More than 200 deaths of mothers and babies at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust have been investigated by an independent inquiry, plus the rest of today’s news and comment
5.15pm In an interview with The Independent, the chief inspector of general practice said: “Most GPs probably don’t really know what really bad practice can be like for patients.”
Steve Field said “even in small numbers,” very poor practices are “not good for the profession as a whole”.
He acknowledged that GPs have been critical towards the Care Quality Commission’s inspection regime.
“There are a fair number of GPs who are scared and there are some who don’t like the principle of being inspected because they’ve been inspected in the past by health authorities or PCTs and often those were not really professional encounters, so their experience is not good in some areas,” he said.
However, he added he was more hopeful that they would be more receptive following the launch of the new-style inspection process in October.
“Part of what we’ve got to do is encourage improvement – it’s not just about the bottom two per cent. We are learning every day, and by the time we go live in October we will have got there.”
4.40pm The abolition of a primary care trust and the onset of austerity torpedoed plans by Herefordshire Council to find large savings from a customer relations management system, auditors have found.
3.50pm The Financial Times reports that the amount earned by the NHS from treating private patients has not noticeably increased, despite most foundation trusts struggling financially amid a historic budget squeeze.
2.47pm Two thirds of voters would oppose an increase in income tax to pay more towards the NHS, according to a survey published by the right-leaning think thank Reform.
A poll of 2,000 people across Britain carried out by Populus found that the greatest opposition came from women, young people and those on lower incomes.
A majority of respondents across in Scotland, Wales and every English region oppose the idea, for which it is speculated may be introduced following the next general election.
60 per cent of respondents agreed that the NHS needs reform more than it needs extra money, while 12 per cent disagreed.
Meanwhile, 62 per cent of the respondents agreed with the statement: “It shouldn’t matter whether hospitals and surgeries are run by the government, not-for-profit organisations or the private sector, provided that everyone including the least well off has access to care.” 17 per cent disagreed.
Reform’s director Andrew Haldenby said, “By a big majority, the public wants NHS reform not a new NHS tax. An extra 1p on income tax will cost the average income taxpayer £12.50 a month in the next Parliament. Even voters who support an NHS tax are not willing to pay that much.”
2.44pm More from The Times, the NHS’s chief treatments adviser has said that the way the service pays for cancer drugs makes no sense.
Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, said that “all other diseases and conditions are getting less” because of ministers’ decision to prioritise cancer with a £280 million-a-year fund for drugs his organisation says are too expensive.
While Sir Andrew insisted there was nothing wrong with the government prioritising one disease over another, he hinted that drug companies might be charging the NHS higher prices for cancer drugs because they know it is a political priority.
2.31pm The Times also reports that thousands of patients are still dying needlessly every year because the NHS fails to take blood poisoning seriously enough, a watchdog has warned.
An urgent patient safety alert was issued to hospitals yesterday, describing the condition as a “major risk”.
Dame Julie Mellor, the parliamentary and health service ombudsman, has warned that the NHS was dragging its feet over a condition that kills more people than breast cancer, bowel cancer and prostate cancer combined.
2.24pm The Times reports that hundreds of older people have been left stranded in hospital because of delays to adaptations to their homes, according to new figures from a charity.
Age UK have said that patients who need grab rails, ramps or other changes to their homes spend nearly a month longer in hospital.
Caroline Abrahams, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “Building all new homes to higher accessibility standards would cost a little more today, but it would pay off hugely tomorrow, and both older people and the NHS would substantially gain”.
1.23pm The Christie has appointed a new chair and announced that two non-executive directors who were “unhappy with the handling” of the trust’s suspension of its chief executive have stepped down.
Christine Outram, who has been NHS England director of intelligence and strategy since 2012, will take up the role of chair at the Manchester based specialist cancer trust from 1 October.
The appointment is the latest episode in a turbulent period for the trust’s leadership, which began in December last year when chief executive Caroline Shaw was suspended to allow “investigations” as “part of a disciplinary process”.
12.56pm More than 200 deaths of mothers and babies at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust have been investigated by an independent inquiry.
The inquiry into failings at the North West foundation trust, chaired by Bill Kirkup, has examined more than 200 maternal, perinatal and neonatal deaths with more than 50 cases identified for detailed analysis.
The details of the scale of individual cases being scrutinised by the inquiry emerged in minutes of a meeting held by its expert panel members in July which was published last month.
