NHS England has been accused of misleading government ministers and labelled a ‘dysfunctional organisation’ over delays in drawing up a prescribing policy for drugs to treat rare diseases, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.05pm A pathology partnership between private provider The Doctors Laboratory, Royal Free London Foundation Trust and University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust has been launched today.

The three organisations will invest £40m over three years into Health Services Laboratories to deliver laboratories at the trusts and a new laboratory in central London which is due to open next year to provide pathology services for other trusts.

Lord Carter, who reviewed pathology services across the NHS, is the chair of the venture.

North Middlesex University Hospital Trust is the venture’s first customer.

David Byrne, chief executive of Health Services Laboratories, said: “Health Services Laboratories will deliver clinically-led diagnostic services focused on the needs of the patient, leading edge technology, and investment in infrastructure and IT.

“This partnership will improve services for both clinicians and patients. I also look forward to integrating the existing research and teaching activities fostered by all three partners to the benefit of our patients and academic colleagues.”

Sir Robert Naylor, UCLH chief executive, said: “This new venture will deliver on the vision for pathology services outlined by Lord Carter in his seminal report, and builds on UCLH’s strong record in partnering with the independent sector when it gets the right outcomes for patients and saves money.”

David Sloman, chief executive of the Royal Free London, said: “By providing a world class working environment and outstanding opportunities for personal and professional development Health Services Laboratories will be able to recruit and retain the highest quality workforce.

“The partnership will maximise research and educational opportunities, ensuring its NHS partners and customers remain at the forefront of patient care.”

Over 800 staff will be employed at the new organisation. 

Money from the European structural and investment fund is available to organisations across the UK public sector to fund business, workforce and innovation projects.

The NHS Confederation wants the health sector to bid for the funds, and has said it is important the NHS looks at “complementary” sources of funding.

Health charities and Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland have also accused the government of refusing to intervene despite ministers having the power to do so.

The row follows a delay of nearly two years by NHS England to come up with a prescribing policy for three licensed drugs proven to be effective against rare conditions affecting more than 180 adults and children in England.

The 26 organisations saw roughly a quarter of all A&E attendances in the first 50 weeks of 2014-15 but are responsible for half of the year on year increase in breaches of the target to treat or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours of attendance.

The NHS in England will now definitely miss the annual 95 per cent target for the first time in a decade.

Charlotte Monro, a rep for Unison, and the trust have reached a deal despite the fact that an employment tribunal has yet to issue a judgment on her claim of unfair dismissal.

Ms Monro was sacked in July 2013 after Barts Health Trust claimed she had failed to declare criminal convictions linked to political protests she was involved in during the 1970s when she started work at Whipps Cross Hospital in 1987.

Newcastle Gateshead CCG is made up of Gateshead, Newcastle North and East, and Newcastle West CCGs.

The groups said they have joined forces to make “more efficient use of resources”.

NHS England director of commission operations Mike Prentice formally approved the merger.

One of the themes that emerged very strongly from HSJ, Nursing Times and NHS Improving Quality Challenge Top-Down Change campaign was the need for organisations to nurture staff and support collaborative working.