HSJ’s roundup of Thursday’s key stories

Fortress mentality

“If an acute trust thinks they’re an island of autonomy then forget it frankly, they are not, and they never have been in reality.

“And as far as they’ve tried to pretend they’re an island and haven’t integrated with the system around them, then they’re going to fail.”

Such was the warning from the new minister for NHS productivity to any foundation trust trying to achieve savings on its own.

In his first interview since his appointment as a health minister, Lord Prior told HSJ the cap on agency fees should put spending on a “downward trend” from September. However, he refused to confirm whether the total agency bill would be lower than 2014-15.

The former Care Quality Commission chair also revealed that the government may legislate to ensure the relationship between doctors and medical device suppliers is above board.

Budget blues

Wednesday’s summer Budget, in which chancellor George Osborne announced four further years of public sector pay restraint, has provoked heated debate among HSJ readers.

One reader called for the dismantling of the Agenda for Change contract, which they argued was “[putting] a straitjacket on the whole of NHS pay”.

“I fully support the idea of pay restraint for the middle and higher grades - a category that includes myself - but the pay policy needs to flex to allow some relief for low paid staff. That can’t happen until Agenda for Change is dismantled,” they said.

However, another reader said: “The problem is not [Agenda for Change] which will now be much harder to update or reform, but the politics that will tolerate billions being spent on agency staff whilst creating long term misery on pay for NHS staff.”

The reader also remarked: “We thought Stevens was determining future NHS policy but no it’s [Osborne].”