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

Integrated care systems/sustainability and transformation partnerships will be asked to set up at least one covid mass vaccination site each, although the timeline and specifications have yet to be published.

Alongside this, some trusts, likely to be those that deliver community services, will be designated as ‘lead providers’ to help contract the additional 40,000 staff that may be required to vaccinate the population as well as coordinate logistics.

Many of these staff will be “inexperienced” and/or volunteers and will have to complete a two-hour online training course first developed by Public Health England.

Contracts, separate from those already published for GPs, are also in train by NHS England for community pharmacists to deliver the vaccine too.

Many of these developments may be welcome by primary care networks that have voiced concerns about the workload and the opening hours that are expected of them (12 hours a day, seven days a week), but it will also involve a degree of integration and cooperation that the NHS is not entirely comfortable with.

At the moment, the consensus is that NHS staff are very keen to be involved with delivering these vaccines and that positivity will go a long way in enabling this to happen.

Yet with so many organisations involved, plus a serious electives backlog to deal with alongside the covid second wave, the covid vaccination plan is a serious and unheralded logistical task for the NHS.

Once in a generation

It’s not often you hear NHS England/Improvement describe something as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

Such words are normally only applied by the regulator when describing the challenge of improving NHS and local government partnerships or the intense workforce challenges in the health service.

But, according to NHSE/I, a new once-in-a-generation opportunity has presented itself.

While this opportunity has not emerged in a glamorous part of the NHS, it is no less important.

NHSE/I is – together with the Department for Health and Social Care – exploring whether to procure a single integrated cloud-based tech platform through which the NHS’ entire HR and finance administration would be run.

Currently, the staff data is held on one system and finance on another, but the 450-odd organisations within the NHS are believed to have supplemented this with other applications for functions such as procurement, recruitment, and planning.

This has – according to NHSE/I – created an impediment to improved use of analytics and data flow across NHS organisations.

With the contracting arrangement for the current systems due to expire shortly, the regulators are therefore grasping the “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to explore whether a single platform makes sense – according to a market briefing issued by NHSE/I last month.

A decision on whether to proceed with a single solution will be taken early next year.