Rounding up Tuesday’s must read stories and debate

Stockport strike

More problems have emerged for a high profile vanguard project in Greater Manchester, which is facing the threat of industrial action from staff affected by the new care model.

Up to now, the various vanguard schemes in England have gone about their work without too much controversy, with most people agreeing with the direction of travel.

But the Stockport Together project, which has benefitted from £23m of transformation funding, now faces the possibility of industrial action from Unison members, who are concerned about an expansion of unqualified support workers, as well as changes to hours and working practices that may not be mirrored by surrounding services.

The staff concerns present further difficulties for a project that has already been scaled back from the initial plans to form a single accountable care organisation.

The union is also concerned about some of the activity reductions and savings that have been projected by the vanguard partners with the help of PwC.

These include an overall 23 per cent drop in accident and emergency attendances, a 25 per cent reduction in outpatient activity, and a 20 per cent reduction in non-elective spells by 2020-21, compared to the 2016-17 baseline.

The reductions were expected to start kicking in this year but – you guessed it – the numbers have all increased.

While the dispute over working hours and practices is hopefully resolvable, delivering the activity reductions (and expected £40m savings) looks an exceptionally tall order.