Contribute to HSJ’s inquiry exploring what leadership the healthcare service needs now and in future, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.13pm In a Comment piece by the chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, Chris Hopson, he argues that the solid foundations the NHS needs are already in place.

4.55pm The Labour Party is unsure whether it will increase NHS funding if it wins the general election next year, reports LabourList.

The website reports that while Labour senior sources are keen for the NHS to be central to the party’s offer, discussions are being had over the economic implications.

However, the Care Quality Commission found that staff at the Oxfordshire site run by Southern Health Foundation Trust were still not fully respecting and involving the people who use their services.

In a report published last week following the inspection of the trust’s Slade House facility in March, the watchdog found that patients “understood the care and treatment choices available to them”.  

3.47pm Britain’s healthcare system is supported by1.9m volunteers who dedicate 123m hours each year, new research by older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service reveals today.

The charity found that the contribution of Britain’s volunteers is worth more than £487m a year to the health service. The contribution made by the charity’s 14,000 hospital volunteers is worth £2.75m. This was calculated by applying the minimum wage of £6.31 to the average number of hours volunteers aged 21 and over dedicate to the healthcare system each year.

Nearly two thirds (60 per cent) of Britons believe that volunteers play a vital role in the NHS, and 63 per cent agree that they provide essential emotional support to patients when doctors and nurses are stretched for time. However, more than half (54 per cent) said they feel the work of volunteers should be better utilised to help relieve the pressure on the health service.

David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service chief executive, said: “The help provided by volunteers to the health service mustn’t be underestimated. Although their work may be simple, it is a source of vital support and we know that the emotional benefits volunteers offer to patients can make a real difference to wellbeing. However, to continue to help more people during a hospital stay or on a return home, we need more volunteers to come forward and dedicate just a couple of hours a week, or whatever they can.”


3.02pm The General Medical Council has surveyed doctors to find out their view of the regulator.

The report shows that, while the vast majority of doctors are confident in how the GMC carries out its role, more needs to be done to build trust among certain groups of doctors. 

Nearly eight out of ten (79 per cent) of those surveyed were confident in the way that the GMC regulates the profession, while 85 per cent said they had confidence in the GMC’s ability to protect patient safety.  

HSJ asked the GMC if a similar survey would be sent out to the public. The GMC said that a report will be published in the next couple of weeks which will look at the reasons behind the increase in complaints from the public.

The survey of doctors also found there were variations between those who were trained in the UK and those who qualified overseas. Overall, and contrary to what is sometimes suggested, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) doctors had more confidence in the GMC than White doctors, and non-UK qualified doctors had more confidence than UK qualified doctors.  

But the picture was the other way round when it came to confidence in individual GMC functions. BME doctors were significantly less likely than their white counterparts to believe the GMC’s registration process – which approves doctors for practise in the UK – is fair for all doctors. Nearly one in three BME doctors – and an equivalent number of non-UK qualified doctors – held this view. 

2.43pm Six Royal College of General Practice members have been elected to the College’s governing council following a national membership ballot.

They will take up their seats in November 2014 and serve for three years.

The six seats were contested by 20 candidates. The successful candidates are as follows:

  • Clare Gerada
  • Trisha Greenhalgh
  • Mayur Lakhani
  • Elaine McNaughton
  • John Cosgrove
  • Clare Taylor

In total, 5187 votes were cast constituting 14.9 per cent of College membership.

2.20pm The contractor that currently provides electronic staff records for the NHS in England and Wales has withdrawn its bid to continue the service.

The withdrawal was announced by McKesson UK, a division of US firm McKesson Corp, which has announced the sale of the vast majority of its European businesses to Symphony Technology Group, an American private equity firm, for an undisclosed sum.

McKesson UK, which won the contract to deliver the electronic staff record in 2004 will cease providing the service next year.

The Department of Health told HSJ last December that the next electronic staff record contract will be worth up to £450m and is envisaged to last between five to seven years. 

McKesson UK said in statement that it was “extremely proud of its track record in delivering the current ESR contract” but “believes it would be inappropriate to continue to bid for a new contract with the on-going intention to divest McKesson’s UK Workforce business”.

“McKesson will continue to support its customers on ESR and facilitate a smooth transition to the new supplier once the procurement process has been concluded.”

The deal between its US parent and Symphony is expected to complete later this month.

2.06pm Cuts to mental health services mean that patients are being sent home in the absence of a bed – or being sectioned to secure one, a survey by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee, has revealed.

The survey asked junior doctors working in psychiatry in the UK to talk about their experiences of working in mental health over the last six months.

Some 3,504 trainees were contacted across the UK. Of the 576 trainees that responded 70 per cent said they had experienced difficulty finding an appropriate bed for a patient at least once. In child and adolescent services that figure was 83 per cent.

  • 80 per cent had sent a patient outside the local area for a bed, 15 per cent doing this more than monthly.
  • 37 per cent said a colleague’s decision to detain a patient under the Mental Health Act had been influenced by the fact that doing so might make the provision of a bed more likely, and 18 per cent said their own decisions had been influenced in such a way.
  • 28 per cent have sent a critically unwell patient home because no bed could be found.

