Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg pledges to meet forward view funding request, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.50pm Here’s HSJ’s editor on Dr Maruthappu’s achievement:

4.45pm Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a government push on sepsis.

Each year, sepsis claims around 31,000 lives and costs the NHS in England about £2 billion. There are around 1,000 cases a day for children under five.

The aim is to make tackling sepsis as important to the NHS as C. difficile and MRSA, where rates have virtually halved since 2010. It is estimated that 11,000 lives and £160m could be saved every year through better diagnosis and treatment.

Plans include an audit of practice in every GP surgery in England by March 2015, and a new tool for GPs to diagnose sepsis among children under five. New diagnosis and incentivised treatment goals for hospitals are also designed to help raise standards.

Mr Hunt said: “I want the NHS to rival the safety record of the airline industry and become the safest healthcare system in the world. There has already been good progress. We have virtually halved C. diff and MRSA infection rates in the last four years, saving money, but more importantly improving patient care.

“Sepsis is a devastating condition that kills more than 80 people in England every day. It’s time to apply the lessons we’ve already learnt on patient safety and reduce the number of lives that are needlessly lost to this silent killer.”

4.35pm Mahiben Maruthappu, a senior fellow to the NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, has been chosen as one of Forbes’ ‘30 under 30’ in healthcare - the first person from British healthcare to appear on the list.

Here’s how Dr Maruthappu is described by Forbes:

“Maruthappu’s research has spanned 60 peer-reviewed publications on topics ranging from how unemployment and public-sector spending affect breast cancer mortality, to the effectiveness of distance learning on tablet computers for doctors. That work led to his appointment as the youngest Senior Fellow to the CEO of England’s $160 billion National Health Service (NHS), where he has helped draw up a roadmap for their next five years.”


4.10pm Following the “major incidents” declared at two of Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust’s sites, Wye Valley Trust has announced an internal incident at Hereford County Hospital due to high demand in its emergency department.

In a press statement the trust said that it has experienced “unprecedented numbers of people attending the department over the last two weeks.”

It said: “On one day the emergency department had 164 attendances and it experienced a 12 per cent increase in the number of emergency patient admissions to hospital overnight.

“The hospital has the power to declare an internal incident if it feels pressures in A&E present a serious threat to the disruption of its services,” it added.

3.57pm HSJ is launching a campaign to help the NHS achieve transformational change and challenge top-down leadership.

“Challenge Top Down Change” aims to identify a series of ideas and solutions to help NHS organisations drive real and sustainable change.

Over the next 10 weeks we will be asking NHS employees at all levels, as well as patients and other interested parties, to share their ideas on how the NHS could work better.

In March, our campaign will culminate in the publication of an interactive guide to help NHS organisations deliver “bottom-up” change.

You can find out more about how you can get get involved via the interactive crowdsourcing tool Clever Together, here.

2.58pm We’ve just had confirmation that the Lib Dems have indeed committed to meeting the extra £8bn by 2020-21 asked for by Simon Stevens in the forward view.

In a press conference earlier today, Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, confirmed his party would meet the funding request. He said:

“We will set out in detail in the coming days how we will meet the funding gap that Simon Stevens set out in his excellent report a short while ago, about £8 billion by the end of next parliament.”

Mr Clegg said the increase would be funded through “tax changes which only affect the very wealthiest” such as “aligning more closely dividend tax, with income tax for the wealthiest” and “pairing back some of the big tax reliefs for the very wealthiest”.

2.36pm Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said Labour would shortly be setting out a detailed 10 year funding plan for the NHS:

2.30pm There’s been some intriguing noise on Twitter about upcoming NHS spending announcements for the Liberal Democrats and Labour. First the Lib Dems - this tweet is from The Times’ Sam Coates:

The report is unconfirmed, but if the Lib Dems did unveil an extra £8bn in NHS funding they would be the first party to meet Simon Stevens call in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

2.23pm Imperial College Healthcare Trust has appointed a new interim finance director for the next six months.

