HSJ’s roundup of Tuesday’s must read stories and talking points

‘Inadequate’ Cambridge raises questions for whole system

Regulators’ decision to condemn Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust to becoming the first member of the elite Shelford Group to be put in special measures raises significant questions for the whole health service.

The Care Quality Commission’s report describes an organisation that has lost its grip on managing much of the bread and butter work done by the hospital and of its finances.

But many have leapt to the trust’s defence, citing it as a victim of a system under unprecedented pressure, and an overzealous regulator, rather than an “inadequate” institution.

Either way, the ramifications are substantial. What, for example, does it mean for the viability of government backed plans for leading tertiary trusts to run chains of hospitals if trusts such as Cambridge are struggling to manage their own affairs, let alone those of other potentially struggling trusts?

The departure of another hospital chief executive - the well regarded Keith McNeil resigned last week - is also part of a national trend of trust leaders leaving their posts.

Providers are struggling to fill these vacancies, as illustrated by our analysis last week, which found more than one in 10 NHS trust chief executive posts are not filled on a permanent basis or will shortly be vacant.  

The judgment that one of its world renowned trusts is rated as failing is just another indication of the strain the NHS is under.

Leading questions

HSJ hosted a Q&A on Tuesday about how women in the NHS can break through the glass ceiling.

We were joined by occupational psychologist Margaret Davies and Kaye Welfare, who has been in senior positions on private, public and voluntary sector boards. Together they run a company running leadership and coaching programmes for women leaders.

The discussion touched on several pertinent issues such as need for different leadership styles, the importance of role models and mentors, overcoming stereotyping, and acknowledging unconscious bias.

“Women are less likely to put themselves forward for promotion or new job opportunities or ask for a pay rise. As a result they often miss out. Internal mentors and sponsors can help here,” Ms Davies said.

She cited the example of the Met Office on how organisations can encourage flexible working. 

“We work with women from the Met Office and they have an issue with women and shift patterns. They have carried out research to get under the skin of the real issues for women as they wish to keep their highly talented female scientists. As a result they are adjusting their shift work patterns to increase retention rates.”

One of the main talking points was Ms Davies’ opinion that women seek roles that expose them to new skills and knowledge – not just promotions, adding, that they have “bolder aspirations as a result”.

Continue the debate on hsj.co.uk.