The former Tory health secretary steps down from his role as Commons health committee chair, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.00pm Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust’s ambition to become a prestigous training centre for laparoscopic surgery has been dealt another blow after the University of Kent closed a post-graduate course linked to the centre.

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

4.55pm The future of the fund that supplements highly specialist treatment in several major hospitals has been thrown into doubt after the Department of Health stopped funding the supplement.

The DH said it had informed the 16 trusts which received a share of the £62m fund in 2013-14 of its decision to axe the budget but that NHS England would still provide some funding.

4.40pm Bristol Clinical Commissioning group has offered to make a series of “substantial” changes to its policy on patient and public engagement as part of a proposed out-of-court settlement.

The proposal is now being considered by lawyers acting for Protect our NHS, a campaign group which is challenging the legality of the CCG’s current policy in a judicial review.

3.00pm Training for some specialist medical roles in the NHS could be scrapped under plans by Health Education England to transform the future NHS workforce, HSJ can reveal.

In an exclusive interview Jo Lenaghan, director of strategy and workforce planning at the education and training organisation said the NHS was failing to properly plan its workforce and HEE would begin making changes in the next two years.

2.30pm Councils and healthcare providers plan to pool £5.4bn as part of their efforts to integrate health and social care for the government’s Better Care fund, the Local Government Association has revealed.

This new figure was revealed by the LGA as it urged the government to commit to the integration project for five years- four beyond the current spending review period.

2.08pm The Care Quality Commission’s new inspection regime is “unsustainable”, “inconsistent” and leaves staff feeling “used, deflated and exhausted”, CQC inspectors have warned the chief inspector of hospitals.

These warnings were among several made in notes of a meeting of the regulator’s joint national consultative committee, which have been leaked to HSJ.

1.33pm Read the full story on Stephen Dorrell’s departure here

1.15pm The New Statesman speculates that Stephen Dorrell has stepped down from the health committee in order to more directly shape government health policy, and even get picked up in a future cabinet reshuffle.

12.25pm Mr Dorrell said: “We have to find ways of encouraging greater openness to new ideas. Because its very striking that the challenges facing health and care delivery in the UK are really very similar to the challenges facing equivalent systems in countries all across the world.

“There has been a tendency to think that because we have the NHS, our system is different. In terms of the funding and management systems – our system is different but the needs of a dementia patient or a diabetes patient are the same whether they live in Liverpool, Frankfurt or Cincinnati.

“We need to be more open to new thoughts about how to deliver joined up care that focuses on enabling people to lead normal lives rather than waiting for them to be ill.”

12.15pm Speaking to HSJ a short while ago Stephen Dorrell said: “I have enjoyed doing the select committee. I believe we have made an important contribution on a cross-party basis to health policy through this parliament.

“In common with a lot of other people in the health world I am increasingly focused on the challenges facing the health and care system, throughout the life of the next parliament.

“I’m primarily interested in the challenges facing the health and care system over the next five to ten years and the need for the system to change.

“These are issues that are better addressed outside the select committee context.”

11.34am The union Unite is launching its campaign calling for the government to ‘think again’ on NHS pay, following a consultation of its health service members which resulted in what is describes as a “strong rejection” of the government’s pay plans.

Unite said the issue of fair pay for NHS staff will need a concerted campaign involving all the health unions and professional organisations representing the 1.3 million workers.

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the government can’t keep running away from its own NHS staff, offering ‘insult after insult’.

The union said that it had received “a very clear mandate” to mount a campaign, following its consultative ballot of its health service members in England on the one per cent pay offer. However a union spokesman would not give any figures detailing levels of support.

Unite will be holding an industrial action ballet for its Welsh members this month on the wider issue of proposals to cut terms and conditions, as well as pay.

11.26am Speaking to HSJ, Dr Sarah Wollaston said: “[Stephen] has been an outstanding chair because what you want in a select committee chair is someone who impartially going to be holding government and instutions to account.

