The essential stories in health from Wednesday

First things first

Professor Tim Briggs, chair of the Getting It Right First Time initiative, says the NHS will only survive if it addresses the “enormous” problem of unwarranted variation.

His comments were published this week in a report by the King’s Fund, shared exclusively with HSJ.

The report quotes Professor Briggs saying: “Money for social care aside, where there is a massive problem, there is no way right now I would ask for more money for the NHS.

“The waste and variation out there is unbelievable and we have got to get our act together across all the specialties to improve quality and unwarranted variation and complications.”

The prof has also said the NHS must stop “leaking” £1.4bn to private providers to ensure its survival.

At the event launching the report, he said: “£1.4bn of our money, taxpayers’ money, which could be used in the NHS is being invested in ‘any qualified provider’.

“We have to compete for that work and get it back to the NHS. That is the way we are going to be solvent.

“We have allowed money to leak away and we have to drag that back into the NHS to make it sustainable.”

Cladding tests confirmed

Fire safety tests are being carried out on external cladding used by 36 trusts to find out whether it is similar to material used on Grenfell Tower.

A statement from NHS Improvement released on Wednesday afternoon said tests are expected to be completed by early next week. The regulator said its next update would be at 3pm on 3 July.

The “category one” organisations have been identified as having cladding, although it is not yet known whether it is as dangerous as the material used on the Grenfell fire, or which has failed safety tests on other housing blocks.

Although some of the 36 will have high rise blocks, others may have cladding used on smaller buildings.

Earlier this week nine sites were identified as needing especially close attention. These were trusts which had not confirmed that recent regular fire safety checks had been undertaken.

NHS Improvement now says all trusts have now confirmed that these business as usual checks have been completed.