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

Investing money into staff wellbeing is all well and good, but what use is it without giving them the time to make use of it?

As winter “looms” the new president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists has called on trusts to give their staff the time to access psychological support, as many anaesthetists and intensivists are in need of it after a difficult pandemic.

“We need to allow people the time to access them,” Dr Fiona Donald told HSJ. “It is for the leadership all the way up organisations [to understand] that the wellbeing of their staff is something that will pay dividends.”

This need is of course not unique to doctors, but for all NHS staff who have struggled over the last 18 months. And many leaders will want to give staff the time to recover properly, but simply don’t have the resources.

This perhaps echoes the warnings given by Health Education England, which called on trust leaders to prioritise training if they want to recover service delivery.

Dr Donald warns that for many it’s easier to leave than to stay at the moment, and the responsibility falls to leaders to make the case for the latter.

When bad tech is a real threat

Delaying the launch of the new cervical cancer screening IT system, particularly after the pressures faced by the health service over the past 18 months, isn’t a surprising move – but it could have major consequences.

The IT used to identify eligible people for tests across all NHS screening programmes was declared unfit for purpose in 2011.

This then led to tens of thousands of patients not being called for cervical and breast cancer screening appointments in 2018, ultimately putting their lives at risk. It’s not clear how many patients had delayed diagnoses due to these failures but there’s no doubt lives will have been lost as a result.

NHS Digital was due to launch a new programme for cervical cancer screening this month, but it has been delayed due to “significant risks and complexities” in the delivery. This will likely lead to further delays in the development of other outdated screening systems – bowel, breast and abdominal aortic aneurysm, which were due to follow.

The 2018 investigation identified 43,000 patients who had not been called for cervical cancer screening and a further 4,500 had not been sent results. But given the system had been declared unfit for purpose in 2011 it’s likely there were even more casualties caused by the clunky tech.