HSJ’s roundup of the week’s must-read news and comment in healthcare
Today’s pre-spending review update: CQC asked to plan for 40pc cut in government funding
Julie Moore is undisputed queen of Birmingham
HSJ’s correspondent covering England’s second city, David Williams, has explained what this means for the patch and for the NHS. “The result of the move in Birmingham is that the high profile, outspoken Dame Julie is an even more powerful and influential figure in the acute sector than she already was,” Williams observes. “But success is not assured: turning around a deeply troubled organisation will be difficult enough without simultaneously running one of England’s top teaching hospitals.”
Explaining the junior doctors contract row
The row over the junior doctors contracts is only gathering pace, with a strike ballot now scheduled for 5 November and speculation growing that the Department of Health could finalise its offer.
While the debate continues to be dominated by bluster, spin and inaccuracy from both sides, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to understand it. To make things easier, we’ve this week published:
- A snap poll of hospital chief executives, which found the majority backed the government - despite several acknowledging the short term damage to staff morale and relationships, and concerns about the process.
- An analysis of the political dynamics of the row by policy and comms expert Mike Birtwistle.
- What happens next? An explanation of the background and a forward look by HSJworkforce correspondent Shaun Lintern.
Simon’s five economic tests
Simon Stevens, a Blairite government adviser in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was clearly paying attention when the then chancellor Gordon Brown set out his famous “five economic tests” for Britain to join the Euro.
This week the now NHS England chief executive set out his own five tests, in the form of a list of things the government must provide to the NHS in its 25 November spending review. Mr Stevens’ requests for the current chancellor include front-loaded investment; protection for social care; and action on public health. It is surely the first time the NHS’s leadership has been able to set out financial demands so clearly.
When do NHS cuts become popular?
It has emerged that the Care Quality Commission - the inspectorate which many in the health service love to hate - has been asked to model cuts to its central government funding of up to 40 per cent. Its chief executive has warned of potential “implications” for the delivery of its 2016-17 inspection programme.
The news may also be an indication of the potential for large cuts to budgets within the Department of Health which are not considered to be for the provision of frontline healthcare.
Staffing reviews proliferate
The debate around safe staffing already seemed overcrowded, but has now been joined by NHS efficiency tsar Lord Carter. The Labour peer told HSJ he has started working with regulators to produce a “safe range” for staffing at a specialty level, which would help provide “air cover” when trusts faced inspection. Lord Carter has also begun sending out his savings estimates to individual hospitals trusts, and is rolling out a programme to address variation in clinical practice and cost.