HSJ’s round-up of the biggest stories in health

A dramatic week at the PHSO

Events have moved on quickly since HSJ’s editor called for the parliamentary health service ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, and her deputy, Mick Martin, to resign on Monday.

The latest development is that the board of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman – which includes Dame Julie – has ordered a review into the organisation’s response to revelations of a cover up involving Mr Martin.

In case you missed any of the action over recent days, allow Daily Insight’s timeline to get you up to speed.

25 February: It emerges that Mr Martin was implicated in covering up the sexual harassment of a former HR director while he was acting chair at Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.

3 March: HSJ reveals that Dame Julie knew her deputy was involved in the cover-up in July 2015.

7 March: HSJ editor Alastair McLellan says in an editorial the PHSO leadership must stand down.

8 March: Mick Martin takes leave of absence pending an independent investigation “into the matters that have been raised”.

11 March: The PHSO board commissions a review into the actions of Dame Julie and the organisation’s response to revelations of the cover-up.

Needless to say, HSJ will keep right on top of where this story goes next.

Warning on waiting times

England officially missed the 18 week target by the narrowest of margins at the end of January – just one patient per trust, writes waiting times expert Rob Findlay on hsj.co.uk.

The breach was so narrow that the official Statistical Press Notice was obliged to report “92.0 per cent (91.995 per cent to three decimal places) of patients waiting to start treatment (incomplete pathways) were waiting up to 18 weeks”.

Unofficially, though, the figures were considerably worse, Rob warns – “If we add back in the last reported positions at non-reporting trusts, only 91.5 per cent of waiting list patients were within 18 weeks.”

He continues: “Even this is only an estimate, and probably not a very good one: we know for instance that Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals trust has recently counted some 1,015 one-year-waiters on its lists, compared with a last reported position of zero one-year waiters. So the official statement that ’727 patients were waiting more than 52 weeks’ is clearly just plain wrong, and the official near miss on 18 weeks must also be considered unreliable.”

Join the queue for turnaround

Trusts which receive turnaround support from consultancies will have to apply to Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority for it and pay for it themselves.

A letter sent to providers by NHS Improvement chief Jim Mackey on Thursday night said chief executives have until next Tuesday to apply for the support, which is expected to more than cover its own costs by delivering savings.

Trusts’ applications will still have to be approved by Monitor’s committee that signs off every piece of consultancy work ordered by trusts costing more than £50,000.

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