Healthcare professionals believe creating brighter leadership opportunities is essential for emerging leaders to transform NHS services, says Jennifer Trueland, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.48pm The Sheffield Star reports that Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust has called in the Red Cross to help tackle “unprecedented” demand on emergency services.

According to the paper, trust chair Sir Andrew Cash sent an email to staff saying: “The pressure on the emergency care system is unprecedented with A&E frequently reaching 100 people in the department and up to 50 people waiting for admission.

“December saw a 10.5 per cent increase in the number of emergency admissions compared to the previous December – an increase of almost 400 patients.

“The patients are also older than the usual admissions we have and many have longer lengths of stay due to their dependency and frailty.”

However, the Shelford Group trust has not declared a major incident.

4.19pm In The Guardian, an NHS senior registrar has given their account of a night shift at a teaching hospital.

4.03pm In response to new NHS England figures on ambulance response times and outcomes, Heather Strawbridge and chair of the NHS Confederation urgent and emergency care forum, said.

“Staff at ambulance trusts are working tirelessly, treating a greater number of patients year on year, providing high quality and safe care.

“Pressures on Ambulance Services reflect pressures across the whole NHS. With such pressures growing each year, ambulance trusts are working differently, together with other NHS providers, in order to maintain high quality care.
Ms Strawbridge, who also chairs the South Western Ambulance Service, said: “In the South West paramedics are increasingly working to triage patients following 999 calls, allowing a greater proportion to receive appropriate care outside of A&E. Its 999 calls result in A&E care only in 47 per cent of cases, compared to the national average of 57 per cent.

“To respond to pressures, the London Ambulance Service for example are changing how they respond to 999 calls. They are safely and appropriately not sending an emergency ambulance to 3,500 callers a week – that’s 10 per cent of calls. After an initial clinical triage, these patients will either be referred to NHS 111 or given additional telephone advice by a paramedic.
“Ensuring high quality urgent and emergency care services requires a joint effort from across health and social care. The NHS Confederation continues to call for an end to sticking-plaster solutions.

“We need to give local staff and organisations the freedom and flexibility to deliver care differently, so it best meets the needs of patients and their communities.”

3.52pm The BBC reports that that two drug companies have criticised the decision to remove their treatments from the Cancer Drugs Fund.

3.20pm A North East trust has announced it is outsourcing payroll services to a trust in Lancashire, affecting up to 37 members of staff.

South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust is transferring its payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable teams to East Lancashire Financial Services – part of Calderstones Partnership Foundation Trust.

The contract, which will begin in April, is part of wider efforts to save South Tees £90m over three years.

2.54pm The marginal tariff and budget shift to CCGs set out in the NHS planning guidance for 2015-16 leaves some providers short changed, writes HSJ senior bureau chief Dave West.

2.41pm An Independent argues that Andy Burnham’s call for a “summit” to deal with the crisis in A&E departments is “crafty” as if the government refuses it looks “callous” but if it agrees it “dances to Mr Burnham’s tune”.

The Independent argues that a summit “would solve little”.

“It would not free up a single bed, or deliver a single X-ray, or bandage a single wound.”

2.23pm The Independent reports that government bailouts to help the NHS cope with winter pressures have not reached frontline services in some parts of the country, Britain’s top emergency doctor has said, as the political dispute over crumbling A&E performance deepened yesterday.

NHS England said earlier this week that most of the new services supported by the £700m winter pressures fund were now up and running.

But the College has received reports of problems from emergency doctors in London and Leeds while Dr Mann’s own department at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset, has received no extra funding.

Doctors said the money would have been “significantly more useful” if hospitals had been given “more than a few months” to use it.

2.00pm Also in The Times, fire engines have been drafter in as makeshift ambulances to cope with a rising tide of emergency patients.

The Fire Brigades Union said that firefighters had been diverted away from their work to help ambulance crews in parts of the country.

In Heartllands hospital, part of Heart of England Foundation Trust in Birmingham, 140 back office staff also responded to help nurses to free up beds by organising drugs and transport for patients.

1.15pm The Times reports that office workers should hold meetings standing up and avoid emailing colleagues in order to cut the time they spend sitting down, according to public health experts.

Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “Simple behaviour changes to break up long period of sitting… can make a huge difference”.

