The must read stories in health from Friday

A long winter ahead

Warnings from provider chiefs that a headline budget pledge to alleviate pressure on the NHS by handing councils an extra £2bn for social care will fail to deliver “anything like the level of resource” provoked heavy sighs in Whitehall.

The NHS’s leadership has long called for any additional available funding to go to social care instead of the health service – but as soon as ministers acted on this, the protestations began.

An objective bystander might have some sympathy for this position. But they would also likely sympathise with the hospital trusts raising the concerns.

While a Tory source insisted to HSJ from the safety of Westminster that the new funding would be “spent in a way that eases pressure on the NHS”, the evidence so far suggests this is simply not how it will work out at the coalface.

Cash strapped councils see an opportunity to shore up their existing provision, which is creaking at the seams, rather than help free up thousands of acute beds as had been hoped by ministers and the NHS leaders.

The rights and wrongs of how the funding is distributed will be the subject of much debate over the coming months, but whatever the outcome, the NHS is likely to face a highly challenging winter.

Junior doctor whistleblowers protected

The Court of Appeal has ruled against Health Education England on a key legal case, which could grant junior doctors and other workers significant new legal protection.

The case was first covered by HSJ last year when an employment tribunal appeal court ruled that HEE couldn’t be considered an employer of junior doctors even though it can prevent them working and progressing in their career. The tribunal said Parliament’s legislation on employment protection had not intended HEE to have this role.

However, judges roundly rejected this and said a new interpretation of the law was necessary and that HEE could indeed be considered properly as having an employer relationship with trainees.

That is a significant step and opens up the prospect that it could be included in future employment tribunals.

Experts told us a year ago that the original tribunal ruling had created a gap that needed to be closed. There has been a lot of money spent to clarify the law to arrive at a position that was always a necessary end result – junior doctors should have protection for genuine whistleblowing.

The particular facts of this case, brought by Dr Chris Day against HEE and Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, will now be determined by an employment tribunal at a future date.

Election 2017: Raising voices

Patient/public representative group National Voices is among those setting out their asks on health and care today. They ask, pretty succinctly, for: “A new approach to health and care funding; a health and care system that gives people voice and control; and for health and care to be a priority in Brexit negotiations.”