The health secretary has commissioned Health Education England to conduct an examination of GP capacity, after admitting current assessments involved guesswork, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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It will now only fund services such as IVF in “exceptional clinical cases”.

The policy came into effect immediately.

The CCG previously proposed restricting funding to cancer patients and HIV positive men.

4.20pm Meanwhile, our story on Jeremy Hunt commissioning a review into GP capacity has been met with scepticism:

“5 years too late Jeremy.”

“Can’t we start to look at the team approach now? Practice and specialist nurses could take on so much more if they were allowed to. Nurses are consistently seen as easier to talk to by patients and with the demographic time bomb upon us lots more of us might opt for our multiple long term conditions to be managed by a good nurse supported by decision support IT and referral pathways. At least most nurses will admit what they don’t know and seek information on the most up to date therapies etc. Don’t forget us Mr Hunt and we might even put back retirement if we were properly valued.”

“Do you think cameron knew about this before he made his ludicrous promises about 7 day a week GPs!!”

3.35pm Our story on Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust threatened with CQC enforcement action has attracted some interesting reader comments:

“So much for the government’s claims on this.”

“Sorry - but do I detect glee from within the sector… rather than support and acknowledgement of a generally transformed hospital, deemed unsustainable six years ago…. CQC are I’m sure are correct and like any hospital, any transgression needs to be addressed urgently but some context please….”

“I think the context is… This hospital was held up as an example to the NHS of how the private sector could run a hospital more efficiently….but at what cost? It would seem Circle have learnt none of the lessons from the Francis report and this should send a clear warning to the DoH on the dangers of assuming the private sector will be more professional and effective at running our hospitals. After all, why are they so reluctant to have their outcomes published and reviews publically in the same way every NHS hospital now is?”

2.00pm The number of Deprivation of Liberty applications in England has already increased by 74 per cent (9,200 applications) in 130 councils compared to the total number of applications in the same councils for the whole of last year (12,400 in 2013/14), according to new quarterly figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Of the applications in quarter one 2014-15, 51 per cent (11,100) were granted, 12 per cent (2,700) not granted and 36 per cent (7,800) not yet completed by the Supervisory Body or withdrawn. In 2013-14 the total number of applications for these 130 councils was 12,400, of which 58 per cent (7,200) were granted, 40 per cent (4,900) were not granted, and 2 per cent (300) were not completed by the Supervisory Body or were withdrawn as at 31st March 2014. 

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: “The increase in applications has shown that councils have been quick to act on the Supreme Court judgment about when it is appropriate to deprive an individual of their liberty. It is hoped that this voluntary quarterly data collection will help to monitor the scale of these types of applications and the impact the increase is having on councils, in a timely manner.”

The CCG announced in June it was seeking views on a plan to withdraw public funding for hearing aids for people with mild to moderate age related hearing loss - the majority of people who use the devices.

It took its proposal last week to the Healthy Staffordshire select committee, one of the bodies responsible for scrutinising health matters in the area. Following questions and a debate, committee members proposed a motion that said: “This committee is unable to accept the CCG proposals as they stand.”

The regulator told Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, which is run by private company Circle, it might exercise powers under section 31 of the Health Act 2008 to impose conditions on the trust due to concerns about patients’ welfare.

This threat of regulatory action was revealed in a letter to the CQC from trust chief executive Hisham Abdel-Rahman.

Jeremy Hunt made the announcement at the Royal College of GPs’ annual conference in Liverpool today.

The new study comes amid growing concerns about a “workforce crisis” in general practice.

Mr Hunt said “we all know we need more GPs” but are “guessing” how many.

The arm’s length body is looking to commission a “safe staffing economics unit” to provide economic analysis and modelling to determine the benefits, costs and outcomes of staffing scenarios in the health service.

NICE was asked to produce a series of guidelines on safe staffing in different healthcare settings by the health secretary as part of the government’s response to the Francis report.

12.35pm Residents and organisations in Greater Manchester have been given more time to respond to a consultation on reorganising acute services across the region.

