HSJ’s round up of the day’s essential stories

New special measures regime

If there was any doubt that turning around A&E performance is national health leaders’ current priority, this is surely put to bed with the emergence of a new special measures regime.

Trusts performing poorly against the four hour target could be placed in “A&E special measures” if their performance does not improve by June – as part of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s drive to get the system compliant with the 95 per cent waiting time target by March 2018.

Trusts will be put into one of four groups based on their emergency department performance under the new approach, the letter said. Trusts in group one, the most challenged areas, face weekly meetings with system leaders before Easter to discuss “local system recovery and action plans”.

HSJ was able to reveal who is in which group in London on Wednesday.

A number of measures designed to get the system back on track have already been revealed this month.

First, we reported that from April, sustainability and transformation fund money would only be made available to trusts hitting their A&E targets.

HSJ also understands NHS England and NHSI have now effectively dropped routine financial penalties for many trusts in relation to elective and cancer waits.

Providers have been told to ensure every hospital has a front door “streaming model” by October, linked to an additional £100m capital funding announced in the recent budget.

NHS Improvement has ordered trusts to reach 90 per cent of patients being seen in four hours by September, and the whole sector must reach 95 per cent by March 2018. The NHS mandate published this week, however, included a slightly delayed target of the end of the 2018 calendar year.

So now there are three special measures regimes – for quality, finance and A&E – but who will be the first trust to get the unwanted triple crown?