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

Legal threat scuppers £25m deal

In the new world of service integration, the power of commissioners to determine how services are run is fast diminishing.

One of the key planks of the 2012 Lansley reforms was to give clinical commissioning groups greater power to select different providers for services, whether public or private.

But a recent procurement process in the North West demonstrates that while that might still be the law, it often no longer works like that in practice.

Halton CCG had named One Primary Care – part of One Medical Group – as its preferred bidder to run two urgent treatment centres, following a recent tender process.

But the CCG was then threatened with a legal challenge from at least one of the incumbent NHS providers, and received a grumpy letter from GPs that had been involved in designing the £25m contract (and who were part of the NHS-led bid).

Rather than press ahead with what it still felt was the right decision, the CCG instead decided to abandon, citing the potential disruption and delays caused by the legal challenge.

This could of course open the CCG up to potential difficulties with One Medical Group, although it suggests the company “do[es] not intend to pursue any costs or recourse”.

The company says it’s in discussions with all parties.

Charter seeks safety and fairness

The NHS does not have the best reputation when it comes to dealing with patient safety incidents and balancing the needs of both the patient and staff affected.

Time and time again stories have emerged of patients and their families not getting the answers they are entitled to under the NHS’s duty of candour, while – in some cases – staff have been unfairly thrown under the bus.

But now a new charter and additional guidance has been launched by the national body in charge of managing the costs of claims made against the NHS for clinical negligence.

NHS Resolution, formerly the NHS Litigation Authority, has drawn up the “Being Fair” charter in a bid to ensure trusts respond appropriately when a safety breach occurs.

One of its authors, NHS Resolutions’ Denise Chaffer, told the Patient Safety Congress in Manchester this week that there is much variation across trusts in relation to reacting to an incident.

The organisation hopes the charter could be a trigger for boards to change that.