Claims some too few responses give unfair impression on patients satisfaction test, the NHS trusts putting patients up in hotels, and the rest of today’s news and comment

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2.34pm More on Peter Coates’s departure from the DH - he’s going to stay on for three days a week in an advisory capacity, HSJ learns.

This will enable him to continue to work on the projects he has begun which are not yet complete.

2.17pm The Department of Health’s commercial director Peter Coates will retire at the end of the year, HSJ has learned.

Mr Coates has been closely associated with NHS Shared Business Services and NHS Supply Chain, and more recently with the establishment of NHS Property Services Ltd, on whose board he sits representing the DH.

He was also credited with the decision to merge NHS PS Ltd with Community Health Partnerships, the DH’s other wholly-owned private company dealing with the NHS estate.

Mr Coates will retire on 29 November. In a message sent out to contacts announcing his departure, he is understood to have said: “It is time for me to move on given the long term nature of many of the remaining projects, which need to be seen through by people who will be here for the next 4-6 years”.

2.15pm NHS England has responded to calls it should to rethink the presentation of results of its friends and family test and concerns that the survey is damaging staff morale and needlessly alarming patients.

Giles Wilmore, director for patient and public voice at NHS England, said: “Where only a few patients have completed the survey in an individual ward, it is just as important that their voice is captured and feedback is not lost in national publication, whilst respecting their individual anonymity.

“This is why, when the number of responses for an individual ward is fewer than five, we are not publishing how individual patients responded, but still publishing the overall score for the ward in order to ensure we are being transparent.

“The Friends and Family Test’s primary purpose is to give Trusts information on how well they are meeting the needs of the patients they care for and to ensure they can make improvements.

“We have been clear that scores should be viewed in the context of response rates, and we hope that Trusts will continue to work hard to increase their response rates in order to gain the richest possible information, so that they can analyse and act upon the views of their patients.”

11.51am The Guardian has rolled together yesterday’s two stories on Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. The Health and Safety Executive announced it would prosecute the trust over the death of one patient, and it was also revealed yesterday that a new inquest will also be held over another death at the trust.

11.43am BBC health correspondent Jane Dreaper tweets:

11.30am HSJ’s James Illman reports this morning on fresh criticism of the NHS friends and family test, under which patients are asked how likely they would be to recommend their care provider to a friend or relative. He writes that the Picker Insitute, a respected patient feedback analytical body, has called on NHS England to “suppress” any results from wards where fewer than 10 patients filled in the satisfaction survey.

Picker director of policy and research Chris Graham told HSJ: “We strongly recommend that data based on very small numbers, for example fewer than 10 responses, should be suppressed when reporting to avoid creating unreliable impressions, unnecessarily damaging staff morale, and alarming local communities.”

11.20am The latest results of the national cancer patient experience survey have been published today, NHS England has reported.

A statement issued by NHS England this morning said the results – garnered from 116,000 patients across 155 NHS trusts – showed cancer patients’ experience of care was “improving, with 88 per cent of patients reporting their care was either excellent or very good”.

NHS England National Clinical Director for Cancer Sean Duffy said: “This is the third year this survey has taken place and with each survey we are seeing improvements in the scores which indicates to me that the organisations individually and the NHS collectively is listening, which clearly demonstrates the power of the patients voice.

“However I am disappointed to see that 31 trusts’ scores have deteriorated.   The falls in score were marginal but this does mean there is more work to do.”

The statement also highlighted some positive findings of the survey, including that:

  • 94 per cent of patients said they were always given enough privacy when being examined or treated;
  • 91 per cent of patients said their clinical nurse specialist definitely listened carefully to them; and
  • 91 per cent got understandable answers to important questions all or most of the time from their clinical nurse specialist.

10.55am The Daily Telegraph carries a lead story on page 12 headlined: “NHS putting up thousands of its hospital patients in four-star hotels”.

The paper said Freedom of Information Act requests had revealed 21 trusts spending a combined total of £1.6m on hotels since January 2012.

The trusts quoted in the article said hotels were used when patients had an appointment very early the next day. One mental health trust said it had used hotels when patients needed to be discharged but there was no home to discharge them to.

Medical director of South London and Maudsley Mental Health Foundation Trust said: “We think this is better than keeping people in hospital unnecessarily.”

The Daily Mail carried a similar story in 2010.

In April the Telegraph reported that NHS England was considering ‘hospital hotels for 30,000 elderly patients’.

10.40am HSJ has an exclusive this morning on Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, which is the first CCG we have found to report it has inherited a significant “contingent liability” for retrospective NHS continuing healthcare claims. The CCG is worried that it could face an unfunded liability of up to £8m to settle backdated claims for continuing healthcare funding submitted to its predecessor primary care trust. Towards the end of the last financial year there was mounting concern from CCGs that PCTs would record significant contingent liabilities of this kind, with NHS Clinical Commissioners warning that “CCGs must not be hamstrung by a contingent liability which is imposed on them just as they are to start delivering for their patients and populations”.

The issue is controversial in part because the government repeatedly insisted during the passage of the NHS reforms that CCGs would not be saddled with the legacy debts of their predecessors.

10.30am The government is expected to announce a new coalition to examine end-of-life care in response to the scrapping of the controversial Liverpool care pathway, according to a story on this morning.

The Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People will bring together health and social care groups with the aim of improving care for people at the end of their lives.

HSJ is also carrying a Press Association story today on new Health and Social Care Information Centre data, which showed that the NHS in England received more than 3,000 complaints a week last year. The total number of complaints received in 2012-13 was 162,019.

10.20am On HSJ this morning: Healthcare intelligence firm CHKS has weighed into the debate over the 30 per cent marginal rate for increased levels of non-elective activity. Under the controversial policy, which is currently under review, acute trusts are paid just 30 per cent of the normal payment by results rate for non-elective admissions above set thresholds. CHKS has concluded that this and other financial levers are having a “disproportionate impact” on smaller trusts, based on an analysis which shows that the non-elective tariff makes up a larger proportion of total turnover for smaller acute providers.

8:53am: Today on HSJ’s comissioning channel, Dr Howard Stoate says that although clinical commissioning groups have only been statutory organisations for a few months, yet GPs are already aware of the large scale changes they can bring about to benefit patients and make the system more efficient and sustainable.

He adds that unlike in the past when a GP GP would try to find a service that best met the needs of their patient; now, GPs work with consultants and patients to design the service tailored to the patient’s need, and this is making the system much more efficient.

Read the entire article here.