HSJ’s roundup of Monday’s key stories

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Moneyed North, but skint Midlands and East

The Midlands and East is England’s most financially troubled region in the health service, while the North is the most robust, HSJ analysis has shown.

Combining the positions of CCGs, providers and specialised commissioners, HSJ found that the Midlands and East had an overall deficit of £418m in 2014-15, compared to a healthy £279m surplus in the North.

NHS England is hoping to shore up the financially stressed region with extra funding targeted at half the region’s CCGs and through use of the “success regime” in Essex.

The DH’s ‘bizarre’ policy

Taxpayers’ money is being used by the Department of Health to pay for private prescriptions for a £12,000 a year drug to treat narcolepsy, HSJ has learned.

The drug is only being prescribed to patients taking legal action because their condition was triggered by the swine flu vaccine, while other patients are denied access to the same drug on the NHS.

Consultant neurologist and British Sleep Society president Dr Paul Reading said the situation was “bizarre and iniquitous”. An HSJ reader was equally bemused, saying “this sort of penny-pinching is ludicrous”.

Commissioners on the hook for increased emergency activity

CCGs are expected to fund a 2.3 per cent increase in emergency activity this year compared to 2014-15.

A performance report published ahead of NHS England’s board meeting this Thursday says a total of 5.6 million extra spells of non-elective care have been commissioned for this year.

Letters seen by HSJ last month revealed how NHS England ordered CCGs in the South to change their contracts with acute providers to reflect an assumption that hospital activity would grow this year. It previously said its assumptions for activity were “considerably north” of CCGs’ plans, but the national body now appears to be happy with the new arrangements.

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