The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

The NHS commercial directorate is going to press ahead with its ongoing piece of work to reduce the number of procurement frameworks used by local NHS organisations. This rationalisation will deal with the “Wild West” of these procurement tools, NHS England’s chief commercial officer has said.

Currently, trusts use around 1,400 frameworks from scores of suppliers. To reduce this, the commercial director is making lists of frameworks that are going to be accredited.

They aim to publish the lists in January to come into force in April. Here’s hoping they’re checking it twice.

We make this reference not just because it is tediously topical but also last year, in the first iteration of the framework accreditation process, NHSE released a list of accredited digital and IT frameworks but quickly had to reissue it as they had accidentally left off one of the largest and arguably most significant public procurement frameworks of them all – G-cloud.

A key question will be how NHSE plans on enforcing its accredited lists. First, according to its CCO, it will push local leaders to ensure their procurement teams toe the line. Failing that, they will look at curtailing funding.

Bristol united

NHS provider mergers have been very much the norm in the last few years, but one major city is notable for having avoided this.

In Bristol, there are still two acute trusts which are just 4 miles apart yet they remain entirely separate organisations.

Until now.

With University Hospitals of Bristol and Weston chief executive Eugine Yafele announcing his departure recently, it has been decided that the trusts will share a CEO and chair with North Bristol Trust.

The trusts will also move to a group model over the next two years and are set to publish a joint clinical strategy next month.

The news has an air of inevitability about it, given that Bristol was the last major city (excluding London) to house two NHS acute providers and national chiefs have been encouraging collaboration for some time.

However, expect the integration to take a cautious pace, with UHBW having only recently come through a difficult merger with Weston Area Health Trust.

The group model is likely to in reality be a deeper embedding of the provider collaborative formed, and – given local scepticism about merger – is the most palatable option for staff right now.

Also on today

In The Integrator, Dave West examines the government’s flipflopping position on migration as it relates to NHS and care workers, and in Comment, Luca Tiratelli and Safya Benniche say that local health and care systems lack a shared understanding of the causes of hospital discharge delays in their area and of the best ways of tackling them.