Questions over the future of the better care fund, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.41pm Public Health England has published the first set of data, for most areas of England, showing the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed at stage one and two as a proportion of all new cases. Mike Hobday, director of policy and research at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“This is the first time we have been able to access this level of information on multiple types of cancer. As more becomes available it will really help us to identify areas for improvement in catching the illness early. This is a great example of how “big data” will help us save cancer patients’ lives.

“There is still a fair way to go before we get the full picture and how this varies by cancer type. All areas of England must be enabled to report the stage at which people are diagnosed with cancer to help identify any pockets where this isn’t happening as quickly as others so we can take action to improve.

“If we want to catch up with other European countries’ survival rates we must make sure as many people as possible are diagnosed at the earliest possible stage to give them the best chance of surviving. Although these are early figures, it is clear that too many patients are being diagnosed late, when their cancer is already spreading.”

You can view the Public Health England experimental statistics here.

3.58pm The chief executive of NHS England has launched a new “commitment to carers”.

To coincide with the Carers UK state of caring conference in London, Simon Stevens publically committed his organisation to do more to support people providing unpaid care.

NHS England has drawn up eight priorities and 37 commitments that are designed to help the NHS to deliver the care and support to carers.

These include a national event for young carers, a carers’ champion on the board of NHS England, and promoting carers’ interests through work on personalised care planning, end of life care and dementia.

Mr Stevens said: “Carers are hugely important to our society, their contribution is immense. Over 1.4 million people provide 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week for a partner, friend or family member. 

“In terms of providing care, they are often doing most of the work so it is vital that we in the NHS give them the recognition and help they need. We also need to remember how the demands of caring can take its toll on people’s own health. We need to care for the carers.”

3.13pm Has the violence and aggression experienced by staff working in A&E departments contributed to a “recruitment crisis” in emergency medicine? Imperial College consultant Chris Wright and his colleagues have looked into the issue and written about their findings for HSJ.

2.46pm The London Cancer Alliance – a partnership of 16 NHS providers across South and West London – has appointed a new director of research and development. Professor Stan Kaye will work closely with the LCA’s clinical directors, board and pathway groups to implement a comprehensive research and development strategy across the alliance.

Professor Kaye is currently professor of medical oncology and senior research fellow at the biomedical research centre at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

LCA chair Dr Neil Goodwin said: ‘I am delighted Professor Kaye has been appointed to this critical post. He has superlative national and international experience as a clinician and researcher and is perfectly placed to represent and promote the LCA at national and international level, developing the reputation of the LCA in world class research.”

2.39pm The department of health has launched its NHS e-procurement strategy. The document provides details of actions to improve NHS data and information as part of the NHS Procurement Development Programme, which aims to help the NHS save £1.5 billion by the financial year 2015-16.

In a foreword health minister Dan Poulter writes: “There have been many previous initiatives to realise procurement efficiencies but this time we mean business and are determined to deliver efficiencies to free up more money for frontline care.

“To help trusts to further improve their non-pay spending, we will centrally fund and procure a single, national spend analysis and price benchmarking service. This service will provide high quality expenditure data so that trusts can identify opportunities to continuously improve their procurement performance.”

1.21pm What can a French economist’s analysis of capitalism tell us about the NHS? Read Michael White’s latest politics column to find out.

1.12pm HSJ’s Live Q&A on mental health and unemployment has now kicked off. You can follow it and pose your questions to Andrew Molodynski of Oxford Health Foundation Trust here.

12.57pm To recap the better care fund story, the Guardian last night reported it had been “halted” because of “deep disquiet about its viability in Whitehall”, and it was being reviewed by the Cabinet Office.

However, the Department of Health has issued a statement saying the better care plans will start from April next year as planned.

The news follows concern the huge pooled budget project - announced in last year’s comprehensive spending review - could destabilise hospitals, as it will involve money being transferred away from them. There have been questions over the quality of the plans being drawn up locally for use of the funds to avoid the need for hospital care.
HSJ senior correspondent David Williams gave an update on the situation on Twitter last night.

12.50pm Writing in today’s Guardian, Simon Jenkins argues that the principle of “small is beautiful” applies to the NHS and that it needs to “broken up and returned to surgeries and local hospitals, postcode lottery and all”.

“Denationalisation is now the only version of a public health service not tried,” he writes.

12.26pm Public satisfaction with accident and emergency services dipped to a five-year low in 2013, according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey.

Just over half (53 per cent) of people said they were satisfied with the service in 2013 - the lowest level since 2008, the survey published by the King’s Fund found.

In 2012, 59 per cent of the public were content with A&E services.

