Lansley’s flagship drug pricing scheme behind schedule, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham under pressure and the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.40pm HSJ has launched a search for people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who are at the heart of creating a high quality, inclusive health service and we would like your nominations. Nominees are welcomed from all areas of the healthcare sector and from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds. You can make nominations here or via Twitter using the hashtag #HSJBME.

4.30pm Another development in the CQC Labour row. Conservative MP Stephen Barclay has written to leader of the Labour party Ed Miliband calling on him to retract the party’s statement that there was no evidence ministers in the former Labour government had behaved iinappropriately in their dealings with the CQC.

Mr Barclay, who obtained the emails which sparked today’s coverage, says he was “genuinely surprised” by Labour’s statement.

He writes: “The emails provided by the CQC say Andy Burnham was ‘furious’ when the truth about poor care at Basildon and Thurrock became known, and that one of his junior ministers – and a current Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate – warned the CQC to be mindful that ‘anything you do is political’ in the run up to the last election.  The CQC should have been tasked by Ministers with focusing on patient safety not worrying about politics.”

4.24pm Mersey Care Trust breached the confidentiality of volunteers who had visited patients at the high-security Ashworth Hospital after a member of staff accidentally circulated the personal details ofbreach. HSJ’s Crispin Dowler reports.

2.48pm The Care Quality Commission has appointed eight Heads of Hospital Inspections, who will support the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards in transforming the way acute care is regulated.

The appointees, who all have strong professional backgrounds in healthcare and regulation, are:

1.    Fiona Allinson, Compliance Manager at CQC

2.    Tim Cooper, Programme Director and Transition Lead at NHS Improving Quality

3.    Ann Ford, Head of Regional Compliance at CQC

4.    Siobhan Jordan, Director of Nursing and Quality at West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group

5.    Heidi Smoult, Strategic Project Director at University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

6.    Julie Walton, Compliance Manager at CQC

7.    Joyce Frederick, Compliance Manager at CQC

8.    Mary Cridge, Head of Regional Compliance at CQC

1.44pm Plans to introduce a new value based system for pricing new drugs have been delayed - and are likely to be a “damp squib” - HSJ’s James Illman reports.

1.24pm South Basildon & East Thurrock MP Stephen Metcalfe has called for an investigation into whether former health secretary Andy Burnham put undue pressure on civil servants in relation to the publication of CQC reports into care quality at his local hospital and nationally.

In a letter to cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, Mr Metcalfe writes: “I am deeply concerned that civil servants came under undue political pressure from the front bench Labour team and those associated with them, who were nervous about the proximity of the General Election.

” I ask you to investigate whether any breaches of the Civil Service Code took place.”

12.57pm The twitter chat on NHS failure is about to start. Search for #hsjchat on to join in.

12.20pm More from our interview with the new chief inspector of primary care Steve Field. Professor Field has told HSJ’s Sarah Calkin he is more worried about the “competencies and quantities” of practice and community nurses than about the numbers of GPs.

12.16pm HSJ is carrying a report of the Labour row by the Press Association. The story focuses on the row over the leaking of details about poor care at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Trust by the CQC in November 2009. Much of this was already in the public domain, having been examined at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry in 2011 and reported on by HSJ at the time. However, it appears some new emails have come to light revealing more details of the row between then health secretary Andy Burnham’s Department of Health and the CQC.

This is an interesting quote in light of the row earlier this week between health secretary Jeremy Hunt and former CQC chair Baronness Young. It comes from our report of Baroness Young’s evidence to the Francis inquiry:

Baroness Young said she had found Mr Burnham’s predecessor Alan Johnson much easier to work as there was less political pressure, although she said most pressure from the department came from the NHS executive team.

She said: “We constantly faced the problem of who is the [DH]? Is it the secretary of state? Is it the chief executive of the NHS? Is it the permanent secretary and their team of civil servants?”

She described dealing with the DH as like an episode of the political satire The Thick of It and told the inquiry meetings between the CQC, the health secretary and NHS chief executive David Nicholson would move from a three way discussion to Sir David advising the minister on “policy and strategy”.


