The must read stories and talking points from Friday

Last chance for Southern Health leadership 

After months of intense regulatory and media scrutiny, the care failings at Southern Health Foundation trust have claimed their first board departure.

Yesterday the trust’s chair, Mike Petter, announced his resignation ahead of the publication of a damning inspection report from the Care Quality Commission today.

The CQC inspected the trust in response to the earlier, highly publicised report by audit firm Mazars, which criticised the trust’s failure to investigate and learn from patient deaths.

The sequence of events has been a bit disjointed in relation to this CQC inspection, with regulatory action outpacing the publication of the actual report. The CQC was so concerned by what it found that it issued the trust with a warning notice weeks ago. NHS Improvement followed this up by slapping a new condition of the trust’s licence which gives it the power to remove directors if Southern Health does not quickly turn things around.

Now that the report has been published, it’s easy to understand why that regulatory action was taken. The CQC has raisied concerns over a number of years about risks from the physical environment at the trust but in January discovered “multiple ligature points” at one location.

At another site nothing had been done about a low roof where one patient was injured in a fall, and which a number of patients detained under the Mental Health Act had used to abscond from the ward.

Perhaps most damaging though was the CQC’s comments that risks were “not driving the senior leadership or board agenda” and that there was “little evidence” the leadership was “being proactive in identifying risk to the people it cares for or of taking action to address that risk before concerns are raised by external bodies”.

Considering how long quality concerns have been hanging over Southern Health it is quite extraordinary that the CQC can still make those observations.

Following the chair’s departure NHS Improvement announced on Friday the appointment of Tim Smart, former chief executive at King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust as chair.

Southern Health seems to be in the last chance saloon. It has had its first board departure, but unless it rapidly raises its game it is unlikely to be the last.

Pay for national managers falls by a quarter

It looks like the junior doctors are not the only workforce group in the NHS who have grounds to complain. The latest report from the Senior Salaries Review Body, which makes pay recommendations for very senior managers at arms length bodies, reveals pay for these senior leaders has fallen by 23 per cent, in real terms, since 2009-10.

It also took the opportunity to lay criticism at the door of the Department of Health, who it said had failed to provide sufficient evidence to the review body to allow it make recommendations on pay for VSMs in 2016-17.

According to the SSRB senior managers under its remit, around 400 managers at NHS England and other national bodies, have not received a pay increase in five of the last six years.

Managers in Partnership chief executive Jon Restell said the SSRB had not been taken seriously by the government for many years.

The DH accepted it was late submitting evidence and said it was pressing ahead with a targeted 1 per cent pay rise for VSMs and would be making changes to the framework for senior managers which has not been updated since 2013.