Chief executive of South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust stands down, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.46pm As we wrap up our coverage on HSJ Live today, we’ll leave you with this piece by Dave West, analysing what Simon Stevens really meant by the pronouncements he made on small and community hospitals.

4.45pm A West Midlands trust has announced it will not be appealing against a tribunal which found it had unfairly dismissed a member of staff.

Dr Raj Mattu was dismissed by University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust about four years ago, and in April a tribunal ruled he was unfairly sacked.

The trust’s decision brings to an end one of the longest running whistleblowing cases in NHS history.

4.35pm Two films from HSJ new Commission on Hospital Care for Frail Older People are now online: the story of an elderly patient who never made it home, and our experts discussing why they are taking part in the commission.

3.31pm A second attempt to challenge in court the government’s decision to downgrade services at Stafford Hopsital has been launched this week.

Lawyers acting for a member of the community, who wishes to remain anonymous at this stage, lodged papers with Cardiff High Court on Tuesday.

This comes after Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Stafford Kate Godfrey lodged papers at Birmingham High Court last week.

2.46pm Sarah Calkin’s story on the resignation of Paula Vasco-Knight is now available online.

2.17pm Publication of an investigation into alleged wrongful manipulation of cancer patients’ waiting time data at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust is being held up by legal issues, HSJ understands.

A draft of the independent report has been submitted to Monitor but a source familiar with the process said the report authors’ decision to name individuals and their roles in the scandal has caused delays, as the regulator sought legal advice.

1.53pm What new things did we learn about the NHS this week? You can click here to find out.

1.14pm Providers have breached the waiting time target for patients with suspected cancer starting treatment within 62 days following urgent GP referral for the first time since the target was introduced in 2009.

This is the first breach of any cancer waiting time target since the introduction of the current standards.

1.03pm Local MP Sarah Wollaston has tweeted in response to the news of Paula Vasco-Knight’s resignation. Here’s what she said:

@drwollastonMP: “Paula Vasco-Knight has resigned from South Devon Foundation Trust. This was necessary but overdue & so overshadowed her prior achievements.”

12.21pm Gillian Leng of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has written a response to Dean Royle’s recent comment piece for HSJ on safe staffing ratios.

11.58am Mike Birtwhistle, founding partner at Incisive Health, has written for HSJ on the political dimensions of Simon Stevens’ vision for the NHS.

11.31am HSJ’s editor Alastair McLellan has said Simon Stevens’ interview with HSJ may be the “most significant NHS interview since Blair promising to match Euro health spending”. You can read his full thoughts on the interview and what it means here.

11.09am Some breaking news: Paula Vasco-Knight has decided to resign from her role as chief executive of South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust. Here’s the trust’s press statement in full:

“The Trust announces that the Chief Executive, Dr Paula Vasco-Knight CBE, has decided to resign from her employment at South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Vasco-Knight has decided to relocate to the North West of England for family reasons. The trust wishes to place on record that considerable success was achieved during Dr Vasco-Knight’s tenure as Chief Executive.

“It is unfortunate that Dr Vasco-Knight’s achievements have been overshadowed by the employment tribunal judgment in January 2014 involving our trust. Notwithstanding the judgment of the employment tribunal, Dr Vasco-Knight asserts that an independent report commissioned by a former chair of the trust prior to the tribunal in question found no evidence that Dr Vasco-Knight had breached trust policies.

“The trust and Dr Vasco-Knight also wish to make it clear that no payments have been made to her other than those to which she is entitled under her contract of employment with the trust.”

10.51am Simon Stevens has indicated the NHS has early plans to meet about half of the looming £30bn gap; and has suggested greater transparency may be driving a trend toward “patient champion” health secretaries.

10.45am Here on HSJ Live we’ll keep you abreast of the latest comment and reaction to our major interview with Simon Stevens. Here’s what Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust, tweeted earlier:

@BCHBoss: “‘Rather than talking about failing institutions,perhaps we need to talk about pressurised health economies’.Yes please.Would boost morale.”

10.30am Simon Stevens has distanced himself from the organisation’s previously stated ambition to concentrate specialised services in “15-30 centres of excellence”.

The figure of 15-30 specialist centres was set out in December in NHS England’s planning guidance for 2014-15 to 2018-19. It has since been used by commissioners and providers planning for the future shape of services.

But speaking to HSJ in his first major interview since joining NHS England last month, Mr Stevens said: “[I] regard that [plan] as a conversation opener.”

10.17am In between the Simon Stevens coverage we will as usual be browsing the NHS news in today’s papers on HSJ Live.

The number of people suffering strokes and heart attacks or dying from cardiovascular-related illnesses could be cut by a fifth in less than a decade due to improvements in controlling blood pressure, a study by Imperial College London academics has found, The Daily Telegraph reports.

If trends in diagnosis and treatment continue until 2022, then 80 per cent of those affected will be on effective medication. That would mean 55,000 heart attacks would be avoided in 2022.

10.14am Simons Stevens has said that under his leadership, NHS England will focus on commissioning and may drop some of its current functions.

NHS England is seeking to give up some of its patient safety functions, medical revalidation and responsibility for technology, Mr Stevens indicated.

Simon Stevens told HSJ that one aim of an on-going internal review at the organisation was to ensure “we focus on the things NHS England should do”.

He said the organisation was “first and foremost” a commissioner and the “steward of the commissioning system”

10.03am NHS patients should be free to choose their provider whether public or private, Simon Stevens told HSJ.

The new NHS England chief executive declined to comment directly on the Labour party’s “preferred provider” policy.

He said he took a “pragmatic” approach to competition and that “stylised debates” on the issue were unhelpful.

9.46am Follow us throughout the day on HSJ Live for coverage, analysis and comment on HSJ’s interview with Simon Stevens - the first in-depth interview with the new NHS England chief executive.

7.00am Good morning. Chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, Nigel Edwards, argues that HSJ’s interview with the NHS England chief executive contains some clear and very new messages about the style and substance of how Simon Stevens sees the organisation operating. It also contains important messages for the wider NHS and what it needs to do next, he says.