Robert Harris has announced he is to step down from the national position, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.45pm Mary Rance, chief executive of Contact the Elderly, argues in a comment piece that loneliness could be artificially inflating the demand for healthcare among older people. She writes: Recent research has shown that loneliness can be twice as unhealthy as obesity for older people. Studies have linked isolation to a range of health issues including depression, high blood pressure and stroke.

4.18pm With an ageing population and death rates set to rise by 17 per cent from 2012 to 2030, the pressure on the healthcare system to provide end of life care will only increase. Hospitals will struggle to meet this additional demand and, in any case, research shows that most people do not want to die in a hospital setting.

On Friday 11 April at 12pm, HSJ – in association with Marie Curie Cancer Care – will be running a Twitter chat to discuss how we can commission care to keep terminally ill people out of hospital if there is no medical reason to be there.

  •  How can we move more resources to a community-based model of care?
  •  How can we ensure all end of life care is centred on the needs and preferences of the patient and his or her family?
  •  What needs to change to make this sort of care a reality?

Michael Cooke, Marie Curie’s head of analytics, and Phil McCarvill, Marie Curie’s head of policy for England, will be online taking questions and offering thoughts.

Follow the @HSJnews and @MarieCurieEOLC Twitter accounts from Friday 11 April at 12pm to take part. We will be using #HSJEOLC – you can use this now to pose questions for the debate.

2.00pm Exclusive: The Nursing and Midwifery Council is to be granted new powers by the government to allow it to re-open closed fitness to practise cases, HSJ can reveal.

The move is part of the Department of Health’s response to the Francis Report and follows criticism of the regulator’s handling of the case of former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust director of nursing Helen Moss.

1.52pm Robert Harris has announced he is to step down as NHS England’s director of strategy.

He tweeted on Saturday:

“Having joined NHSCB nearly 2 years ago & for past year led NHSE strategy work, have decided now is good time to move on to new challenges

“Having started the national Call to Action debate, I now want to play a part in effecting real transformation closer to the front line

“I would like to thank the great team I have worked with @ NHSE for their support & look forward to building on this closer to front-line

“Setting the scene for change is important, but unless it is seen through in a practical way, it remains rhetoric. Change is about doing !

“The plan is to stay in healthcare, but in a greater rolling-up-my-sleeves kind of way.

“Snr managers in all great organisations keep their thinking fresh but constantly revisiting coal-face. We need to do that too.”

He has not yet said what he is going to do next.

His departure comes less than a month after his immediate superior, NHS England policy director Bill McCarthy, left to become vice chancellor of Bradford University.

1.48pm NHS England is planning to conduct new research on choice and competition in the NHS, according to the organisation’s latest business plan.

The research aims to “strengthen the evidence base on the introduction of choice and competition in healthcare services” and will also examine “how well choice is working across the country”.

12.58pm A Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group has voted to serve notice on its community services contract with East Sussex Healthcare Trust after flagging concerns with the current offering.

12.55pm Health minister Norman Lamb has written to NHS England calling for reassurances that GPs are not referring gay and lesbian people to controversial practitioners who say they can “cure” people of homosexuality.

12.50pm Private hospital operators looking to run private patient units in NHS hospitals are to face closer scrutiny by regulators to ensure such arrangements will not negatively affect competition, it has been announced.

Companies that operate private hospitals face being prevented from entering into business arrangements to run private NHS units if they already operate a hospital nearby, under rules unveiled by the Competition and Markets Authority.

12.07pm The responsibility throughout the NHS to promote research may now be enshrined in law but what priority is it actually being given at organisational level, asked a joint survey by HSJ and the NIHR.

11.55am A senior NHS England director and former director at outsourcing giant Capita has been made senior responsible officer for the NHS Choices programme.

Beverley Bryant, NHS England’s director of strategic systems and technology, was the web portal’s senior responsible officer at its inception, and oversaw the site’s ‘go-live’ in 2007, while chief information officer at the Department of Health.

11.47am The Supreme Court decides on what constitutes a deprivation of liberty in a care context – many patients in hospitals will now fall within the definition, write Neil Grant and Samantha Cox

11.37am We want your views as to whether any any qualified provider can be the vehicle for change for commissioning services within the NHS.

Over the past few years the NHS has seen an increasing number of services commissioned through any qualified provider. It will soon be up to commissioners to decide if they want to extend any qualified provider to new areas.

10.55am The Guardian reports that almost half of new mothers are not made aware within 24 hours of giving birth how to spot dangerous conditions that could kill them or their baby, a poll by Netmums suggests.

Only 24 per cent of respondents said they could remember receiving information about warning signs.

10.35am In The Daily Telegraph, tens of thousands of elderly patients are suffering in silence because they do not want to “make a fuss”, according to England’s health watchdog.

Dame Julie Mellor, the parliamentary and health service ombudsman, said patients can be too scared or polite to complain about inadequate care.

The Telegraph also reports that a psychiatrist working at a trust in the West Midlands is a senior leader of a radical Islamic party that seeks to ban same-sex relationships and oppress women.

Dr Imran Waheed is a consultant psychiatrist at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust. He is also the spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, which campaigns for a caliphate ruled by Sharia. He has called on supporters of Huzb ut-Tahrir to undertake “jihad” against Israel and once said he would only condemn the 2005 London bombings if Western leaders criticised what they had done in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Max Pemberton has a column in The Telegraph, discussing the recent King’s Fund report on the future of the NHS. He argues that the funding shortfall which is forecast to hit the NHS in future years should be addressed through the creation of a “specific payment for the NHS and social care, in a similar way to how National Insurance was introduced in 1911 to provide a safety net for workers”.

10.28am The Daily Mail this morning has as their splash a warning from England’s parliamentary and health service ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor that many pensioners are too fightened to complain about bad NHS treatment.

Dame Julie said that she had investigated cases of pensioners being effectively starved on wards and treated ‘without a shred of dignity’.

The paper also carries a piece from the Ombudsman herself in which she writes that her research shows that a quarter of older people don’t know where to go to complain about the NHS, despite using the service more often than people under 65.

10.20am The Times reports that NHS hospitals must do business abroad within ten years, according to targets set out by Healthcare UK , the organisation formed to help set up profit-making NHS branches abroad.

A campaign is set to this month to encourage hospital bosses to raise money through cancer treatment in the Middle East, laboratory tests in India or care for the elderly in China.

Also in The Times, medical bodies have warned health professionals to put aside concerns about cultural sensitivities to ask patients whether they have undergone female genital mutilation.

Rules were introduced last week obliging hospitals to oblige and report incidences of FGM.

Finally, people will be able to legally test themselves for HIV at home from today, the paper reports.

10.00am The College of Contemporary Health (CCH), a UK-based online college, is bringing together obesity experts with the mission to make the UK healthcare profession the most obesity literate in the world. Just over a quarter of UK adults are classified as obese, according to the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre report. Obesity has an estimated annual cost to the UK economy in excess of £16bn a year.

CCH believes it is necessary to address the problem head on, and today has launched the UK’s first free massive open online course (MOOC) on Living and Working with Obesity. The course is for those who live with obesity, including health care professionals who deal with the condition every day.

7.00am Welcome to HSJ Live. The implications of neglecting mental healthcare in the acute setting are stark. Jonathan Fielden and Emma Stanton examine how a London Foundation Trust improved its service.