The media gave a good few pages over to the NHS this week, taking in cuts, car parks and care records, but no obvious mention of the other C word: commissioning.
The Sunday Telegraph published an investigation into planned closures to maternity and accident and emergency services under the headline “Unprecedented cuts for 30 hospitals”.
The paper argued such plans were going ahead despite the government’s pledges that the “NHS would be ringfenced from government cuts”, demonstrating just how difficult it remains for trusts to reconfigure services while under national media scrutiny. It gave details of trust plans for merging, centralising and shutting services. The paper did acknowledge the need to make savings and do things more productively.
The Daily Mail covered in detail the government’s announcement that the summary care record would continue to be rolled out, describing it as “a big brother database”.
However, it seemed to have difficulty explaining the difference between what was already happening and what was going to happen with the database. It said the database had been “drastically scaled back” and would only hold information on allergies and medication, which is essentially what it holds now.
The paper also had the news: “Up by 150 per cent, the price of parking at hospital”. The percentage change described in the headline refers to Bishop Auckland Hospital in Durham, which has increased the charge for a two hour stay from £1 to £2.50.
Meanwhile The Times gave over a whole spread to the topic of welfare. It led with a story about the “catastrophic” consequences for people with mental health problems from a new round of medical checks on fitness to work, which started this week in Burnley and Aberdeen.
Back in the Daily Mail there was a potential warning for general practices to be positive with their future consortium partners. US relationship researchers found “people who exhibited negative feelings to their partners were about seven times more likely to break up over the next year”.