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.
HSJ Awards 2016 winners revealed
The winners of this year’s HSJ Awards, very probably the world’s biggest healthcare awards, have been revealed. Impressive feats were demonstrated across the 24 shortlists, but among those taking the gongs were Liverpool CCG as clinical commissioning group of the year, and East London Foundation Trust as provider trust of the year.
The awards also honoured six NHS staff from the European Union.
At a ceremony in London HSJ editor Alastair McLellan said: “Take it from me: healthcare systems across the world are in awe of the scale and pace of changes being made to care delivery and organisation by the NHS.”
The chancellor did reiterate the statement that NHS spending is growing by £10bn in real terms by 2021, echoing prime minister Theresa May during PMQs earlier in the afternoon.
The much repeated claim has been criticised by the Commons health committee and health policy think tanks and this week led to the UK Statistics Authority to ask officials to “ensure clarity” when reporting on increases to NHS spending.
During PMQs, Ms May repeatedly answered questions about the funding crisis in social care by stressing the government was putting more cash into social care through the better care fund, was giving councils more “opportunities” through the local government precept and helping to ensure health and social care work together to tackle the problem of delayed transfers of care.
The Treasury didn’t forget about people working in the NHS completely, however. From April “off-payroll” workers, such as interim managers, will be forced to pay the same level of tax as substantive employees.
Could providers and commissioners in a sustainability and transformation plan one day share offices? According to the Black Country Partnership STP they could. The latest West Midlands plan to be published said that it is looking into what non-clinical support functions its providers and CCGs could share in the next few years.
Services included on the list of functions the NHS bodies could combine include payroll, HR, call centres, procurement and legal services.
The STP has also thought up a way of dealing with expensive private finance deals: pay them off. The STP says that it is looking in to whether their share of sustainability and transformation funding could be used to buy out their trust’s PFI and LIFT deals.
Meanwhile NHS England has told HSJ that it, along with fellow NHS quangos, is working with an STP footprint on “ensuring they will put in place the right skilled workforce to ensure high quality care”.
It follows a draft of the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West STP, published last week by Reading Council, detailing an aim of making £34m savings from staffing costs through “reduction of nursing grade input” and an increase in the use of “generic support workers” such as healthcare assistants.
BOB (the STP has an odd geography but a great acronym) has told HSJ it wants to increase trained nursing numbers towards 2020-21 but also wants to look at skill mix.
NHS’s game changing deal with Google
The NHS has deepened its relationship with Google after Royal Free London Foundation Trust announced the most significant deal to date between the health service and the tech giant’s artificial intelligence arm, DeepMind.
The trust’s five year “developmental” deal with DeepMind extends an existing partnership, which was already one of the NHS’s most closely watched digital projects.
Trust chief executive David Sloman told us the app it is developing will be a “game changer”. It will track real time patient data and alert clinicians “within seconds rather than hours” when patient tests show signs of serious illness, he said.
Neither the Royal Free nor DeepMind would disclose the financial arrangements of the deal because of “commercial sensitivity”. HSJ understands the costs for the NHS will be relatively low in the development phase. The company will aim for significant financial gains, but in the longer term.
Former director pleads guilty to corruption
Peter Lewis, former associate director of the Royal Surrey County Hospital Foundation Trust, on Monday pleaded guilty to a charge under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. He is due to be sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on 6 January 2017.
Mr Lewis admitted to receiving payments from Richard Moxon in 2011, in return for awarding him an IT contract worth £950,000 in its first year.
Mr Moxon, from Nantwich in Cheshire, had pleaded guilty to giving payments, an offence under the same act, in March this year.