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

Difficult job, chief people officer. Blamed for yester-year’s miscalculations of how many and what staff were needed, having to negotiate everything through unions and grappling with the fundamental problem: there aren’t enough staff now and we don’t fund education budgets properly.

But prioritising covid testing for NHS personnel is something that ought to be managerially within reach.

So it is puzzling to see CPO Prerana Issar say there’s no problem she’s heard of in staff testing.

To put it charitably, that has not been the experience of many staff.

NHS Providers weighed in to say this was a problem and NHS Confederation called it a “major barrier” to restoring services.

It’s worth remembering the staff experiencing the same challenging system as the public have been through probably the most difficult and draining six months of their professional lives. Many will have seen colleagues die.

So the issue is a serious one, also for a public that the service is trying to convince to come back in for other tests: cancers, for example (Ms Issar will be well aware there were already staff shortages in some of the scanning professions).

If the CPO has really not heard there is a problem on staff covid testing, what else is she not getting good information on?

Expanding their horizons

NHS England and Improvement have put some figures on the international recruitment push they say is needed to significantly reduce the number of nursing vacancies.

As the pandemic fuels worries about progress on the government target of hiring an additional 50,000 nurses, NHSE/I have said trusts needed to “collectively… increase annual international recruitment by 41 per cent”.

The pandemic has had a double whammy on recruitment, preventing planned arrivals in the UK and hampering the NHS’ ability to interview potential employees.

But some international markets have reopened and there’s a chance to claw back some of the lost ground, said NHSE/I in a presentation last week.

It’s not entirely clear what support will be available - senior sources said that recruitment against the 50,000 target would have to be heavily backloaded, particularly because of the covid impact. Also, NHS England did not respond when approached for more details on the financial support available.