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

She’s been in the NHS for 35 years and believed she would never become CEO – but now Jinjer Kandola is the chief executive of two trusts, and has given a refreshingly honest take on improving diversity in the NHS.

The mental health chief, who runs Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust alongside Camden and Islington Foundation Trust, is spearheading a major workforce campaign called Someone Like Me, which aims to recruit doctors, nurses, therapists and other healthcare professionals from deprived communities BEH serves.

While her own organisations have developed a series of initiatives to promote inclusion, she does not believe “we have cracked it yet”, and told HSJ they need to see much better diversity at every level, not just at board, but the tiers beneath.

Ms Kandola was born in the UK but did not speak English until she was five. Her parents moved from Punjab in the 1950s and 1960s.

She also shed light on the trusts’ joint services review, stressing that leaders “do not want to standardise everything” as they recognise this could exacerbate inequalities.

Efforts are being made to improve outcomes by learning from other mental health partnerships, including a scheme to reduce out of area placements.

Trusts thrown a bone

Rising inflation has forced NHS England to announce an extra £1.5bn for health service organisations struggling with rising costs.

Extra support was perhaps inevitable, as inflation hit a 40-year high and systems submitted financial plans containing chunky deficits, despite a plea from high command to break even.

NHSE had already asked systems to separate out the impact of inflation – suggesting a deficit caused by rising prices would be treated differently from one on ‘core’ budgets.

It’s unlikely the announcement will fill the financial gap facing the health service. The money will come with strings attached, and one source told HSJ the health service could still have to find £2.5bn in further savings.

Thus far the extent and scope of these extra efficiency initiatives are unclear, with trust leaders being told of range of pay and non-pay “savings initiatives” to be launched over the summer.

Questions will now turn to where NHSE has found the extra cash, amid suggestions they have simply brought forward the kind of bailouts that historically took place at the end of a financial year.

Also on today

In The Integrator, Dave West takes a close look at the purpose of ICSs, asking what integration really means and whether it’s still a relevant priority, and in a comment piece, Ella Fuller examines the wide range of innovative solutions that trusts are using to tackle the elective care backlog.