The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Charities warn of cash crisis effects

As the NHS looks beyond the peak of coronavirus cases to restart electives, concerns about the economy as a whole continue to grow.

Health charities have told HSJ that they are struggling to maintain services that help ease the pressure on the NHS, such as nurse-led helplines and clinical and non-clinical staff working on the frontline.

At the start of April the government announced £750m of funding to help charities but a Commons report today said that due to the lack of transparency on how to access this funding it’s “inevitable” that charities will miss out on support.

It’s also small beer given that the NCVO said charities will lose approximately £4bn in projected income in the three months from March 2020.

National Voices, which represents 150 health and care charities, told HSJ it is unclear where else patients can go for help if services are forced to close, suggesting any attempt to fill the gap through GPs and clinicians will be more expensive and less holistic.

“Cliff edge” charity finances also raise the question of how much the third sector can commit to being involved in local system work in the medium term, which could leave a hole in the plans of many sustainability and transformation programmes.

Rise of the covid crooks

It is depressingly inevitable that global crises attract exploitative and opportunistic criminals.

One increasingly concerning element of this is occurring in cyber space – where hackers are attempting to steal patient information or research material being drawn up in response to covid-19.

Such has been the rise in attacks against healthcare organisations that the UK and USA’s cyber defence chiefs have seen fit to issue an advisory document for healthcare staff.

The NHS was given a taste of the chaos hackers can unleash if they gain access to old computers in 2017 when the Wannacry attack occurred.

Thankfully, since then, some progress has been made to safeguard the NHS’ systems – though vulnerabilities remain and there is no room for complacency.