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

A minimum of 15 per cent of hospital patients who are covid positive should be treated in virtual wards, urgent new guidance issued by NHS England has stated.

The NHS should also discharge more people into care homes, hospices and hotels, it says. Patient choice of where and how care is delivered can also be “reduced”.

Late on Wednesday, NHSE issued a slew of policy documents designed to free up space in hospitals in advance of the expected omicron wave.

The initiative was summarised in a letter entitled: “For action – accelerating the numbers of people discharged home” from NHSE chief operating office Sir David Sloman, chair of the NHSE discharge taskforce Sarah Jane-Marsh, and Michelle Dyson, director general of social care at the Department of Health and Social Care.

It was sent to all integrated care system and clinical commissioning group accountable officers, local authority directors of adult social care and chief executives.

Bupa bust-up

Bupa and a trust in the South East are on course to create legal fireworks in the new year in a dispute over reimbursement.

Ross Dunworth, finance director at Royal Surrey Foundation Trust, says the healthcare giant is “behaving in an immoral way” when it comes to paying the trust for treating its patients within a specialist unit.

Mr Dunworth, also deputy chief executive, says Bupa has refused to pay the full amount owed relating to use of the trust’s brachytherapy service, citing issues around coding of treatments.

In a statement, Bupa suggested it did not receive invoices from the trust within the contractual six-month period, and had received 65 historic invoices earlier this year which were “unexpected”.

Mr Dunworth disputed this, saying there had not been an issue with late invoicing. He told HSJ the company owes the trust around £400,000.