HSJ’s round up of Friday’s key stories

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Procure, procure, procure!

NHS England has angered some clinical commissioning groups in the north by attempting to force them into going to the market to procure some of their vital back office functions.

It comes after NHS England denied Yorkshire and Humber commissioning support unit a place on its “lead provider framework” for support services, which rendered the CSU unviable. CCGs now have to make alternative arrangements, but it seems some of them have given the “wrong” answer and sought to bring services in house, or set up shared functions, rather than procure using the “lead provider framework” that NHS England spent most of 2014 developing.

The central authority has directed them to work collectively and procure, procure, procure. But there are doubts over whether NHS England has the authority to override CCGs’ sovereignty on the issue – or to force them to shoulder the costs associated with redundancies and other liabilities because they chose “unwisely”.

Trouble at the top?

Readers have been particularly animated by news that Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust decided to top up the pay of some of its non-executive directors against legal advice.

The trust made three sets of additional payments to non-executives between April 2009 and August last year, prompting the Trust Development Authority to ask all trusts to review their arrangement for non-exec pay.

One, anonymous, HSJ reader commented: “The Department of Health needs to get real and understand the often huge differentials between Foundation Trust and NHS Trust Non Exec remuneration.

“Many of the Non FTs are big organisations often in turnaround and the ask of a Non Exec is no different wherever they work.”

Meanwhile, another John Doe feels that the real problem is elsewhere: “When is someone going to look at the outrageous payments CCGs are making to their chairs and non-executive directors?”

Whatever your view, mud-slinging over senior pay in the NHS can be expected to remain a subject of intense debate.

Double counting?

Finally, news that part of NHS England’s £200m transformation fund will be spent on ‘dowries’ for councils taking over certain care responsibilities, one wry soul wrote:  “How many ways and how many times can you spend the same £200m?”

The technical answer, perhaps, is twice - once by commissioners and once by providers. But we imagine that’s not what the cynic was getting at.

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