The must read stories and debate in the NHS

Will you get a visit from the taskforce?

A new taskforce has been set up to challenge weak workforce proposals in STPs, HSJ reported on Tuesday.

The team, made up of senior nursing figures from arm’s length bodies including NHS Improvement and NHS England, has been set up to examine, and where necessary challenge, STPs’ workforce plans.

The group started its work last month. It is unclear which STPs are being looked at and whether the team has achieved any changes to the plans.

Ruth May, NHS Improvement’s director of nursing, said she was worried about what she called a “divergence” away from trusts’ operational plans, and forecasts of large reductions in nursing staff in some STPs.

She said workforce plans were the “weakest” parts of the STP process, adding the plans had a long way to go to demonstrate they would have sufficient staff to maintain patient care.

In an interview with HSJ, Ms May also said: “I personally need to step up my efforts to think about what we can do nationally to increase the amount of nurses that we have got.”

Winter pressure points

Just 10 hospital trusts have been responsible for more than a quarter of the “winter pressures” alerts issued since 1 December, HSJ analysis reveals.

The trusts with the highest number of level three or four “OPEL” alerts were Isle of Wight Trust and Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust – both with 24 between 1 December and 20 January.

Dalton’s warning

One of the country’s most high profile and highly regarded trust chief executives has warned that without “immediate” new funding for social care, patient care will be “compromised”.

Sir David Dalton, who runs Salford Royal and Pennine Acute trusts, said the current overcrowding concerns in A&Es are “not [caused by] the demand into the emergency department”. He said: “Our inability to transfer patients safely to an alternative care setting… is causing the problem.”

Without extra funding the “system will start to silt up… care to patients will be compromised [and there will be] a consequential deterioration in performance… which will start to reveal itself in indicators of quality, access and financial performance,” he said.

His comments may worry the Cabinet Office team set up by Theresa May to review social care funding policy. It has visited Manchester, along with other regions, to examine the well developed links between health and social care as part of its efforts to resolve the social care crisis.