“He has done that very effectively – he has managed to maintain a broad consensus.”

11.10am HSJ understands that Stephen Dorrell has stepped down as he feels he can play a more ‘effective’ contribution to the pre-election debate on health policy from a less political role.

10.29am Stephen Dorrell MP has stepped down as chair of Commons health committee, according to fellow committee member Dr Sarah Wollaston.

10.20am The Daily Mail has an editorial piece on raising National Insurance to pay for an increase in NHS funding – an idea reportedly being considered by Labour.

The Mail argues that the injection of funds into the NHS by the last Labour government had a limited impact. It asks: “Isn’t it time to accept that the socialist model for the NHS, that state behemoth designed for the needs of the 1940s, may have had its day – and to explore alternative means of funding and running a public service fit for the 21st century.

The piece mentioned Hinchingbooke Hospital, which the Mail has praised in recent weeks.

10.10am The NHS will “cease to exist in any recognisable form” by the end of the decade unless major reforms are introduced to secure its future funding by introducing a 1p increase in national insurance contributions, the former Labour minister Frank Field has warned, The Guardian reports.

10.05am The Times reports that a new drug appears to have cured a 40-year-old man with advanced skin cancer who was given months to live.

Doctors cannot be sure it was the treatment that caused his tumours to all but vanish, but know of no other explanation.

Pembrolizumab, which is injected into the bloodstream, is the latest in a new generation of treatments that prevent cancers from shielding themselves from the immune system.

The Times reports that a man in his 80s is understood to have shot himself dead in a lavatory at a doctors’ surgery.

Armed police went to the Station Road surgery in Frimley, Surrey, yesterday morning after witnesses reported hearing a gunshot.

9.55am Looking toward this morning’s newspapers, The Daily Telegraph reports that NHS patients could be forced to pay for bed and board in hospital unless health services are reformed and given a “cash injection” after the election, according to a warning from senior managers.

The NHS Confederation, the representative body for many different types of NHS organisations, warned that hospitals could end up “stripped back to the basics” within the next parliament.

Elsewhere, thousands of NHS patients, including the seriously ill, have been denied vital drugs because of failures by the company contracted to deliver the medicines to patients’ homes, an investigation has disclosed.

Healthcare at Home, the private contractor tasked with delivering the drugs, has been given three months to sort out its problems by the General Pharmaceutical Council after numerous complaints, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported.

The Telegraph writes that the company admits that over seven per cent of its patients have been left waiting for drugs that failed to arrive at the scheduled time. Some have not received their medication in time.

Meanwhile, the paper’s medical editor, Rebecca Smith, writes that doctors are sending children with mental health problems hundreds of miles from their families to access increasingly scarce care, according to a survey.

The study, by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee, found that other medical professionals have had patients sectioned under the Mental Health Act to ensure that they receive help.

The paper also writes that a leading surgeon has called for the development of a national training guide to help staff care for Muslim patients as part of a move to increase understanding of different religions and cultures among health care professionals.

Aiman Alzetani, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, has said he would like to develop a pocket guide on all religions and cultures for use across the NHS.

Elsewhere, the paper reports that an NHS finance director has been paid £50,000 a month into his private company by a troubled NHS trust which is more than £11m in deficit.

Ian Miller was paid more than £250,000 for five months’ work as an interim manager at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust – equating to an annual sum of more than £600,000.

The deal is thought to be one of the highest rates paid to NHS managers in recent years, the paper’s health editor writes.

It comes despite repeated pledges by Government to reduce the use of interim consultancy arrangements in the NHS, which mean managers can be paid inflated rates “off payroll” with funds paid into their companies.

7.00am Patients admitted to A&E in the evening can stay in hospital up to four days longer than those admitted in the morning. To reduce their stays, trusts can take targeted action during the assessment phase, explain Seamus McGirr and colleagues.