HSJ’s roundup of Tuesday’s essential stories and talking points

Dalton puts money where his mouth is

Three of England’s most well respected foundation trusts are working on a partnership through which they can lay the groundwork to build and run hospital chains, HSJ revealed on Tuesday.

Northumbria Healthcare, the Royal Free London, and Salford Royal are developing a partnership, which we understand has been tentatively called “Enterprise”.

Salford Royal’s chief executive Sir David Dalton authored a government backed review last year endorsing the establishment of hospital chains, or “foundation groups”.

Enterprise will be a vehicle through which the partners can share intellectual property and codify a “standard operating model” – a detailed set of best practice rules which can be standardised across the three trusts and used as a template for the development of new foundation groups. The three FTs would likely only be interested in forming groups with trusts that voluntarily wanted to join them, HSJ understands.

It’s good to see Sir David putting his ideas into action, but with the name Enterprise, we hope he’s ready for a slew of Star Trek jokes.

Leaders face ‘overbearing criticism’

The NHS’s longest serving chief executive, who has just marked 50 years in the service, says regulation and unreasonable expectations are making senior leaders’ roles more difficult than at any other point in his career.

Sir Leonard Fenwick, who has been chief executive of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals FT and its predecessor organisations for 38 years, said regional NHS authorities had been more “tolerant” and gave leaders more autonomy earlier in his career.

“Occasionally when you tumbled, there wasn’t this overbearing criticism that you see today,” he reflected.

Direct hit to NHS England

NHS England faces “a direct cut” in its ability to provide care to patients as a result of a change to the deal that caps the price the government pays for branded medicines, a senior health economist has said.

Last week the pharma industry agreed a change to the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme to limit the amount companies would have to return to government from the total the NHS spends on high end cancer drugs.

The cap is good news for companies that do not produce oncology drugs but who have been on the hook for NHS England’s overspending on the cancer drugs fund.

But Karl Claxton, senior research fellow at York University’s Centre for Health Economics, warned that because NHS England would now not get the overspend money, it would face “a direct cut into their ability to provide other NHS care”.