HSJ’s round-up of Friday’s must read stories

One of the best trusts in England

Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital Foundation Trust has become the first specialist hospital to be rated as outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, making it one of only eight trusts in the country to achieve the top rating.

During its first inspection by the CQC, the trust’s services were rated as outstanding for being responsive, well led and caring, and good for being safe and effective. Its community service was also rated as outstanding.

Of the 19 specialist hospital trusts in England, nine have now received a CQC rating. To date, two out of the nine were found to require improvement while the remaining seven – 78 per cent – were rated as good or outstanding. The other 10 have been visited and their inspection reports will be published by the end of March.

Planning guidance imminent: What can we expect?

Christmas is coming early. The NHS planning guidance, which we’re used to receiving just hours before we head home to put out Santa’s mince pie and sherry, is expected to arrive early next week.

OK, it might slip, but not very far. So what can we expect from this unseasonal gift, which will give the NHS its operating manual for April 2017-March 2019?

The emphasis will be on getting on with delivery, rather than encouraging any more planning (Irony alert: It’s still called planning guidance. Last year’s was titled Delivering the Forward View, so presumably this time it’s Now We Really Mean It.)

It will cover two years (April 2017 to March 2019) instead of the usual single year.

The move to ceremonially trash the planning rulebook – which says guidance must come each December, followed by months thrashing out contract terms – is aimed at getting this out the way with minimal dispute, then moving on to implementation. Rows over volume and value will be replaced with a harmonious realisation of proposals amicably agreed across the system, in sustainability and transformation plans (the fate of those whose STP has not been approved is a key unknown).

For more, see this week’s The Commissioner newsletter.