Your essential update on health for the week.

HSJ Catch Up

This weekly email gives HSJ subscribers a vital update on the biggest stories 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.

Particular concerns

In the latest instalment of the 50,000 more nurses saga, a leak has revealed the government has “particular concerns” around NHS England’s current plans to achieve the lofty ambition.

An email from the Department of Health and Social Care’s workforce director Gavin Larner has set out “particular concerns” to NHSE chief people officer Prerana Issar about the “retention delivery plan”.

Mr Larner described certain sections of the retention piece of project work as “weak” and called for greater clarity in the plan on culture.

A different experience

Disabled NHS staff are more likely to suffer from bullying, harassment and abuse while feeling they are not treated fairly, figures published this week revealed

The “workforce disability equality standard” — which tracks trusts’ progress against 10 metrics — highlighted significant disparities between the experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff on most measures.

For instance, just 39 per cent of disabled respondents feel their organisations value their work compared with 50.3 per cent of their non-disabled colleagues — a gap of 11.3 percentage points.

No longer a side job?

The job of leading a health system has, until now, largely been seen as something of a side role, to be done in conjunction with a statutory role leading a legal entity.

But the appointment of Jackie Bene — the highly rated chief executive of Bolton Foundation Trust — to lead the Cheshire and Mersey Sustainability and Transformation Partnership suggests that has started to change.

Dr Bene will leave Bolton at the end of March to become chief officer for the challenged STP, which has so far struggled to bring cohesiveness and clear direction to the region.

The cost of the storm

As the UK crosses its fingers for a period of calm after two storms, some — including hospital trusts — are left counting the cost of the damage. 

Storm Ciara caused an estimated £20,000 of damage at hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees when it swept across the North East at the beginning of February.

The damage is a bit of a drop in the North Sea for North Tees and Hartlepool FT, however, which already had a £40m maintenance backlog. But it’s a good chance to renew calls for more central investment in its hospital buildings. It told HSJ some of its estate only has between 15 and 20 years left before it reaches its “end of life”.

Violence on the rise

The 2019 staff survey results are in and violence against staff in the NHS from patients and the public is on the rise again.

Almost 15 per cent of NHS workers reported they had experienced at least one instance of violence over the last year.

Black and minority ethnic staff were more likely than white staff to have experienced violence from patients or the public. Ambulance trusts and mental health and learning disability trusts also continued to report high levels of violence directed at staff from patients.

To share or not to share

Judging by the media interest generated by deals struck between DHSC and Amazon or NHS trusts and Google Health, one could be forgiven for thinking data privacy is a major cause for concern among NHS patients.

But the latest figures from NHS Digital showing how many people have used their right to opt out of data sharing schemes don’t necessarily support this.

Since patients were able to opt out when the new data policy went live in May 2018, only around 10,000 have done so. And more than 3,000 patients have reversed their original decision of opting out.

It would be wise to be wary about drawing conclusions, as the numbers are very small. However, privacy campaigners claim the figures are a stark indicator the opt out is not widely known about, despite a marketing campaign when the policy went live.

Lost to the system

Autism services in South Staffordshire have been under fire for some time, and in October they transferred from social enterprise Midlands Psychology to Midlands Partnership FT on an interim basis. Nearly six months on, the services are still facing difficulties.

The latest complaint is parents of children trying to access the service fear they have been “lost to the system” after uncertainty and delay arose around which case files should be handed over.

The trust told HSJ it received 187 files for children awaiting an autism diagnosis assessment in October and, to date, has completed 15 of them. However, it also said it received a further 306 files earlier this month for children who still needed to be assessed.

However, Midlands Psychology chief executive Angela Southall told HSJ her organisation had been instructed not to hand over certain files, adding: “There seemed to be some deliberate confusion.”

A list you don’t want to be on

HSJ revealed last month that, when the Health and Safety Executive inspector called, around two-thirds of providers were caught breaking health and safety law.

At the time, the HSE told HSJ the providers in England, Wales and Scotland it had inspected and how many were breaching laws. However, it could not be revealed which of the providers were breaking health and safety law or on what grounds. Until now.

Using a freedom of information request, HSJ has obtained the full list of failings the HSE found at NHS providers, including eight English trusts and three Welsh health boards.

Between them, they received 40 official warnings over a two-year period, with HSE setting deadlines to make required improvements.