Your essential update on health for the week

HSJ Catch Up

This 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 carrots and sticks

The government has finally responded to Dame Fiona Caldicott’s report on data security and opt outs, essentially agreeing with all her recommendations.

The response is a jumble of new commitments (and rehashed old ones) on everything from giving patients access to data audits, to purging old technology, and new legislation to punish “reckless” data controllers.

Not surprisingly, the response leans heavily towards cybersecurity in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack, which infected at least a fifth of NHS trusts.

The carrot is an additional £21m of capital funding for trusts with major trauma centres to urgently improve cyber resilience.

The stick is new obligations on boards and chief executive to prove their digital credentials, and regulator intervention when they fall short.

Expect NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission to be asking tougher questions about unsupported software, staff training and resilience.

The response is a little vaguer when it comes to the second pillar of Dame Fiona’s report, consent and patient opt outs.

There will be a new national opt out system, allowing patients to not share identifiable data beyond direct care, but it is not yet decided how it will work in practice. This will be subject to further consultation. 

CCG pay warning

NHS bosses awarded themselves “significantly higher” pay levels than their peers, while breaching governance rules in the process.

It doesn’t sound good, and there will be some uncomfortably red faces at Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group this week.

The full findings of an NHS England review of the CCG’s pay structure has now been published, after the resignation of deputy lay chair Maureen Williams last month in response to the initial findings.

The full report says governing body members’ pay in 2015-16 was “significantly higher than a peer group of 10 other CCGs”, and independent consultants will now carry out a further review which should determine the appropriate salaries.

Liverpool CCG isn’t the only organisation in the city that seems to have a problem with following the correct governance procedures when it comes to board level pay.

In 2014, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust ignored its own legal advice by issuing unauthorised payments to its chair and non-executive directors. Most of the money was repaid, but two NEDs refused.

‘Perverse in the extreme’

East of England Ambulance Trust faces accusations of increasingly putting patient safety at risk over the last 18 months because of a “fixation” with hitting response time targets.

Senior local paramedics, Unison and former health minister Norman Lamb have all raised concerns. Their accusations appear to be supported by previously unpublished internal trust data, seen by HSJ.

North Norfolk MP Mr Lamb said the trust was “at risk of chasing a target, rather than improving patient care”, which was “perverse in the extreme”.

A senior local paramedic said “care, patient safety, and patient dignity [were] being really badly compromised” and in the past 18 months the situation had become “as bad as I can remember in decades”.

The trust insisted it “did not put targets before safety”.

NUH’s new boss

Tracy Taylor – who has been named in HSJ’s annual top chief executives list four times – has been appointed as the new chief executive of one of the country’s largest teaching hospitals.

Ms Taylor, who started her career as a nurse, will take over at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust from Peter Homa, who is set to retire later this year after 11 years leading the trust. NUH employs more than 15,000 staff and has an annual turnover of more than £900m.

As current chief executive of Birmingham Community Healthcare Foundation Trust and Black Country Partnership FT, Ms Taylor was expected to lead the trusts into a merger with Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust later this year.

She will take up the role at NUH in the autumn with the exact date to be confirmed.

She joins NUH at a time when the trust has warned its staff it faces one of its toughest years, with a major financial challenge.

More fire safety concerns

It was confirmed on Thursday that two more hospital trusts have failed fire safety tests on cladding carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust and University College London Hospitals FT failed tests after submitting samples of building materials. UCLH is the third London trust to fail tests, following King’s College Hospital FT, North Middlesex University Hospital Trust.

Sheffield Children’s FT was the other trust to fail combustibility tests carried out by the Building Research Establishment.

NHS Improvement said Newcastle and UCLH have instigated 24/7 fire warden patrols and are being supported to take urgent steps to ensure fire safety.

However, an HSJ investigation revealed last month, the NHS’s fire safety concerns go beyond cladding.

ACSs lead the way for STPs

The first NHS “accountable care systems” must develop a “pathway” for STPs in other areas to follow, according to their agreement with NHS England, seen by HSJ.

Details of the benefits for and requirements of the first eight ACSs are revealed in the memorandum of understanding they have signed with NHS England.

It has not been published but a draft version said there will be a “development group” of the eight ACS leaders and NHS England and one director, which will “develop a pathway to full ACS status and learning for other STPs to follow”.