Your essential update on health for the week

HSJ Catch Up

This weekly email gives HSJ subscribers a vital update on the biggest stories from the last week in health. If you have been out of the office or otherwise just too busy to keep up, HSJ Catch Up will ensure you are still in the know.

Shortfall of workers

Over the weekend it emerged that the deadline for Health Education England’s 10 year workforce strategy will be delayed. However, it seems that NHS staff won’t have to wait until November to receive their birthday present after all.

HSJ understands that ministers and NHS leaders are currently negotiating a new offer for staff.

It has been suggested that some money will be invested in the package but it is not yet clear how much will be new money or found from within the system.

The wish list, as it has been described, could include investment in continuing professional development, child care, a bullying hotline and other items ministers think will make staff want.

HSIB produces its first national report

The first national report and recommendations from the Healthcare Saftey Investigation Branch has been eagerly awaited in some circles. The first report, published this week, examined what HSIB described as a “lapse in attention” incident.

The investigation resulted in a range of safety recommendations to national bodies also demanding that the Department of Health and Social Care implement a new national barcode scanning system that would alert nurses and surgeons about wrong implants before they are actually used.

In an interview with HSJ, HSIB chief investigator Keith Conradi said the “jury was still out” on how the organisations might respond.

Tightening the screws

Despite making savings of more than £500m in agency spending, NHS Improvement is expecting even more from trusts.

The regulator has told trusts to accelerate the reduction in the amount paid per agency shift and has said it will work intensively with eight of the highest spending trusts to manage their agency staff spending.

The new rules have been spelled out in a letter, some of which will start with immediate effect from July, instructing trusts to apply “robust internal controls” on temporary staff spending.

NHS Providers has expressed concern and said it will be difficult to tighten the screws even further.

Some might hope that the scrapping of the tier two visa cap could reduce the need for temporary staff.

Gosport joins the ranks of scandal hit hospitals

Ely, Mid Staffordshire, Morecambe Bay – to this blacklist of scandal hit NHS hospitals we can now add Gosport War Memorial.

four year independent inquiry found that 456 patients died over a 12 year period after being given unsafe painkillers without medical justification.

The panel concluded another 200 patients “probably” had their lives shortened.

Its 370 page report details failings by hospital staff, local NHS organisations, regulators, the police, the coroner’s service, and standards authorities.

As is always the case with patient safety scandals, the NHS’s initial reaction to families’ concerns was to “close ranks”, reflected Norman Lamb MP, who set up the inquiry during his time as health minister.

It remains to be seen what action the government will take, as calls for a fresh police investigation is made and families of patients who died have been waiting for answers. 

CCG wins right to seek new inquest in ‘cover up’ death

Three years ago HSJ reported on the case of Jonnie Meek whose death at Stafford Hospital prompted claims of a “cover up” after inaccurate records were given to a child death overview panel.

Following an intervention by the health and social care secretary and three separate experts backing Jonnie’s parents, Stafford and Surronds Clinical Commissioning Group has won the support of the solicitor general to apply to the High Court for the former inquest.

HSJ learned that South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh is not expected to oppose the application.

The case underlines the need for a comprehensive medical examiner service and reforms of the coroner’s court system.

Thousands of NHS buildings face fire checks

The Grenfell tower disaster on NHS buildings has been previously reported by HSJ.

NHS Property Services is now having to review all 3,500 of its properties after the mishap at Weybridge Community Hospital in Surrey last year.

Report states that the fire broke through one compartment zone in its early stages and may have spread through gaps in ceilings and walls.

As of now, It’s not yet clear what the review will cost and how extensive any remedial work will be but it underlines again the need for the NHS to take fire precautions seriously.

May’s vision

There have been rumours and much grumbling about the future of the Health and Social Care Act almost since the day it was passed by Parliament.

Now the prime minister has made it clear that if necessary the government will legislate to improve the NHS’s ability to make transformative changes.

Setting out the detail behind the government’s 3.4 per cent funding boost, the PM said: “Where legislation is making it harder for professionals from different parts of the NHS and different local authorities to work together – we should be prepared to change it.”

Meanwhile, there will be a clinically led review of current performance standards, in order to “confirm the NHS is focused on the right targets”.

She also said she believed NHS managers were wasting too much time on bureaucracy.

Also making their pitch today was mental health taskforce chair Paul Farmer, who has told HSJ the new government funding deal must prioritise mental health services – a sector long neglected.

Read the PM’s speech in full here.