HSJ’s roundup of Tuesday’s must read stories

DH delivers on ultimatum

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the British Medical Association in July that he would look to impose a new contract if progress on negotiations had not been made by 11 September, and that appears to be exactly what will happen to junior doctors from next year.

The Department of Health confirmed to HSJ on Tuesday afternoon that junior doctors will be forced to work under new terms and conditions from August next year.

It will look to impose the new contract on junior doctors when they rotate to new jobs within the NHS.

This follows a final decision on Tuesday by members of the BMA’s junior doctors committee not to re-enter contract negotiations with NHS Employers.

In an echo of the BMA choosing to walk away from talks unannounced last year, the DH gave the union no prior warning of its decision.

No holding back

CCGs have issued some of the most damning criticism of NHS England we’ve ever seen, after attempting to use the national body’s “lead provider framework” to let a new contract for commissioning support services.

Four CCGs in the South West have paused their procurement, and described a series of serious issues with the process designed by NHS England.

The concerns include a lack of transparency from NHS England, possible conflicts of interest, and the potential for a “lack of viable bids” from suppliers. Whether switching provider will result in VAT being charged - inflating costs by 20 per cent - is another long known issue that has still apparently not been solved.

If they used the framework, they would likely end up with a worse service that costs more, the CCGs said.

It has provoked a predictably lively discussion on the comment thread.

Hunt’s home truths

Mr Hunt received a grilling at Tuesday afternoon’s Commons health committee session.

Asked about the possibility of the NHS getting a “transformation fund” from the spending review in November, the health secretary said the government did not “have resources for very generous double running costs”.

In a straight talking segment of the session - which lasted nearly three hours - Mr Hunt said the financial pressure on the NHS was “the worst it’s ever been in its history” and “morale is not good in the NHS at the moment”.

However, he said the government’s drive on efficiency was the biggest such exercise in “NHS history”, and that organisations like the Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund that have expressed scepticism about achieving £22bn in savings had not seen the “detailed work” the DH has done.