HSJ’s roundup of Friday’s key stories

Sign up for the daily Executive Summary email

Northern powerhouse

Leaders of the Healthier Together programme, which will reorganise acute services across Greater Manchester, have said they hope to implement the four “specialist” sites for emergency surgery before improvements to primary care are fully in place.

The programme – the biggest reconfiguration project since the break-up of South London Healthcare – also covers primary care services.

In consultation documents, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities had said: “We are clear that this improvement in integration and in GP services needs to be up and running before the changes to the hospital services are introduced.”

However, local leaders hope to start preparing the first “specialist” and “local” hospital groupings in three months, with the new setup planned to go live early next year. The four “specialist” sites were confirmed on Wednesday, after a controversial consultation.

Ian Williamson, the senior officer for the project, told HSJ the region’s 12 CCGs were “satisfied that the work done and the plans in place meet the conditions”.

He added: “We are not perfect, yet in primary care we’ve got about 40 per cent covered with seven day services and that’s increasing.”

It seems there’s no stopping Greater Manchester’s reformers, and they hope the whole region will be covered by seven day GP access by the end of the year.

Best polish the CV

No sooner had Jeremy Hunt announced the name of the health system’s new combined regulator yesterday, than the Department of Health had begun advertising for its chief executive.

The Monitor-TDA combo is to be called NHS Improvement. It will be chaired by Ed Smith – who is in charge of recruiting the chief executive – and Lord Darzi will be a non-executive director.

The advert for the role, which will be up until 3 August, says the chief executive will “play a pivotal role” in delivering “the vision to put a constant drive for efficiency alongside consistent safety and quality at the heart of all NHS organisations” and “will be a dynamic leader with the skills required to bring greater alignment between the two organisations”. 

It also says: “We are looking for an exceptional candidate who can understand frontline healthcare and deliver transformational change within a very complex environment.

“The individual must have proven integrity and the track record to command the confidence and trust of NHS staff, NHS England and the Government.”

Tempted to go for it? At least you know you won’t be up against current Monitor boss David Bennett. Last month he confirmed he would not be applying.

Cancer drugs group stopped

A group tasked by NHS England to examine how cancer drugs can be evaluated and commissioned in future has had its work “paused” after just six months in operation.

The Cancer Drugs Fund Short Life Working Group was created in January to explore how patients could best access specialised cancer treatments from April 2016.

The government has pledged that the cancer drugs fund will run until that date.

The next steps for the group’s work will be revealed Monday. Sir Bruce Keogh told HSJ: “On Monday an NHS England Board paper will be published outlining how the new proposals are going forward, full speed ahead… Some important ideas and principles have emerged from the cancer drugs fund working group and we will continue to work closely with them.”

Sign up for the daily Executive Summary email