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In brief: Manchester 'mega merger', Grenfell fallout, Kettering cleared

Manchester mega merger given go-ahead
Plans for an unprecedented merger of Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust, University Hospital of South Manchester FT and North Manchester General Hospital have been cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The watchdog’s findings appeared to signal a change of tone compared to past decisions, suggesting that the benefits for patient care trumped competition concerns and that financial realities and plans for collaboration in Manchester had in any case “dampened the role of competition.”

Under the proposals aimed at saving 8-10 per cent of costs, elements of cardiology, vascular, urology, orthopaedics, and head and neck cancer and maxillofacial services will all be consolidated.

It is not yet fully clear what the workforce implications will be in terms of the clinicians delivering the new services.  

Grenfell highlights fire safety shortfalls
The horrific Grenfell Tower blaze in London has prompted a scramble to mount fire safety checks at locations across the NHS.

The trauma unit at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford closed to impatients over a “combination of fire safety factors” that could see the building shut for up to 12 months.

At the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital £400,000 is to be spent improving fire compartment walls. Wolverhampton Heart and Lung Centre at New Cross Hospital, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen’s Square, London, and part of the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle have all increased fire prevention measures after discovering cladding similar to that involved in the deadly blaze.

It has also emerged that the £440 million University Hospital Coventry, built by Skanska in 2006 under a £3.3 billion PFI, has breaches in internal fire barriers among serious structural defects.

It is the subject of a two-year remedial works programme, although managers maintain that additional fire safety measures are in place and adequate. 

No fraud at Kettering
Management behaviour at Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust has been criticised in an internal report after an insider blew the whistle on “performance” statistics that left thousands of patients off waiting list data sent to NHS England.

In an decade-long failure until 2015, the Trust deployed “tactical solutions” that missed off patients facing waits of over a year.

The probe, by consultancy CPA on behalf of the Trust, rejected as “entirely false” the whistleblower’s claim that this was done deliberately to avoid fines.

It found that the inaccuracies were due to poor management, training and underinvestment in IT.

A report from NHS Protect also found no evidence of deliberate financial fraud, nor a risk of a repeat in future, and closed the book on the case.