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

NHS England’s plans to abolish clinical commissioning groups has come under fire from one CCG, which has branded them “unnecessary” and showing a “significant lack of insight”.

Leeds CCG’s comments were prompted by NHSE’s consultation on its proposals for developing integrated care, which include legislation it is asking government to put to Parliament.

It said the plans were “unnecessary” and that NHSE had not recognised the levels of “disruption and distraction” they would cause staff. It said it was concerned the proposals “may undermine the progress we have made in Leeds and across West Yorkshire”.

NHSE’s apparently favoured option would make integrated care systems into statutory NHS bodies, taking on the current functions of CCGs, by April 2022. Its second choice would see CCGs merged to the size of ICS and their functions “absorbed to become core ICS business”. West Yorkshire and Harrogate ICS is currently covered by multiple CCGs, of which Leeds is one.

The response, signed by Leeds CCG chief executive Tim Ryley, said NHSE proposals “imply that CCGs are merely contracting organisations,” and this “misunderstanding” both “devalues the work of an important group of NHS people” and “creates a range of risks that are not articulated or mitigated in the proposals”.

Scandal in the Midlands

In this week’s HSJ Health Check podcast, the team discuss two major stories in the Midlands.

Rebecca Thomas talks about her investigation into “heartbreaking” patient safety incidents in University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust’s haematology services, which was prompted by more whistleblowers than ever before making contact with her.

Annabelle Collins and Lawrence Dunhill also discuss the unprecedented financial breakdown at University Hospitals of Leicester, where a £46m hole was discovered in its previous annual accounts.

In the last week the trust’s former chief executive and chief financial officer have been referred to the Care Quality Commission’s fit and proper persons’ process, while the external auditor has suggested the trust tried to retender its contract when it challenged the accounting judgments.

There is also an update on covid pressures too. Although admissions are slowly declining there has been little relief in ICU departments and for staff.