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

Hospital leaders in the North West are bracing themselves for what’s threatening to be a scary few weeks.

New projections from public health officials in Blackburn with Darwen suggest covid patients requiring hospital treatment are “extremely likely” to spiral during the rest of October, based on the high community transmission rates and current admission trajectories.

In a briefing document they said: “It is reasonable to assume no impact can be made in the increasing trend in bed occupancy for at least the next two weeks, as these cases have already occurred.

“Even if a full scale lockdown was called tomorrow, bed occupancy would continue to rise after the next two weeks as hospital beds fill quicker than they empty for covid patients.

“During the first peak in April, hospital bed occupancy reached its maximum point in the North West at 2,890 on 13 April.

“It is extremely likely that this will happen in 17 to 22 days. If nothing changes in terms of downward pressure on R [reproduction rate] in the next 10 days, hospital bed occupancy will start to approach 6,000 in 30 to 35 days. This is double the number of beds occupied at the peak in the North West in April.”

Dominic Harrison, director of public health for the borough, said central government needs to urgently step in and take significant action.

Epic saga

It appears some like to go their own way.

Last August, NHS England and NHSX published a framework which listed several “accredited” electronic patient record suppliers that integrate well with other systems.

Epic was not on the list but since being introduced some trusts have opted for the US-based firm.

Manchester University Foundation Trust did so, despite apparently having an alternative which offered “better value for money”, before Frimley Health FT did the same.

Now that the prestigious Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT has followed suit, it does look a little bit awkward for the centre.