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HSIB gets to work

When news that Jeremy Hunt was setting up a new healthcare safety organisation there were many who feared it would be  another regulator aiming its fire at under-pressure staff and trusts trying to do their best in difficult circumstances.

But Keith Conradi, chief investigator of the new Healhcare Safety Investigation Branch, has moved quickly to quell any fears and make clear it’s the NHS system regulators who should be keeping an eye out for HSIB’s work. In an exclusive interview with HSJ, Mr Conradi says he will look to challenge regulators like NHS England and NHS Improvement rather than individual trusts.

This approach is likely to be welcomed across the board as it is often said that the systemic issues within the NHS are rarely if ever tackled but failure to do so dooms the service to repeat mistakes.

HSIB is not starting slowly either – Mr Conradi confirmed details of its first full investigation, which was triggered after a patient died while being transferred between services. HSIB is now examining the incident, as well as others, to look at whether there is a systemic problem around transfers between hospitals of deteriorating patients.

The investigation follows reports in HSJ earlier this year of NHS England chief Simon Stevens being warned by two coroners after patients died because of delays in ensuring they received life-saving neurosurgery.

An interim report on the HSIB investigation is due to be published later this month and could include its first safety recommendations.

Big deal for NHS land sales

The government is poised to agree several major deals with private firms to unlock capital funds worth £5.7bn by selling NHS land and property.

Several sources confirmed to HSJ that in response to the Naylor report on the NHS estate, six regional public/private partnerships will be created under the plan to dispose of assets that are no longer required or not fit for purpose.

The plan is named Project Phoenix. Under the PPP deals it is likely the profit from sales would be shared between the NHS and the private partners – though how the cash would be split has yet to be revealed.

One source with knowledge of the project said the arrangements could involve using private funding to achieve the best market price for the sales, for example by converting, renovating or demolishing existing buildings, or securing planning permission. This would maximise the price for the sale without needing upfront public investment.

The project is part of the response to the report on NHS estates by Sir Robert Naylor, who said the service should adopt “a far more commercial approach” to managing its assets in order to release much-needed funds.

HSJ has learned a business case has been presented to the Department of Health and discussions are under way between senior policymakers before final proposals are presented to ministers.