Trusts could lose their share of the £250m elective fund if they do not perform increased numbers of patient procedures, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment

Live logo

4.21pm On Friday the health sector regulator Monitor will publish its latest quarterly performance report, covering the first quarter of 2014-15.

The report’s author, Jason Dorsett, Monitor’s director of financial reporting and risk, will be taking part in an HSJ Twitter chat at 12pm on Monday 22 Septemberto answer your questions about the report and the FT sector.

Find out more, including how to tweet Jason your questions, here.

3.19pm Jeremy Hunt has visited Medway Foundation Trust and praised the “tremendous commitment and determination” of staff at the troubled trust, Kent Online reports.

2.58pm Here’s our story on Unison’s strike ballot from HSJ’s workforce reporter Shaun Lintern:

“The NHS could be hit by strike action as soon as next month after a majority of Unison members voted in favour of industrial action over pay.

“Results of a ballot of the union’s 250,000 health members in England, revealed this afternoon, saw 68 per cent vote in favour of strike action and 32 per cent against.

“An overwhelming majority (88 per cent) voted in favour of action short of strike.”

2.49pm Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, has commented on the CQC’s community mental health survey:

“These results are symptomatic of wider mental health care and there is little sign that services are improving for people with mental health problems. While in some areas people get the help they need, when they need it and feel informed about and involved in their care, too often the opposite is the case.

“It is especially frustrating that many of the issues raised in the survey are longstanding problems that have not been addressed despite the CQC highlighting them year on year. We also know that new pressures on community mental health teams, in particular funding cuts at the same time as increased demand for services, mean that the situation is likely to have got worse for some trusts in the months since this survey was carried out. It is therefore a really positive step that the results of this survey will feed into the inspection process and could trigger early inspection for the worst-performing trusts. We fully support the CQC’s plans for this and its commitment to listening to people with experience of services as part of this process. Providers must be held accountable for poor quality care.

“We echo the CQC’s call for trusts to improve their support for people in other areas of life such as employment, finances and housing. The NHS is ideally placed to signpost people to other sources of advice and support.”

1.44pm Breaking news from Steve Ford of Nursing Times, HSJ’s sister title:

12.37pm Alastair McLellan’s latest editorial is now online, discussing HSJ’s LGBT Role Models list.

Alastair says: “We hope the HSJ LGBT Role Models will provide some inspiration and reassurance to those in the service experiencing discrimination or struggling with the incredibly personal and difficult decision about whether to be ‘out’ at work.”

12.03pm The Daily Mail reports that a quick urine test could offer women a less invasive but accurate alternative to check for cervical cancer, according to researchers.

Offering the less time-consuming and less embarassing option could potentially increase the numbers going for screening.

One in five patients do not turn up for their smear tests, according to official figures.

11.38am Latest national figures have shown wide variation in the length of time patients diagnosed with anxiety or depression wait for therapy.

A report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) found that just 3 per cent of patients referred to psychological therapy in one area - NHS Eastern Cheshire - received their first treatment within the government target of 28 days last year.

By contrast, 96 per cent of patients covered by NHS Barking and Dagenham were treated on time.

10.59am A new website to enable patients and staff to compare hospitals across a broad range of metrics from accident and emergency waiting times to the quality of meals will be launched tomorrow.

The Department of Health said the new MyNHS website would “highlight the best performing areas and improve standards through competition and transparency”.

The site includes data on patient safety, efficiency, quality, public health, social care commissioning and hospital food standards. All the metrics included are already published but they are often hard to access or find, or presented in a format which is not user friendly.

10.25am Too many people who use NHS community mental health services are not involved effectively in planning their care and do not know who to contact in a crisis.

Following a survey of more than 13,500 people who use community mental health services in England, the Care Quality Commission’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, Paul Lelliot, has warned services that poor performance on the survey could result in an early inspection and that failure to act on the findings of this survey could affect the ratings they receive from this October.

One in five people do not feel they have seen staff from the mental health services often enough to meet their needs, 23 per cent have not been told who is in charge of their care, 23 per cent have not agreed with someone from mental health services what care they will receive and 26 per cent of respondents have not had a formal meeting to discuss how their care is working in the last year.

9.53am Simon Stevens has recommended empowering local government to set tougher public health policy, and giving financial incentives, such as tax breaks, to employers which promote health.

The NHS England chief executive said the health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS and the economic prosperity of Britain all depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health.

He pointed to the fact that nearly one in five secondary school aged child is obese, as are a quarter of adults - up from just 15 per cent 20 years ago. Unchecked, the result will inevitably be a huge rise in avoidable illness and disability, including many cases of type 2 diabetes.

9.48am Only 10 trusts have made use of rules introduced under the government’s health reforms to seek permission to raise their prices above national ‘tariff’ rates - and most of those applications have been rejected.

Under the Health Act 2012, struggling providers can apply directly to the regulator Monitor for price increases where they believe it is not possible to cover their costs of providing specific services at national NHS prices.

However, HSJ has learned that only a small number of NHS providers have bid for such price hikes in 2014-15, despite a significant proportion of the sector expecting to finish the year in deficit.

9.43am In this morning’s papers,The Guardian reports on a warning by Simon Stevens that obesity could bankrupt the health service if left unchecked.

The NHS England chief executive said: “Obesity is the new smoking, and it represents a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs.

“If as a nation we keep piling on the pounds around the waistline, we’ll be piling on the pounds in terms of future taxes needed just to keep the NHS afloat.”

Mr Stevens was speaking at the Public Health England conference in Coventry.  

9.37am Commissioners plan to increase their total spending on mental health services by £120m this year, a rise of 1.4 per cent in cash terms, HSJ can reveal.

The news came as health sector regulator Monitor set out more details of how it intends to shift the mental health sector away from block contracts from next April.

NHS England told HSJ that both its own specialised commissioners and clinical commissioning groups were planning cash terms increases in mental health spending in 2014-15.

7.00am Good morning - HSJ has published its first ever celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans healthcare leaders and staff who are working to promote inclusion and lead by example with their day to day work. The list, which was revealed at an event in London yesterday evening, features 25 people within healthcare who identify as LGBT.

The 25 people on the list were nominated by HSJ readers. A panel of judges selected the most outstanding nominees for the inaugural list, which is supported by the NHS Leadership Academy.

Click here to find out who they are.