12.05pm Sarah Calkin’s report on yesterday’s announcement that an internal investigation by the Care Quality Commission had cleared its head of media Anna Jefferson of any involvement in a cover-up is now online. Chief executive of Managers in Partnership Jon Restell said the case reinforced the point that “neither reports and inquiries nor media and public criticism” should be “allowed to replace fair employment procedures”.

12.02pm Portsmouth Hospitals Trust has frustrated its neighbours by pulling out of a proposed local pathology consortium within weeks of it going live, HSJ’s David Williams reports. Read the full story here.

11.59am New on Multi-year budget allocations could help commissioners develop local contracting more effectively, Monitor has said. In a research paper published last week, the sector regulator said the need to balance budgets each year was a barrier to agreement of local contracts and prices which could potentially deliver better outcomes.

11.21am Coming up at lunchtime, HSJ is hosting a twitter chat asking whether the NHS learns from its mistakes? The chat was inspired by last week’s cover story in which Craig Barratt, executive director of transformation and innovation at Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, imagined a possible NHS Museum of Failure. Celebrating and learning from failure, he argued, could liberate the NHS from positive thinking so the potential pitfalls of future projects are weighed up in advance. Craig will be taking part in the twitter chat which starts at 1pm.


11.16am This week’s HSJ is now ready to read on the app. In this week’s issue:

  • Research suggests delayed discharge is to blame for poor accident and emergency performance - not increased attendances or lack of doctors
  • Sean Duggan argues that calls to take the politics out of the NHS are mistaken
  • Lord Saatchi on why he has brought the Medical Innovation Bill

Download it here for Ipad or Android.


11.12am More big news: HSJ’s Shaun Lintern reports that the Department of Health is seeking to deny NHS staff a pay rise next year until an agreement is reached to renegotiate terms and conditions for more than 1.3 million workers. The DH wants health unions to get back round the negotiating table to discuss Agenda for Change, despite reaching agreement on some changes to terms and conditions in February.


11.06am On twitter Conservative MP Stephen Barclay, who obtained the CQC email, is calling for Andy Burnham to resign and/or make a statement to parliament on the matter next week.

10.24am The Daily Telegraph’s leader says the “NHS cover-up will tarnish Labour for ever”,

The piece attacks Labour – and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham - over the party’s alleged interference in a CQC report while in government in 2009.

The Telegraph draws two conclusions: one, that Labour’s claim to the moral high ground over the NHS is “utterly specious”, and that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. The paper argues that poor performance in Basildon and Thurrock only came to light through independent data analysis by Dr Foster, “rather than the CQC being the sole source of truth”.

10.06am The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph both carry stories claiming the previous Labour government tried to supress news about failing hospitals.

Labour tried to block the publication of a devastating report into hospital neglect before the last election, The Daily Mail reports. The front page story, headlined “Labour’s cover-up on failing hospitals” is based on newly released CQC emails discussing the publication of the 2010 State of Care report. The annual report presents a summary of the regulator’s findings in health and social care during the year. In an email to former chief executive Cynthia Bower and her deputy Jill Finney a few months before the 2010 general election, former non-executive Martin Marshall warns of the need to be “careful about language” and suggests “being hard-hitting without presenting critical data will… be more politically acceptable than criticising with evidence”. Conservative MP Stephen Barclay has told the paper the revelations made Mr Burnham’s position untenable. A Labour spokesman described the story as a “latest stage of an on-going Conservative Party smear campaign”.

The Daily Telegraph story on page four is headlined “Hospitals watchdog danced to Labour’s tune as patients suffered, documents show”. It includes an extract from an email from then junior health minster Mike O’Brien to the CQC stating “at this sort of time (close to an election) anything you do is going to be political whether you intend it to be or not.”

8:57am: Today on HSJ’s leadership channel, Mike Pinkerton, chief executive of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Foundation Trust, tells Jennifer Trueland why directors vacated their offices to increase bed space and better engage with day to day care.