Many trusts due to receive a share of the £250m winter pressure fund are prioritising care of the frail elderly, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

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5.51pm The charity Friends of the Elderly has launched its Christmas campaign #actkind, to encourage people to engage in acts of kindness.

A recent Friends of the Elderly survey found more than a third of those questioned did not think to perform an act of kindness for an older person.

When questioned why, more than a quarter of those surveyed said they did “not know how”, 16% were “too scared”, 15% could “not find the time” and 12% “could not relate”.

Richard Furze, chief executive of Friends of the Elderly, said: “This campaign is a fundamental step towards achieving our aim of combatting isolation amongst older people. At a time when friends and family are treasured and remembered, we recognise that Christmas can be particularly difficult for older people, who may have lost loved ones or whose family live far away.

“We hope that by inspiring everyone to stop.think.#actkind this Christmas, we will be encouraging people to reflect upon how the simple things can make such a big difference. We hope there will be many more community interactions and happy individuals this Christmas and the year to come as a result of the kindness pledges”.

5.37pm A report by children’s minister Ed Timpson has found that health visitors, social workers, police officers, voluntary groups, and a privately-run education welfare service were all in contact with the family of Hamzah Khan during the years leading up to the four-year-old’s death in 2009, according to our sister title Local Government Chronicle. Read the full story here.

5.32pm Papworth Hospital Foundation Trust has named construction group Skanska as its preferred bidder to develop a £165m hospital building under the private finance initiative.

Under the scheme, the existing Papworth Hospital is set to move to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The trust claims a planned Heart and Lung Institute, a joint venture with the University of Cambridge, is dependent upon the relocation of the hospital. Read more here.

5.20pm Esther Ranthzen, who last week launched SilverLine for older people, has told The Daily Telegraph that care homes are not meeting the basic needs of their elderly residents.

5.00pm The King’s Fund has unveiled its first digital advent calendar. Every day leading up to Christmas Eve, it will reveal a different issue relating to health and social care, with a six-second video.

4.45pm Conservative MP Nick Herbert writes in The Guardian, that TB - seen of a “disease of the past” - has “made a terrible comeback”.

He argues: It’s hard for western leaders to commit money at a time of austerity. But quite apart from the moral obligation, TB is a disease that does not recognise national borders. We have a common interest in fighting it.

“The rising treatment costs of inaction, particularly in respect of drug-resistant TB, argue for intervention now. And with a new vaccine, modern diagnostics and advanced drugs all in sight, we could change the trajectory of the disease for good.”

4.14pm In a letter published in The Daily Telegraph, leaders from three Alzheimer’s charities described the G8 Dementia Summit, which takes place in London next week, as “a unique opportunity for international leaders to tackle dementia on a global scale”.

They added: “Dementia currently costs the world $604 billion. If dementia were a country, it would be the 18th largest economy globally. As we all live longer, dementia is spiralling out of control, holding health-care systems to ransom.”

3.58pm 31 per cent more frontline NHS staff got flu vaccinations between 1 September and 31 October 2013, compared to the same period last year, according to figures from Public Health England.

Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS employers, said: “This is a great start to the season. Vaccinating over 5,000 staff a day is no mean feat, and as a result it’s very likely that record numbers of NHS staff will have flu vaccinations this year.

“You won’t see having a jab on anyone’s job description. But staff are recognising its role in protecting themselves and their patients and are starting to make it the norm.”

3.46pm Human rights groups have described the forcible removal of a baby from her mother’s womb by social services in Essex as “the stuff of nightmares”, according to The Independent.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “At first blush this is dystopian science-fiction unworthy of a democracy like ours. Forced surgery and separation of mother and infant is the stuff of nightmares.”

3.31pm The BBC’s Giancarlo Rinaldi reports on plans that have been drawn up for a 350-bed, £200m hospital site on the outskirts of Dumfries to replace the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, which opened in the 1970s and is no longer deemed suitable to be the region’s general hospital.

3.18pm Ahead of the G8 Dementia Summit, dementia campaigner Beth Britton argues in the Huffington Post: “If every nation could form, however simply structured, a national dementia strategy that gives their current and future governments a clearly defined commitment to implementing improvements, we would be a small step closer to better care and treatment for all.”

The G8 Dementia Summit will be held in London on 11 December.

3.10pm Circle Partnership, which runs Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, has signed a deal to advise one of China’s biggest multinationals on how to replicate its employee-owned model.  

David Cameron and health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the deal as part of the UK’s trade mission to China.

The Beijing-based financial group CITIC will be leading the project, which will look at developing integrated healthcare services for elderly patients in Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province.

Circle’s chief executive Steve Melton said: “Circle’s team has world-class expertise in clinical innovation and patient care, with a proven model of delivery in Reading, Bath, Nottingham and Hinchingbrooke.

