Jeremy Hunt says a Conservative government would give the NHS ‘the funding it needs’, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.45pm The chief executive of one of the five trusts in special measures since 2013 has resigned.

Paul O’Connor announced he was stepping down as chief executive of Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust last week.

Human resources director Karen Fisher will be interim chief executive until a permanent replacement is found.

The trust was in the first wave of 11 trusts to be placed in special measures after a review by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh

4.43pm One patient could have suffered ‘serious harm’ because of a delay in receiving elective treatment caused by a large backlog of patients waiting for operations at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals.

A review by the Royal Free London Foundation Trust, which took over Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals in July, has found that one patient may have suffered “serious harm” and 39 “moderate harm”.

4.40pm Commenting on the latest NHS England figures published today (Tuesday) showing that the A&E waiting time target hasn’t been met for 26 consecutive weeks, Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “Week in week out, for half a year now, the waiting times target has been missed.

“It’s bad enough that some sick and injured people were having to wait for more than four hours in the depths of winter – a time when demand on the NHS was at its peak. But for that still to be the case now that spring is here shows just how stretched A&E departments have become.

“Sadly this is where we are after five years of Tory mismanagement of the health service. The NHS, its patients and its staff need and deserve better.”

4.38pm Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has told the BBC that a Conservative government would “back the NHS’s plan in full” and give the health system “whatever it needs” in order to meet its performance and efficiency goals. Mr Hunt added that this could mean more than £8bn a year or less that that.

Mr Hunt’s full exchange with the BBC’s Martha Kearney can be heard here.

1.44pm Commenting on The Health Foundation’s report Hospital finances and productivity: in a critical condition?, published today and which underlines the challenges facing NHS finances, Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “There is strong support for the Five Year Forward View analysis that shows the NHS needs at least an extra £8 billion a year above inflation by 2020.

“We are calling on all political parties to commit to this and the service changes that the NHS will need to make to deliver a further £22bn of efficiency savings, requiring productivity improvements of 2-3% a year.

“This is a daunting task, confirmed by this timely report from The Health Foundation. The report makes clear that investing in extra staff to boost quality and safety comes at a price. It underlines that the NHS requires a new focus on “allocative” efficiencies – by doing things in new ways that are better, simpler and more cost effective.  It is vital that the public are involved in this conversation.  

“If we are to succeed, the political parties must be straight with the public about the huge scale of the savings and increases in productivity required over the next parliament, even with extra investment. It means we will need to fundamentally change the way we provide care for millions of patients which itself will require funds for double running services and investment in estates, IT and innovation.

“The Health Foundation report states that there needs to be much less focus on individual organisations’ performance, and much more on looking at the health system. The NHS Confederation, which represents more than 500 NHS organisations, agrees that no individual NHS organisation can operate in isolation.

“Our members across the country are already working more closely with other organisations and sectors in their communities, not least local government. The next government will need to better enable local organisations to take this approach by providing longer term settlements, stabilising social care and improving the regulatory and performance systems to focus more on outcomes for local people.”  

1.28pm Andy Burnham responds:

1.25pm Jeremy Hunt and Andy Burnham have been sparring over their respective parties’ policies on the NHS.Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, Mr Hunt said the Conservatives would give the NHS more than £8bn a year if “that was what was needed”.


11.52am Health secretary Jeremy Hunt responds:

11.50am Labour’s new election poster was unveiled today, targetting the issue of GP access:

11.46am Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, responding to the news that Emergency admissions via major A&Es topped 2m this winter for the first time in 10 years, said: “After five years of David Cameron, A&E waits are at their worst level for a decade and patients are finding it harder and harder to see a GP.

“There’s only one person to blame for the A&E crisis and that’s David Cameron. He has made it harder to get a GP appointment, cut council social care budgets and wasted £3 billion on a reorganisation that nobody wanted and nobody voted for.

“If David Cameron gets back in, his extreme spending cuts mean he can’t protect the NHS and the crisis in A&E will get even worse.

“Labour has a better plan for the NHS. We will recruit 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs, paid for by a mansion tax on homes valued over £2m, and we will guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours.”

11.40am The Labour party has claimed that figures suggest almost 600 fewer GP surgeries in England open at evenings and weekends than before 2010, the BBC reports.

Health spokesman Andy Burnham said the coalition had created queues outside practices and diverted people to A&E.

Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt said Labour’s numbers were wrong and that out-of-hours cover was being extended.