Alan Goldsman, who was previously finance director at the Royal Marsden Hospital Foundation Trust, has taken on the role.

Mr Goldsman replaces Bill Shields, who has taken on the role of interim chief executive at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

2.08pm A major incident has been declared for two hospitals in Gloucestershire, due to high demand in accident and emergency departments.

A spokesman for the trust said 30 per cent of people using Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General’s emergency departments had “non-urgent ailments”.

It is the second time in a month Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust has declared the status in order to get extra support.

1.46pm Some trusts may be forced to scale back specialised services, including critical care and neonatal units, if a marginal rate payment is introduced for them, NHS Providers has warned.

In a response to NHS England and Monitor’s proposed national tariff, the representative body for NHS providers said its members will have to take decisions that will have “profound implications for patient services”, such as reducing the size of critical care units and halting plans to expand neonatal care if a marginal rate for specialised services is introduced.

A marginal rate for specialised services would see providers paid only half the price of treatment once activity rises above agreed levels. These are generally expected to be the same as providers’ 2014-15 contracted levels.

1.39pm One of the Treasury costings relates to the cost of sending a letter on the NHS to every household in the UK, as pledged by Andy Burnham at the 2014 Labour party conference.

However as HSJ’s David Williams points out, there seems to be some discrepancy between the figure the Treasury have arrived at and the money which the government is reported to have spent on publicising the Care.Data programme.

12.44pm The Treasury has released “costings” for Labour’s policies. You can view them here.

12.31pm George Osborne, who is leading the press conference, is getting a tough time from the assembled media, who in three questions have claimed that he has attributed spending commitments to Labour which the party has not made. Gary Gibbon from ITV News gives an example of a Labour pledge to improve cycling safety, which the Conversatives have attempted to cost.

12.26pm The Conservatives are currently holding a press conference attacking Labour’s spending commitments, including on the NHS, as “unfunded”. You can watch the press conference live here.

12.05pm The Telegraph features the story of a leading children’s doctor who has been caught on film allegedly snorting cocaine and taking another illegal drug before going on call at an NHS hospital.

Secret video footage appears to show Colin Ferrie, a consultant paediatric neurologist, measuring out drugs before snorting a long line of cocaine on a kitchen worktop.

The story reports that just over an hour after consuming the illegal drugs, including so-called “date rape” drug GHB, Dr Ferrie was on call at Leeds General Infirmary, according to the Mail on Sunday.

11.53am The FT also reports that tensions are rising between pharmaceutical companies and the government ahead of an announcement by NHS England on which drugs will be axed from the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The arms’ length body is due to announce the results of a review of the cost effectiveness of more than 40 medicines paid for by the fund.

Pharmaceutical companies say patients rsk being denied the latest treatments because of financial pressure, while critics accuse the industry of overcharging for medicines that offer marginal benefits over existing products.

11.45am In his interview in the FT, Simon Stevens has put a bit more flesh on the bones of the idea of “new towns” set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Mr Stevens said: “You’re not going to have, in the future, a separate police station, ambulance station, schools, health service buildings and so on.”

He gave the example of a new health centre in the former Olympic Park in east London, where local people can attend community support groups and receive advice from dietitians, as the kind of “multi-use facility” that would improve public health and help control costs.

Mr Stevens also said that the new towns would start “from the default assumption that digital interaction will be the main way that people will interact with the health service”.

Rather than registering with a doctor, people will sign up to “a virtual primary care service, and then… rather than booking an appointment, [they would] just be able to call up a doctor or a nurse on [their] iPhone, and have a face-to-face interaction there”.

He said older people would communicate with medical staff through their televisions or by Skyping.

11.23am Projected savings of more than £250m from the government’s flagship integrated care policy are at risk after NHS England said the reductions in emergency activity underpinning them would have to be ‘revised downward’ to become more realistic.

