The must read stories and biggest talking points in health

Rare outbreak of common sense

HSJ revealed on Tuesday how details of an overhaul of emergency care targets have been delayed, as senior figures in the health and care system await a potential government intervention to support social care services.

An announcement on a package of measures including setting out how a new high profile indicator for the A&E system would work, a shake-up of NHS 111 and out of hours services, and changes to ambulance response time measures, had been widely expected in recent weeks.

However, officials realise the recent major failings in A&E are closely linked to adult social care because of the impact on delayed transfers and bed capacity. This argument has rightly gained traction in the media, and ministers are now widely believed to be considering an intervention on social care.

HSJ understands system leaders felt announcing new emergency care targets, without also addressing social care or delayed transfers would (at best) go unnoticed or (at worst) be viewed by both the public and NHS staff as missing the point – a rearranging of the deck chairs with the iceberg looming.

We’re minded to agree. It seems unlikely the spring budget next month will deliver much (if any) new money for social care.

But bringing forward some of an additional £1.5bn due to go into the better care fund later this parliament would provide short term relief, if not a solution to the system’s long term ills.

NHS England director investigated

The national deputy medical director and director of specialised commissioning for the NHS is subject to a police investigation and away from his NHS England role, HSJ has learned.

The medical regulator, the General Medical Council, has also restricted Jonathan Fielden from contact with patients.

The high profile and well regarded medic joined NHS England at the beginning of last year. He was previously a medical director at UCLH for four years, and has previously served as chair of the British Medical Association consultants committee.

An NHS England spokesman said: “Dr Fielden is off work for personal reasons, and John Stewart has become acting director of specialised commissioning.”

A notice on Dr Fielden’s GMC registration lists several conditions on his practice, with effect from 9 January 2017. The GMC said it could not comment beyond the registration status.

Dr Fielden was approached for comment.

STP mystery

Yesterday we reported that Mark Rogers, the Birmingham and Solihull STP lead, was stepping down as chief executive of Birmingham city council. So does that mean he’s going to stop being the STP lead too? Logically you’d think so, but when you ask NHS England they just refer you to the council, which says it’s still under discussion. Either no one knows the answer, or someone does but doesn’t want to say. Either way, it’s a litte bit odd.