HSJ’s roundup of Friday’s must-read stories in healthcare

Health secretary gets defensive

With Hans Holbein’s painting of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons looming behind him, Jeremy Hunt delivered the second HSJ annual lecture on Thursday night.

While Henry is pictured handing the Tudor era clinicians a blank piece of paper, Mr Hunt certainly had things he wanted to say to an audience of health VIPs (and many more following online – #HSJLecture was trending nationally on Twitter during the event).

As previewed by HSJ, the health secretary fleshed out his plan to introduce “Ofsted style ratings” for clinical commissioning group performance in a range of clinical areas.

His ideas didn’t go unchallenged by the audience. Claire Morris, chief officer at West Essex CCG, told Mr Hunt that her “heart sank” at the announcement. “I think what’s been proposed is not a helpful step forward,” she said. “We need a much more sophisticated approach towards how we get input from local people.”

Then RCGP chair Maureen Baker expressed concerns about the use of “aggregated scores”.

Mr Hunt agued back that it could be “incredibly helpful” for CCGs to have an independent view on the quality of services, and stressed it would identify areas which are performing well, as well as areas for improvement.

He told Ms Morris that it was likely CCG performance would be variable and would allow CCGs to learn from each other to improve. “This is what this is all about,” he finished on.

Resource relief

From April next year, the Care Quality Commission will begin rating NHS trusts on their use of resources.

This week the regulator set out its early thinking on how the new efficiency rating might work.

With most of the provider sector in deficit, the good news is that the rating will not be based on a trust’s financial position.

The CQC will make its judgments using a combination of data and “inspection fieldwork”, and the efficiency rating will be separate from the current quality ratings, at least in the short term.

Perhaps ominously, the CQC says it is exploring “sanctions” for those who get a rating of “inadequate”, as well as incentives those who are rated “good” or “outstanding”.

Hunt-hop

While some of the content of Mr Hunt’s HSJ annual lecture had been trailed by the Department of Health beforehand, there was an twist from the start.

Not his “sorry I’m not the most interesting Jeremy in politics” joke – we’ve heard that before – but the health secretary kicked off by showing a music video. By an American medical rapper called ZDoggMD. About poorly implemented electronic health records – which is not traditionally seen as one of the “four elements” of hip-hop.

No one in the hall saw it coming, but EHR State of Mind is now sure to be added to the songbooks of workplace choirs across the NHS.