HSJ’s top stories and debate for Friday

Trust representatives set out tariff concerns

Provider representative bodies have set out a range of concerns over the government’s proposal to toughen up objection criteria for the national tariff.

The Department of Health has proposed scrapping the objection threshold for providers by share of supply and raising the proportion of commissioners or providers that must object from 51 per cent to “between 66 per cent and 75 per cent”.

The tariff for this financial year was rejected by 37 per cent of providers, that accounted for 75 per cent “share of supply” for the relevant services.

NHS Providers has strongly opposed both these proposals in its response to the consultation. NHS Confederation said it is “cautious” about raising the objection threshold, particularly if there are not corresponding improvements in the way the government engages with the sector when it sets prices.

However, it said it could support scrapping the share of supply threshold because it is having a “greater impact than was intended”.

BMA gets back around the table

The British Medical Association has announced it will re-enter negotiations with NHS Employers over the consultant contract following an ultimatum from Jeremy Hunt last month.

When the union previously walked out of the negotiations - after 18 months of talks - the health secretary said negotiations would have to restart by the end of September or he would impose a new contract on consultants.

Consultants will vote on the proposals that come out of the negotiations early next year.

NHS finances - the only time the North looks flush

An analysis of clinical commissioning group financial plans by HSJ correspondent Lawrence Dunhill has shown the continuation of a now familiar NHS pattern: finances look healthiest in the North of England.

The quarter one financial plans, suggest the Midlands and East is the most troubled region financially, with a combined deficit plan of £39m.

The North is in the strongest position, with a surplus plan of £279m. CCGs in London are planning a joint surplus of £118m, while the South plans a small deficit of £0.2m.

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan tweeted: “The counter intuitive world of NHS finances. It’s tough down south (well south of Manchester).”

More seriously, the plans throw further light on the huge financial challenge facing the NHS this year, with the combined surplus planned for CCGs many times short of what would be needed to offset a forecast provider deficit in excess of £2bn.