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.

New man at the top

Boris Johnson’s resignation on Monday gave the prime minister the opportunity to promote Jeremy Hunt, who has become a key Cabinet ally to foreign secretary.

So, after nearly six years, the longest stint under any single health secretary, the NHS suddenly has a new man at the top.

Mr Hunt’s well worn boots have been filled by Matt Hancock, who makes the switch from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Prior to joining Parliament, he worked for the Bank of England and as economic advisor to George Osborne. He also has links to the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market think tank, which regularly calls for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance based system.

Despite his “Matt Hancock App” being subject to a fair amount of ridicule, it does suggest he will be forward thinking and willing to try new things.

Health secretary sets out his stall

With the government appearing ever closer to collapse, the new health and social care secretary might not be around for long.

Jeremy Hunt became the longest serving health secretary in history just before his departure, but the Brexit odds could make his replacement, Matt Hancock, one of the shortest serving.

Nevertheless, Mr Hancock has set his stall out to the NHS in an exclusive editorial for HSJ, in which he vows to defend “undervalued” staff, tackle bullying and harassment, and embrace new technology and artificial intelligence.

Hunt CQC’d

Jeremy Hunt recently surpassed Norman Fowler’s record as the longest surviving health secretary, which prompted HSJ to reflect on his various successes and missteps.

Judging Mr Hunt against his own Care Quality Commission ratings system, editor Alastair Mclellan reckoned he would score relatively well on “caring”, “well led”, “safety” and “effective”, but the inspectors would be critical when examining “responsive” and “use of resources”.

Whether that makes him “good” or “requires improvement” overall would depend on how much personal responsibility they decided he carried for Brexit and, especially, public sector austerity.


How to produce a 10 year plan in three months? Not with a potentially unwieldy “NHS Assembly”, it seems.

The assembly concept first floated to HSJ a year ago by Simon Stevens, resurfaced in May, when NHS England and NHS Improvement said it would be used to “help codesign the proposed upcoming NHS 10 year plan”.

It would contain, they said, “among others, national clinical, patient and staff organisations; the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; the NHS arm’s length bodies; and frontline leaders from integrated care systems, sustainability and transformation partnerships, trusts, clinical commissioning groups, and local authorities”.

Male, pale and stale

The NHS leaders of today are less likely to be “male, pale and stale” – with many more women in the top job and a small (but hopefully growing) number of black and minority chief executives.

Are the chief executives running mental health, ambulance and community trusts more likely to develop and model these behaviours than their counterparts in acute trusts? And do women chief executives display some of these skills more often than men?

HSJ asked some of our top 50 chief executives these questions in a roundtable debate sponsored by Korn Ferry, and what they do to inspire and motivate their staff at such a tough time.

Flu England

At odds with the current heatwave, NHS England has already started ramping up its staff flu vaccination campaign. In a letter last month, the commissioner called on unions and other staff groups to set out how they are going to increase uptake of the vaccine for this winter.

Referencing a forthcoming evidence review from National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, NHS England highlighted the link between vaccination rates and patient mortality, while noting that vaccination rates across different NHS trusts range from 39 to 92 per cent.

Earlier this year, NHS England’s then medical director Sir Bruce Keogh floated the idea of making the flu vaccine mandatory for NHS staff, a move which would be strongly opposed by some of the unions and professional bodies.

Virtually outstanding

The £150m GP Access fund has had mixed success in extending access to GPs.

But one of the 57 pilots appears to have found a highly effective model, using a virtual support service layered over an existing GP federation.

South Doc Service, the virtual arm of GP federation MyHealthcare in South Birmingham, has been rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission this month.

The CQC found evidence that the service had saved individual practices time and money, that patients were getting faster access to community appointments, while there was also a suggestion that the model had helped reduce accident and emergency attendances.

With reports that some of the big video based GP consultation suppliers are now eyeing a move into the city, the service is also launching its own video appointment services, to link patients into their existing GP.

Promote the deputy

Some of the biggest shoes in provider land have been filled from within, following the appointment of Dame Julie Moore’s successor.

Dr David Rosser, the medical director and deputy chief executive of University Hospitals of Birmingham Foundation Trust, is set to be promoted to the top job when Dame Julie steps down in September.