The must read stories and talking points in health

Hidden figures

Yet another trust stopped reporting its waiting list data in October, bringing the estimated number of missing patients to its highest ever level.

An estimated 266,000 patients are missing from the officially reported waiting list, which is the highest figure ever recorded and beats the previous record of 263,000 set in April 2015. This means that an estimated 6.5 per cent of the national waiting list is currently not being declared, based on the last known positions at non-reporting trusts.

Based on the figures that were reported, elective waiting times stayed above 20 weeks for the third month in a row in October, continuing a run of national 18 week target breaches that has been going on since March 2016.

These long waiting times are fuelled mainly by the sheer size of the waiting list (which in turn is linked to continued shortfalls in the numbers of patients being admitted for treatment), and also by slippage in waiting list management around the country.

Kernel of an idea in Kernow

Earlier this week, HSJ reported that four CCGs in Greater Manchester are set to merge their leadership the local council, with the local authority chief already pinpointed to be the joint leader at some of them.

Now the council and CCG (Kernow) in Cornwall are heading in the same direction.

The plans in the South West are not as advanced as in GM, with exact governance arrangements yet to be worked out, but they are part of the “accountable care system” that launches in shadow form in April.

There will be an “integrated, strategic commissioning function” based in the council, which will commission services from one or more “accountable care partnerships” based around the existing NHS providers – Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust.

Councillor Rob Rotchell said: “Cornwall Council will ultimately become the strategic commissioner for all healthcare for Cornwall that is commissioned by the CCG. The longer term plan is that the CCG becomes a department within Cornwall Council and we will buy services from the providers.”

He was keen to stress the plans did not mean the council taking over the NHS – or vice versa.