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

After one of the most anticlimactic ministerial statements in recent history, the government finally announced that NHS staff will receive a 3 per cent pay rise – indeed, with some exceptions.

The uplift, backdated to April, applies to hundreds of thousands of workers, except for junior doctors, partnered GPs and senior managers. It is also unclear how it is structured or will be funded as yet.

Some were bracing themselves for the worst, after ministers recommended a 1 per cent pay rise back in March, but the tone appeared to shift in the weeks and days leading up to summer recess.

The government’s last-minute scrambling capped off a hectic 24 hours after care minister Helen Whately’s statement in the House of Commons left many bewildered.

The Faversham and Mid Kent MP was widely expected to give an announcement on NHS pay, but that was not forthcoming, prompting frustration from opposition backbenchers and trade unions.

It was only until shortly before 6pm that the news came through, as the Department of Health and Social Care said it had accepted the independent NHS pay review bodies’ recommendations.

The questions now are: how will it be funded, and what will the unions do next?

An inspector calls (it a day)

Two years after joining the Care Quality Commission, its deputy chief inspector of hospitals Kevin Cleary is stepping down for pesonal reasons, the regulator has announced.

In July last year, HSJ revealed Dr Cleary had announced his resignation to staff but subsequently changed his mind two days later. This time it’s for real and the CQC says it will begin recruiting for his replacement shortly. 

Ted Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “Kevin has made a real difference to our regulation of mental health services, particularly during the unprecedented challenges the healthcare system has faced during the covid-19 pandemic.

“I am sad to see him leave and he will be much missed within his team and CQC. I personally would like to say thank you to Kevin for all his work for CQC during the past two years and wish him the best for the future.”

Dr Cleary was appointed to lead the CQC’s regulation of mental health and community independent services in August 2019.