The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Closed for business

The winding down of services from out of hours provider Primecare is a story many in the NHS may have seen coming, considering its parent company is none other than cash-strapped domiciliary care provider Allied Healthcare.

However, local GPs have less sympathy for the company’s hardships after receiving a letter informing them Primecare would cease providing services from 1 December, giving them less than a fortnight’s notice to find alternative provisions. The move came after Allied Healthcare decided last week it would seek to hand back or transfer all of its contracts with clinical commissioning group’s and local authorities.

Avid HSJ readers may remember a very similar story this time last year, where Primecare gave East Kent CCG three months’ notice that it intended to terminate its contract. 

Primecare’s decision last year came after its East Kent service was rated “inadequate” by the CQC, just seven months after starting new operations.

Restrictions apply

There have long been concerns about the extent that physical control methods are used against distressed mental health patients.

Regulators are now taking steps to highlight the “wide variation” in how frequently staff use physical restraint to control patients’ behaviour, and have launched a pilot project to help reduce “restrictive practices” at 25 mental health trusts.

The regulators have asked the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, a research arm of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to investigate the use physical restraint, rapid tranquillisation drugs and isolation rooms, with the aim to reduce these incidents by a third.

According to data the NCCMH collected, these trusts have collectively had more than 1,000 incidents involving restrictive practice on average per month. 

Amar Shah, quality improvement lead for the project, said: “Restrictive practice is a complex safety issue that requires change in culture and behaviour, as well as new ways of working together.

“This programme presents a huge opportunity to learn together and empower our wards and service users to partner and test new ideas in the search for safer, more caring and recovery focused ward environments.”