Your essential update on the week in health

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.

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Trust chief executive to take over third trust

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust chief executive Clare Panniker is poised to take over an unprecedented third hospital trust (with combined revenues of £850m) following the departure of neighbouring Southend University Hospital FT’s CEO.

System leaders already paved the way for the move by putting Ms Panniker in charge of a leadership team overseeing the two trusts and Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust, of which she was made chief executive last year.

And now Southend chief Sue Hardy has said she is “stepping aside as chief executive… in recognition that a single executive team will enable the three trusts to better deliver… the best possible services” across the mid and south Essex success regime. Southend’s board must sign off the new appointment.

Chief executive of struggling trust moves to NHSI job

The chief executive of a struggling hospital trust is being seconded to NHS Improvement to advise on improving emergency care.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole FT’s chief executive Karen Jackson will spend six months advising the regulator’s leadership team on issues including its emergency care improvement programme, which offers support to urgent and emergency care systems under the most pressure.

Ms Jackson, who has led Northern Lincolnshire and Goole since 2010, leaves the trust two months after it experienced a cyber attack which led to 2,800 appointments being cancelled as the trust shut down computer systems.

HSIB chief investigator calls for more powers

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch doesn’t start its operations until 1 April, but already the chief investigator has called for more powers to demand that NHS organisations respond to its warnings and statutory independence.

Keith Conradi, who was head of the Air Accident Investigations Branch for 14 years, told HSJ he was “lobbying” the health secretary for additional powers, including evidence gathering and requiring trusts, regulators and the Department of Health to respond to its safety recommendations.

On the branch’s independence, Mr Conradi said HSIB, which is hosted by NHS Improvement, needed to be functionally independent. He added: “From a perception point of view I think it is extremely important that we are another step remote from any organisation we would potentially investigate.”

Arise, Sir Davids

The Queen has continued an NHS tradition in the new year – people called David getting knighted.

Joining the club are Care Quality Commission chief executive David Behan and Royal Free London Foundation Trust boss David Sloman. Professor Nick Black from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is also knighted, for services to healthcare research.

Becoming dames are Professor Caroline Leigh Watkins from University of Central Lancashire for services to nursing and older people’s care, and Professor Elizabeth Anionwu for services to nursing and the Mary Seacole statue appeal.

UCLPartners chair Sir Cyril Chantler has had his title upgraded to a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, for services to leadership in healthcare.

Congratulations to them and the many others on the honours list involved in health and care heading to Buckingham Palace.

Second hospital doctors’ union recognised

A second trade union for hospital doctors has been granted national recognition by NHS Employers, meaning there are two national bodies representing doctors for the first time since 1948.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association was formally granted national collective bargaining rights just before Christmas.

The union, which has more than 3,5000 members, will now play a full role in negotiations on pay, terms and conditions with NHS Employers, alongside the British Medical Association, for all hospital based doctors including trainees.

The decision to recognise the union follows years of talks and a campaign for recognition by the HCSA, which formed in 1948.

Big block contract on Merseyside

In recent years NHS organisations have gradually been coming off activity based tariffs and on to block contracts, with HSJ reporting on one big example in Merseyside.

Commissioners in Liverpool and South Sefton have have agreed block contracts with six NHS trusts over the next two years, which will be worth a combined total of £1.5bn.

The deal is a significant shift away from the payment by result tariff. There has been an increase in the use of block contracts for NHS elective care in recent years, but local health leaders are now increasingly looking to include non-elective care as well.

Concerns around this shift have been raised by the independent sector, as well as some legal experts who believe dropping the tariff system breaches the terms of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

However, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said last autumn that national leaders are “entirely open” to local organisations agreeing non-tariff based contracts.