Thursday’s must read stories and talking points

Regulator under fire

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman faced criticism from HSJ readers on Thursday after the latest revelation to hit the watchdog.

It has emerged that ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor was informed last year about her deputy, Mick Martin, being involved in the cover up of sexual harassment against an HR director while in his previous role at Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.

Dame Julie was sent a copy of an employment tribunal judgment which set out how Mr Martin helped to cover up the poor treatment of Helen Marks in July 2015. The ombudsman replied with a short letter saying she “noted” the comments.

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan tweeted the story, commenting: “The phrase ‘unsustainable position’ comes to mind.”

Readers were not impressed with the PHSO’s actions or its refusal to answer HSJ’s questions either.

One said Mr Martin has “got to do the decent thing I’m afraid”.

Another added: “It seems to me that not only does Mr Martin need to go – but Dame Julie as well. Her lack of action calls into question her competence and fitness for the position of Ombudsman.”

Cutting through the Big Smoke and mirrors

On Thursday we launched our first expert briefing looking at a specific region of the country.

London Eye, by senior correspondent Ben Clover, will feature a look at what’s going on in England’s biggest health economy. The capital has the best and worst regarded hospital trusts in the country; it has excellence and dysfunction in commissioning and primary care. Ben will cover all of this.

This week he looks at the fortunes of two very diffrent trusts experiencing very similar problems: Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals and Great Ormond Street.

Vanguard breaks cover

An alliance of specialist trusts has revealed it could develop new “experimental tariffs” to encourage acute providers to improve or franchise their orthopaedics services as part of the Five Year Forward View’s new care models programme.

The National Orthopaedic Alliance – made up of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation Trust, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust and Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital FT – is also developing proposals to “accredit” orthopaedic care against a set of standards it is defining, and plans to release a set of tools for trusts to use to improve their services as part of its vanguard work.

This is the first of the vanguards focused on specialist care collaboration to break cover and publicly set out an approach to supporting the wider system and franchising individual service lines – which is an essential part of NHS England’s vanguard project.