The must read stories and debate from Wednesday

Save the date

Earlier in the summer, HSJ reported that three Birmingham clinical commissioning groups were considering a merger to create the biggest CCG in the country.

This week we’ve learned they have decided to take the plunge and set a date for their union.

The three CCGs – Birmingham CrossCity, Birmingham South Central and Solihull – are looking to fully merge by April 2018.

Before tying the knot, however, we understand the CCGs will create a “joint commissioning board”, which will receive delegated powers from the three CCGs from October.

On this board will be the three CCG chairs and three other executives from across their governing bodies, and a “transitional chair” to oversee the long engagement. It is not yet clear whether the joint board will have a single accountable officer.

It is understood that the plans to merge are backed by STP leads, so depending on approval from NHS England, 2018 could bring us a huge CCG serving a population of 1.2 million.

The plan was unanimously praised by HSJ readers commenting on the story on Wednesday, but not everyone in Brum is pleased – namely the local medical committee. The body representing GPs fears the merger will “emasculate” the CCGs, rendering them powerless to challenge the STP agenda and “consigning to history” clinically led commissioning in the area.

Choppy seas at Brighton

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust is the latest trust to go into special measures, after the CQC rated it inadequate on Wednesday.

The inspection report raised serious concerns with the trust’s leadership and safety. Professor Edward Baker, deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “It is clear that the problems we have found on this inspection go right through Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust. It is a matter of some concern that we found there was a distinct disconnect between the trust board and staff working in clinical areas, with very little insight by the board into the main safety and risk issues, and seemingly little appetite to resolve them.”

The trust operates Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, which was rated inadequate overall; and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, which was rated requires improvement.

The regulator also raised significant concerns about patient safety, patient dignity and waiting times.

Interim chief executive Gillian Fairfield, who joined the trust in April, said: “We know we should and need to be doing better for our patients and staff. The failures identified by the CQC are completely unacceptable and over the last four months we have had, and will continue to have, a relentless focus on addressing them.”