HSJ’s round-up of the days essential stories

In serious need of improvement

Friday was ratings bonanza day at NHS England – judgements were published under the clinical commissioning group assessment framework, and – for the first time – on the STP “scorecard”.

STPs are spared the punitive terminology of the rest of the NHS gets – labelled “needs most improvement” instead of “inadequate” and “making progress” instead of “requires improvement”. That’s perhaps only fair since STPs don’t actually, really exist, making their job rather difficult. But it is notable that at the top of the class they are entitled to be labelled “outstanding”. “Somehow holding it together” seems more appropriate.

While NHS England has had informal private ratings of where STPs have got to probably for a year, the experience of STP leaders suggests that the details of these first public judgements have been cobbled together rather late in the day – many were not aware that their leadership was being scrutinised for this purpose. On the more positive side: It is great news to have a meaningful whole system judgement, and a dashboard focused largely on integration and prevention of reliance on emergency hospital care. Here is our detailed view of the new information.

Matthew Swindells, who is in charge of this, stresses that they are only a baseline and largely can’t be attributed to the failings or successes of STPs, being as it’s early days: the future is only just arriving so don’t give it a kicking yet.

Because CCGs have endured four years of being battered, bruised and abused already, they have earned the full force of punitive terminology: Twenty-three were rated “inadequate” down from 26 for 2015-16; and 66 “requires improvement”, down from 91. The number rated “outstanding” more than doubled from 10 to 21.