The must read stories and talking points from Thursday

New CCG ratings

On Thursday evening NHS England released new ratings assessing CCGs’ performance in maternity care and mental health services.

More than half the country’s clinical commissioning groups need to improve local mental health services, while almost 75 per cent of clinical commissioning groups are failing to provide the expected standards of maternity care.

Service failure at children’s hopsital

A major investigation into the tragic death of four-year-old Sean Turner at Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital has found the trust was guilty of such severe errors in his care that it amounted to service failure that denied him “best possible chance of survival”.

Sean had major heart surgery in January 2012 and spent just one day in paediatric intensive care before being admitted to a 16-bed cardiology ward instead of a high dependency unit. The trust, at that time, did not use HDU beds but instead had a single outreach nurse available for the whole hospital.

An investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has laid bare 22 key failings by nurses and doctors in a report which directly contradicts the results of an NHS England review into his care which was published in June this year.

The NHS England review found Sean was only mildly dehydrated, when in fact experts for the PHSO said he was significantly dehydrated and was hypovolemic – meaning a severe loss of bodily fluids. Even when this was clear his diuretic medication, which would make his fluid loss worse, was increased.

When he developed blood clots Sean received a prolonged dose of thrombolysis over three days, instead of the recommended six hours.

The hospital has, after failing to handle the couple’s complaint properly, apologised unreservedly for its failures in Sean’s care and has invested in new high dependency beds and more staff for children with cardiology issues.

Sean’s parents Steve and Yolanda say they were denied real involvement in the NHS England review and cannot understand how the NHS England review of their son’s care could come to such conflicting conclusions.

They believe the review was a “whitewash” and the 20 families with complaints deserve a fresh investigation of their fears. Their call is likely not to be the last.

NHS Brexit bonus?

If ever there was a story to inspire a petition from 38 Degrees, then surely “Private firms get chance to bid for £15bn of NHS contracts” is it.

Factor in the fact that this is due to new EU rules, and it’s party time for both Brexiteers and anti-privatisation campaigners.

In line with new EU regulations introduced in April, NHS England has published “prior information notices” for its specialised services contracts in the Official Journal of the European Union this month.

Contracts will be awarded to incumbent providers unless expressions of interest are received from other suppliers.

In reality though, experts have told HSJ that there is unlikely to be sudden rush of private providers wanting to run these services, not least because of the tight 21 day deadline given by NHS England and the way the services have been organised into “lots”.

Most commentators seem to agree the NHS will be worse off after the UK leaves the EU, but one small upside could be that NHS England no longer needs to jump through these regulatory hoops.