The must read stories and talking points in the NHS

Blackhole mystery

When surpluses suddenly turn into a blackhole at a hospital trust, it is right that there’s a proper investigation into what went wrong.

It appears Deloitte carried out a proper investigation at Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust, but you can’t know for sure because the trust has only released an abridged version of its report.

The extract contains two pages covering what went wrong. It’s not clear what the wider NHS can learn from this summary.

The auditors place a lot of the blame with a now departed chair, chief executive, finance director and chair of the finance and performance committee.

If irony were any substitute for openness we could enjoy the fact that Deloitte say the organisation was not open enough as its finances began to go off the rails in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

We are always hearing NHS finances are tight, Gloucestershire gives a good example of the real world consequences of that.

The trust quietly stopped reporting its Better Payment Practice Code data, which governs how quickly suppliers are paid. No one appears to have admonished the trust for this and Deloitte found rates of timely payment to suppliers, on which livelihoods and family budgets depend, had slipped from 95 per cent to 39 per cent.

Trusts are not obliged to record BPPC data. If they were, it’s a fair bet they would show a sharp decline as the artful, internal economics of the NHS impact on real world businesses.

CCGs rated

Overall ratings have been published of clinical commissioning groups for 2016-17, with double the number rated “outstanding” as the previous year.

Twenty-three were rated “inadequate” by NHS England, down from 26 for 2015-16; and 66 as “requires improvement”, down from 91. The number rated “outstanding” increased from 10 to 21 and “good” from 82 to 99.

NHS England said it was “a significant achievement for commissioners during what has been a challenging year for the NHS”. 

All CCGs rated inadequate have been placed in NHS England’s special measures regime.