HSJ’s roundup of Thursday’s essential health policy news and talking points

Parting shots

David Bennett is not leaving his job at Monitor quietly.

In an exclusive interview with HSJ, the outgoing chief executive of the foundation trust regulator aims both barrels at the government’s recent handling of the NHS.

Here are just some of his parting shots:

  • The government’s “instinct is to micromanage” has been damaging, with “more and more freedoms being taken away from chief executives in the public sector”.
  • He is unconvinced by Jeremy Hunt’s argument that “better care costs less”.
  • Mr Bennett expressed scepticism that the NHS would get the government support needed to deliver £22bn savings.
  • Ministers were also “failing to support their own legislation” on health service competition.
  • He didn’t want to lead NHS Improvement because the role “wasn’t a real chief executive’s job any more”.

And that’s just part one.

Mr Bennett also used the interview to say he would suspend the distracting foundation trust pipeline, and warned that NHS providers have little scope to get their deficit below £2bn this financial year.

It certainly gives his successor, NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey, and the rest of the NHS plenty to chew over.

Paper money for a paperless NHS

The Department of Health’s spending review bid for up to £5.6bn to fund the technology projects – revealed by HSJ this week – lays bare the size of the funding challenge the sector faces to deliver its flagship paperless target.

HSJ’s technology correspondent James Illman has been exploring the main issues facing the 100 or so new “digital footprint” groups tasked with making the paperless ambition a reality.

From the off, he argues it is unrealistic to expect them to deliver without upfront investment and a change in the NHS’ culture.

Getting the money won’t be easy though – and the sum requested by the DH is huge.

NHS England and the DH face a significant challenge to persuade the Treasury of the merits of allocating money for technology.

NHS England’s digital technology director Beverley Bryant said this week a key concern of the exchequer is that it will allocate funding for new technology but – even if it is deployed – staff will continue working in the old ways.

With the NHS under unprecedented financial pressure, it is also possible technology funding could get overlooked as policymakers grapple with keeping the NHS operationally viable as it goes into one of its toughest ever winters.