Lawyers say Ed Miliband’s proposal to cap the profits of private sector providers could come up against EU legislation, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.52pm Confused about Labour’s private sector profit capping proposal? Dave West has spoken to a Labour health spokesman who has given HSJ the most detail on how the policy would work to date. You can read about it in full here, but the key points are:

  • The cap would not apply to tariff funded services
  • It would apply to “clinical services” only, not to back office services or suppliers of drugs and devices
  • It would not apply to GP practices but would apply where GPs set up a business – for example, those that have developed from GP cooperatives providing out of hours services
  • It would not apply to social enterprises or charities that provide services
  • Asked about how it could be enforced given the lack of transparency and potential to manipulate profits from a given contract, the spokesman said Labour would insist on open book accounting, so commissioners and others could see what profit was being made.

2.47pm Ed Miliband’s proposal to cap the profits of private sector providers of NHS services at 5 per cent would come up against EU legislation, lawyers have told HSJ.

Lawyers with extensive experience of NHS and public sector procurement rules have said European law and UK legislation passed by the coalition government would make it difficult for a new government to impose such a cap.

1.14pm King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust has been told to reduce waiting times and make improvements to its finances, following an investigation by Monitor.

The regulator launched an investigation into the major teaching hospital last month because of longstanding problems at Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley, which King’s took over in 2013.

The regulator said that although King’s had made progress in improving services at Princess Royal this had not been “sufficient” and the “challenge is greater than initially anticipated

1.12pm My colleague Sophie Barnes has written a piece analysing this winter’s A&E performance.

Ambulance handover delays, cancelled elective operations and delayed transfers of care all saw huge increases this winter, in what has been the most difficult year for accident and emergency departments in a decade.

HSJ analysis shows admissions via consultant led, 24 hour A&Es rose by 2.9 per cent between November 2014 and March 2015 compared to the same period a year earlier.

11.57am St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust has seen a steep decline in its finances and is expecting to report a £10m deficit for 2014-15.

This comes two months after Monitor awarded the trust foundation trust status.

The regulator had already delayed the trust’s application in December because of concerns over its finances.

The trust’s March board papers show the financial position has worsened rapidly, and up until December the trust was expecting to deliver a surplus.

The trust is now planning for a deficit up to £30m in 2015-16. A spokeswoman for the trust said this was a “working assumption rather than a firm plan”.

11.31am The Mail also has a interview with the actor David Suchet, who has revealed his grandson Todd has the rare condition Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.

Mr Suchet is campaigning to get access to the drug Everolimus to treat the condition, which can cause those with the disease to develop tumours organs such as the brain and heart and suffer from epilepsy and learning or behavioural difficulties.

As HSJ has reported TSC patients have been unable to get the licensed drug because NHS England it yet to draw up a prescribing policy for it.

Mr Suchet said: “there are many reasons why we don’t have access to [the drug] but there seems to be such disorganisation and mismanagement in the admin side that it’s all gone pear-shaped and people are suffering”.

11.13am The Daily Mail reports that almost one GP in five is from overseas, with the number rising by almost a fifth in a decade as the NHS tries to combat staff shortages.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that 22.3 per cent of current GPs gained their qualification overseas, up from 18.8 per cent in 2004.

11.04am Also in The Telegraph, the number of fast food outlets has increased by nearly 50 per cent in 20 years, research by Cambridge University has found.

Academics have urged local councils to more to curb the number of takeaway retailers on high streets, particularly in areas of high deprivation

11.03am The Daily Telegraph reports that cancer sufferers are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage if they are female, older or single, according to a study by Cancer Research UK.

The charity looked at 22 studies featuring more than 687,000 cases of bowel and lung cancer. In more than a one quarter of cases the disease was not diagnosed until the patient was presented at an emergency in hospital.

10.33am Monitor has taken action against King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust to try to reduce its waiting times and improve its financial position.

The regulator carried out an investigation at King’s in March 2015 after the trust was unable to resolve long standing problems at the Princess Royal University Hospital, which it took over in October 2013. Monitor said that while King’s has made progress in improving services at the PRUH, this has not been sufficient and it had “become clear the challenge is greater than initially anticipated”.

Following the investigation, Monitor has agreed with King’s that the trust will:

  • develop and implement a short-term recovery plan to deliver the required improvements at the PRUH that King’s planned to make when it took over the hospital; and
  • develop and implement a longer-term plan by working closely with other national and local health care organisations (including NHS England and local commissioners) to ensure patient services are improved, and also provided in a sustainable way for the future.

The regulator said it would monitor the trust’s progress in making the required improvements and would take further action if necessary.

9.45am A team based in Swindon has reduced the number of patients waiting for an assessment of their mental health needs by two-thirds in just two months.

Swindon’s mental health primary care liaison team now has a waiting list of 62 patients compared with over 180 in January.

A spokeswoman for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust said that staff vacancies, absences and a high caseload meant that the team had struggled to meet their four week assessment targets.