HSJ’s roundup of the day’s must read health stories

What the NHS corporate manslaughter trial means for you

The first corporate manslaughter prosecution against an NHS trust began properly at Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday, with a jury sworn in and the prosecution opening its case.

The trial follows the death of primary school teacher Frances Cappuccini, 30, who died after giving birth by emergency caesarean section in October 2012 at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust’s Pembury Hospital.

The charge sheet against the trust alleges it “failed to take reasonable care to ensure that the anaesthetists [Errol Cornish and Nadeem Azeez] involved in the care of Mrs Cappuccini held the appropriate qualifications and training for their role, and further failed to take reasonable care to ensure that there was the appropriate level of supervision for the anaesthetic treatment of Mrs Cappuccini”.

The trust has pleaded not guilty.

HSJ patient safety correspondent Shaun Lintern outlines why health service leaders should watch the trial closely. He writes: “The NHS is only just beginning to seriously look at what can be done about system-wide errors”.

He says: “The outcome could have a lasting impact on the way the NHS approaches serious risk and systemic errors.

“Whatever the outcome of the trial, the decision to bring such a prosecution against an NHS organisation sends an important signal to health service leaders – one that will no doubt play on the minds of many managers called upon to make hard choices about staffing levels, equipment maintenance, or workforce training and culture.”

Another week, another seven day services tussle

While the junior doctors’ contract dispute sizzles away, health minister Alistair Burt has stuck his head above the parapet to address another contentious seven day working policy, this time in general practice.

Mr Burt said on Tuesday that the government’s pledge to ensure seven day access to GP services has been “misinterpreted” by some parts of the sector.

In a statement to the Commons health committee, he said: “The commitment to seven-day services has been misinterpreted in some places.

“We have never suggested that every GP practice should have to open seven days a week, still less that every GP should have to work on a seven day basis.”

His comments come against a background of significant opposition by many GPs and the British Medical Association (again) to government proposals for extending weekend GP access.

He added that he believed there was a “binary divide” between GP practices that are actively embracing innovation, and those which are struggling.

Mr Burt said the second group feel they are on a treadmill “from which they can’t escape” due to recruitment difficulties and inadequate premises.

He also said the government would step in to save GP out of hours services “on the verge of collapsing” if nearby providers running extended hours services made them financially unsustainable.

His comments came after MPs repeated GP leaders’ concerns that providers piloting extended hours through the prime minister’s access fund were drawing staff away from existing out of hours services.

The minister told them he had seen no evidence that any out of hours providers were threatened due to difficulties obtaining staff, but he did acknowledge that providers piloting extended hours may put pressure on practices in some areas