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

potential change to multiple integrated care system boundaries will likely “worsen patient care”, according to Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers, and would be a “considerable disruption at a time of many other priorities” such as elective recovery.

With so much at stake, he said Matt Hancock must “be absolutely certain that the gains to be made by changing the boundaries outweighs these risks – the view has to be worth the climb”.

He also revealed that in January, ministers made a decision that ICS boundaries will become coterminous with local authorities as a general principle without letting the provider sector know.

With the publication of the health bill expected in the next few weeks, Mr Hopson’s intervention in the growing row over proposed ICS boundary changes is well timed.

He called for “appropriate protections” to be included in the bill to ensure that proper consultation happens on any future changes made by Mr Hancock that affects frontline care delivery - specifically mentioning proposed powers that would give him greater powers of direction and control over local reconfigurations.

He said: “It is worrying how hard we have had to fight to ensure trust views are properly and fully taken into account [on boundary changes].”

Mr Hancock’s decision on the boundary changes of at least seven ICSs is expected in the next few weeks.

In-house and on-trend

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust has become the fifth of the capital’s 15 non-specialist hospital trusts to opt to provide catering and cleaning contracts itself.

It says it hopes this will boost workforce equality and support staff from minority ethnic communities. Previously the services were provided by Mitie.

Chief executive Daniel Elkeles: “Some 40 per cent of our cleaning, catering and portering staff are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities — communities already hit particularly hard by covid-19. This is absolutely the right time to welcome these teams back to the NHS family, with all of the benefits that brings.”

ESTH had previously announced it would increase the pay of the staff involved, investing £2m extra a year, which amounts to a 12 per cent pay increase.

The £512m-turnover trust follows Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which last year brought its catering and cleaning staff back onto the payroll.