HSJ’s roundup of Wednesday’s must read stories and big talking points

The other Jeremy

The must-see political event on Wednesday was Jeremy Corbyn’s first outing as leader of the opposition at prime minister’s questions.

The new Labour leader declared he would run PMQs in a new way, and did so by raising issues he said he had been emailed about by thousands of people. He said he’d received around 1,000 questions about mental health. He raised a question from someone called Gail, who wondered why mental health services were on “on their knees”. David Cameron responded by saying the two parties could work together on this as he sought to improve mental health services and pointed to his commitment of £8bn real terms NHS spending growth though the Parliament.

Mr Corbyn came back by raising the experience of many mental health patients having to be moved to accommodation outside their area – in some cases hundreds of miles – when in crisis, an important issue which HSJ has illuminated over the past year or so.

He also said he hoped Mr Cameron would ensure his £8bn spending commitment was weighted earlier rather than later in the parliament, referring to a key concern ahead of the November spending review.

Those wanting to swot up on the background can read HSJ finance expert Crispin Dowler’s excellent leader column.

We await the answer – probably until November.

Getting out of London

Another NHS chief executive in London has announced they are stepping down.

The chief executive of Moorfields Eye Hospital Foundation Trust, John Pelly, has announced he will retire at the end of November.

HSJ correspondent Sophie Barnes points out this makes it six London acute trusts without a permanent chief executive in post or with a chief executive who has recently announced their departure. These include some of the most prominent figures in the capital’s health service, such as Sir Robert Naylor at UCLH and Sir Ron Kerr at Guy’s And St Thomas’.

Mr Pelly has led the highly regarded specialist trust for seven years and has overseen the expansion of the trust’s satellite clinics hosted at other hospitals.

Waiting list warning

“The waiting list grew, waiting times went up, and so did the risk of an 18 week national breach. Ground gained before the general election is slipping away.”

That’s the conclusion of waiting times expert Rob Findlay, in his analysis on hsj.co.uk of the latest data for July.

The waiting list was at its largest since, at nearly 3.3 million patients (nearly 3.5 million if you include estimates for non-reporting trusts).

And Mr Findlay has a warning for Jeremy Hunt about a coming breach of the target: “July was the first full month since the perverse targets for admitted and non-admitted patients were rightly scrapped, so an improvement in patient scheduling – and therefore long waits – might have been expected.

“However, the growing waiting list is reversing those gains, and if it keeps on growing faster than demand, it is only a matter of time before the 18 weeks target is breached at national level.”

With the health secretary pledging to maintain NHS performance, this prospect will keep him occupied.