HSJ’s roundup of Tuesday’s key stories

The Monitor Safety and Development Authority?

HSJ has been told discussions are under way to bring together many of the functions of Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority into some form of single “new body”, which would also take on new patient safety and improvement work.

The Department of Health announced last month that from later this year the two regulators would share a single chief executive. At the time they shied away from details, stating simply that the organisations would be “working closely together”.

However, HSJ understands the DH and other national officials are now working on plans to create what several senior sources said was described as a “new body”. The legal and organisational nature of this new beast remains unclear, given the government’s reluctance to legislate on health.

We also revealed on Tuesday that health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to make a speech next week referencing plans for a new patient safety Air Accident Investigation Branch style function for the NHS, which will be hosted by whatever is formed from Monitor and the TDA.

HSJ bureau chief Dave West observed:

Wrong answer

A senior figure at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has suggested NHS England scrapped its work on safe staffing guidance because it “didn’t like the answer to the question”.

In an intervention likely to ruffle feathers at Skipton House, Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE, said the body was not going to carry on its work on safe staffing independently of NHS England.

He said: “We’re not going to do that because the body that commissions it said they don’t want it.

“I think the reason they don’t want it is if you don’t like the answer to the question, you don’t ask the question. In a way the underlying problem is that the NHS has survived for most of its history by taking risks and not getting found out.”

The comments, made at the Patient Safety Congress in Birmingham yesterday, come after a decision by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens last month to suspend NICE’s work on safe nurse staffing levels.

Also at the Patient Safety Congress: Congratulations to this year’s Patient Safety Awards winners; and to those named as top clinical leaders. HSJ’s inaugural recognition of the foremost Patient Leaders will also be named on Tuesday at www.hsj.co.uk