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

Four months after its permanent chief executive, Dorothy Hosein, resigned, troubled East of England Ambulance Services Trust has a new boss. Tom Abell is taking over the top job on a permanent basis, having moved over from a deputy chief executive role at Mid and South Essex Foundation Trust, itself a trust that is struggling with concerns over quality and governance.

However, if the MSE role was a challenge, Mr Abell is sure to find EEAST an even bigger one. In September 2020 a Care Quality Commission inspection found a “combative leadership” culture. It also referred the trust to the Equality and Human Rights Commission over concerns the trust had breached the Equality Act 2010.

Just last month the EHRC signed a legal agreement with EEAST to demonstrate how the trust will protect staff from sexual harassment. The agreement came after the CQC inspection found at least 10 incidents in 2019-20 involving allegations of sexual assault, harassment or inappropriate behaviours, and 13 instances of staff, including those working for subcontractors, being referred to the police for sexual misconduct and predatory behaviour.

It’s not a surprise that one reader anonymously commented on HSJ’s story: “EEAST has to be one of the toughest gigs going as a CEO. Anybody prepared to take EEAST on needs the full support of partners and regulators”.  We wish him the best of luck.

Extra, extra

There has been plenty of head scratching at NHS England about how to get hospitals to ramp up their elective activity, without making unreasonable demands of exhausted staff.

We got part of their answer back in March, when new national baselines were set for expected activity levels, starting at 70 per cent of pre-covid levels in April, and rising to 85 per cent by July. Surpassing these baselines triggers some additional payments.

But details of an additional scheme have now emerged, whereby around a dozen systems will be offered extra up-front funding if they commit to achieving substantial levels of extra activity.

The “elective recovery accelerator” programme will offer between £10m and £20m to health systems which put together realistic plans to deliver 120 per cent of their pre-covid activity levels by July.

A significant proportion of that funding would likely be spent on additional outsourcing to private providers capacity, or insourcing arrangements, which involves a private provider using NHS premises, equipment and management systems to deliver extra capacity.