Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman boss has told HSJ.

Rob Behrens, the new head of the PHSO, warned that the NHS was still too defensive about mistakes and that it failed to invest in proper complaint handling.

Mr Behrens said: “We have a very defensive NHS culture. We have complaints handlers in the NHS who don’t have the skills or the authority or seniority to do their job to the best of their ability, and we have an absence of flexible resolution techniques to deal with issues. These things will need to change.

“This is a big issue and I don’t have easy answers but I think one of the problems for the NHS has been a senior management view that to own up to a mistake is not a good thing to do. I don’t think the real world is like that.”

He said trusts needed to understand that the PHSO was “not gunning for them” but wanted to provide redress for people unfairly treated. He added: “It is not about trying to rubbish organisations. We need to talk to people to explain that and to encourage them to take a more transparent view of these things.”

New brooms for Norfolk

Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership is now fully back under NHS control following the appointment this month of Antek Lejk to replace Norfolk County Council leader Wendy Thomson as its executive lead.

The move came swiftly on the heels of the STP’s non-execs appointing former health secretary Patricia Hewitt as independent chair in June, and following Ms Thomson declaring that it was the “right time” for an NHS figure to lead the show.

Mr Lejk, who will remain joint chief officer of North Norfolk and South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Groups, and Ms Hewitt take the reins of an STP rated “advanced” by NHS England, but which has much to sort out.

Speaking exclusively to us, Mr Lejk set out plans for a potentially major commissioner side reorganisation and his desire to see a similar move carried out by his acute provider counterparts.

The CCGs will vote next month on plans for a joint committee that would “ideally” broker “single contracts” for all five CCGs with all their major providers. Mr Lejk added that it would be “ideal… to have a single conversation with our acute colleagues which is a one to one relationship”.

It sounds like the three Norfolk acute providers better get their scates on with that new Norfolk Hospitals Group.