HSJ’s round-up of the day’s essential stories

Southern Health pleads guilty

Southern Health Foundation Trust has pleaded guilty to causing a patient life-altering injuries through safety failures. 

It pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment to its patients at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court today. It is the first time the CQC has used its regulatory powers to bring a prosecution against a trust.

The CQC announced in March that it was prosecuting the trust after a patient under Southern Health’s care broke his neck when he fell from the roof of one of its hospitals, Melbury Lodge, Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

The case is now adjourned to 12 October, when sentencing is expected.

Reasons for chief’s sacking revealed

A hospital trust in the North West has disclosed brief details of the “gross misconduct” which resulted in its chief executive being sacked.

Jonathan Parry was dismissed by Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust in October after whistleblowing allegations were made by staff.

Until now the trust has declined to release details of the allegations, which led to an internal disciplinary process.

Midlands merger investigation

Competition regulators have launched a formal inquiry into a long-mooted merger which would form one of the largest acute trusts in the country.

The Competition and Markets Authority investigation will consider the merger between University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust and Heart of England FT. If approved, the combined trust would have a turnover of over £1.4bn.

UHB and HEFT already share chief executive Dame Julie Moore and chair Jacqui Smith. Dame Julie is also the STP lead for Birmingham and Solihull.

The CMA investigation will consider whether the merger “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market” and if this would be outweighed by any benefits to patients.

Tackling the workforce crisis

As part of NHS Improvement’s efforts to reduce the numbers of staff leaving the health service, 37 trusts have been chosen to receive targeted support from the regulator.

HSJ understands the programme is not compulsory and two trusts said they do not wish to be included.

In an interview with HSJ, NHSI nursing director Ruth May set out the regulator’s plans to help tackle a growing retention crisis in the NHS. She said some trusts had not had “sufficient focus” on workforce retention in recent years and accepted efforts to turn the situation around could have started much earlier.