HSJ’s top stories and debate for Wednesday

Pay rise cancelled?

The Treasury has warned there should be “no expectation” that all public sector workers will receive a 1 per cent pay rise, despite George Osborne saying in the summer Budget that they would receive the increase.

In a letter to the pay review bodies, chief secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands said today that the government intended pay rises to be applied in a “targeted manner”.

This has angered the unions, with Unison’s general secretary Dave Prentis declaring the government’s 1 per cent promise “all smoke and mirrors”.

He added: “There was no substance to George Osborne’s claim and NHS staff will be bitterly disappointed to hear many of them may not even get an extra penny for five more years.

“It is difficult to see how much targeting you can get from a miserly 1 per cent without resulting in hundreds of thousands not getting a pay rise at all.”

However, HSJ senior correspondent Crispin Dowler pointed out that Mr Hands’ letter was worded ambiguously.

He tweeted: “Of course, you could also read this excerpt as suggesting that hard-to-retain staff might get more than a 1 per cent rise…”

Competitive tendencies

Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG did not break procurement regulations when it selected a preferred provider for a £100m community services contract without going to tender, Monitor has concluded.

The regulator said the process used by NEW Devon to choose Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust “was proportionate and enabled it to select a provider from the available options”.

However, it warned the CCG that it must “do more work to ensure that it will get value for money before awarding the contract”.

Monitor launched its investigation into the procurement in January, following a complaint from Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, the provider which stands to lose the contract.

In a joint statement, NEW Devon CCG and the two trusts said the CCG had been “exonerated”, which is a change of tune from Northern Devon. Following Monitor’s interim report in June, the trust submitted a response to Monitor that branded NEW Devon’s procurement “shambolic” and the regulator’s findings “perverse”.

Paediatricians are a rare breed

More than one in 10 hospital rotas for paediatricians in the UK have vacancies, with some hospitals seeing vacancies of almost a quarter in specialist units.

The survey of 157 paediatric units also found that less than 30 per cent of the general and neonatal consultant workforce was permanently working resident shifts in their hospitals.