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

Last week the government announced £3bn to maintain the Nightingale hospital network and extend the NHS independent sector capacity deal ahead of winter. All this accompanied a timeline for selectively liberating the UK from lockdown.

Little detail was spared on the allocation of cash and it’s understood that negotiations are ongoing.

At face value, a £3bn bone less than a month after several other NHS spending commitments should be welcomed. However, many health leaders decried the worrying absence of social care from the announcement, a familiar and growing source of unease in the build-up to winter.

One chief exec warned of the potential for a “large scale market failure” in social care, as local authority budgets shrink during the pandemic, and a North of England public health official argued “whole system” funding is needed to free capacity and bolster the health system. 

Failure to respond adequately to social care again is likely to suffocate hospital capacity, which is now darkened further by the burden of covid-19.

We may see other small announcements on social care spending in the run-up to the autumn review and HSJ understands around £500m of last week’s £3bn pot is dedicated to improving hospital discharge.

Such measures could help social care in the round but given the lack of clear investment so far, is it too late?

Words and actions

Commissioning leaders are investigating racist graffiti which was scrawled on the walls of their premises – six months on from when it first happened.

The offensive markings, one of which appeared to refer to staff in the North East London Commissioning Support Unit, were discovered inside the ladies’ toilets of North House in Romford back in January.

This prompted Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups to tell staff an investigation had been launched.

However, they appear to still be waiting for the outcome of the investigation as BHR CCG leaders insist their actions “must match their words”.