The must read and most talked about stories in health from Thursday

Shake-up at Southern Health

On Thursday we found out the results of Tim Smart’s eagerly anticipated review of Southern Health Foundation Trust.

Mr Smart, the former chief executive of King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, was parachuted into the troubled trust at the end of April.

Southern Health has been an embattled organisation since the publication of last year’s Mazars report, which highlighted failures by the trust to investigate and learn from patient deaths.

Mr Smart concluded that while the trust’s board “should have acted in a more united way”, there was “no evidence of negligence or incompetence by any individual board member”.

Crucially, the trust’s chief executive, Katrina Percy, will be staying on.

However, Mr Smart said that she had in the past been “too operationally focused” and would now be concentrating on “delivery of the future strategy of the trust”.

The decision for Ms Percy to remain did not go down well with a number of HSJ readers. One commenter asked whether she was “the new Jeremy Corbyn of the NHS”, in reference to the Labour leader’s marked reluctance to stand down in the wake of the EU referendum result.

Perhaps of longer term significance to Southern Health is the service changes which will now take place.

This will start with Southern Health transferring its learning disability services to Oxford Health Foundation Trust, but Mr Smart said “other changes will occur”.

The trust is therefore facing another wave of organisational upheaval – it was created by bolting together various services in 2011 and 2012.

As these are restructured, the most important thing will be to ensure that patients and service users do not fall through the gaps.

DH’s new look

The Department of Health has reorganised its directorate structure, HSJ broke on Wednesday night.

It will no longer have separate directorates for digital, technology, local government and social care. Instead, from Friday, they will form a single new community care directorate.

The changes are part of the department’s cost cutting drive aimed at reducing running costs by 30 per cent by 2020 and losing up to 700 posts.

The four new directorates are:

  • Global and public health.
  • Community care, led by Tamara Finkelstein.
  • Acute care and workforce, led by Charlie Massey.
  • Finance and group operations, led by David Williams.

Big step towards Calderstones closure

HSJ revealed on Thursday afternoon that regulators have approved the acquisition of England’s last standalone learning disability hospital trust, paving the way for its closure.

Mersey Care Foundation Trust will take control of the Calderstones Partnership Foundation Trust, which runs the 223-bed Calderstones Hospital in Lancashire

Last year, NHS England announced Calderstones’ main hospital site in East Lancashire was to close within three years, as part of its drive to substantially reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and autism in inpatient care.