HSJ’s roundup of Wednesday’s essential stories and talking points

CQC goes back to the future

Many will view the Care Quality Commission’s proposals for moving to a more risk based approach - revealed on Wednesday morning by HSJ - as the latest swing of the inspection pendulum.

When the CQC was formed, it was seen as a “light touch” regulator compared to its predecessor organisations.

But when it was accused of not having robust inspections after the scandals at Winterbourne View and Morecambe Bay, the pendulum swung back towards intensive inspection.

This led to big increases in the regulator’s budget and the roll out of a beefed up inspection regime.

However, the financial tide has turned and it could have its grant cut by 40 per cent.

Whether a more hands-off approach can be made to work will be a huge test of the CQC’s ability to use information to protect quality and guide inspection.

When two become one

HSJ has learned that the consultant bodies of Liverpool’s two big teaching hospital trusts have submitted a clinical options analysis to their boards recommending merger of the organisations.

The report of a “joint clinical advisory group” chaired by the medical directors of the two trusts went to the board of Aintree University Hospital Foundation Trust on Wednesday afternoon. The board of its city centre counterpart, the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust, will look at it next month.

It’s not the first time merger of the two organisations has been proposed. But unlike the last time it was seriously considered (around a decade ago) sources in the city say the real push this time is coming from the clinicians, not managers, and the intention is to make possible a reorganisation of the city’s somewhat fragmented hospital services.

The Aintree board, it seems, is already largely persuaded. Acting chief executive Steve Warburton told us: “The view of senior consultants from both trusts is that it’s not feasible to create 29 joint ventures across your 29 service lines. This has led the Aintree board to the view that there has to be a merger of Aintree and the Royal in order to create a critical mass of sustainable clinical services going forward.”

We wonder what NHS chief executive Simon Stevens would make of such a bold proposal from clinicians?

Earlier this month he said organisational mergers were distractions to progress, “cost oodles in management consultancy spend and deliver slightly less than diddly squat”.