Mr Hunt said Labour’s figures were wrong, because they did not take into account the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, which covers 1,100 practices and helps 7.5 million patients see a GP in the evenings and at weekends.

10.59am The Financial Times reports that the NHS is facing an “even bigger financial black hole than politicians and health leaders have acknowledged”, following a fall in productivity.

Research by the Health Foundation shows that despite an inflation protected budget, hospital productivity fell from 2012 as the NHS prepared for, then implemented, the structural shake-up of the Andrew Lansley reforms.

Pressure to hire more nurses following the Francis report into the care scandal at Stafford hospital further hit financial performance as many NHS providers hired agency staff, inflating the health service bill, the analysis found.

All parties have signed up to the NHS Five Year Forward View, published last year by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, which concluded that an additional £8bn a year above inflation by 2020 would be needed to maintain services provided productivity increased by between 2 per cent and 3 per cent a year, against an average productivity increase of 1.2 per cent a year from 2009-09.

However that analysis did not include data for 2013-14, and when these figures were included efficiency growth in the hospital sector – which consumes almost half the overall NHS budget – averaged just 0.4 per cent a year over this parliament.

10.49am Emergency admissions via major A&Es topped 2m this winter for the first time in 10 years.

A&Es struggled to cope with increased admissions and a shortage of beds as demand on services continued to rise.

Between October 2014 and March 2015 there were 2,006,020 admissions via major A&Es. This is the highest number during winter throughout the last 10 years. Last winter 1,937,617 patients were admitted.

There were 983 patients waiting over 12 hours to be admitted during the latest winter.

10.40am The Times reports that a £1.2bn Home Office project to upgrade the mobile communications network used by the emergency services could leave dead zones, putting police, paramedics, firemen and the public at risk, it has emerged.

Mobile communications for about 300,000 members of the emergency services are run through a dedicated radi-based network that covers almost all of the UK.

The Home Office wants to transfer this service to commercial mobile networks to take advantage of internet technology and save money.

However, no commercial network covers the entire UK landmass. Operators such as EE and 02 have been set targets for expanding their networks, but these are based on population, rather than geographical, coverage.

Children receiving support for mental health problems face a “cliff edge” when they reach 18, according to a leading psychotherapist, The Times also reports.

Young people are dropping out of the support system because there is “no smooth transition” to adult services, said Stamatia Lorentziou of Centrepoint, the homeless charity.

About a third of the young people that Centrepoint works with have “formally diagnosed mental health problems”, she said.

10.33am A report into maternity services across Cumbria and North Lancashire has recommended maintaining existing consultant led units, but leaves the door open to close two of them unless fundamental reforms are achieved.

The independent review by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommended the units at Carlisle, Lancaster, Whitehaven and Barrow should be maintained, and that “alongside” them midwifery led units should be developed at the first two sites.

However, it says keeping the four units open can only be supported on “safety and sustainability grounds” if there is “increased investment” and reform

10.31am Plymouth City Council has pooled its entire social care budget with the local NHS and transferred all of its adult social care workforce to a community health provider in a drive to develop integrated services.

The council and the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group started jointly commissioning health and wellbeing services from a £460m pot last week.

10.24am The Daily Telegraph reports that life expectancy for women has suffered its most severe drop for decades, as their lifestyles become more like those of men, official figures show.

In 2012 there were falls in average life expectancy for females in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, according to the Public Health England figures.

10.10am The Liberal Democrats have announced that they would establish a £500m per year “Care Closer to Home” fund invest in care in people’s own homes, GP surgeries, care homes and community clinics.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: “The pressure our hospitals face is often symptomatic of problems elsewhere in the NHS. Our older people can’t get discharged because they don’t have a care home place or their home hasn’t been properly adapted. Mums and dads face having to take their child to A&E because the GP is closed.

“The new Liberal Democrat Care Closer to Home fund creates a fairer society, getting patients the right care, at the right time, in the right place with more control over their treatment and support.”

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with an update from our #respect4managers campaign.

NHS managers are often portrayed as ‘pen pushers’ who get in the way of patient care, particularly during election time.

Only one week in, the current general election campaign has followed the trend: cue David Cameron’s claims on Radio 4 last week that the NHS reforms helped “get rid of bureaucrats”, with the money being used for doctors and other frontline staff.

We want you to tell us whenever you hear any slurs against this vital part of the healthcare team. We will highlight and debunk the claims, and put the most egregious examples back to the politicians and commentators who made them.