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

Genuine, new, extra money?

Under ordinary circumstances, a £1.8bn funding boost would be nothing to snort at. But, when it relates to NHS capital spending, it’s little surprise why The Health Foundation called it “little more than a drop in the ocean”. 

For starters, £1bn of the new money is stretching the definition of new. It’s money trusts thought they would have access to until NHS England/Iimprovement chief financial officer Julian Kelly wrote to provider chiefs in May and asked them to scale back their plans (and then wrote to them again last month and told them to scale back). 

Nuffield Trust’s senior policy analyst Sally Gainsbury likened it to “the equivalent of giving someone cash then banning them from spending it, only to expect cheers of jubilation when you later decide they can spend it after all”. 

Chris Hopson took a diplomatic approach when discussing the details of the announcement. The NHS Providers chief executive described the money as “genuine, new, extra money” in that the Department of Health and Social Care’s capital spending limit had been lifted – while noting that, because the cash had been sat on provider balance sheets all along, it could “legitimately be described as money that trusts already had”. 

Meanwhile, the government’s list of 20 capital projects does not include one costing more than £100m – but a list pulled together by HSJ ahead of the announcement included dozens above that figure. 

However, the change in prime minister has created an opportunity for the NHS. 

Other announcements in the pipeline include a revised consultation on doctor’s pensions – something it would be hard to imagine under the previous administration – and further efforts to loosen the Treasury’s grip on capital spending allocations are to be expected.

Time to say goodbye

Late last week, Dominic Hardy bid farewell to his colleagues at Skipton House; he will be leaving NHS England and Improvement come October.

He is going to be chief operating officer at The Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust and will work on their integrated care partnership plans as well.

Mr Hardy was appointed national director of primary care delivery at NHSE in 2017. In March this year, his role was expanded to incorporate transforming health systems, giving him oversight of the development of integrated care systems.

England is in the grip of system integration, with health economies up and down the country planning for the rollout of ICSs by April 2021. It is intriguing for Mr Hardy to choose to leave his pivotal role in this policy to become COO at a Home Counties FT.

He told his colleagues at NHSE that The Royal Berkshire is his local trust and the COO post “is a fantastic opportunity to work together with other colleagues in West Berkshire to help provide outstanding care for our community”. This is laudable, but, given ICSs are “central to the delivery of the long-term plan”, surely his post at NHSE/I would give him a similar opportunity?