HSJ’s roundup of Friday’s essential health policy stories

The CQC’s new broom

The government’s candidate to be the next chair of the Care Quality Commission appeared in front of the Commons health committee this week for a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing.

If his appointment is cleared, Peter Wyman will be making many more appearances before parliamentary committees, and he gave an indication of what his priorities would be as CQC chair.

Mr Wyman said he’d experienced “a ton of bureaucracy” related to regulation as chair of Yeovil District Hospital FT, and that he wanted to make the CQC regime “less burdensome” for providers.

He said he wanted the watchdog to invest in technology to enable it to start looking more at “outputs and outcomes” rather than inputs.

Improving CQC staff morale would also be a key priority because it was “very low”, he said.

Mr Wyman also revealed he is a member of the Conservatives and the chair of a company that is a long running donor to the party.

His involvement in the Tories is however far more limited than that of his predecessor, David Prior (now a Lord), who was a former Conservative MP and party chief executive.

Junior doctors on the move

A survey of more than 7,000 junior doctors has revealed that the amount deciding not to continue their specialist training after their first two years has increased for the fourth year in a row.

According to the latest data on career decisions made by trainees at the end of their foundation year, only 52 per cent chose to continue training in the UK next year – down from a high of 71 per cent in 2011.

More than 1,000 doctors said they planned to work less than full-time.

The UK Foundation Programme Office survey revealed more than 13 per cent of doctors said they were taking a career break from medicine, a figure that has increased every year since 2011 when just 4.6 per cent said they were taking a break.

The number who said they were permanently leaving the medical profession remained static at just 0.3 per cent, and more than 10 per cent of trainees said they were pursuing a medical role outside the UK. This was higher than in 2014 but lower than each previous year since 2011.

The majority of doctors who took up posts and training outside the UK, 66 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, said they intended to return to work in the UK in the future.

The survey will potentially add pressure on the government as it seeks to get a new deal on junior doctors contracts. Royal colleges have raised concerns over shortages and rota gaps, which will get worse as more doctors turn away from NHS based training.

Is someone going to get the hairdyer treatment?

To borrow a phrase from Manchester’s most famous manager, it’s approaching “squeaky bum time” for devo Manc.

The controversial Healthier Together programme, which involves centralising emergency general surgery on four sites, provides the first real test of the devolution project.

The programme was agreed in July by every clinical commissioning group in Greater Manchester, and even the NHS providers accepted the decision.

But tensions are now starting to surface, with councillors expressing anger and confusion over the plans for North Manchester General Hospital.

Leaders at Pennine Acute Trust say the removal emergency general surgery from NMGH has “implications” beyond those described during the public consultation process.

Operations director Hugh Mullen said the trust has to consider the “implications of the transfer of acute abdominal surgery on other types of high risk surgery” and he expects “all non-elective inpatient surgery to transfer from North Manchester General Hospital at some future point”.

This contradicts the position of the Healthier Together team, who said they “do not support or recognise this view”.

And as relationships become more strained, a judicial review brought by University Hospital of South Manchester FT threatens to derail the whole programme.

Local leaders and NHS England are right to be nervous about the case, as a decision against them would be a major setback for devolution at its first proper hurdle.