It has been less than a month since the launch of HSJ Local but it has already attracted attention.
NHS Nottingham City documents reveal the Department of Health has “made local NHS communications leads aware” that HSJ plans to “actively monitor” all board papers “on an ongoing basis”.
Where trusts do not routinely publish papers, HSJ “will be requesting the papers under the Freedom of Information Act”, the DH is said to have reported - quite accurately.
Sensitivity about what HSJ plans to do with the information is understandable. But this data has already allowed us to highlight issues that, while highly localised, are of significance to a small number of organisations or have wider implications. For example, 11 West Midlands primary care trusts are missing their year-to-date cancer targets for GP referral to treatment times.
PCTs are blaming capacity issues at their trusts but some acutes are insisting the problem is under control.
There is also evidence of bold attempts to bring in new income. Derby Hospitals Foundation Trust has designed £600 anti-contamination doors to ward off infections, but could also be used by police to seal off crime scenes and firefighters to clear asbestos. However, this may have come too late for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, which has already exceeded its yearly C difficile target.
Meanwhile, NHS Dudley is financing its acute provider overspends by cutting back on £1m of mental health services, all of which are provided by the private sector. You can trust that through our new HSJ Local efforts, we will be informing readers whether this is a national or a regional trend.