HSJ’s round up of the day’s must read stories and debate

Late mandate

The government’s instructions to the NHS this year have told it to make “concrete progress” on STPs and say it must deliver “the productivity and efficiency gains necessary to maintain financial balance”.

The Department of Health published its annual mandate to NHS England on Tuesday afternoon – more than three months later than usual. One of the reasons for its delay was vexed debate between government and NHS England over delivery and accountability, particularly on STPs, financial performance and emergency care.

Parts of government have been disappointed that many STPs didn’t produce robust cost saving actions in their first year. Many feel they didn’t make good progress.

The document says in future “a number of metrics will be used to measure progress across STP footprints in delivering the Five Year Forward View, linking performance of the NHS at a local level more explicitly to national accountability”, though no further detail is given on these.

The mandate does include details of the emergency care improvement plan agreed between government and the national NHS bodies, revealed by HSJ earlier this month.

The four hour emergency waiting target should be met by the end of the 2018 calendar year – slightly later than the previous expectation.

Quango overhauled

Next month, the NHS Litigation authority will change its name and its remit, in a major overhaul announced by Jeremy Hunt.

As NHS Resolution, the body will focus on reducing the number of clinical negligence cases and improving learning from incidents of harm.

Mr Hunt said NHSR will put more resources into intervening in maternity related cases earlier, as well as spreading knowledge and developing new interventions to reduce mistakes in healthcare.

The changes are part of the government’s drive to halve the rates of stillbirth, neonatal and maternal deaths, and brain injuries suffered at birth by 2030. The Department of Health is currently consulting on plans for a new rapid redress and resolution scheme for cases involving severe birth injuries.

NHS Resolution will also aim to resolve concerns and disputes quicker with more use of mediation and dispute resolution, to reduce the number of costly court cases.