Reaction to the resignation of the acting chief executive of Colchester University Foundation Trust - the hospital under investigation by police over allegations of cancer data manipulation.

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4:35pm The acting chief executive of Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust, under investigation by police over allegations of cancer data manipulation, has announced her resignation.

Sue Barnett was given the role following the resignation of former chief executive Gordon Coutts in December. The following day NHS England found the trust’s cancer services were “unsafe” in five areas.

4:00pm Some interesting reader feedback following our story on Conservative MP John Baron expressing concerns about CCG accountability:

“Generations of NHS managers have survived and thrived as a result of a system which avoided clarifying who was accountable for what. Taxpayers and patients may rightly wish to see this change, but the managers in the system have not evolved to cope with such accountability and will resist it strongly.”

“Herein lie the 2 central challenges for outcomes accountability: 1. Time lag - the report in 2014 is looking at 2000-2007 - that is at least four reorganisations ago.
2. Dependencies - outcomes are usually a composite of wider determinants of health - local government, wider government and economics, social and community sectors, media and advertising, public health policy, CCG commisisoners, NHS England Commissioners, and provider organisations. Success in accountability improvement will come from being able to break down contributing elements for individual as well as joint ownership, reducing the time lag of measurement, finding proxies that have faster response times, and reorganising the NHS less often.”

3:17pm James Illman’s exclusive on Circle considering whether to bid to run Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals is generating significant reader comment. Here’s a selection:

“How many other organisations would love the opportunity to exploit similar ‘easy win efficiencies’ to create a more sustainable future. Bournemouth and Poole to name but a few. Lets see how quickly theres a u-turn on competition when the private sector are involved!”

“If Circle pull this is off it will be a landmark in outsourcing the NHS. It is pretty impressive that the Hinchingbrook set up has not fallen apart. Circle believe they are better at management than the NHS and there is some truth in this.”

2:33pm The Independent has the story that from spring this year patient records from GPs will be sent to a central NHS database, in a project pioneered by Jeremy Hunt and aimed at improving healthcare planning.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre, which is leading the project, claims there is a chronic shortage of good information about the health conditions and complaints observed within primary care which is obstructing effective NHS planning. However, concerns have been raised that the initiative could invade patients’ privacy.

1:27pm There’s a plethora of personal health related stories in the Telegraph today. Here’s a selection:

The NHS has cautioned that people are “pouring money down the drain” with new year fad diets and has developed its own 12-week weight loss plan, devised in coordination with the British Dietetic Association.

A study in the journal Rheumatology has found that breastfeeding could help protect mothers against arthritis. Research of 7,000 women found that mothers who breastfeed their children are about half as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared with women who have never breatfed (paper only).

Switching to a Meditarranean diet high in extra virgin olive oil reduces the risk of developing diabetes for older people even if they do not cut their calorie intake or exercise more, scientists at the Hospital Universitari Sant Joan in Spain have found (paper only).

Research by the University of Exeter Medical School has found that living near parks and green spaces improves mental health, with the effect lasting for three years even after moving (paper only).

1:09pm Nurses and midwives will have to undergo competency checks every three years which will include patient feedback, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council yesterday launched a consultation asking for guidance on how patient feedback should be incoporated into the revaldiation process, which was one of the recommendations of the Francis Inquiry.

12:10pm The Guardian has a health comment piece from Polly Toynbee. The column discusses clause 118 of the care bill, which gives trust special administrators the power to make reconfiguration decisions.

In the piece she argues the clause will give special administrators “absolute power… to close, merge or privatise hospitals regardless of doctors, patients or the public,” and that it will herald “a new climate of diktat”. She claims the clause is part of a wider story of the NHS “clamping down on public involvement”.

12:00pm Hospitals are to be given millions of pounds to help improve maternity wards, the Department of Health has announced.

Maternity units across the country can apply for a share of a £10m fund to improve birthing environments in hospitals, health minister Dan Poulter said.

The fund can be used for refurbishments and to purchase items such as birthing pools, special birthing chairs and beds or comfy chairs for partners.

11:45am Accident and emergency departments collectively managed to meet the four hour waiting time target between October and December, according to NHS England data.

