HSJ’s must read stories and talking points

Sustainability’s big winners

HSJ finance correspondent Lawrence Dunhill has carried out a detailed and illuminating analysis, laying bear the impact of the £1.8bn “sustainability” element of the “sustainability and transformation fund” during 2017-18. The NHS financial regime was turned on its head in 2017-18 in a Treasury-driven bid to ensure the provider-side deficit reduced and the system balanced overall.

Huge sums were effectively held back, in the £1.8bn fund and £800m withheld in clinical commissioning group budgets. The £1.8bn was dished out in a fairly ad hoc and translucent fashion. Lawrence’s analysis reveals the trusts which won and lost most; and the areas of the country which were winners and losers too. So much for an evidence and fairness-based allocation formula.

Examining the distribution of the STF shows that while, as intended, it bumped more trusts into surplus, it also apparently had the effect of rewarding trusts which were already in relatively good financial health (not necessarily the aim), and may have rewarded those with better care quality: Contentious since some would prefer to help those in the most trouble / provide equitable high quality healthcare. 


Digital blame game

NHS Digtal’s interim chief executive has defended the organisation’s performance in the wake of last month’s cyber-attack, saying it responded quickly to help infected trusts.

On Wednesday, in his first report to the NHS Digital board since the 12 May WannaCry ransomware attack, Rob Shaw said the organisation issued a targeted bulletin to trusts on the day of the attack ”as soon as we received clear, corroborated intelligence”, outlining how to respond to malware infection and prevent the virus spreading.

NHS Improvement has already signalled that there was some regulatory fumbling as the attack hit. NHS England says ”NHS Digital and colleagues” are leading work on action “we will be needing to take, as a system, over the course of the next several weeks and months”.