Chief executive and HR director of mental health trust apologise for unguarded personal comments, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.08pm Our story on the costs of the abandoned George Eliot competition has attracted some interesting comment from readers. Here’s a sample:

“Surely the private bidders should be compensated for an incompetent NHS procurement process?”


“The process started due to George Eliot’s financial sustainability challenges but then someone seemed to ‘forget’ that when they were identified as a Keogh trust. Now their financial position is even worse. What next?”


“Funny how GE’s forecast year end deficit suddenly increased just after they pulled out. It’s still not sustainable, the issue remains unresolved… What a waste, not just money, but time! Three years down the tube.”

4.09pm More than half of English adults believe that not enough of the NHS budget is being spent on medicines, according to a survey by a pharmaceutical industry body.

A new survey commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry found that 52% did not believe enough is being spent on medicines.

The ComRes poll of more than 1,700 adults showed that this figure rises in older adults, with three in five adults aged 55 and above believing that the NHS’s current 10p in every £1 spent on medicines was ‘not enough’ compared with two in five of adults aged 18 to 24.

3.19pm NHS England has chosen six clinical commissioning groups for the next phase of its controversial patient record sharing initiative.

GP practices within the CCGs of Somerset; West Hampshire; Blackburn with Darwen; Leeds North; Leeds South and East; and Leeds West will be expected to take part in the “pathfinder” stage of the programme.

At this stage, participating practices will test various means of informing patients of their rights in relation to the record sharing regime.

2.58pm NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster has commented on Norman Lamb’s speech at the Liberal Democrat party conference.

Mr Webster said: “Norman Lamb has set out a clear direction of travel for the Liberal Democrats regarding health and care services. There is much in the approach that we welcome, including a clear commitment to invest in the NHS, support for locally-led change, and a pledge to reform the complex system of NHS finance to better support integrated services and preventative care. I would like to applaud Norman for his ongoing commitment to parity of esteem for mental health. 

“As we approach the end of the last party conference before the 2015 General Election, it is vital that all parties with the potential to play a part in the next government are clear about one thing: without significant change to services, the NHS is on the threshold of Last Chance Saloon. We need politicians, the public and the NHS to have an honest, informed debate about the future of health and care and the funding of services in the country. Whoever gets into power must have a mandate to take action to ensure our grandchildren can still have an NHS to be proud of. In doing so, we hope that they embrace the asks put forward by the NHS Confederation and 20 partners in our ‘2015 Manifesto: A Call to Action’.”

2.17pm Parents are failing to make adequate plans for the children they would leave behind should they die early, according to a new survey by the Childhood Bereavement Network, based at leading children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau. A lack of information, busy lives and a reluctance to think about death, means parents of young children struggle to make plans for their children should they die early.

The research is published to mark the launch of the Childhood Bereavement Network’s awareness campaign “Plan If”, which encourages all parents to put in place a legacy of practical and personal things which would make a difference to their children should one or both parents die.

2.14pm The Disabled Living Foundation, a national charity providing impartial advice, information and training on independent living, has joined forces with Shaw Trust. The charities will merge at the end of November and DLF will retain its name, identity and staff.

Chris Shaw, chief executive of the Disabled Living Foundation, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for DLF and I look forward to joining forces with Shaw Trust to address support for people who have independent living needs. The partnership will boost advisory services and reach out to more disabled and disadvantaged people. We are also committed to ensuring our trusted face-to-face and online services, which are popular with our clients, continue under the partnership agreement.”

2.08pm GPs in Cornwall have been urged to take back control of out of hours services to preserve the future of general practice in the county, HSJ has learned.

The call comes in a letter to practices from Peter Merrin, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly local medical committee, which warns the future of Cornish general practice was “dependant” on GPs playing a larger role in the provision of out of hours care.

The letter follows confirmation from Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group last week that it would tender for a new out of hours provider to take over from Serco next May.

1.21pm The chief executive and HR director of a mental health trust have apologised for making unguarded personal comments about a senior manager and her union representative in a meeting, not knowing they were being recorded.

According to a transcript of the recording, West London Mental Health Trust director of workforce and organisational development Rachael Moench asked trust chief executive Steve Shrubb if he could “smell alcohol” on Hayley Dare’s union representative in the meeting.

Mr Shrubb described Dr Dare as a “very, very disturbed woman” and that she reminded him “of my first wife”.

Although, Dr Dare had left the room with her representative from union Managers in Partnership when the comments were made, they were captured on a recording device, left running in her bag in the room.

12.58pm Norman Lamb finishes his speech by saying the NHS is a liberal institution and claims the NHS needs Lib Dems in the next government.

12.52pm Mr Lamb says he wants to encourage the development of integrated care organisations, with NHS organisations sharing risks and rewards. He repeats his call for local health and care budgets to be pooled by 2018.

12.46pm Norman Lamb says “we must promote integrated care joined up around the needs of the patient” - a theme which has appeared at all three main party conferences.

12.44pm Mr Lamb criticises Labour for putting “ideology before people” and for wasting “so much money” in the NHS. He echoes the Conservative line that the “central threat to NHS is the public finances”.

