HSJ’s roundup of Monday’s essential health policy stories

Simon’s loaded comments

David Cameron and George Osborne rebuffed Labour party attacks on their NHS record ahead of the general election by committing to £8bn real terms growth for the service over this parliament. Since then, the PM and chancellor have been seizing every opportunity to highlight how they are backing and funding what they describe as “the Stevens plan” – aka the Five Year Forward View – with the implication that, if the health service is failing, it isn’t their fault.

We can therefore expect them to be somewhat worried, in raw political terms, about Simon Stevens himself raising the alarm (via comments to HSJ) about the government failing to properly pay for the service over the next two years, on the basis of current negotiations ahead of the 25 November spending review.

The NHS England chief executive’s particular concern is that the biggest chunks of the £8bn growth may not be handed out in 2016-17 and 2017-18, as he has requested. It may well suit the Treasury to spread it equally, or skew it towards 2020.

By making his public comments – which won backing from leading Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem politicians – Mr Stevens has directly staked his own estimable reputation on securing this.

There are a number of reasons the NHS needs its funding frontloaded: to “pump prime” new care models and transformation; to give leaders at a low ebb some hope of success; to stop waiting times problems; or because it is frankly getting desperate following a big surge in costs.

Despite all this, what may swing it for the health service, in terms of political calculation, is the idea of spurning Mr Stevens – a man whose caricature as the NHS’s saviour has been built at the top of government as much as anywhere else.

HSJ lecture on demand

Jeremy Hunt’s HSJ annual lecture contained a number of policy announcement with important implications for commissioning sector.

In case you missed it, we’ve put together three highlights videos to catch up on the key messages from the health secretary’s address.

Watch them here, here and here.