Although admissions increased compared to the same period last year, 95.6 per cent of patients were seen within four hours, compared to 95.7 per cent last year. However, only 93.5 per cent of type 1 patients - the category for serious incidents - were seen within target this year.

11:40am An HSJ exclusive from James Illman: private provider Circle could table a rescue bid for debt-stricken Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust involving partnering it with nearby Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust.

Circle already runs Hinchingbrooke in nearby Cambridgeshire and the district general hospital’s interim chief executive Hisham Abdel-Rahman said the chance to run both trusts could offer “great opportunities for patients”.

11:24am Five hundred staff at NHS Direct face redundancy, it has emerged.

Last July NHS Direct announced it was planning to pull out of its contracts to provide services to the NHS 111 helpline due to severe financial problems. In October, the organisation announced that it is to close after projecting a £26m deficit for this financial year.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said: “NHS Direct has today written to around 500 employees, including around 140 nurses, giving them formal notice that they are at risk of redundancy at the end of March.

“The final number of redundancies is likely to be less than this, since we are seeking to mitigate as many redundancies as possible by supporting these staff to find alternative employment within the wider NHS.”

NHS Direct currently employs 700 workers, with 200 already set to avoid being made redundant by NHS Direct by being transferred to patient service jobs with other providers.

11:06am The Times reports that a study had found that meditation can be as effective as drugs in treating depression and anxiety.

Research by scientists at the John Hopkins School of Medicine found that practicing mindfulness - a technique designed to focus on the present moment and help people to manage their thoughts better by becoming more aware of them - resulted in noticeable improvements for individuals experiencing depression, anxiety and pain.

10:50am Turning to the papers, the Financial Times reports on the bail out of NHS Property Services.

The company, which is responsible for managing the £3bn NHS property portfolio, had to receive financial support from the government just four months after it started operating because of widespread rent arrears among tenants.

NHS Property Services is now being investigated by the National Audit Office, with the watchdog expected to report its findings in February.

10:42am Michael White’s weekly politics column is now online. In it, Michael discusses the political calculations behind recent government spending announcements, and labels Liam Fox a “ninny” for his recent intervention condemning NHS budget ringfencing.

10:30am A hospital worker has spoken of how he feels “embarrassed and ashamed” over a series of tweets he posted, including a comment that he was going to use pubic hair shaved from a patient to create the sideburns sported by Olympic cycling champion Sir Bradley Wiggins.

The conduct of Paul Nam, a former operating department practitioner at Lincoln County Hospital, is being reviewed by a disciplinary hearing of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

10:19am A small group of NHS patients are adding to pressures on accident and emergency departments by going to casualty dozens of times a year, according to an investigation by the BBC.

Figures obtained under freedom of information legislation showed that almost 12,000 people made more than 10 visits to the same A&E unit in 2012-13, with just over 150 attending on more than 50 occasions.

10:07am Monitor is now accepting applications for licences from the independent sector, the regulator has announced.

From April 2014 all independent providers with a turnover from NHS-funded care exceeding £10m and delivering services deemed “essential” by commissioners will need a licence to operate.

The expansion of Monitor’s regulatory remit is designed to protect patients by preventing the financial mismanagement and failure of independent providers, as witnessed during the collapse of Southern Cross three years ago.

10:02am The Nuffield Trust has announced that Nigel Edwards will take on the role of chief executive from April.

Mr Edwards is a senior fellow at the King’s Fund and a director with the global health and life sciences centre of excellence at KPMG.

Mr Edwards said: “I am very excited to be joining the Nuffield Trust and I am looking forward to building on its very strong reputation for analysis and research.

“The current situation in health and social care means there has never been a time when incisive and forward looking policy analysis has been more necessary.” 

9:58am HSJ’s Dave West reports that an influential Conservative MP is planning to raise concerns in the Commons about a lack of accountability in the reformed NHS, and the government potentially missing commitments to improve cancer outcomes.

John Baron told HSJ he planned to question ministers early this year, particularly about clinical commissioning groups lacking accountability for improving outcomes. He called for NHS England to have a better system for addressing CCGs which did not improve outcomes and services.

7:00am Welcome to HSJ Live. This morning watch a panel of experts, including HSJ editor Alastair McLellan, debate why British institutions such as the NHS are in perpetual crisis at the Battle of Ideas festival.