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

Flu England

At odds with the current heatwave, NHS England has already started ramping up its staff flu vaccination campaign. In a letter last month, the commissioner called on unions and other staff groups to set out how they are going to increase uptake of the vaccine for this winter.

Referencing a forthcoming evidence review from National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, NHS England highlighted the link between vaccination rates and patient mortality, while noting that vaccination rates across different NHS trusts range from 39 to 92 per cent.

Earlier this year, NHS England’s then medical director Sir Bruce Keogh floated the idea of making the flu vaccine mandatory for NHS staff – a move which would be strongly opposed by some of the unions and professional bodies.

If the unions fail to come up with credible plans to improve the uptake, will NHS England dare bring mandatory vaccinations to the table?

Oh Gosh

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool has been looking longingly at the fortune being made from private medical tourists by London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, and feels like it’s time to get in on the action.

The £400,000 which Alder Hey received from private patients in 2017-18 was a significant increase on previous years, but was still dwarfed by the £55m of business brought in by GOSH.

Alder Hey will never get close to these sorts of sums, but clearly feels there is room for growth and is set to seek an international commercial partner to help “facilitate expansion of (private) services at scale”.

Virtually outstanding

The £150m GP Access fund has had mixed success in extending access to GPs.

But one of the 57 pilots appears to have found a highly effective model, using a virtual support service layered over an existing GP federation.

South Doc Service, the virtual arm of GP federation MyHealthcare in South Birmingham, has been rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission this month.

Patients can access the virtual services through an app or over the phone, with a hub linking in with patients’ regular GP practices and other community services to carry out triage processes, book appointments, and order prescriptions.

The CQC found evidence that the service had saved individual practices time and money, that patients were getting faster access to community appointments, while there was also a suggestion that the model had helped reduce accident and emergency attendances.

With reports that some of the big video based GP consultation suppliers are now eyeing a move into the city, the service is also launching its own video appointment services, to link patients into their existing GP.