HSJ’s roundup of Monday’s key stories

Stepping out of Andy’s shadow

It was all change on the Labour frontbench on Monday. Jeremy Corbyn announced his new look shadow cabinet, with Heidi Alexander unveiled as shadow health secretary and the previous incumbent, Andy Burnham, bumped along to shadow home secretary.

Ms Alexander, the MP for Lewisham East, was a vocal campaigner against the last government’s attempt to downgrade Lewisham Hospital.

She tweeted on Sunday that she was “humbled to serve as shadow health secretary” and promised to “do all I can to hold this government to account”.

Luciana Berger was announced as shadow mental health minister, which will be a shadow cabinet role.

Mr Corbyn mentioned “ending the internal market in the health service” in his acceptance speech following his extraordinary leadership victory on Saturday, giving a possible clue about future Labour health policy.

Thinking outside the box

Medway Foundation Trust’s accident and emergency department has been struggling for years now, and the most recent inspection found there is a “lack of active leadership” which has led to a “subsequent risk to patient safety”.

Following this most recent visit from the Care Quality Commission, NHS England has an unusual plan to temporarily divert ambulances from Medway to neighbouring trusts Dartford and Gravesham, and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells two mornings a week.

Discussions are ongoing and it is not yet clear how long this arrangement will last.

Several more orthodox solutions have already been tested out at Medway to improve its performance, including:

  • a buddying relationship with Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT;
  • employing an emergency consultant from Homerton University Hospital FT - whose A&E was rated “outstanding” by the CQC; and
  • conditions placed on the trust’s licence.

Perhaps this most recent approach can give Medway’s A&E the boost it needs.

Staying in the club

Seventeen trusts were hit with a 25 per cent hike in their clinical negligence premiums last year, which matches the number of trusts that were considering quitting the national risk pool.

It’s unclear whether they are the same 17 trusts, but it’s safe to say that many of those considering other options would have been doing so because of large increases in their premiums.

To the relief of the NHS Litigation Authority, which runs the national scheme, every trust has ultimately decided to renew their membership for 2016-17.

However, HSJ has spoken to several organisations which have seen their premiums climb even further this year (national figures have not yet been published), so this seems to be a question that will keep coming back to the table.