In the autumn ministers claimed the better care fund would save £253m from reduced emergency admissions during 2015-16, accounting for nearly half of the total savings it predicted would be yielded by the policy.

The projected saving was based on a forecast cut in non-elective admissions of 3.07 per cent, calculated from local better care fund plans submitted by health and wellbeing boards across the country in September. The fall in admissions and related savings were planned to come about as a result of new, jointly commissioned NHS and social care services.

However, new planning information for clinical commissioning groups published by NHS England alongside the 2015-16 planning guidance just before Christmas said these emergency activity forecasts will now have to be revisited.

11.07am The Guardian reports that parents are being encouraged to cut back on the amount of sugar they feed their children in a Public Health England campaign.

The initiatives comes as a survey by Netmums found two-thirds of parents were worried about the amount of sugar in their children’s diets.

The Change4Life campaign will offer parents “sugar swap” tips, including taking yoghurt and sugar-free drinks instead of ice cream and sweet drinks.

10.51am The paper also reports that thousands of people who underwent corrective eye surgery last year could be at risk of poorer vision amid concerns over the performance of a new implant.

Healthcare regulators are to investigate complaints by surgeons that patients have suffered serious problems after undergoing procedures which were supposed to improve their eyesight.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has ordered the investigation after doctors raised concerns about a new lens which has been in use in the UK for a year.

The paper writes that the implant, called Mplus X, used for corrective eye surgery, is aimed at those approaching middle age who wish to avoid wearing bifocal glasses.

Moorfields Eye Hospital Trust has submitted a report to regulators after four of its six patients who had the implant suffered a loss of vision.

10.34am Elsewhere, the Telegraph reports on a call by UKIP leader Nigel Farage for NHS doctors and nurses who do not speak English very well to be sacked.

Mr Farage suggested it was “scandalous” that the health service was recruiting from abroad due to a lack of UK trained staff and said it was natural that people in this country wanted to live alongside those who speak the same language.

Asked if he wanted to “winnow out” those who could not speak English, he told Sky News’ Murnaghan show: “Of course. Don’t we want to live in a country where we speak the same language?

“And isn’t it scandalous, isn’t it scandalous, that we’re not training enough nurses and doctors in our own country?”

He added: “If people don’t speak English and they’re dealing with English speaking patients, surely they shouldn’t be employed in the first place.”

10.26am The Daily Telegraph reports that health workers returning from Ebola stricken countries will not be quarantined, despite a pledge from the prime minister to consider such measures.

David Cameron said on Sunday that he was prepared to bring in quarantine – as it can take up to 21 days for the virus to incubate – or other ways to strengthen checks at airports.

However, chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies is understood to be unconvinced about the benefits of such a system, amid concerns that placing a three week quarantine on volunteers returning from duty could deter some from taking part in the overseas programme.

10.16am Browsing through this morning’s papers, the Financial Times reports that the chief executive of NHS England has warned there will be a “public backlash” unless the health service’s annual budget keeps increasing.

In an interview with the FT, Simon Stevens highlighted the dangers of “boom-bust” funding cycles that were “inefficient for taxpayers and bad for patients”.

Mr Stevens said: “Either we have a thoughtful, sequenced series of annual real funding increases, building on next year’s ‘downpayment’, against which the health service can plan and make the necessary efficiencies, or we have a heavily constrained squeeze.”

He said any squeeze would result in “some form of public backlash… by the second half of the parliament and then a further spurt of catch up to compensate for that”.

He added: “The smart choice is obvious.”

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with the news that Labour has put the NHS at the centre of its general election campaign.

Douglas Alexander, the head of Labour’s election campaign, sent a “state of the race” memorandum to party activists over the weekend claiming that seven out of 15 patients’ rights in the NHS constitution have been breached.

On the BBC’s Today programme this morning, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the NHS would change “beyond recognition” if the Conservatives won power.