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

The NHS faces all sorts of pressure as the climate gets warmer. Trying to keep its buildings cool enough is just one of them. 

This looks set to increasingly be an issue for trusts in the future, especially those stuck with ageing estates. 

It may have already started, if figures provided by trusts are anything to go by. 

The number of “overheating” incidents reported in clinical areas – when daily temperatures pass the 26°C threshold for a risk assessment – has nearly doubled in just five years, analysis of ERIC data shows.

Although reporting culture varied across providers, many of those reporting a high number of incidents said their older buildings were vulnerable to extreme weather, which is becoming both more frequent and more intense due to climate change.

For some, new hospital buildings are offering a glimmer of hope. Others are taking action to improve their estate to better deal with hot temperatures.

As one sustainability lead said: “We need a climate resilient estate to actually deliver sustainable care.”

Top tier

There was a time – not that long ago – when Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust was viewed as a troubled trust. An infection control scandal in the 2000s alongside poor performance and problems in specialist surgery more recently combined to affect its reputation.

Local opinion often drags behind improvements in public services but it would be hard for anyone to criticise the trust for these problems now. It’s just been promoted to the top tier of NHS England’s oversight framework and is generally performing well – often in the top five for accident and emergency performance, hitting the 62-day cancer target every month for three years and with stable finances.

Not surprisingly, the trust management are delighted and without a doubt hoping its Care Quality Commission rating will reflect this improvement when it is finally reinspected (its current report is five years old and gives it an overall rating of “requires improvement”).

The only cloud on the horizon is a forthcoming independent inquiry report into some of the most bizarre and unexpected crimes ever to be committed on NHS property – the horrendous sexual assaults in the hospital mortuary. If that is not unduly critical of the trust, its future looks bright.

Also on today

HSJ reveals the integrated care systems which met the government deadline of the end of 2022 to publish their integrated care strategy. Meanwhile, Norfolk and Waveney ICS plans to spend £100m on technology transformation projects, including virtual ward technology, population health management tools, and data analytics.