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HSJ’s 10 most read workforce stories of 2021

Published on: 31 Dec 2021

Here is a rundown of HSJ’s most read workforce stories for this year

Exclusive: Stevens to step down in July

As far as job moves in the NHS go, April brought a pretty big one. Sir Simon Stevens (now Lord) announced he would be standing down after leading NHS England for seven years. During his tenure, he oversaw the publication of both the Five Year Forward View and the 2019 long-term plan, as well as helped to steer the health service through the start of the covid pandemic. 

‘Working with Stonewall is no longer compatible with NHS values’

Writing for HSJ in June, former trust chief executive Kate Grimes shared her concerns with Stonewall, in particular that the charity’s stance on trans rights was not compatible with NHS values. She added continuing to work with Stonewall “risk[ed] the reputation of the NHS and the safety of our patients and staff”. HSJ later ran a response to the article by trans activist Gemma Stone

The leading candidates for the next CEO of NHS England

In April, HSJ editor Alastair McLellan took a look at the runner and riders to replace Lord Stevens at the helm of NHSE. Now NHSE chief executive Amanda Pritchard topped the list – and was praised for her “unfussy style and focus on the details of what needs to be done… [which] has won over many” – but outside bets included Manchester University Foundation Trust chief executive Sir Mike Deegan, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s FT CEO Sarah Jane Marsh, and NHSE director of transformation Tim Ferris.

ICS leaders quit, claiming job ‘not what we signed up for’

When Alan Yates and Jackie Bene – chair and chief officer of Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care System respectively – revealed in May they would not be putting themselves forward for their roles when the system became a statutory body, they didn’t sugarcoat their reasoning. In a letter to staff, they said it had “become increasingly clear… the task significantly different from the one we were appointed”. 

Dido Harding applies to be NHS England chief

It emerged in June that Conservative peer and former head of Test and Trace Dido Harding had applied for the NHSE chief job. The revelation came via an update to her biography on the NHS England and Improvement website, which revealed she was stepping aside from her NHSI chair role while the recruitment process took place. 

Exclusive: Health Education England to be merged into NHSE

In November, HSJ learned Health Education England was to be incorporated into NHSE by 2023. Senior sources indicated to HSJ the significant funding uplift HEE had been arguing for had been deemed unaffordable, with one source adding: “There is huge pressure on NHSE to invest in the HEE budget. This [the merger] seems to be the price.”

No pay rise for senior managers, government announces

The Department of Health and Social Care announced in July that it had accepted the independent NHS pay review bodies’ recommendation for a 3 per cent pay rise. Excluded from that pay raise, however, were “very senior managers” – a term covering those paid above Agenda for Change bands and including chief executives and executive directors. 

Government proposes changes to members’ NHS pension contributions

The DHSC started consulting in October on proposals which may lead to changes to how much NHS pension members pay into the scheme. For some staff, the proposals may lead to a cut in their contribution rates. The consultation is due to close early next year. 

Trust accused of ‘emotional blackmail’ after asking junior doctors to work unpaid in covid-hit units

At the peak of the covid wave in January, junior doctors at Whipps Cross Hospital were sent an email, asking them to help cover shifts at another of Barts Health Trust’s sites, the Royal London Hospital. The email added this extra work could be done on a “voluntary or paid shift”. Doctors at the trust, who spoke to HSJ anonymously, described the message as “tone deaf” and “not the right way to incentivise anyone to do what they want”.

Revealed: Details of ex-CEO’s bumper salary and 45-day holiday package

Siobhan McArdle led South Tees Hospitals FT for four years before resigning at short notice — and with a resignation message claiming “life is just too short” for the hassle of being an NHS CEO. In February this year, HSJ revealed her pro-rata salary was around £300,000, plus 45 days of holiday per year. Earlier HSJ analysis indicates chiefs of similar sized trusts typically command salaries of between £180,000 and £250,000, suggesting Ms McArdle’s pay package is a significant outlier.