Sitting for long periods is thought to raise the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

12.52pm University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust had 100 patients waiting over 12 hours in accident and emergency, accounting for more than half of such waiters nationally, figures for the last three months of 2014 reveal.

Across England in the third quarter of 2014-15 174 patients waited over 12 hours from the decision to admit until admission, meaning the trust was responsible for 57 per cent of the total.

12.47pm A legal challenge against the transfer of services from Stafford Hospital to the Royal Stoke Hospital has been ruled out in legal advice to the local authority.

David Wolfe QC from the Matrix Chambers told Stafford Borough Council there is “no basis for a legal challenge at present”.

12.11pmA West Midlands acute trust is hoping to generate £5.9m in extra income per year following the opening of a new £23m cancer treatment unit this month.

Patients from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust have historically travelled to Coventry, Wolverhampton, Cheltenham and Birmingham for radiotherapy treatment but the trust is set to open its new oncology unit on 26 January after 18 months of construction.

11.45am The finance director of the challenged Barnsley Hospital Foundation Trust has been dismissed for gross misconduct after misstating its accounts.

The trust became of aware “financial irregularities” at the end of March last year. It opened an investigation, with disciplinary action being taken against then finance director Janet Ashby in April.  

11.06am The Telegraph reports that untrained administrators are being drafted in to help medical staff at accident and emergency departments across the country.

Trusts are also scrambling to recruit hundreds of foreign nurses because of shortfalls, interviewing candidates online to speed up the process, according to the paper.

In North Wales, more than 70 Spanish nurses have reportedly been brought in to help struggling casualty departments and many staff are working unpaid overtime to meet demands.

10.58am David Cameron has indicated the Conservatives are prepared to meet demands to give the NHS an £8bn a year boost, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The prime minister told MPs that it is his “responsibility” to fund a plan by NHS England to help secure the future of the NHS, which he described as the “right long-term answer”.

The paper adds that so far only the Liberal Democrats have committed to meeting the £8bn of additional funding for the NHS by 2020.

10.43am Also in The Financial Times, Labour-run Wales has decided not to follow the coalition, which ring-fenced health spending after it came to power in 2010.

In the past two years Cardiff has had to find emergency cash for the service, amid criticisms of its policies and worsening statistics.

10.33am The Financial Times reports that David Cameron has been “forced on the offensive” yesterday after Labour seized on figures showing the worst performance by England’s hospital emergency departments since 2004.

“The NHS is facing this winter with more doctors, more nurses and more money than it has ever had in history,” Mr Cameron told the House of Commons yesterday.

Hospitals are facing a combination of rising emergency admissions, fewer hospital beds and an a population that is both growing and ageing, writes chief political correspondent Jim Pickard.

10.15am The press are turning up the pressure on waiting times and politicians promise to ‘save’ the health service and the election cycle is fuelling the fire, writes Michael White, in his weekly HSJ column.

10.05am The Care Quality Commission has today published reports for 50 GP practice inspections across England.

Seven practices were rated as ‘requires improvement’, 42 practices were rated as ‘good’ and one was rated ‘outstanding’.

The CQC began rating practices under a new-style inspection process, which was rolled out in October last year.

The body also introduced a special measures regime for failing practices in October. Under the regime, if a practice that is deemed to be ‘inadequate’ does not improve within six months, it will be placed into special measures.

If the practice was still found to be inadequate after a further six months, the CQC may cancel its registration and/or NHS England terminate its contract.

The CQC has until now only published a handful of inspection reports. No practices have yet been rated as ‘inadequate’.

Professor Nigel Sparrow, the CQC’s senior national GP Advisor said: “We know that the vast majority of England’s GPs are providing a service which is safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led. 

“If that is what we find on inspection - we give it a rating of ‘good’, and I congratulate the GPs and staff in these practices.

He added: “Patients should be able to expect high quality and consistent care from every GP practice.

“Where we have required improvement, we will expect the practice to take the necessary steps to address the issue, and we will return at a later date to check that those improvements have been made.”

The full reports can be read here.

7.00am Good morning. This time last year Patricia Miller was named one of HSJ’s Rising Stars. A few short months later she was promoted from the post of director of operations to chief executive of Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust.

Ms Miller believes she owes her rise to the support and development she has had from the NHS, and is now trying to do the same for those who are coming up behind her.