1.20pm The HSJ Future of NHS Leadership inquiry has formally opened its public call for evidence.

The inquiry is exploring what leadership the healthcare service needs now and in the future. It comes 30 years after the seminal Griffiths report, which introduced general management to the NHS.

Views can be shared through the inquiry’s evidence questionnaire, which can be downloaded here. When complete it should be sent to inquiry secretary Claire Read at

12.55pm HSJ’s online discussion on how retail techniques can be used in a healthcare setting will start in 5 minutes. Join us at 1pm to take part in the discussion.

12.41pm The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine has become the newest member of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.

The faculty, which was established in 2011, is the professional body responsible for the training, assessment, practice and continuing professional development of Intensive Care Medicine consultants in the UK.

The Faculty has over 1900 members.

Chairman of the Academy, Professor Terence Stephenson, said: “By definition, a new member joining the Academy is a fairly rare event. We are, therefore, particularly pleased to welcome the Faulty of Intensive Care Medicine into Academy membership.
“The Faculty has developed hugely in the three years of its existence and provides a clear and distinct voice for the crucial specialty of intensive care medicine.”

Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, Dr Anna Batchelor, said: “There are many challenges ahead for the NHS, including service reconfiguration, and the need to become a more caring service and the Shape of Training review all within significant financial limitations; medicine is a stronger voice for our patients if we work together.

“The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine is delighted to become a member of the Academy and contribute the voice of those who care for the sickest patients in our hospitals to that of our colleagues in other Colleges and Faculties through the work of the Academy.”

12.30pm The Daily Mail reports that midwives have been given permission to take the lead role in performing abortions.

New Department of Health rules say that midwives and nurses may “participate in the termination” and may “administer the drugs used for medical abortions”.

12.15pm The Daily Telegraph reports that doctors could soon be allowed to experiment on dying patients with new novel treatments under a new bill brought about by Lord Saatchi, which could soon become law. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised to support the Medical Innovation Bill if it has public support.

Dominic Nutt, a spokesman for the campaign to get the Bill into law said that a new “leaner, cleaner” Bill would be presented in the House of Lords on Thursday. The Bill has been amended from a previous version, first read in the Lords in December 2012, and now demands that a body of experts decides before the novel treatment, so the doctor is clear that they will not be open to legal action.

The chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Jackie Smith told HSJ she was worried the NMC would be left operating under “woefully inadequate legislation” if a bill to reform healthcare rules was not included in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday.

Ms Smith said the NMC needed a regulatory regime similar to the one used by the General Medical Council. Its current regulatory regime was “expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome” and forced it to hold unnecessary and expensive fitness to practise hearings.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre told its “customers” in a letter circulated last month that the “comprehensive review” of its policies, governance and processes aimed to help build public trust, following the damage inflicted by the debacle last year. is NHS England’s project to link up patients’ hospital and GP data to create a national database for use by NHS organisations and private research organisations.

11.40am Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust is seeking a new chair and the trust development authority will be holding interviews in July.

11.36am Accident and emergency departments have failed to meet the target to see, treat, admit or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours for the third week in a row, according to the latest figures from NHS England.

The target has been missed five weeks out of eight for all A&Es and this is the 45th week that the target has been missed at consultant-led 24/7 A&Es.

11.20am At 1pm a group of leadership and experience experts and patient representatives will gather on to discuss in detail what and how healthcare organisations should take from stores such as John Lewis, whether it is appropriate for the NHS to treat patients as “customers”, and if the NHS can afford to deliver a premium service.

11.10am Following HSJ’s interview with Simon Stevens’ last week where he gave his thoughts on the changes the NHS needs to make former chief executive of the NHS Confederation Mike Farrar makes the case for centralising specialist care.

The two-year MSc in minimal access surgery programme will be shutdown once its only student graduates, a spokesman for the university confirmed.

This latest blow comes as the trust confirmed to HSJ that its whole laproscopic training programme had been on hold for 10 months because of sickness among its administrative staff.

10.05am The Times reports that a patient of a facial surgeon who was suspended for botching operations has said she is devastated that he used her face as a “medical experiment”.

Roger Bainton, a maxillofacial surgeon at University Hospital of North Staffordshire Foundation Trust, is accused of using an unproven and experimental bone substitute without patient approval and performing unnecessary invasive operations when a non-surgical procedure could have been used.

10.00am We have published the full transcript from our chief reporter’s interview with Simon Stevens last week.

Chief reporter Dave West has also written an analysis of what the head of NHS England really said about small hospitals in reaction to the mainstream press coverage last week.

Research carried out by the Royal College of General Practitioners showed a stark divide in access to doctors, with people living in the most deprived communities facing the longest waiting times.

The study found that 22 per cent of people in Bradford raised concerns about not being able to make an appointment with their GP. Whereas the figure was just 5 pet cent in Bath and north-east Somerset.

9.46am In his first major interview last week the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, argued that some parts of the NHS will need to be “completely reinvented”.

Mr Stevens was speaking to HSJ ahead of a high-profile speech at the NHS Confederation conference this week.

Catch up with Mr Stevens’ thoughts on the future of the NHS here.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with a piece from Helen Sanderson on the use of profiles to improve person-centred care.