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

Sort it out

On Friday 31 July NHS England set out some hugely ambitious targets to get a grip on the service’s spiralling waiting list in the phase three guidance.

Just a week later it emerged the NHS and private hospitals are on a collision course over a new multibillion-pound deal for how the service will access the independent sector’s capacity.

The original deal for the NHS to block book nearly the entirety of the private sector at cost price was struck in March just as the covid crisis engulfed the UK. Even those of a more cynical disposition would find it hard to argue there had not been a coming together for the greater good at a time of crisis.

But the NHS is under significant pressure from ministers to drive down costs for the new deal, and even cost price in areas like London appears to be proving a stumbling block.

Ministers, the NHS and the private sector all need to get round the table and find common ground rapidly before an already frighteningly long waiting list mushrooms even further, harming, and potentially killing, even more patients in the process.

Issar’s apology the right move

NHS England’s chief people officer said she regretted “any upset or misunderstanding” following criticism over an “unacceptable” section of the newly published People Plan. 

Prerana Issar told HSJ there had been a “drafting error” in the document, of which a passage appeared to imply that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer counts as a disability or long-term condition. This has since been corrected, she added.

The People Plan was published on 30 July but concerns about the passage began to emerge on social media last week including from staff who work at NHSE/I.