“We are delighted that CITIC, another world-class company, has recognised these skills and we look forward to sharing our talent and approach in China.”

Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust became the second NHS hospital to be franchised to a private company after Circle began running the hospital in February 2012.

2.39pm Sir John Oldham, chair of Integrating Care, writes in the NHS Voices blog: “Disease-specific pathways of care and hospital-based care are a redundant strategy for the multi-morbidity future.

“Our current modus operandi means we can have a Monty Python-esque queue of specialist nurses outside a single person’s house, because they only deal with one disease. But the person inside has several.”

Instead, he argues: “Coordination across mental health, physical health and social care should be the norm. ”

2.28pm The Daily Mail reports that 30,415 elective operations have been cancelled between April and September 2013 at the last minute (roughly 170 NHS operations a day) largely because of a lack of beds, staff and faulty equipment, according to figures released by NHS England.

2.14pm Also in Nursing Times, children in the UK afflicted by a painful and debilitating form of juvenile arthritis can now receive a new drug that may help them live normal lives.

2.09pm Our sister title Nursing Times reports that campaigners have handed a petition to Scottish ministers calling for better access to health visitors.

1.45pm Can clinical decision support technology improve patient safety? Join this HSJ webinar and find out how this technology could improve patient safety – resulting in fewer prescribing errors, reduced diagnostic testing, reduced length of stays and improved.

The panel will include Dr Rakesh Patel, NIHR academic clinical lecturer in medical education/honorary specialist registrar in nephrology, University of Leicester and Dr Peter Williams, consultant in acute and emergency medicine and clinical lecturer for acute medicine, St Helens and Knowsley Trust.

Make sure you register today to watch this webinar.

Can’t make it this time? Don’t worry, you can catch up on demand at

1.32pm In his weekly column for The Sunday Telegraph, psychiatrist and writer Max Pemberton argues: “dementia, its diagnosis, treatment and management, should be the work of specialist teams, not GPs or non-clinically trained staff.”

1.24pm Wales’ health minister Mark Drakeford said the NHS in Wales is on a “journey” to become more transparent and publish information about its performance meaningfully, according to WalesOnline.

“I think there is more to do,” Mr Drakeford said. “I think that the real change is not so much with information as it is with explanation.

“We have huge amounts of data in the Welsh NHS and huge amounts of it are in the public domain, but what it lacks is that explanation to go with it so members of the public are informed on how their local health service is performing and can make sense of what they are being told.”

1.09pm The New Statesman’s Benedict Cooper argues the EU’s Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership “ensures that the Health and Social Care Act has influence beyond UK borders. It gives the act international legal backing and sets the whole shift to privatisation in stone because once it is made law, it will be irreversible.”

12.52pm Philip Colligan is executive director of Nesta’s Innovation Lab, writes in the The Guardian that more can be done to mobilise hospital volunteers.

12.30pm HSJ analysis of the 53 trusts which are due to receive a share of the £250m winter pressure fund shows many are prioritising improvements to the care of the frail elderly.

The Department of Health recently announced beneficiaries would be bringing in extra staff and beds in acute and community settings in order to tackle winter pressures on A&E departments, at a time increasing numbers of trusts have been failing to hit the flagship four-hour waiting time target. Read more here.

12.00pm Also in the BBC, medical students at Northwestern University in Chicago are using comic strips to help improve their bedside manner.

Alexandra Jones, one the students taking part, said it “allows a good outlet for humour and kind of self-expression at times when it could seem insensitive or difficult to express otherwise.”

11.38am The BBC also reports that Dr Kim Holt, the doctor who blew the whistle on unsafe practices during the Baby P abuse scandal, has called for Northern Ireland to have an independent health regulator.

Her remarks come after a separate whistleblower raised concerns about care at Cherry Tree House nursing home in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

“It’s really crucial that the regulator is independent of the Department of Heath and it’s clear from this story that there’s a real issue in Northern Ireland,” Dr Holt told the BBC.

“We’re seeing the beginning of something positive in England with more independence from our regulator, so I definitely see that it would be important for Northern Ireland.”

11.23am Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming is to raise the case of a woman who claims she was forced to give birth by Caesarean section and her baby was then taken away by social workers in Essex, according to the BBC.

11.12am Patients and the public have not been told about hundreds of serious concerns about health and social care services uncovered by the Care Quality Commission, HSJ has discovered.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that almost a quarter of the 2,729 warning notices issued by the regulator in the past two and a half years have not been made public. Read the full story here.

11.08am In wake of official figures revealing more than 1,000 people died dehydrated in care homes the last decade, The Daily Telegraph looks at the case of Norma Spear, 71, from Birmingham, who died after becoming dehydrated, losing 35lb in five weeks despite being under the supervision of care workers.

