The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Wes Streeting has reiterated Labour’s commitment to hitting all the NHS’s headline performance standards in its first term, including the four-hour accident and emergency target, if it wins power.

The shadow health and social care secretary’s comments last night go beyond the party’s manifesto by specifically promising to hitting the 95 per cent target within five years – something many believe is impossible without substantial extra funding.

As well as clarifying Labour’s position on performance, Mr Streeting covered a wide range of other topics while taking questions at an event organised by the Medical Journalists’ Association.

This included warnings that a Labour government would look to “spend NHS resources through local government partners”; that the New Hospital Programme required a “realistic timetable”; and criticism of NHS organisations’ “pretty glacial” implementation of the Federated Data Platform.   

You can read a comprehensive round-up here.

Recommendation fatigue

It’s probably not surprising that frontline maternity staff feel overwhelmed with new requirements following a string of reports into maternity scandals. Ironically, it was the one report that avoided over burdening them with specific recommendations – and instead looked at key themes – which seems to have broken the camel’s back.

An independent working party – looking into implementing the report in East Kent – has told the Department of Health and Social Care there is “little capacity” to absorb further recommendations and that the increase in these risks “restricting improvements taking place”.

But perhaps most worrying is that it is now 20 months since Dr Kirkup’s report was published. It appears that only in the last few months was the independent working group asked to scope out what needed to be done to implement these key recommendations. With an election – and a likely new government – looming, progress on this is likely to be slow.

And, as one parent told HSJ, there is a sense that some in the maternity field are pushing back on the report, not fully accepting what it says about lack of capacity and staffing not being a factor in all of the failings at East Kent.

Also on

In Following the Money, Henry Anderson looks at the state of Devon ICB’s finances in the wake of chair Sarah Wollaston’s protest resignation last week, and in Comment, Jacob Lant, CEO of National Voices, argues that the consultation process on changing the NHS constitution needs to be made more inclusive and accessible.