HSJ’s roundup of Thursday’s must-read stories and comment
Today’s talking point: Snap survey: Hospital chiefs back bid to change junior doctor contract
Today’s gripe: Clinical commissioners attack “oppressive” regulatory regime
Today’s inspiration: Public Health England backs down and publishes evidence on tackling obesity, including backing for a sugar tax
Let there be light
The row over the junior doctors contracts has been defined in recent months by bluster, spin and inaccuracy from all sides, such that many may be temped to ignore it altogether. Unfortunately, it’s taking up a massive amount of time for health ministers and officials at the moment, and may have a major bearing on the shape and cost of medical staffing for coming years, as well as politics.
This being the case, we all better take it seriously, and we’ve decided to bring some light into a debate generally preoccupied with heat, publishing:
- 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 HSJ workforce correspondent Shaun Lintern
One medic backing the junior doctors’ cause described Shaun’s analysis as “annoyingly balanced”. We think that’s a complement.
Five economic tests
Gordon Brown’s five economic tests for whether Britain should join the Euro were ingrained in the political and financial life of the nation for several years in the 1990s and 2000s. Simon Stevens, working with health secretaries including Alan Milburn and for Tony Blair, was presumably not the biggest fan of the then chancellor, who had a tendency to be wary about such brilliant and timeless Blairite reforms as autonomous foundation trusts.
Mr Stevens was clearly paying attention to Mr Brown, however, and as NHS England chief executive has unveiled his own list of five economic tests. This time a list of things the government must provide to the NHS in its 25 November spending review.
Mr Stevens’ requests for the now 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.
Although Gordon Brown has been proven right to be wary about the single currency (and perhaps about FTs?), let’s hope these tests don’t go the same way as his, and never get met.