Leading clinician claims there is too few GPs to support NHS 111 phone line, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

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4.32pm The government’s drive to help hospitals clear their backlog of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment has started to pay off, the latest figures from NHS England indicate.

While the official waiting list figures spiked to 3.3m in August, figures for September show they have reduced slightly to around 3.2m, if earlier performance of eight trusts that did not provide figures were factored in.

4.16pm The UK will fail to meet international commitments on reducing deaths from preventable diseases unless it prioritises the prevention of ill health, a group of health charities has warned.

The Richmond Group of Charities has warned that without a national plan for health improvement, led by the Prime Minister, the World Health Organisation’s target of reducing preventable deaths by 25 per cent by 2025 will not be met.

The call was made in a new report, ‘What is preventing progress?, which argues that if this goal is to be achieved, local and national government, the NHS, public services, the private sector, charities and patients must all work together to put prevention first.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Preventable ill health costs the NHS and costs the economy, but more importantly means avoidable suffering. We know that many diseases – including breast cancer – have common lifestyle risk factors, and simple but effective measures can help individuals take control of their risk and manage existing conditions.

“We urgently need a clear plan for how we tackle these risk factors and support everyone to live healthier lives, and this will require everyone across government, the NHS, public services, the private sector, charities and patients to work together. Prevention must be a top priority as we enter an election year if we are to prevent tens of thousands of people dying needlessly, and living with avoidable conditions.”

3.29pm You can read the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges report on NHS waste, which has received a lot of coverage today, here.

According to the Academy nearly two billion pounds worth of cost savings could be made if the health service provided more appropriate care in sixteen areas of clinical practise.

Chair of the Academy, Terence Stephenson, said: “Maintaining NHS services in the future depends on doctors ensuring the best use of resources today. Quality of care is a doctor’s prime concern. But, delivering quality care and promoting value are really two sides of the same coin. One doctor’s waste is another patient’s delay; potentially it could be another patient’s lack of treatment.”

2.55pm At the NHS England board meeting today Simon Stevens struck a note of caution about what the Better Care Fund is expected to deliver.

HSJ’s David Williams has written an insightful piece on this issue which you can read here.

2.41pm The Foundation Trust Network has commented on the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges report on NHS waste.

Commenting on the findings, Nick Samuels, FTN director of communications, said:

“This is a valuable report that demonstrates how savings can be safely made through simple changes to clinical practice. The report is significant because it has been produced by clinicians for clinicians and shows the importance of clinical leadership in driving change, efficiency, improvement and quality in the NHS.

“Whenever we look at the pressures the NHS faces, we must also recognise the changes that can also be made to minimise inefficiency and ensure we get the most value from taxpayers funds. Foundation trusts and trusts have always sought to provide best value and high quality and this report is a very helpful addition to those efforts.”

2.06pm Hospital trusts “need” chief information officers on their boards and should treat IT as a leadership function instead of back office one, a senior Department of Health mandarin has said.

The department’s director general of innovation, growth and technology, Will Cavendish, told the EHI Live 2014 conference that hospitals had failed to give IT the priority it warranted for far too long.

1.48pm Elsewhere, the paper reports the number of hospitals investigating allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile has been extended to 41, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said.

A further nine hospitals or ambulance services – including the former psychiatric hospital Bethlem Royal hospital in London – have launched investigations into abuse claims against the late DJ since June.

The fresh allegations came to light after the publication of inquiries at 28 NHS trusts, which found widespread abuse by Savile against victims aged from five to 75.

1.46pm The Guardian reports today that the NHS is wasting about £2bn a year and risking patients’ health by giving them too many x-rays, drugs and treatments they do not need, a leading medical body has warned.

Patients are too readily tested diagnosed and treated for certain condition, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges claims today in a report.

It has prompted a debate on whether people are being exposed to unnecessary interventions and stays in hospital in the UK.

1.35pm NHS England has “lost” time exploring the use of GPs for the NHS 111 phone line as there are too few in the workforce to support it, a leading clinician working on the development of the service has said.

Instead, NHS England medical adviser Dr Ossie Rawstone has urged commissioners to consider how they could use the existing NHS 111 workforce, including the clinical expertise of nurses working on the non-emergency phone line.

12.45pm An overhaul of specialist radiotherapy nationwide could see the number of sites commissioned by NHS England reduced as the body seeks to improve efficiency and access to the service.

The national commissioning body’s proposals for stereotactic radiotherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery, released this week, call for the service to be run seven days a week and a doubling of activity by 2016-17. Such services use focused beams of radiation to treat brain tumours, reducing the risk of damage to healthy tissue compared to other types of radiotherapy.

12.44pm The meeting has now concluded, but here on HSJ Live we’ll continue to pick through some of the interesting issues raised at the meeting.

12.41pm The board also approved new safeguards against conflicts of interest in primary care co-commissioning.

12.07pm The NHS England board has made some decisions on co-commissioning:

11.52am Mr Dodge said CCGs would have the ability to form their own local arrangements when it comes to co-commissioning.

11.51am The NHS England board meeting has revealed some more information about the preparations which have taken place in advance of primary care co-commissioning.

Ian Dodge, national director for commissioning support, said it was important to deal with conflicts of interest in a robust way, and statutory guidance would soon be issued on this for the first time.

11.41am Simon Stevens on the future of specialised commissioning:

11.10am ‘Stevenstowns’ are discussed at the NHS England board meeting:

10.39am That caution is echoed by Ed Smith, chair of NHS England’s audit committee, who says the current financial position is not a “place I would feel terribly comfortable being in in a recurring basis”.

10.37am However that note of optimism comes with a hefty caveat:

10.34am Paul Bauman on NHS finances:

10.22am Dame Barbara says that accident and emergency performance against the four hour standard is a particular worry as we move into the winter period.

10.19am Dame Barbara Hakin moves on to the issue of performance:

10.03am Simon Stevens kicks off the meeting by talking about the forward view:

9.57am NHS England’s board meeting has now started. Follow HSJ’s Judith Welikala (@JudithWelikala) for live tweets throughout the meeting. We’ll also keep you abreast of what’s being said here on HSJ Live.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live.

Making the NHS a fair, open, supportive and respectful workplace is a crucial to achieving NHS England’s vision of high quality care for all, writes chief nursing officer Jane Cummings, as part of our week celebrating BME pioneers in healthcare.