The must read stories and debate in the NHS

Raising the standard

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has set out his vision for improving safety of care and in particular the need to standardise care and deliver best practice across the NHS, in an in-depth interview with senior correspondent Shaun Lintern.

He singled out as a problem the decades of NHS reorganisation that have delivered a fragmented health system with independent competing trusts and the internal market making it harder for safety improvements to be adopted quickly by all organisations.

These are interesting comments from a Conservative health secretary, particularly one who came to the post immediately after the Lansley reforms, which arguably delivered more fragmentation and competition than ever before.

Mr Hunt is clearly focused on the issues of patient safety and he reveals in the interview his plans to create new structures to disseminate best practice. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

The health secretary also set out his aims for the new workforce strategy, which he said needed to look beyond the current challenges to those that will be facing the health service in the next 10 years. He also admitted that in the past he and his predecessors had been too focused on short term spending reviews.

Finally, My Hunt expalined his ambitions for the negotiations with Agenda for Change unions to reform contracts for a million NHS staff. The SoS said he wants to shift staff to a more professional pay structure with an emphasis on a rise in basic pay with cuts to some weekend and nightshift enhancements. Mr Hunt was keen to stress the government does not want to save money or reduce pay for AfC.

How the negotiations will pan out will be crucial in the coming 12 months.

The difficult debate

In its terse response to last week’s budget, NHS England promised a “difficult debate about what it is possible to deliver for patients with the money available”, and that it would kick this off at its board meeting on Thursday.

Ahead of the meeting, which will covered on HSJ Live, read Dave West’s expert briefing to see how NHS England might navigate these “uncharted waters”.