The must read stories and biggest talking points in the NHS

Get Carter – the sequel

After Lord Carter said last week that the clinicians – not management consultants – should lead the NHS’s efficiency drive, HSJ has revealed details of his next productivity review.

Twenty-three mental health and community services trusts have been chosen to take part in the investigation into efficiency in the sector.

The project will follow a similar structure and methodology to Lord Carter’s previous investigation into acute hospital productivity, a letter from NHS Improvement says.

The 23 providers will begin six months of detailed engagement in the first phase of the review, with Lord Carter and a team from NHSI’s operational productivity directorate.

HSJ also understands NHS Improvement plans to extend the new Carter review to all remaining providers including ambulance and specialist acute trusts, and an update will be sent out later this year.

Meanwhile, NHSI and the Care Quality Commission are still carrying out a public consultation on how they will jointly assess and rate “use of resources” by trusts.

HSJ reported on Tuesday that patient groups have warned that providers would be “at risk of overlooking quality and safety” under proposed changes to the CQC rating regime.

The biggest concern among charities, including Age UK and Mind, is about the prospect of including the resources score in the calculation of trusts’ overall rating. They warn this could undermine trusts’ focus on care quality, and point out that one proposal appears to give less weight to safety than use of resources.

A CQC spokeswoman said: “As the quality regulator, the CQC is committed to working with NHS Improvement to recognise the fact that effective use of resources is fundamental to enable health and care providers to deliver and sustain high quality, safe services for patients.”

Guerrilla tactics

Ever since the first draft sustainability and transformation plans were published last year, one question has probably been running through the minds of countless NHS managers: how can we “turn down the noise” about cuts and risks to instead get people focused on quality and prevention and sustainable services?

Well now one STP region has finally put a price on this dream: £10,000 to run a “guerrilla marketing” and social media campaign.

Humber, Coast and Vale STP has advertised for marketing agencies to express an interest in developing a public awareness campaign to promote the plans across the region.

The NHS has been losing this battle of hearts and minds around STPs, with the rhetoric surrounding the plans often focused on cuts and savings. It will take great imagination to make terms such as “quality”, “prevention” and “sustainable services” have more impact on the public than “cuts and risk”.

It could be argued that £10,000 to turn the conversation about STPs away from cuts and closures and on to quality, sustainability and prevention could be seen as a price worth paying.

On the other hand, when fears are mounting over A&E downgrades, bed closures and the adult social care funding, it is a bizarre decision to publish an advert brazenly admitting you want to spend £10,000 of public money to hire spin doctors.

We wonder how many other STPs are splashing out on positive spin, but have the wherewithal not to make their intentions so public.