They say variety is the spice of life, and it was certainly true that there was an assortment of health stories in the media this week.
The freesheet Metro shouted that “60 per cent of NHS trusts ‘fiddle their ratings’”, a story which once again pitted the Care Quality Commission against the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College, in a battle over whose ratings were more accurate.
The Daily Mail honed in on hospital mangers in Leicester, under the headline “Take a holiday and save us cash, trust begs staff”
Health minister Mike O’Brien was quoted as saying the “NHS was less secretive than it once was”, making the health service sound a bit like the Stasi.
The Daily Mail honed in on hospital mangers in Leicester, under the headline “Take a holiday and save us cash, trust begs staff”. It claimed they had calculated they could save a significant chunk of their £35m a month wage bill by introducing career breaks, cutting hours and allowing staff to purchase extra holiday. The prospect of less work didn’t go down well with staff or unions.
The Independent opted to cover what it described as the “first big maternity protest since 1982”, which took place at the weekend in London. Around 2,000 protesters, armed with placards and buggies, called for “more midwives” and “safer birth”.
Meanwhile The Daily Telegraph launched a series of articles “examining how the NHS works and how it might be made better”.
Social care returned to the headlines, this time with a royal angle. Radio 4’s Today programme featured the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care claiming that millions of pounds for respite breaks for carers had been diverted to plug deficits. The charities said less than a quarter of the £50m earmarked this year by the government had actually been used for respite breaks.
PCT Network director David Stout pointed out that it was generally up to PCTs how they spent their budgets, a point minister Phil Hope seemed unable to dispute when challenged on it.
The nationals also noted that health secretary Andy Burnham had said two week referral targets for cancer and various health checks would be added to the NHS constitution on 1 April and therefore made law. Not an early April Fool’s Day prank, we trust.