HSJ’s roundup of Friday and the week’s most important stories

Sort finance and quality – but make sure you sort finance

NHS providers were on the receiving end of a string of strong and important messages from the centre on Friday. “Coordinated” may be a generous adjective for these communications from Jeremy Hunt, NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission, but the sequencing – and timing running into the weekend – is worth noting.

Here’s how it unfolded:

In paragraphs likely to be of more interest to users of the health service, the letter also revealed a number of eye catching measures to cut costs in the next two and a half months, including work with some providers to reduce staff headcount, and asking providers to delay holiday and not cover sickness absence. “This letter sets out what your board must urgently do during the remainder of the 2015-16 financial year,” it states.

It is hard to avoid the feeling that it is the 6pm letter - buried on Friday evening and with the day’s earlier announcement providing some cover - which is intended to cause chief executives the most angst in coming weeks.

Guardian faces up to blowback

When Dame Eileen Sills was announced as the new national guardian for NHS whistleblowers last week, she received a bit of a rough ride on Twitter and below the line.

The news that she would be doing the role two days a week while still holding down her job as chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust attracted particular criticism.

However, in an exclusive interview with HSJ and our sister title Nursing Times, Dame Eileen defended the decision. She said maintaining a link to the frontline (she does a clinical shift at Guy’s once a week) gave her and the national guardian’s office “credibility”.

She also promised to do both jobs “in the hours it takes me to do it” to make the national guardian role a success.

While Dame Eileen told HSJ she had never viewed herself as a whistleblower, she said she had worked in environments where she felt unable to speak up and had even been labelled “an agitator” during her 35 year NHS career.

With some negative comments still swirling around on Twitter from vocal campaigners, Dame Eileen’s comment that it will take “a long time” for her office to build up trust is surely on the money.

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