HSJ’s roundup of Friday’s key stories

The ‘most expensive story’ we’ve ever broken

Since NHS England’s decision to suspend the work last month, NICE has also continued evidence reviews on safe staffing for four other healthcare settings, a senior figure said. NICE plans to publish these evidence reviews, alongside its controversial A&E work, at the end of this month.  

Although the work would not be badged as official NHS guidance, its publication will put pressure on NHS England and ministers to adopt the measures or explain why not.

On Twitter HSJ editor Alastair McLellan said the scoop was “probably the most expensive news story (for the NHS) that HSJ has ever broken”.

Others praised NICE for challenging the national body. One reader said: “Pleased to see NICE shaking loose it political shackles and, as we say around here, ‘growing a pair’.”

Minister risks controversy over NHS funding comments

Lord Prior has risked controversy by telling the House of Lords that the premise of a tax funded NHS “has to be questioned” if future economic growth lags behind rising healthcare demand for a long time.

The new minister for NHS productivity said he was interested in exploring the idea of an “independent inquiry” to look into the long term sustainability of the health service.

Although he said a tax funded system is “right” for the NHS, he asked the House: “What will the long term demand for healthcare be in this country in 10 or 20 years’ time” and “will we have the economic growth to fund it?”

“At heart, our ability to have a world class health system will depend on our ability to create the wealth in this country to fund it,” he said.

You could imagine Tory leaders’ heads hitting the desk as they read the comments, as opponents were handed an open goal. One commenter lept at the chance, saying: “Prior and co will not be happy until the market is fully in control of healthcare.”

But another saw logic in his statement, saying: “He’s right to ask the question. If demand growth keeps outstripping GDP you inevitably have a health system that consumes a greater and greater proportion of that GDP.”