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.

Sir Leonard Fenwick sacked

It is the end of the era in the North East as the longest serving chief executive in the NHS leaves under the cloud of being sacked for gross misconduct.

Sir Leonard Fenwick has worked in the NHS since 1965, becoming chief executive of the Freeman Group of Hospitals Trust in 1977 and then Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust when it was founded in 2006.

But on Thursday the FT confirmed Sir Leonard has been dismissed after a disciplinary panel found “allegations relating to inappropriate behaviour, use of resources and a range of governance issues were proven”.

It has been a saga, with Sir Leonard going on extended leave in January. The disciplinary process took three months from May.

The NHS’s “King of the North” has contested his innocence all the way – while pulling in his £250,000 annual salary for eight months – and appealed the original disciplinary panel’s decision. But the appeal panel upheld the decision to dismiss him.

While the trust has not expanded on what gross misconduct Sir Leonard committed, HSJ revealed in March he had been accused of bullying by a former senior employee.

Frimley boss to retire

Meanwhile, one of the top acute chief executives in the NHS announced his retirement to outpouring of praise from across the service.

Sir Andrew Morris will leave Frimley Health FT in February, having led the organisation for 29 years.

Sir Andrew, who was top of HSJ’s list of Top Chief Executives earlier this year, is one of the longest standing trust leaders in the NHS.

He will continue to run the Frimley Health and Care ACS on a part-time basis from 1 April 2018. He currently leads the ACS in addition to his chief executive role.

NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey said: “Sir Andrew is a great example of what NHS leadership should be… He is also a very humble and grounded man and is one of those rare people who is universally respected and liked in equal measure. In many ways, he is an NHS leadership great and can be justifiably very proud of his career and legacy.”

Firing up Project Phoenix

The long awaited Naylor review was candid in its assessment of how the NHS should make best use of its estates when it was published at the end of March.

Since then, progress on many of Sir Robert’s 17 recommendations has been unclear, with the general election stymieing chances of a swift implementation.

But leading players in the private sector are now seizing the opportunity to put their case for being involved in the upcoming estates transformation.

The most advanced example of this is the pledge by three of England’s biggest primary care property organisations to commit £3.3bn of upfront capital investment to the NHS.

The trio – Primary Health Properties, Octopus Healthcare and Assura – say the money could fund 750 new primary care centres, at a rental cost to the NHS of up to £200m per year.

HSJ has also learned that the business case for the creation of six public/private partnerships to help the NHS dispose of assets will be signed off next month.

Named “Project Phoenix”, the programme would see major property deals struck to unlock capital funds worth £5.7bn, with the profits shared between the NHS and its private partners.

Lack of security

An NHS Digital assessment of cyber readiness in the NHS has, once again, raised alarm bells about how seriously organisations are taking the online threat.

The assessment, based on an indepth examination of at least 64 NHS organisations, uncovered widespread weak passwords, poor policing of access to sensitive data and lax application of security updates.

More worryingly, many trusts with poor cyber practices believed they were doing OK. There was a “false sense of security”, an NHS Digital briefing to IT suppliers said.

It should be stressed that the assessment took place before the unprecedented WannaCry ransomware attack in May.

The government has made some recent moves on both funding and penalties. How far these will push cybersecurity up a stretched chief executive’s priority list, or into the minds of busy staff, remains to be seen.

Trust merger in the pipeline

Struggling Colchester Hospital University FT and neighbouring Ipswich Hospital Trust are likely to approve plans to merge next week.

The two boards, already led by a joint chief executive, will discuss an outline business case, which “recommends forming a single combined organisation with fully integrated clinical services”.

A final decision would be taken by both boards “around June 2018”. The merger would also require approval from NHS Improvement and the Competition and Markets Authority. Local clinical commissioning groups have backed the plans.

The move follows regulators threatening special measures trust Colchester with the failure regime, and potentially liquidation, unless it established a “long term partnership” with Ipswich, in April 2016.

The CQC said it had “no confidence” in Colchester’s incumbent board. The CQC had originally recommended that the trust be put in special measures in 2013.

CCG’s unexpected bill

A CCG is facing an unexpected bill likely to run into millions, after losing a legal battle with an independent provider of a local urgent care centre.

In a judgement, Corby CCG was told by a QC that it had been wrongly undercutting tariff rates to health provider Lakeside Plus for three years.

The CCG told HSJ that the ruling found its tariff variation, agreed in May 2014 with Lakeside Plus, was “ineffective”.

The QC presiding over the expert determination found that the commissioners had not consulted on the price per patient they had agreed with the provider, and therefore, had not followed national rules for tariff price variation.