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.
What you need to know about the planning guidance
NHS England and NHS Improvement have published their planning guidance for the health service, setting out the new orders and priorities for STPs, providers and clinical commissioning groups.
The latest document is especially significant as it covers a two-year period (April 2017-March 2019) rather than the usual 12 months, and has been brought forward from its traditional Christmas release.
In his analysis, Dave West says the guidance is defined by two main themes: a “breakneck” timetable for delivery; and the movement towards “managing the NHS through whole systems, not separate organisations”.
He adds: “Your attitude to this collectivist approach, embodied by sustainability and transformation plans, will dictate what this planning guidance means to you.”
Below is our full coverage of the NHS’s new to-do list through to 2019:
- STP areas will be given “system control totals”, which all providers and CCGs will be accountable for
- CCGs have been told to commission expanded GP opening hours to include evenings and weekends as standard
- Trusts will be allowed to 2016-17 miss targets for “exceptional” reasons
- Simon Stevens and Jim Mackey will intervene in local contract disputes
- £3.6bn of sustainability funding will be used to plug provider deficits until 2019
- A new board led by Keith McNeil and Will Smart will drive the implementation of national technology policy
- CCGs will be supported to merge leadership and governance
- Plans to reduce inappropriate outpatient follow-ups by introducing a block payment system have been scaled back
Taking the temperature of new care models
Alastair McLellan, David Williams and Dave West have written a must-read leader on why sustainability and transformation plans “are a necessary evil”, how the NHS is coping with “being a second order political priority” and where the intrepid Simon Stevens may be leading the service.
Major IT crash hits trusts and GPs
One of the country’s largest teaching hospitals has been unable to report pathology tests for a week after a major IT fault which has impacted on patient care and operations.
Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust has declared a “critical” internal incident over the fault, which occurred last Friday and is preventing the trust from processing and reporting the results of pathology lab tests.
It has meant results from tests being hand delivered to clinical teams, with emergency urgent care patients prioritised.
The hardware fault with the trust’s Telepath system is also affecting Bradford Hospitals Foundation Trust and local GPs who use the pathology lab. CCGs told all GPs in Leeds to cancel routine blood tests on Wednesday and Thursday.
The trust said a small number of elective operations and appointments had been postponed to safeguard patient safety. The system will be down until next week.
NHS managers earning money from consultancy, advisory positions or honorariums will be expected to publicly declare them as interests as part of a new crackdown on conflicts of interest proposed by NHS England.
In a consultation document, NHS England set out proposals to increase transparency around potential COI. These include declarations around an individual’s shareholdings, hospitality and gifts of more than £25, family relationships and “loyalty interests” that may have an impact on their NHS employer.
A review led by NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant developed the proposals to increase transparency across the service.
Vanguards in retreat?
It appears that vanguard sites have only been given about a third of the cash they said they needed to develop new models of care.
HSJ’s analysis of more than half of the vanguards’ “value proposition” documents – which were used by national leaders to decide how transformation funding should be allocated – found that sites that between them received less than £70m had requested nearly £216m.
As a result, many vanguards have had to scale back their plans or relax their timescales for bringing about new care models.
The main exceptions to this we’ve found are North East Hampshire and Farnham – also known as the Frimley Health PACS – which unusually received about 85 per cent of its allocation, and Salford, which got nearly all it asked for, but spread across four years rather than three.
More Manchester merging
The leaders of the three CCGs for Manchester have committed to a formal merger by next April, according to an options appraisal by Deloitte.
Subject to board approval, North, South and Central Manchester CCGs will also seek to formally establish a “single commissioning function” for health and social care with Manchester City Council. Progression of the plans is subject to formal approval by the organisations’ boards.
The report suggests the commissioning functions may transfer to the council in the longer term, but this would depend on legislation and the “maturity” of the new arrangements.
Southern Health chair steps down
Tim Smart, the interim chair of scandal-hit Southern Health FT, has resigned after less than five months in the role.
The former King’s chief executive was appointed to the role by NHS Improvement in May, but “has taken the decision to resign from his position as interim chair, with immediate effect, for personal reasons”, a trust statement said on Monday.
His departure comes three weeks after Katrina Percy stood down as chief executive of the troubled organisation. Mr Smart had received criticism for the terms of Ms Percy’s resignation, as Southern Health will continue to employ her in a new role advising GPs in Hampshire, and she will continue to receive her chief executive salary. It also emerged that Ms Percy’s new role did not previously exist and was not advertised.