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

If anyone in the NHS is expecting a decent pay rise this year, they should look away now. It is looking increasingly likely that most NHS staff will get pay rises well below inflation – and very senior managers may get very little or even nothing at all.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s evidence to pay review bodies paints a bleak picture of NHS finances, saying there is “extremely limited room for any further investment in pay” and the NHS is expected to make productivity savings in 2022 to 2023 “in order to return to financial balance”.

Workers on Agenda for Change could get an overall award of 3 per cent, it suggests, while any pay rise for very senior managers would need to be absorbed within existing budgets. As a bit of a guilt trip, it points out that each 1 per cent pay rise for VSMs costs the same as 3,500 procedures and 100 nurses.

The pay review bodies can, of course, reject most of these arguments – and unions will be asking for a more generous increase – but there won’t be many NHS staff expecting a bonanza when they report.

Digital deadline revealed

The health secretary picked HSJ’s Digital Transformation Summit to announce that electronic patient record systems must be implemented in at least 90 per cent of NHS trusts by the end of next year. 

Sajid Javid said the remaining 10 per cent should also be in the process of implementing them by the same date, December 2023.

Speaking at the event with digital healthcare leaders in Birmingham, Mr Javid said an estimated one in five trusts are currently without EPR systems implemented. He said: “We have seen some brilliant progress {on digital transformation] but it’s not always been consistent across the board.”

Also on today

We report that the prospect of a £2bn ‘group’ of hospital providers in Liverpool is under formal discussion, and in a comment piece, Chris Hopson of NHS Providers spells out the four leadership challenges he believes the Messenger review must address.