HSJ’s round-up of the day’s must read stories and talking points

Former trust boss faces jail

A former hospital trust chief executive faces jail after she pleaded guilty to fraudulently paying her husband more than £11,000.

Paula Vasco-Knight, the former head of Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust, and her husband Stephen, had pleaded not guilty to fraud at Exeter Crown Court but changed their pleas on Thursday.

Ms Vasco-Knight authorised the payment of £11,072 to her husband’s graphic design company to produce a 200 page leadership improvement document called Transform, which was never submitted.

Court recorder Don Tait told the former NHS England equalities lead she should expect jail time for her part in the fraud. The couple will be sentenced on 10 March.

Ms Vasco-Knight was also charged with another count of fraud for a £9,000 newsletter produced by her husband’s company. The prosecution, led by NHS Protect, offered no evidence for this charge and she was found not guilty.

Habib Naqvi, a senior equalities manager at NHS England, was found not guilty of two charges of encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence.

Rationing rumpus

Three CCGs’ attempts to ration knee and hip replacement surgery has caused outrage among the Royal College of Surgeons.

This week Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG revealed plans to revise its own and South Worcestershire and Wyre Forest CCGs’ commissioning policies for MSK services in the hope of saving over £2m.

They intend to lower the threshold for patients eligible for knee and hip replacements.

The part that has irked the royal college is the method the CCG is using to decide who is eligible and who is not.

The CCGs have said that only patients with an “Oxford hip or knee score” of less than 25 will be eligible for treatment in future.

RCS have argued that there is “no clinical justification” for using Oxford scoring system to determine whether an individual patient should receive a treatment as the system was intended to measure outcomes.

According to the CCGs’ new policy, only patients with a BMI of less than 35 will be eligible for surgery unless they can demonstrate a 10 per cent loss in weight; they are in danger of losing their independence; or the level of joint destruction would increase if surgery was delayed.

The CCGs have said that those not eligible but still wanting surgery will be able to appeal.

Teaching trust chief to leave

The chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare Trust, Tracey Batten, is to leave the London teaching trust later this year.

Ms Batten started work at the Shelford Group organisation in February 2014, after a successful career as a clinician and manager in Australia.

She told staff she will be returning to Australia but will remain at the trust for at least six more months. The trust has recently been in spotlight as the star of BBC documentary series Hospital.