12.38pm He says that the Crisis Care Concordat agreed this year has meant the number of mental health patients ending up in police cells is “falling fast”.

12.37 Mr Lamb says he and Nick Clegg will make a “significant announcement” about mental health tomorrow.

12.35pm He says that Labour “left out” mental health when it introduced waiting time targets and payment by results to the NHS.

12.30pm Mr Lamb says that people with mental illness are getting a “raw deal”.

12.28pm Norman Lamb is about to deliver his speech at the Liberal Democrats party conference in Glasgow.

12.00pm The Telegraph has two opinion pieces on the NHS today. Andrew Haldenby, director of the free market think tank Reform, argues “the NHS can meet modern challenges by finding greater value from the money that it already spends”. He says he hopes politicians will “resist” calls for more funding for the service from NHS groups.

A Telegraph editorial says the NHS should extra money through “alternative income streams, such as social insurance, or top-up payments for those who want to supplement their basic care”.

“The problem is that whenever such ideas are raised, the vested interests within the health system - and their Labour cheerleaders - work themselves into a frothing rage, especially when an election approaches,” the paper argues.

11.47am Monitor will scrutinise foundation trusts more closely by requiring monthly finance reports, as pressure on NHS finances grows.

The regulator has agreed with the Department of Health that a monthly forecast year end outturn report will be required detailing every foundation trust’s surplus or deficit position, and capital expenditure on an accruals basis.

Previously, only foundation trusts that had financial problems were required to provide monthly updates.

11.45am The Daily Mail reports that thousands of new mothers are being let down by inadequate GP appointments that are supposed to ensure they recover well from labour, a study has found.

The paper writes that nearly half 4,000 new mothers surveyed said their six-week post-natal check was not thorough enough, with one in five saying it lasted less than five minutes.

Almost a third claimed their GP did not ask about their state of mind, even though doctors are meant to check for post-natal depression.

The consultations are offered on the NHS six weeks after labour to check that women are recovering physically and emotionally, and coping with caring for their babies.

10.59am Also in The Telegraph, doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics incorrectly in the afternoon, when they are tired, a report has claimed.

Researchers found that GPs become worn down by the “cumulative demand” of making dozens of decisions throughout the day and by late afternoon are more likely to overprescribe antibiotics for respiratory infections than in the morning.

10.54am The Daily Telegraph reports that older people will be encouraged to work longer under a government plan to increase the average retirement by six months every year, in a bid to avoid a health care crisis

10.35am The Independent reports the NHS may have to start charging patients for the “hotel costs” of their hospital stay if the health service’s looming financial crisis is not addressed, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation has warned.

Rob Webster said hospital bosses will need to “think the unthinkable” if future NHS funding fails to keep up with patient demand.

“If the NHS cannot afford to fund everything, then it will need to make tough choices about what it does fund.

“Do we think about increasing our tolerance for longer wait [for care], or do we say ‘NHS funding is only for the health aspects of care and treatment’, which means patients being asked to cover their hotel costs for bed and board?”

10.27am MPs are stressed, overeating, drinking too much alcohol and failing to get enough exercise, according to a survey by Nuffield Health, The Times reports.

Nine out of ten MPs admitted exceeding NHS daily calorie guidelines at least once a week, while a fifth drank more than the weekly recommended alcohol limit for their gender.

10.22am The Times reports that a Spanish nurse has become the first person to test positive for ebola in Europe.

The Spanish authorities said that both tests for the virus had proved positive, confirming that she was infected with the disease, for which there is no known cure.

Health chiefs activated an emergency protocol for ebola and the nurse was placed in an isolation ward.

The 44-year-old nurse was part of a team that had recently treated a Spanish missionary who was repatriated last month from Sierra Leone after contracting ebola.

The decision to treat the missionary in Spain attracted widespread criticism from health professionals in the country.

10.10am The FT also dedicates one of its leaders to the NHS. It argues: “Unless they address the true scale of the healthcare fundign challenge, none of Britain’s political parties can claim to have a convincing fiscal plan for the next parliamentary term.

“With public satisfaction in the NHS still high, there is now a clear opportunity for them to come clean.”

10.04am Browsing through this morning’s newspapers, the Financial Times reports that the UK’s life sciences industry is on course this year to raise its most financing for at least seven years, in a sign government efforts to promote investment in the sector are beginning to bear fruit.

Companies raised £734m of capital in the first half of the year, compared to £483m raised in the whole of 2013, making it the leading European destination for life sciences fundraising.

9.53am The NHS spent £1.78m on an abandoned procurement to find an organisation to take over George Eliot Hospital Trust,HSJ can exclusively reveal.

The cost was split between three trusts, with George Eliot alone spending more than £1.2m on the aborted process.

Two neighbouring NHS trusts – South Warwickshire Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust – collectively spent more than £500,000 as they bid to run the £124m-turnover district general hospital.

7.00am Good morning. A recent frontline project has broken new ground in reducing accident and emergency admissions using integrated care to create efficient pathways for care, writes Claire Perry.