HSJ’s round-up of Monday’s must read stories

Taking the temperature of new care models

HSJ trio Alastair McLellan, David Williams and Dave West have written a must read leader on why sustainability and transformation plans “are a necessary evil”, how the NHS is coping with “being a second order political priority” and where the intrepid Simon Stevens may be leading the service.

Southern Health chair steps down

Tim Smart, the interim chair of scandal-hit Southern Health FT, has resigned after less than five months in the role.

The former King’s chief executive was appointed to the role by NHS Improvement in May, but “has taken the decision to resign from his position as interim chair, with immediate effect, for personal reasons”, a trust statement said on Monday.

His departure comes three weeks after Katrina Percy stood down as chief executive of the troubled organisation. Mr Smart had received criticism for the terms of Ms Percy’s resignation, as Southern Health will continue to employ her in a new role advising GPs in Hampshire, and she will continue to receive her chief executive salary. It also emerged that Ms Percy’s new role did not previously exist and was not advertised.

Playing catch up

A closer look at NHS provider performance in the first three months of 2016-17 shows that dozens of NHS trusts will have to significantly improve their monthly “run rates” in order to meet their financial targets.

While the sector’s performance was in line with financial plans in Q1, those plans assume that significant efficiency savings can be delivered in the second half of the year.

In many cases, those savings have not yet been identified or there is a high level of risk that they will not be delivered.

There’s nothing particularly unusual about trusts’ “back-loading” their efficiency savings to the latter half of the year – the same thing happened in 2015-16.

But in all likelihood, many of the savings will have been back-loaded because they are difficult to achieve, and there will be a significant degree of risk involved.

So while the plans and forecasts look all right for now, national leaders should probably be prepared for a great unravelling later in the year.