The must read stories and talking points in health

Waiting for a birthday surprise

The latest Commons health committee session had the NHS’s big guns all in a row on Tuesday afternoon – Simon Stevens (HSJ100 number 1), Jeremy Hunt (number 2) and Jim Mackey (number 4).

But the session turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, with no real nuggets of new information.

Mr Hunt would not entertain questions about his “private discussions” with the prime minister about any potential funding increases in the autumn statement, so the committee focused on picking apart the government’s highly dubious “we gave the NHS what it asked for” claim.

This made for some entertaining viewing, but Mr Stevens and Mr Hunt easily performed a linguistic dance around the issue and somehow make it seem like their positions did not conflict.

Perhaps the most striking statement came from the NHS England chief executive, when he pointed out that the spending review settlement would actually deliver “negative per person NHS funding growth” in 2018-19, with “very modest” increases in the other years.

These calculations, coupled with the opportunity to give the NHS a 70th birthday present, mean service leaders are likely to target the efforts for an increase in revenue funding for next year’s autumn statement.

What next for junior doctors?

The dispute between the government and junior doctors has been one of the most bitter in the history of the NHS. The new contract is being implemented from this month, despite being rejected in a ballot of BMA members, many of whom remain unhappy with the details of the contract and its implications for their work-life balance.

Trusts are also concerned about the potential costs of the new contract – which was meant to be cost neutral – and the risk that filling rotas could become even more difficult, endangering fragile services.

An HSJ roundtable looked beyond the rights and wrongs of the dispute to examine how the NHS can move forward in this difficult situation.

STP leadership shake up

The Suffolk and north east Essex sustainability and transformation plan footprint is searching for an independent chair with just days to go until the submission deadline for the high profile plans.

The 44 STP areas are due to submit their plans to NHS England by 21 October and publish public summaries of the plans shortly afterwards.

The decision has been made in light of the STP’s lead Nick Hulme being made chief executive of Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust in May, meaning he runs two of the three hospital trusts in the patch. He is also chief executive of Ipswich Hospital Trust.

Mr Hulme will remain senior responsible officer for the STP with the chair being appointed to address potential conflicts of interest and “drive forward the plan”, he told HSJ.