Influential UK health and social care consultancy acquired by international health giant, and the rest of the day’s news and comment.

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2:00pm Cancer Research UK has been voted the charity closest to the hearts of the public, in a health awareness campaign run by the private healthcare provider BMI Healthcare.                            

As part of BMI Healthcare’s ‘Big Health Pledge’ campaign, a series of roadshows took place in shopping centres around the UK from October to December, where shoppers were encouraged to make small changes to their lifestyle to see big improvements in their health.                 

At the roadshows, members of the public were asked to choose from five leading charities - each of which focussing on the biggest killers in the UK– heart disease, lung disease, cancer, stroke and liver disease.

Thousands of votes were cast, and Cancer Research UK was declared the winner.              

The charity received a £2,500 donation from BMI Healthcare for its cause, which raises money to fund vital research into the killer disease.        

Nick Rothwell, Group Sales and Marketing Director for BMI Healthcare, says: “We are delighted to support Cancer Research UK.  All the charities fight for such worthy causes, but it was cancer that struck the biggest chord with the public, with many people saying that they knew someone affected by the disease.”                                    

1:45pm The Care Quality Commission has told Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Foundation Trust to make urgent improvements, after an inspection found it was more focused on “responding to… targets” than “ensuring that overall patient experiences were positive”.

Will Hazell writes that an unannounced inspection by the regulator at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough last October found evidence of inadequate care, regular short staffing on “almost all wards”, and a culture where “staff did not always feel they could raise concerns”.

1:30pm NHS England has said that its planning guidance, which calls for GP practices to “work at greater scale”, will not mean the end of single-handed practices. To read Judith Welikala’s analysis on the debate surrounding this issue, click here.

1:05pm Ian Blunt, senior research analyst at the Nuffield Trust, has written an response to recent media reports about the ‘frequent fliers’ who use A&E departments the most often.

He argues that we need to find out who the patients are who frequently attend A&E departments, then we can improve care for them and use NHS resources more efficiently.

12:30pm HSJ Editor Alastair Mclellan argues in his leader today that it is time to bring social care spending ‘out from the cold’.

10:55am Heath secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for the British public to take responsibility for themselves in changing their unhealthy lifestyles. Mr Hunt has claimed that the US is making better progress than Britain at tackling obesity, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper cites figures from Public Health England predicting that 60 per cent of men, half of all women and a quarter of children will be obese by 2050.

His comments came as NHS England announced that it is to conduct the first aufit of complex births, including those of obese mothers.

10:45am The Guardian reports that senior doctors have accused the government of “dancing to the tune of the drinks industry” over its decision to drop plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol in England and Wales.

A report by the British Medical Journal recently revealed the Department of Health had 130 meetings with the alcohol industry while were considering new price controls, only a few of which were publically documented. The government dropped the policy last July.

Also in The Guardian, Simon Jenkins argues that despite his tough talk, George Osborne acts like a Labour chancellor and “British people have seen nothing to compare with the real cuts imposed on Greeks or Spaniards”.

He writes: “Any critic wanting to portray Osborne as a “son of Gordon Brown” would have no trouble. His borrowing is exorbitant, hovering around £100bn. He has been fiscally reckless in safeguarding the NHS budget, education and overseas aid.”

10:40am Turning to this mornings newspapers, The Times reports that men with low and medium-risk prostate cancer will be advised to avoid immediate treatment in a significant change to cancer care. Under new NICE guidelines men will be told to have regular checks rather than radiotherapy or surgery to remove their tumour to prevent the side-effects of treatment.

White women have a higher risk of getting breast cancer because they have fewer children and drink more than black and Asian women, a new study has concluded. The Times reports that while it has long been known that black and Asian women have a lower chance of getting the cancer it is the first time that this has been linked to lifestyle and reproductive patterns.

The scientists looked at data on a million British women aged over 50 which showed that South Asian women were 18 per cent less likely to get breast cancer than white women and black women 15 per cent.

The same paper claims to have identified the eleven most evil health service workers. Under a Freedom of Information Act request the Department of Health provided a list of NHS staff who have been stripped of their pensions after committing offences including murdering and molesting patients. Only one of the 11 is a health service administrator, the rest are doctors and nurses. The list includes Harold Shipman and Beverly Allitt, who injected children with insulin at a Lincolnshire Hospital in 1991.

Jeremy Hunt has said that Britain is making slower progress than the United States in reducing obesity. Mr Hunt said that Britons must do some “national soul-searching” to address the fact that 64 per cent of adults have a BMI greater than 25. He said that individuals should not look to the Government alone for support and should take responsibility for their own health.

10:30am Today we report that a top UK health and social care consultancy has been acquired by international health giant GE Healthcare. To read Nick Renaud-Komiya’s full story on the deal, click here.

10:10am A year on from health secretary Jeremy Hunt announcing an ambition of a paperless NHS by 2018, HSJ has published its first ever technology survey.

The survey suggests senior managers’ lack of knowledge about the clinical and cost benefits of improved IT systems is hindering progress towards the health secretary’s ambition.

Ninety one per cent of respondents say the NHS leadership community’s lack of IT knowledge could thwart Jeremy Hunt’s 2018 target date for the goal to be achieved. Only 29 per cent of those surveyed think the target is realistic.

A lack of joined up working between different parts of the health and social care system is cited as the biggest single reason the sector could fail to achieve the health secretary’s ambition - but the message about gaps in knowledge is unequivocal.

7:00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We start the day with a piece from Ann McMahon (research and innovation manager at the Royal College of Nursing) and colleagues on the skills clinicians need to identify inefficiencies, solve problems, and transform care for the better.