12.24pm The Foundation Trust Network has appealed to NHS England and Monitor to help healthcare providers cope with “unprecedented financial challenges” of 2015-16 by revising their next national tariff.

The representative group has drawn up a list of ten priorities which they say should be taken into account when designing next financial year’s payment and pricing system.

These include a proposal to scrap the marginal rate for emergency admissions and readmission penalties; parity of esteem for mental health and equal treatment for non-acute providers; and a rigorous impact assessment of all proposed changes.

10.56am In The Guardian,the hospital at the heart of a legal challenge over the way doctors decide not to attempt resuscitation insisted yesterday that its staff had not acted “with callous or negligent disregard” for a patient.

The husband and daughters of Janet Tracey, who died at Addenbrooke’s, want a national policy in England requiring medics to consult patients and relatives before making such decisions.

Tracey, 63, broke her neck in a car accident soon after she had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. She died in March 2011 after having two “do not resucitate” notices placed in her notes.

10.45am NHS England has scrapped its timetable for the patient records project, insisting the programme will only be introduced nationally once the “process is right”.

National director for patients and information Tim Kelsey has said the programme - currently in the middle of a six-month pause - would not be subject to “artificial deadlines”.

10.43am The Independent reports that Apple may be planning a move into the health sector, having hired six biomedical experts in the past year and with more expected to join the technology giant.

10.41am The Independent leads with the news that Vince Cable has expressed caution about a potential deal between the British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and UC company Pfizer.

The business secretary said he would not rule out intervention if the deal does not include “binding” promises to protect British jobs and scientific research.

“We see the future of the UK as a knowledge economy, not as a tax haven,” he said.

10.35am The Nuffield Trust has issued a statement in relation to The Guardian’s story on the BCF which is strongly critical of the fund. Nigel Edwards, the chief executive of the organisation, says the plans are built on “flawed logic”, “wishful thinking” and “could lead to a widespread financial collapse across the acute hospital sector”.

“The Cabinet Office is right to be asking searching questions about these plans. Simply expecting efficiencies from hospitals to deliver the savings needed for the Fund on top of already very challenging targets is not going to work. Delaying its implementation and focusing on how to get patients home from hospital more quickly should be a priority.”

You can read his full statement here.

10.29am Elsewhere, the paper’s social affairs editor John Bingham writes that seriously ill patients are being denied a say in whether they live or die because of a lack of clear rules on whether doctors must consult them before deciding whether to attempt to resuscitate them, three senior judge have warned.

The government’s human rights watchdog has joined the family of a woman who had a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order placed on her medical notes without her knowledge.

10.26am The Daily Telegraph reports that more than 50,000 Britons have left their jobs to care for relations with dementia, according to research which discloses that the condition is costing businesses £1.6billion a year.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned that the “fabric of society” was under attack from the condition, with too many carers forced out of work because employers and local communities offered them insufficient support.

10.18am Two-thirds of the public favour increased funding to maintain health services, according to an Ipsos MORI poll shared exclusively with HSJ.

More people (79 per cent) also support the NHS being protected from cuts with a ring-fence than for schools (51 per cent), care for the elderly (51 per cent) or the police (39 per cent).

10.12am The Times also reports that a human heart made with a 3D printer will be implanted in a patient within a decade, scientists who have developed a “bio-assembly robot” to build the organ claim.

10.11am A patient was given a vasectomy by mistake during a minor operation, The Times reports.

Doctors at the Royal Liverpool Hospital have tried to reverse the procedure but the man still does not know if he will be able to have children.

The surgeon involved has been suspended and an investigation is underway.

10.10am The Times also reports that the word “cancer” should no longer be used for slow-growing tumours that might never cause serious problems, according to US doctors.

Patients would be less worried and doctors less tempted to use aggressive treatments if unthreatening abnormalities were renamed, experts at the University of California, San Francisco say.

10.08am The Times reports that pressure is growing on Simon Stevens to reopen the cases of six whistleblowers who spoke out over poor care.

Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie and Welsh Labour MP Ann Clywd joined the call for the cases to be reopened.

9.55am The Guardian reports today that the better care fund has been “halted” because of “deep disquiet about its viability in Whitehall”.

However, the Department of Health has issued a press release stating that the better care plans will start from April next year as planned.

As HSJ’s David Williams (@dwilliamsHSJ) has pointed out on twitter, the Treasury had budgeted for the BCF, meaning any pause would result in them having to identify an additional £3.8bn for 2015-16.

7.00am Good morning. Today at 1pm, Oxford Health Foundation Trust consultant psychiatrist Andrew Molodynski and colleagues will be online to discuss how services in Oxfordshire are using a “light” version of an intensive (and therefore expensive) individual placement and support model to help service users. Join us for the live Q&A.