HSJ’s round-up of Monday’s must read stories and debate

‘Providers are fed up being kicked about’

Sometimes HSJ can’t put it better than our readers do in the comments section beneath a story.

That might well be the case with Monday morning’s announcement from the CQC: “North Middlesex chief executive told to improve services in emergency department”.

It’s not the first time the CQC have criticised a trust or issued a warning notice, but it is the first time the regulator has explicitly mentioned the chief executive in the subject line of a press release.

Why? Do they think trust boss Julie Lowe was unaware of the A&E performance? Or wasn’t working to sort it out?

Let’s be clear, the trust has seen a steep decline in their performance year on year, and there are specific reasons for this.

But as North Middlesex pointed out in its statement, there are more obvious causes too – a real difficulty in getting hold of even half the required senior and middle grade medics for A&E.

One HSJ reader said: “It’s not just the CQC, and it’s certainly not just North Middlesex. Providers are fed up with being kicked about things that, in and of themselves, they can do almost nothing about – workforce, demand, costs… It is either burying good people up to their necks, or forcing them out altogether.”

The pressures facing chief executives are well documented, but can it be right to make individuals responsible for system-wide issues?

Of course, organisations with problems will be tempted to say it’s not their fault, but hopefully the CQC swinging back to “light touch” regulation will mean providers feel a little less beaten up.

Top marks for Newcastle

On same day the CQC was giving North Middlesex its orders, the regulator rated Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust outstanding.

The trust may be the fifth in the country to get top marks, but it’s the first teaching hospital to receive the coveted top rating.

The other FTs in the elite club are: Salford Royal, Frimley Health, Western Sussex Hospitals and Northumbria Healthcare (patients in the North East are evidently well served by their acute trusts).

One of the things the outstanding-rated providers have in common is a record of stable leadership – something Newcastle exemplifies perhaps more powerfully than any other NHS organisation in the country.

The trust is led by Sir Leonard Fenwick, the longest serving chief executive in the NHS, who has ruled the roost at Newcastle and its predecessor organisations for 38 years.

In an interview with HSJ last year, Sir Leonard said the development of a “regulation industry” in the NHS had been “exponential”, and that it was “intrusive” and occasionally “unforgiving”.

Perhaps so. But judging from the CQC’s inspection report, this chief executive doesn’t have too much to worry about from “the ringside commentators”.

Showcasing the best in the NHS

The final, final deadline for entering the HSJ Awards 2016 is 10 June.

Individuals and organisations now have until Friday to put themselves forward for the most sought after accolades in British healthcare, which celebrate and showcase the finest achievements in the health service in 23 categories.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London in November.