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

Coronavirus update

Correspondence errors in the NHS are not unusual.

The last four years have seen incidents from NHS Shared Business Services and Capita, the Royal Free London Foundation Trust and Walsall Healthcare Trust — ranging from large to small in scale.

The latest incident occurred at NHS Digital, where 10,000 deceased patients were wrongly contacted to warn them they were at higher risk of covid-19.

The error occurred during the rush to draw up the shielded patients list — a complex challenge for which staff had little time to prepare.

Given the circumstances, it is understandable — but saddening nonetheless — that this error happened. And the incident will fade into insignificance if the list helps keep the most vulnerable in society safe during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the government must be kicking itself over announcing it was expecting 400,000 gowns from Turkey over the weekend. After days of scrutiny and speculation, a RAF plane finally delivered a batch of personal protective equipment on Wednesday.

But now HSJ sources say just 32,000 gowns actually ended up in the UK. It’s not yet clear exactly what went wrong with the shipment, but it’s thought the Turkish government stepped in after the original supplier fell through.

With intense international competition, an evolving web of regulations and reports of scamming left, right and centre, it’s not exactly easy to secure this kind of order right now. But the amount of attention placed on this particular order makes this an embarrassing saga in the government’s battle to get adequate PPE.