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.

If someone forwarded you this email you can sign up for your own copy here

The big NHS reset

In what HSJ’s editor called the most significant day for health policy since the 2015 general election, Thursday saw the much trailed NHS finance and performance “reset” finally happen. This involved a new financial special measures regime (for providers and CCGs), new performance and efficiency targets and the first ever CCG ratings.

Away from the reset, the controversial Strategic Projects Team was closed and health secretary Jeremy Hunt took the lead for mental health issues in his new look portfolio.

Trusts get moving on efficiency

Last month, NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey and chair Ed Smith wrote to every trust chief executive telling them to begin planning for consolidating back office and pathology services, and “unsustainable” planned care services.

On Tuesday evening, the next NHSI missive landed – a letter from deputy chief executive Bob Alexander setting out how these plans should be worked up.

The two page proposals expected to be turned around in eight working days could be the very definition of a “quick and dirty” plan to get the NHS out of its financial hole.

Simon and Bruce answer MP’s questions

NHS England’s chief executive and medical director appeared at the Commons health committee on Tuesday afternoon. Here are the main things we learned from Simon Stevens and Sir Bruce Keogh’s questioning by MPs:

  • Mr Stevens reiterated his plea for more funding in the shape of a capital infrastructure fund. Mr Stevens said: “My personal point of view is that it will be the ideal moment to consider an upgrade in NHS infrastructure.”
  • Sir Bruce gave an extensive view on concerns about junior doctors’ morale and conditions. He said of the contract row which has dominated the past year, and which has been linked to his work leading improvement in weekend service standards: “Things became very complicated when contract negotiations were linked to weekend mortality.”
  • NHS England with other national bodies will “informally rank” all sustainability and transformation plans. Mr Stevens told the committee that October would now mark the deadline for finishing plans, and the beginning of implementation.
  • The NHS England chief executive said it was “too early to say” what impact Brexit would have on the NHS, but said “there was no reason” the government should not be able to give reassurance that the NHS will be able to retain EU staff.
  • On mental health, Mr Stevens said it would “not be mission accomplished by 2020” and that while the national implementation plan released would see concrete improvements in the care provided, there will still be two children out of every three not receiving timely treatment.

Big investments for mental health

The mental health sector received a welcome boost on Tuesday with NHS England’s pledge to invest nearly £4bn into hiring more staff, integrating physical and mental health services and rolling out new models of care.

Headline figures included:

New faces at the DH

While the Jeremy Hunt was one of only two cabinet level MPs to keep their job following last week’s reshuffle (defence secretary Michael Fallon being the other member of the exclusive set), there has been an almost complete overhaul of the rest of the Department of Health ministerial team.

Theresa May has given junior ministers Jane Ellison and Ben Gummer new jobs as financial secretary to the Treasury and minister for the Cabinet Office respectively; George Freeman, who as life sciences minister spanned the health and business departments, will chair the new prime minister’s policy board.