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

Two lucky integrated care systems have been selected by the Care Quality Commission to be the first to be inspected this summer.

Birmingham and Solihull ICS and Dorset ICS will both be reviewed as part of the regulator’s “single assessment framework” – although it’s unclear if they will be given a rating, due to government hold-ups.

Although full inspections and ratings are not expected until 2024-25, there are plans for the two pilot inspections to feed into the formal inspections when they do finally kick-off.

As well as the two more detailed assessments the regulator has also confirmed it will carry out a separate review of data and documentary evidence published across all 42 ICSs, which will investigate “equity in access”.

Questions have been raised by HSJ readers about how the CQC will know what good looks like and whether the quality of the data will be enough to support a fair inspection.

Also, as raised by the CQC’s regulation survey, published last week, there may also be concerns the data review and pilot inspections will add to the increased “burden” experienced by NHS leaders.

Record breakers

NHS England’s target of having a fully functioning electronic patient record in every trust by March 2025 appears to be beyond reach, according to a new report from a government body.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority – which scrutinises and supports the delivery of major projects – published its latest annual report last week, in which it said the NHS “frontline digitisation” programme was now “unachievable”.

The programme was launched by government and NHSE in 2021 with the aim of getting all trusts to a minimum level of capability, including 90 per cent to have an EPR of an acceptable standard by the end of 2023, and 100 per cent by March 2025.

But according to the IPA, a “number of” trusts have now reported they are unlikely to have an EPR in place by March 2025.

Crucially, the IPA report also revealed that the frontline digitisation budget was slashed from £2.6bn to £1.9bn in 2022 to “support other NHS England priorities”.

NHSE has said it is still on track to meet the target of having an EPR in place in 90 per cent of trusts by December 2023.

According to the IPA report though, a revised business case is being prepared to reflect a new “end date” for the frontline digitisation programme of March 2026.

Also on today

NHS policy seems to be giving undue importance to genomics and AI as magic bullets without proper analysis, but hype is not a good basis for policy, writes Steve Black. And we report that government has rejected several policy proposals to promote “continuity of care” in general practice which were put forward by Jeremy Hunt.