The must read stories in health on Friday

The challenge facing STP leaders

Each of the 44 new health systems are currently busy drawing up their “sustainability and transformation plans”, which must be submitted to NHS England by June.

What national leaders didn’t mention when they announced the STP areas are the vast differences in their underlying financial health, which means some of those plans will need to be far more ambitious than others.

Analysis by HSJ reveals wide disparity in the financial health of the newly created STP footprints, with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by far the most challenging, with a combined deficit among the CCGs and trusts on the patch of around 13 per cent of turnover.

With this in mind, you might hope there would be a heavyweight leader in place to sort out the financial mess.

The anointed leader appears an odd choice, however, in that Dr Neil Modha recently announced he would be standing down as chief clinical officer of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG in order to “rebalance and refocus my work and family commitments”.

On the face of it, the STP gig could potentially be an even bigger job.

Dr Modha announced he was stepping down from the CCG after the collapse of one of the biggest contracts ever put out to tender by the NHS, and the authority’s leadership is currently subject to an investigation following the sudden end of the contract.

HSJ was hoping to talk to Dr Modha about his plans for the STP, but our request to the CCG has been met with silence.

Drama at St George’s

One of the big talking points on hsj.co.uk on Friday was the departure of Miles Scott as chief executive of St George’s University Hospitals in south London.

His leaving follows intense regulatory scrutiny of the foundation trust’s sudden financial collapse last year, shortly after it got FT status. He will take up a secondment at NHS Improvement.

The move follows weeks of uncertainty and rumours about Mr Scott’s future. He has been away from the trust for nearly three weeks, with spokespersons saying he was on annual leave.

What also got people talking was who has been appointed acting chief executive at the troubled trust. Paula Vasco-Knight, who has been working as interim chief operating officer at St George’s, has taken the role and last held a chief executive role at South Devon Healthcare FT. She resigned in 2014 after being accused of nepotism in the employment tribunal of two whistleblowers.

The change at the top follows the arrival at St George’s last month of interim chair Sir David Henshaw, who performed the same role at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay following the care scandal there.

Sir David sounded determined on Friday to turn the trust’s fortunes around: “I am very clear that the problems we face will not be solved by a sticking plaster solution – we need a more fundamental shift in behaviours and actions. Both the executive team and I are committed to achieving these.”