11.00am Andy Burham wants patients to have the right to see their records online, according to The Guardian. The shadow health secretary has called for new patient rights to be added to NHS constitution, including care at home.

10.54am The Guardian’s Jackie Ashley argues that Andy Burham deserves a lot of credit for championing a new way of thinking in the NHS.

“The more I look at this, the more I think it seems an absolutely rubbish strategy for trying to win a general election”, she says. “It’s non-confrontational, it’s very complicated, it will be run differently in different parts of the country, and it’s hard to sum up in crisp, headline-friendly terms.

“Yet it’s also by far the biggest and most hopeful thing happening in the health service today. Andy Burnham is taking a huge risk to be putting his shirt on this. A rousing three cheers for him.”

10.45am Surgeons at Hereford County Hospital, one of the first to be built under the private finance initiative, had to throw rape alarms into corridors to summon cardiac arrest, according to The Times.

10.37am Also in The Times, social workers from Essex County Council forced a woman to have her baby delivered by Caesarean section and then took the child into care.

10.36am In The Times, there is expected to be a surge in the number of families seeking care homes for their loved ones in January, as they come to terms with their elderly relatives’ inability to cope over Christmas.

10.30am The Daily Telegraph also reports on the number of of pre-teen children treated in hospital for eating disorders having tripled in four years, according to NHS figures.

10.27am Also in The Daily Telegraph, doctors have said the discredited Liverpool Care Pathway is to be “rebranded” rather than abolished altogether.

10.24am In today’s papers, The Daily Telegraph reports that more than 1,000 care home residents have died of thirst or while suffering severe dehydration over the past decade, according to official figures.

Dr Alison Cook, a director at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “How can we call ourselves civilised when people are left to starve or die of thirst? … It is an utter disgrace that they are ever left without the most basic care.”

10.09am Mopping up MRSA toxin with a sponge may be a new way to defeat the antibiotic-resistant superbug, research has shown. Read the full story here.

10.07am Up to 100,000 NHS patients with cancer and rare diseases are to have their genetic codes mapped by 2017 under new plans announced by health minister Lord Howe. Click here to find out more.

10.06am The Information Commissioner has warned Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust to assess the strength of its data policy after patients’ personal medical information was sent to the wrong addresses.

There have been four separate incidents over the last 18 months in which this happened, most of them involving temporary or bank staff members of staff who had no data protection training. Full story here.

10.04am Monitor has launched a review of health services in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes in an attempt to avert “significant problems ahead” at two hospitals.

The regulator will work with Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes clinical commissioning groups, NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority to devise a sustainable future for Bedford Hospital Trust and Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation Trust. It is hoped this will avoid Monitor having to impose a solution. Read more here.

9.54am People with HIV have been getting NHS poorer care since the Health and Social Care Act was implemented, according to British HIV Assocation (BHIVA) of specialist HIV doctors.

Almost two thirds of those surveyed said changes to the commissioning of sexual health services would lead to a further decline in HIV care, while fewer than one in 10 thought it would lead to improvements.  

One in five said they were unable to identify the individuals responsible for commissioning HIV prevention and training in their area.

Dr David Asboe, BHIVA chair and consultant in HIV medicine at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said: “Key to the concerns uncovered in this survey are fears about the separation of HIV care from broader genitourinary medicine (GUM).

“NHS services for HIV and GUM are commonly integrated, sharing staff and resources. But since changes to the law, GUM clinics alone are being separately tendered, which makes high quality HIV services extremely vulnerable. As a direct result there are HIV services being threatened with closure without adequate care arrangements made for the people living with HIV attending these services.”

Dr Janet Wilson, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: “Sexual Health clinicians have been sounding the warnings around restructuring since the introduction of the Government’s health reforms. The threat to high quality HIV and GUM services is now extremely pressing, with a third of sexual health lead clinicians expecting their services to have been tendered in the next 12 months.

“We are already hearing about tendered GUM services being prevented from undertaking partner notification on people newly diagnosed as HIV positive even though this is the most effective public health intervention for identifying undiagnosed HIV infection. We need Government, national and local agencies to urgently work together to prevent HIV and GUM care going backwards.”

9.38am In resource centre today, Orthopaedic surgeon Theo Joachim explains how an innovative way of managing hip fractures at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire, has seen it recognised as the best in the country for treating patients with broken hips. Find out how they did it here.

9.35am Good morning. Royal Wolverhampton Trust will be unable to achieve foundation status for about at least six months after a Care Quality Commission inspection raised concerns about staffing levels.

The inspection, which took place in late September, found that at night on some wards there was only one registered nurse for every 10 patients. Read the full story here.