Your essential update on the week in health

HSJ Catch Up

This new weekly email gives HSJ subscribers a vital update on the biggest stories from the last week in health. If you have been out of the office or otherwise just too busy to keep up, HSJ Catch Up will ensure you are still in the know.

Cyber attack warning

Trusts around the country have been warned over the potential spread of a computer virus, after the most disruptive cyber attack on an NHS trust occurred this week.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust was forced to cancel thousands of operations after a virus infected its IT systems, which it has said was a result of a “cyber attack”.

The cyber security team at NHS Digital sent a message on Tuesday to the relevant teams at all NHS providers. It warned trusts of a “potential threat to your organisation”. The message was marked “severity: high”.

Latest merger

Derbyshire Community Health Services Foundation Trust and Derbyshire Healthcare FT have announced plans to merge and create a single organisation.

Last week the two boards agreed to further explore a preferred option for the trusts to fully merge through acquisition, with Derbyshire Community Health being the acquiring organisation.

Top teaching trust in special measures

St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust has been placed in special measures by NHS Improvement after it was rated inadequate.

Inspectors rated the trust inadequate in terms of being safe and well led, and requires improvement for being effective and responsive. Its services were rated good for being caring.

Interim chair Sir David Henshaw told HSJ “a very poor board and senior management decisions in the past” were to blame for many of the challenges now faced by the trust.

Hospital collaborations

HSJ’s analysis has identified that a third of acute and specialist trusts are involved in potential mergers/acquisitions, hospital chains, or other major collaborations.

We identified 53 acute trusts which are part of the collaborations – around a third of the total English acute and specialist trusts. Seven of the groups, involving 14 trusts, have a shared chief executive – in some cases this is an interim arrangement, in others it may precede a full merger.

The most recent coupling is Derbyshire Community Health Services and Derbyshire Healthcare (see above).

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Nottingham University Hospitals Trust will no longer pursue a merger with Sherwood Forest Hospitals.

Wye Valley’s mixed week

On Wednesday we revealed that the recently departed chair of Wye Valley Trust was bankrupt for nearly three months before he resigned and that he didn’t notify colleagues either within the organisation or at the regulator, NHS Improvement.

Museji Takolia resigned as chair on 14 October – 11 weeks after he was declared bankrupt. His departure was not announced by the trust or NHS Improvement. 

Despite all this, it has been an excellent week for Wye Valley Trust: it has been announced that they will leave the special measures regime after the Care Quality Commission identified some significant improvements in care.

South Warwickshire Foundation Trust’s leaders will probably be feeling proud too, since their input via a buddying relationship with Wye Valley has impressed national leaders enough for a formal tie-up to be in train.

The future of nursing roles

Leaked documents seen by HSJ reveal for the first time what Health Education England expects the new band four nursing associates to be able to do.

The role is being developed in the absence of evidence and in the face of mounting research that shows a link between substituting nurses for non-nurses and an increase in mortality and harm.

Stevens responds to STP criticism

NHS England has taken plenty of flak for its handling of STP process, but Simon Stevens finally responded directly to the criticism last week in an interview with HSJ.

He said: “STPs are simply a process for getting the right group of people to think about broader fundamental changes, they’re not intended nor would they ever deal with every possible thing that has got to be sorted out in the National Health Service, let alone social care…

“The STPs are a way of getting local NHS leaders, clinician, local government leaders and communities to look at the changes within the funding envelope that we currently have at our disposal.”

The NHS England chief executive also told HSJ NHS organisations that sell surplus land may be able to retain the capital receipts generated to invest in new services, rather than surrender them to central government.

STPs revealed amid council objections

Councils in the north west London sustainability and transformation patch said they could not endorse their STP because of assumptions in the plan about the downgrading of Charing Cross.

The disgruntled councillors appear to have the support of social care minister David Mowat, who told a conference that STPs would be regarded by the Department of Health as “incomplete” if councils believed they had been marginalised in the process.

Two STP submissions also emerged on Thursday. The plan for Cheshire and Mersey, which HSJ saw a leaked copy of, includes the downgrade of at least one A&E department, along with a major consolidation of elective care.

The document for Luton, Bedford and Milton Keynes shows plans for “unified leadership, management and operations across all three hospitals” on the patch, but says they will not formally merge.