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.

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First STPs published amid council criticism

Three “full” sustainability and tranformation plan submissions were published this week by councils (one only inadvertently). For most of the rest it appears we will have to wait a bit longer.

In doing so, local government has taken the opportunity to vocalise ongoing concerns about the fact that social care is a sideshow in the national approach to STPs (compared to saving costs and sorting performance in the NHS); and engagement, including with councillors, has not been a priority.

We suspect, though, that SE1’s leading national NHS quango chief executives will not be altogether alarmed to learn that STPs have been focusing on making savings from NHS acute services (ie the ones which eat up all the money and where there may be massive savings).

Their nagging concerns – aside from the prospect of political jitters at the very top – are more likely to be about whether STPs will actually succeed in achieving this. On which note, our CCG leaders survey results are not enormously assuring: only one out of 99 clinical commissioning group leaders (chairs and accountable officers) who responded said they had “high” confidence that their STP would deliver its intended aims in 2017-18.

Read more analysis of this striking result here, and watch for more STP developments as they unfold.

New commissioning executive on the cards

A new commissioning executive is to be formed to overcome the “significant challenge” of commissioning across an STP footprint in the East of England, and will take powers from seven clinical commissioning groups.

Revealed in a paper for Oxfordshire CCG’s September board meeting, the new executive will span the CCGs in the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire STP. The paper said it was hoped “collective leadership” would secure “better value” from resources and “ensure delivery” of the STP.

Chief executive dismissed

A trust chief executive who has been in post since 1999 has been dismissed for “gross misconduct” after a year long investigation.

Jonathan Parry had been excluded from work at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust since August 2015, due to allegations made by a whistleblower.

The trust has never explained the nature of the allegations against him and three other senior officers who were also excluded. Mr Parry said he will appeal against the decision.

New CCG ratings

On Thursday evening NHS England released new ratings assessing CCGs’ performance in maternity care and mental health services.

More than half the country’s clinical commissioning groups need to improve local mental health services, while almost 75 per cent of clinical commissioning groups are failing to provide the expected standards of maternity care.

Latest trust ratings published 

Meanwhile, NHS Improvement has published proposed new ratings for every NHS trust and FT, to reflect the seriousness of the problems they face.

Each trust has been placed in one of four categories (or “segements”) based on the level of support they require from the regulator. The segmentation will be formalised next month as part of the regulator’s new “single oversight framework” for trusts and FTs.

Leadership reset in Nottingham

The chief executive of Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has stepped down from his dual role as chief of Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust, just four months after accepting the role.

Peter Homa took on the shared role in June ahead of plans for the two trusts to merge in the autumn. However, in September the merger was pushed back until 2017.

Louise Scull, who has been chair for both trusts, is also returning to NUH full time.

Service failure at children’s hospital

A major investigation into the tragic death of four-year-old Sean Turner at Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital has found the trust was guilty of such severe errors in his care that it amounted to service failure that denied him “best possible chance of survival”.

Sean had major heart surgery in January 2012 and spent just one day in paediatric intensive care before being admitted to a 16-bed cardiology ward instead of a high dependency unit. The trust, at that time, did not use HDU beds but instead had a single outreach nurse available for the whole hospital.

An investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has laid bare 22 key failings by nurses and doctors in a report which directly contradicts the results of an NHS England review into his care which was published in June this year.

NHS Brexit bonus?

If ever there was a story to inspire a petition from 38 Degrees, then surely “Private firms get chance to bid for £15bn of NHS contracts” is it.

Factor in the fact that this is due to new EU rules, and it’s party time for both Brexiteers and anti-privatisation campaigners.

In line with new EU regulations introduced in April, NHS England has published “prior information notices” for its specialised services contracts in the Official Journal of the European Union this month.

Contracts will be awarded to incumbent providers unless expressions of interest are received from other suppliers.

In reality though, experts have told HSJ that there is unlikely to be sudden rush of private providers wanting to run these services, not least because of the tight 21 day deadline given by NHS England and the way the services have been organised into “lots”.