Weekly updates and essential insight into the NHS in the South West, by Will Hazell

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Welcome to Deep South

This is the second edition of HSJ’s new email briefing on the NHS in the South West of England.

Deep South will take an in-depth weekly look at a region which is one of the NHS’s most innovative, but also one of its most turbulent. My patch will include the cities of Bristol and Bath, through Wessex and Dorset, and all the way down the peninsular to Lizard Point.

Please get in touch with any suggestions about what you’d like to see covered and any story tips: will.hazell@emap.com

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Cornwall seeks STP chair (must have GSOH)

Earlier this monthHSJ revealed the layout of the 44 sustainability and transformation plan footprints which have been drawn up across England.

Each area has been required to appoint a single “named person” to oversee planning – generally to be drawn from the NHS or council chief executives in each area – and last week NHS England announced leaders in eight geographies.

However, when it comes to finding someone to hold the ring, some health systems have found it more challenging than others. HSJ has learned that the Cornwall footprint is looking externally for an STP chair.

There are various factors ruling out candidates from the local health economy.

As Deep South reported las t week the chief executive of Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Kathy Byrne, does not start at the trust until 25 April.

Kate Kennally, the chief executive of Cornwall Council, is also new to the area - she only took up the post in January.

Joy Youart, the managing director of Kernow CCG, is suspended.

Phil Confue, the chief executive of Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, appears the obvious choice – he has been at the helm of the mental health trust, which is rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission, for six years.

However, he is leading the consortium of NHS organisations which is due to take over adult community health services from Peninsula Community Health from the start of next month.

The transaction is highly complex (Peninsula, which is a social enterprise, is due to go into solvent liquidation in a few months). Once services have transferred, the consortium will only have a window of a couple of years to demonstrate improvement to the services.

With all that on his plate, it is understandable that Mr Confue may be reluctant to take on the substantive role, although he is due to chair the STP on a temporary basis until a permanent appointment is made.

Whoever Cornwall finds, with the fragility of the health economy and its many moving parts, they will need a good sense of humour.

Scarborough A&E plans – a model for Weston?

HSJreported this week that York Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust is considering running the emergency department at Scarborough Hospital without dedicated consultants.

(“Scarborough?!” I hear you cry – “He’s overreached his South West bailiwick hasn’t he?” Bear with me).

The hospital has long struggled to recruit accident and emergency consultants. It is mulling whether patients could instead be seen by “advanced clinical practitioners”, typically trained as nurses or paramedics, who would then pass them on to specialist consultants in the relevant department.

Scarborough has been bracketed, by Simon Stevens no less, with other small coastal hospitals, including Weston Area Health Trust. The NHS England chief executive has spoken about reinventing a “viable model” for these sites.

Weston too has problems with medical staffing, and is considered unsustainable in its current form. 

If Scarborough goes ahead with its A&E plans, could it also be a model for Weston or elsewhere along the South West coast? Let me know what you think.