The must read stories in health from Tuesday

Slow going in special measures

Fewer than one in five trusts placed in special measures because of inadequate care have improved quickly enough to be removed within 12 months, as originally intended, HSJ’s latest analysis reveals.

We looked at the 27 trusts which have been placed in quality special measures since the regime was created in 2013, and which have had more than 12 months to improve.

Of these, only five exited special measures within a 12 month period. All these were from the original 11 placed in the regime in 2013.

The CQC’s guidance from 2014 said: “It is intended that the usual period of time a trust remains in special measures will be a maximum of 12 months, although this may be extended in some circumstances”. It added that an extension would “not normally exceed six months”.

The average time spent in special measures by the 20 trusts which have both entered and exited the regime is 20.5 months.

Ten trusts have spent two years or more in special measures, with Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust having been in the longest – currently at three and half years.

Chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards told us: “While trusts are placed in special measures for a 12 month period to begin with, this can be extended if further support is needed. What is most important is that the right changes are made and fully embedded to benefit patients.”

Will a doctor see you now, or later?

Greater Manchester is currently ahead of the pack for achieving extended GP access, according to data published by NHS England.

The region, which recently published a major transformation plan for primary care in its area, has the biggest percentage of patients with access to “full” extended GP access.

What is full access? NHS England defines it as “pre-bookable” appointments made available at the weekends and at least 90 minutes available before 8am or after 6pm on weekdays.

In the planning guidance last year, NHS England said it would give CCGs until 2019 to achieve “full” extended access to GP services.

According to the current statistics, the Devo Manc region appears to have the best odds on reaching NHS England’s target first, with 57 per cent of patients across the region having access to “full” extended hours.

London is a close second at 49 per cent, while just 4 per cent of patients in the South West have access to the desired hours.

However, it is worth mentioning that Greater Manchester has been one of the biggest of the beneficiaries of the GP access fund.