The Healthier Together consultation, launched in July, aims to concentrate emergency and high risk general surgery currently delivered at 10 hospitals onto four or five sites.

The consultation process ended on 30 September but Healthier Together have said it will continue to accept submissions until 24 October.

11.55am We have photos from the HSJ Value in Healthcare awards from the ceremony last month.

10.56am Judith Welikala: “@Maureenrcgp says the service of general practice is under huge pressure and without urgent action ‘the dam could burst’”

10.55am HSJ reporter Judith Welikala is reporting from the Royal College of GPs Annual Conference where Jeremy Hunt is speaking. Follow @judithwelikala for updates.

“Hunt says it would be a mistake for GPs to become salaried employees employees of hospitals, again referring to Labour plans.”

10.17am The Times reports that a new drug can help to lower cholesterol in people struggling to keep levels down using statins, a study has found.

People with an inherited condition that causes high cholesterol can have their levels of “bad cholesterol” cut significantly with injections of evolocumab, one of a new class of drugs.

9.50am The Telegraph reports that women who are jealous, moody and worried in middle age are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, research suggests.

A study that tracked 800 women over four decades found that those who were scored highly for neuroticism and stress in personality tests were far more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

The women had an average age of 46 at the start of the University of Gothenburg study. After 36 years, 19 per cent had developed dementia.

Sixty-eight per cent of the 47 trusts whose ratings are already released received scores at the bottom half of the CQC’s four point scale. Five were found inadequate, 27 required improvement, 14 were good and just one was outstanding.

The results in part reflect the CQC’s early focus on trusts at a higher risk of providing poor quality care.

9.25am HSJ’s video about an elderly woman who was failed by the system has been shortlisted for an Older People in the Media award.

You can watch it here.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live.

The Royal College of GPs has today warned that 543 GP practices in England at risk of closure next year, the Royal College of GPs has warned, in what it describes as a “deepening crisis in GP recruitment and retention… leaving many practices unable to replace family doctors who are retiring from the profession”.

Research by the RCGP has found that over 90 per cent of GPs working in these practices are aged over 60.

It estimates that more than 1,000 GPs will leave the profession on an annual basis by 2022, and around  22 per cent of London GPs could step back from front line patient care in the next 5 years.

The number of unfilled GP posts has nearly quadrupled in the last three years, from 2.1 per cent in 2010 to 7.9 per cent in 2013, the body has also discovered.  

The RCGP has called for a “new deal” for general practice, including specific incentives to encourage more GP into to work in under-doctored deprived areas.

Addressing the RCGP’s annual conference in Liverpool later today, chair Maureen Baker is expected to say: “So far much of the damage to the dam wall has been hidden from the public.”

“They see the flooding downstream in accident and emergency departments and in hospital pressures, but they haven’t  been aware that  GPs, nurses and practice teams have been absorbing that pressure by trying to do more and more with less and less.

“But if we let that situation continue we will see whole chunks of the dam fall apart when practices have to shut their doors.

“Every practice closed is a loss to a local community. Not only do patients lose out, but it piles more pressure on neighbouring practices, swelling patient lists already bursting at the seams

“We all know about the 98 practices in England, identified by NHS bosses that are at risk of closure due to the removal of the minimum price income guarantee.

“Today I can reveal new estimates from the College that 543 practices in England are at risk of closure if something isn’t done

“There are practices that have over 90 per cent of GPs over the age of 60, when the average retirement age of GPs is 59 - this is shocking .

“With a growing, ageing population, not to mention a baby boom, we need to increase capacity in general practice, not take it away.

“If this was a business it would be expanding to meet demand – not shutting down services and closing branches.

She is expected to say that what is “most worrying” is that “we are not attracting enough new doctors and nurses into general practice, or doing enough to retain the highly skilled workforce we have”.

“The wall of the dam – the service of general practice – is under huge pressure and unless urgent action in taken to repair and restore the dam, it could burst with terrible consequences for our patients in general practice and indeed for the whole of the NHS,” she will add.

“Let’s continue to make our voices heard and demand a new deal for general practice.”