The must read health stories from Monday

Carter review needs to stop stalling

On Monday afternoon Jeremy Hunt, Simon Stevens, David Williams and Bob Alexander lined up to face the Commons health committee.

In a session lasting two and a half hours, the men from the DH, NHS England and NHS Improvement were grilled on the department’s budget, social care spending, and the efficiency drive spearheaded by the Carter review.

The health secretary told fellow MPs the reforms from Lord Carter’s work were “really motoring”, which committee chair Sarah Wollaston took issue with – as did HSJ editor Alastair McLellan.

Ms Wollaston then asked: “Are we on target to meet the efficiencies projected by Carter?”

Mr Hunt said he couldn’t “answer that question today” because organisations have only just started collecting the data.

Earlier in the day, the HSJ editor’s leader had a different take to Mr Hunt on the progress of the Carter review.

He says the review “remains the most useful piece of work done to date on this challenge” but “it is going nowhere fast”.

NHS Improvement – the organisation responsible for implementing the reforms – has an imposing brief in its first year, so important issues can “fall by the wayside. The implementation of the Carter recommendations is one of them – and by far the most significant”.

He then sets out six ways to deliver the Carter review – read the full piece on

The article’s conclusion is clear: “Making sure the NHS is in a position to ‘deliver’ Carter should be the number one priority of the services’ national leadership over the coming weeks and months.”

How to save £22bn

Meanwhile, NHS England has offered its most detailed breakdown yet on how it believes the health service can save £22bn by 2021 – which is required as part of the Five Year Forward View.

The document, submitted to the health committee, estimates £6.7bn of these savings could be “nationally delivered” through measures including maintaining the 1 per cent cap on public sector pay growth until 2019-20; renegotiating the community pharmacy contract; and reducing NHS England central budgets and administration costs.

Another £1bn will come from savings on non-NHS provider contracts and CCG running costs, while £8.6bn will come from provider savings, driven through 2 per cent per annum efficiency requirement in prices. The remainder is expected to come from other efficiencies.

However, there is some caution. The document says this modelling assumed the provider deficit for 2015-16 would be no more than £1.8bn. In reality it was closer to £2.8bn.

Back to the negotiating table

Talks seeking to resolve the junior doctors’ contract dispute resumed again on Monday, with Salford Royal FT chief executive Sir David Dalton again leading on the government side of the table.

Sir David led a previous round of talks for the government earlier this year, but in February said he did not believe a deal could be reached.

The British Medical Association junior doctors’ committee voted on Saturday to return to talks with the government, and made a commitment to discuss issues including weekend unsocial hours pay.

The BMA has said any contract offer that comes out of the talks will be put to a vote by junior doctors – suggesting the government would need to produce a deal the majority of doctors would back if it is to avoid imposing a contract in August.