HSJ’s round-up of the day’s essential stories

Sir Bruce Keogh stepping down

HSJ readers and figures from across the NHS have been paying tribute to Sir Bruce Keogh – NHS England’s national medical director, who has announced he will be stepping down at the end of the year.

Sir Bruce will then become chair of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals FT (“NHSE’s loss is Birmingham’s gain,” said fellow Brum trust chair Jacqui Smith).

On Twitter, commentators said he had led the way for clinical leadership, “attracted too much unfair criticism and too little well deserved praise”, and was a role model for junior doctors.

Below the line on hsj.co.uk, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges chief executive Alastair Henderson said: “Bruce has been an exceptional national medical leader over the last 10 years and has been a tireless champion for the quality and standards of patient care.” The theme among HSJ commenters was that Sir Bruce will be an almost act impossible act to follow.

All while being the nicest man in healthcare – so nice that he once saved the life of a Cyberman.

All go for ACO

NHS organisations across a troubled health economy have taken the first steps toward setting up an accountable care organisation to serve their STP footprint.

The clinical commissioning group, hospital trust and mental health and community services provider have agreed ambitious proposals to begin working towards having the ACO up and running by April 2018.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and Cumbria Partnership FT agreed a memorandum of understanding last week to create a provider alliance group.

The governing body of newly formed North Cumbria CCG has also approved proposals to set up an integrated commissioning group for the region, bringing in NHS England and Cumbria County Council.

These early steps do not delegate any authority, but show the organisations’ commitment to begin working towards the new care model.

This is a very ambitious timescale, with ACO vanguards such as Northumbria, Yeovil and Salford working to a similar schedule but they have planning their new care models for years.

North Cumbria is also not one of the nine areas mentioned in NHS England’s Next Steps delivery plan as most likely to evolve into “accountable care systems”.

But it is a massive step forward for the area, which was one of three regions have a success regime to turnaround its health economy.

With the acute trust and mental health and community services FT expected to form a single leadership board, these latest decisions form part of a much more integrated future for North Cumbria.

But the plans still need the buy-in of the ambulance trust, out of hours service provider, and (crucially) local GPs. Whether they can get this over the next 12 months will prove pivotal to the ACO’s success.