Catch up on the key stories you might not have seen over the Christmas and new year break.
Exclusive Jeremy Hunt interview
In an end of year interview with HSJ, Jeremy Hunt made it clear he would not consider merging the Care Quality Commission with any other body before 2020, and the future of NHS England and NHS Improvement would be determined after the STP process had run its course.
“My view about all these structural changes is that we had our fill in 2012 and I don’t think anyone wants any big structural change now, but that is not to say anything is set in aspic,” he said.
The health secretary also warned trusts risk getting a poor CQC rating if families are not involved in investigations of avoidable deaths, and said he had lobbied the prime minister to get legislation on new reforms to the health service to be included in next year’s Queen’s speech
Anger over STF bonus
NHS Improvement has confirmed that “bonus payments” will be offered to those trusts that meet their control totals – from the unused part of the £1.8bn sustainability and transformation fund – with those bettering their target getting an even larger bonus. The pot is likely to be worth well over £300m.
Trust prosecuted after patient death
HSJ revealed that Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust is being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive over the death of Adam Withers, a 20-year-old mental health patient in their care.
Mr Withers’ case is one of five “high profile” deaths at the trust – details of which will be emerging over the next three months.
NHS fraudsters avoid jail
A senior CCG manager and clinical lead on its board have avoided being immediately jailed after pleading guilty to defrauding Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG of £153,600.
Lisa Hill and Ian Walton had admitted raising a false invoice to Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG for GP training from a charity, on whose board they both sat, before diverting the cash into the bank account of a private company they both controlled. Ms Hill and Dr Walton used the money to train GPs in mental health care.
Efficiency league table delayed
A league table of trust efficiency recommended by Lord Carter’s review are likely to be delayed after audits of important cost data again found widespread non-compliance by NHS trusts.
Trusts to be rated on new A&E ‘scorecard’
Hospitals will be rated against a new accident and emergency standard from 2017, which will combine the waiting time target with clinical standards and data on staff and patient experience.
The four hour target will remain the “headline indicator” but the new metric “will give a clearer picture of the health of our A&E departments”, NHS Improvement has told trusts.
New minister at DH
Lord O’Shaughnessy was announced as the new minister at the Department of Health by Number 10 on Wednesday – taking on the role of parliamentary under-secretary of state, as well as becoming a government whip. He is a former Downing Street aide, and was director of policy for David Cameron from May 2010 to October 2011.
FT waits for special measures decision
The CQC has recommended that East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust should exit special measures, having made significant improvements since it was placed in the regime in 2014.
The final decision to take the trust out of special measures will not be made by NHS Improvement until February. The regulator said it will need to review the trust’s financial position in more detail before deciding if it should come out of special measures.
MCP contract hold up
All six areas working with NHS England to develop the new MCP contract for GPs have told HSJ they will not be ready to take it on by April, despite the national body’s original intention.
The contract was originally announced by David Cameron at last year’s Conservative Party conference, when it was described as a “voluntary contract option for general practice” available from 2017, for extended primary care providers covering populations of at least 30,000. It is now referred to by NHS England as the “MCP contract” after the new care model proposed in the Five Year Forward View.
£75m given back to CCGs
NHS England has agreed to soften the impact of changes to clinical commissioning group budgets next year by agreeing to add £75m back into their allocations, HSJ understands
Many CCGs had raised concerns over adjustments that would have reduced the combined allocations by around £156m in 2017-18, against what they had previously planned for. NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents CCGs, has written to national leaders “in the strongest terms” about it.
Some CCGs saw their allocations reduce significantly, such as Dorset, which would have received £10m less than expected.
But it is understood that NHS England has now agreed to mitigate the impact and ensure that the negative impact on individual CCGs is limited to 0.5 per cent of their allocation. This will help around 60 CCGs, although many are still likely to be significantly affected.