The must read stories and biggest talking points in the NHS

Beginning to bite

When NHS England announced the 14 areas that would go through the capped expenditure process, the national commissioner indicated primary care would be protected from the national savings drive.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told HSJ in the summer that around £250m in savings would need to be identified in these areas and that areas would “need to get on with” making “hard choices”.

Although plans are yet to surface for all 14 regions, there are hints that the plans may begin to bite for primary care – but not necessarily through the usual service cuts route.

HSJ has learned that North Lincolnshire CCG has told GPs it will not be able to spend transformation money, as previously promised, in 2017-18.

Instead the CCG has said it will defer the £270,000 and add it to 2018-19 allocations.

Last month we reported that two other CCGs had to cut the growth in primary care investment for 2017-18, effectively meaning anything not already budgeted for would not be funded.

Although North Lincs is not necessarily cutting funding, delaying it means improvement needed in an already poorly funded sector cannot be made.

If national NHS leaders want more services delivered in primary and community care, is it really a good idea to delay funding needed to improve those services?

Dido’s new gig

The Department of Health’s choice for the new chair of NHS Improvement provided ample opportunity for scoffing on social media.

Baroness Dido Harding is probably most famous for her time as chief executive of TalkTalk, which under her leadership suffered a major cyberattack in 2015 in which 4 million customers’ data was accessed by hackers.

The NHS’s recent and high profile vulnerability to cyberattacks provides an obvious sense of irony.

Then there’s the politics. Baroness Harding is a Conservative peer and married to a Conservative MP. Therefore she must hate the NHS and it’s obviously all part of the party’s secret privatisation plan.

In reality though, this might be a positive appointment from the NHS’s perspective. She will clearly bring a wealth of experience and know-how from the retail and technology sectors, and as one senior source in the provider sector told HSJ: “As things are at the moment, the Conservatives are having difficulty actually listening to the NHS, and this appointment potentially gives us a better opportunity to get our message across to government and the parliamentary party.”