12.42pm Monitor has opened an investigation into accident and emergency performance at York Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust.
The decision comes after trust has failed to meet the quarterly A&E waiting time target for the fifth time in nearly two years. Monitor said there is also “evidence that some patients are waiting too long to be seen once referred for cancer treatment”.
In statement, the regulator said “repeated failure to ensure patients are seen quickly enough could indicate wider problems” at the trust.
Monitor voiced its concerns that the trust’s existing improvement plans “has taken too long to fix these serious issues”.
Frances Shattock, regional director for the North at Monitor, said: “It is simply not acceptable for patients to be waiting too long in A&E or to be seen following a cancer referral.
“That’s why we are opening an investigation to understand the issues and, if necessary, make sure the trust makes urgent improvements on behalf of its patients.”
12.27pm Also in The Telegraph (newspaper only), a school nurse accused of failing to refer a suicidal teenager to mental health services for six days was cleared of misconduct yesterday.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council found that the wait before Donna Moore referred Helena Farell, who killed herself three weeks later, was a “reasonable time parameter”.
12.12pm Back to today’s papers, The Daily Telegraph reports that a GP has criticised the NHS for failing to prescribe walking as a medical treatment after it significantly improved his patients health and led to fewer referrals to hospital.
John Morgan, a family doctor in Wigan, started to holding organised walks for his patients a decade ago. An audit of his practice by students from Manchester University found multiple health benefits including 93.5 per cent of patients reporting improvements in mood and nearly all recording reductions in blood pressure.
11.49am The former care minister Paul Burstow will say today that NHS trusts should sell surplus land to build enough care homes and supported living apartments to meet increasing demand.
The Liberal Democrat MP will make the call as he announces the findings of the thinktank Demos’s year-long Commission on Residential Care, which he chaired.
10.55am Most clinical commissioning group leaders are lukewarm about the prospect of merging or sharing substantial health and social care responsibilities, the HSJ CCG Barometer suggests.
The Labour Party is currently considering a policy of making health and wellbeing boards “system leaders” for services for people with multiple long term conditions, disability or frailty. HWBs would set plans for these services, which CCGs would enact.
10.41am More from the latest HSJ CCG Barometer survey, a large majority of clinical commissioning groups are gearing up to take on responsibility for management of GP contracts in the next year.
The finding comes despite a level of confusion and controversy about the policy of inviting CCGs to “co-commission” general practice.
In May NHS England announced that groups would be allowed to apply for some responsibility for primary care services, which has been held by NHS England since April last year.
10.29am EXCLUSIVE: Many clinical commissioning groups plan major changes to their contracting and provider models, with a particular focus on primary and community services, an HSJ survey reveals.
Our poll of CCGs’ most senior leaders gives the first national indication of the approaches adopted in commissioners’ five year plans, which are expected to shape a pivotal strategy document due to be published by NHS England next month.
However, the HSJ CCG Barometer also found more than 60 per cent of leaders expected their health economies to be in overall deficit in 2015-16, prompting concern they will be diverted from long term change by the need to balance annual budgets, and a lack of investment funding.
10.14am The Financial Times reports that opponents of Scottish independence view Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s recent move to focus his campaign on the NHS as a “masterstroke”.
“Better Together strategists admit that Mr Salmond pulled off a masterstroke last month by suddenly switching his tactics, warning that only independence would save the National Health Service from cuts by a Tory government at Westminster,” writes the paper’s political editor George Parker.
“Mr Salmond’s pitch to voters that they should vote for independence to save the NHS has seen undecided Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters switch to the Yes campaign in substantial numbers in recent days.”
10.11am In today’s papers, The Guardian reports that women with breast cancer who opt for a double mastectomy to beat the disease do not increase their chances of survival, according to new research from Stanford University scientists.
The findings are based on a study of 189,734 women in California where they found that having both breasts removed did not extend patients’ lives any more than having cancerous lumps removed followed by radiotherapy.
Ten years after having both breasts removed 18.8 per cent of women had died compared with 16.8 per cent of those who had a lumpectomy, then radiation.
9.36am In his weekly HSJ column, Michael White argues the future of the health service has become a key topic for the Yes campaign in Scotland, and is already being used for leverage by Labour and the Conservatives in England.
7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We start the day with a piece from Sharon Crabtree, associate director at Hay Group, on how to tackle problems common to underperformers to manage and motivate staff.