HSJ’s roundup of Wednesday’s must read stories and talking points

Nothing topsy turvy about this table

Football fans will know that it’s been a rollercoaster season in the Premier League, with rank outsiders Leicester City first in the table and seemingly on course for a historic victory.

The latest league table for NHS trusts, unveiled on Wednesday, is not quite so extraordinary: an established heavyweight, Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, is sitting in the top slot.

The Department of Health has published a “learning from mistakes league”, ranking trusts on their “openness and honesty” based on data on safety reporting and the NHS staff survey.

Behind Northumbria – filling out the European qualification positions, if you will – are Oxleas, The Royal Marsden, and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys foundation trusts.

At the other end of the table – in the relegation zone, to prolong the football metaphor – are East Sussex Healthcare Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Mid Yorkshire Trust, which are all rated as having a “poor reporting culture”.

The development of the league, which was revealed by HSJ last month, is splitting the opinions of our readers.

One commenter said the table was a “fatuous exercise”, with the data used to produce the rankings not necessarily reflecting the extent to which trusts genuinely learn from mistakes.

But another reader said it would have a positive impact by encouraging boards to ask questions.

Data reservations aside, as with the Premier League this season, the table makes for compulsive viewing.

‘Negotiations must restart’

As this Daily Insight hits inboxes, junior doctors will be in the middle of the first of three 48 hour strikes against the government’s decision to impose a new contract.

There has been a lack of cool heads and clear thinking on both sides throughout the long, long dispute, but in an article on hsj.co.uk Dr Phil Hammond proposes a way out.

The doctor, journalist and broadcaster says: “Such an important contract cannot be rushed through and made up on the hoof just to meet a political deadline. It’s far more important to slow down, think clearly and get it right.”

He continues: “A sensible and safe option would be for both sides to call a pause both to imposition and to industrial action. This would allow independent analysis of safe staffing levels and what seven day services can safely be delivered with the staff we currently have. It might also identify the extra funding we would need to put into the NHS to provide an extended seven day service, if indeed that is the best use of NHS money.

“It makes no sense for a government that wants to improve the NHS to go to war with the workforce… The views of patients, carers and tax payers must also be heard.

“Any solution has to be guided by compassion, collaboration, evidence and sustainable funding. Any final proposed contract – and the new rota patterns – have to be calmly and rigorously tested, costed and safely staffed. And it has to be agreed, not imposed. Negotiations must restart as soon as possible.”

Register for HSJ’s latest expert briefing

You know who else knows plenty about the junior doctors’ contract dispute? HSJ patient safety and workforce correspondent Shaun Lintern.

On Wednesday he launched his weekly expert email briefing, Lintern’s Risk Register.

Every week Shaun will summarise his selection of the big developments in these important areas, direct to your inbox. He will also signpost you to must read articles and other links to help you get up to speed.

Most importantly, he will keep highlighting the big issues and running stories which are not getting the attention they deserve elsewhere.