Labour has criticised NHS England’s plan to give clinical commissioning groups a role in commissioning primary care, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

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5.00pm In the Nuffield Trust blog, senior policy fellow Andy McKeon questions whether the better care fund sums add up.

“I have no doubt that the plans being made by CCGs and local authorities will show the necessary savings. The Department will be able to demonstrate this to the Cabinet Office if that is what they are required to do. But then, any plan can be made to add up. The issues are how reliable are the assumptions and what happens if they prove to be wrong,” he writes.

“I would be surprised if the Fund didn’t go ahead despite the obvious risks. Too much has been invested in it politically. Ministers use the existence of the fund to argue that pooling budgets between health and social care will result in major savings, so easing if not removing entirely the financial squeeze on the service. Opposition front bench spokesmen take a similar view.

“If the Fund were not to go ahead both would have to find different, and much better, answers in the short term (i.e. pre-election) to how services can be maintained and even grow during the next five years of austerity in the face of rising demand.”

4.30pm In the third article for HSJ’s Diversity special report, three prominent leaders from the health service explain what they believe are the biggest barriers to achieving a diverse workforce.

4.00pm Also in our Diversity special report, the drive for a diverse NHS workforce is discussed in an article by Ingrid Torjesen, which looks at how there’s evidence that achieving diversity results in better patient care.

3.30pm As part of HSJ’s Diversity special report, Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, explores the power of social media for LGBT and BME workers. He stresses the importance of re-capturing the spirit of the growing influence of social media in the way NHS staff and NHS leaders interact and engage with each other.

3.05pm HSJ’s latest special report discusses diversity in the lead up to NHS Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week (12-16 May).

You can download a free PDF of the Diversity special report here.

2:45pm Clinical commissioning groups could use the services of friendly societies as prime contractors with a vast array of benefits, write ResPublica’s Adam Wildman and David Fagleman.

1:55pm Sir Ian Carruthers has been appointed by the NHS Trust Development Authority to lead a review of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust’s board, the TDA has confirmed.

The review has launched as the trust faces a series of difficulties. Its chief executive Phil Morley resigned last month for “personal reasons” and the Care Quality Commission yesterday issued a scathing report which said some staff had felt “bullied and harassed by senior management”.

1:30pm Local commissioners that are not directly involved with failing hospitals are to be given the chance to respond to proposals put forward by trust special administrators, after the government last night adopted an amendment to the Care Bill.

1:00pm Simon Stevens’ move to give clinical commissioning groups more power over primary care has divided opinion among health leaders.

The NHS England chief executive has announced - only a month after he took up the role - an apparently bold move that will allow CCGs to co-commission the services.

HSJ asked commissioners and other healthcare leaders their reaction.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham also told HSJ that the move highlighted an “intrinsic flaw” in the current system and risked creating a conflict of interest.

12:30pm Guardian columnist Seumas Milne argues that  Pfizer taking over AstraZeneca would be detrimental for both the US and the UK.

He writes: “In both countries […] it has been governments that funded the research and development into most groundbreaking new drugs, which the private sector then developed, jacking up the profits through monopoly pricing and preferential taxation.

“So US and British taxpayers are paying twice over, while the economy created by the corporate free-for-all has delivered stagnation in growth and living standards, escalating inequality and insecurity.

“The idea that there can be any “rebalancing” of the economy or “march of the makers” under such an economic regime is absurd. That would instead demand publicly-led reconstruction and investment in the sectors of the future.”

12:15pm In The Daily Mail [paper only], industry sources have said that Pfizer will only go ahead with its takeover bid of rival AstraZeneca if it has the support of the UK government.

12:00pm Back to today’s papers, The Financial Times reports that David Cameron has told Pfizer he wants stronger assurances of its commitment to UK science as he left open the option of extending government powers to intervene in the US pharmaceutical firm’s £63bn takeover approach for AstraZeneca.

The prime minister said he agreed with business secretary Vince Cable, who said it would be possible to subject the proposed deal to a “public interest test”.

11.55am Labour has criticised NHS England’s plan to give clinical commissioning groups a role in commissioning primary care.

Simon Stevens, who began work as NHS England chief executive last month, announced he would invite CCGs to bid to apply for a role co-commissioning primary care. It has, since April 2013, been the responsibility of NHS England, because of concerns of conflict of interest for CCGs and their GP members and leaders.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told HSJ the move highlighted an “intrinsic flaw” in the current system and risked creating a conflict of interest. He claimed the idea was “trying to correct” problems created by the Health Act 2012 reforms.

11:45am Scientists have developed a test for elderly patients to predict whether they will survive an operation to stop doctors relying on age to decide whether they will undergo treatment, The Times reports.

Campaigners said the NHS needed better assessment of frailty after repeated accusations of ageism by doctors.

11.30am Also in The Times, Simon Stevens has urged hospitals to take whistleblowers’ complaints more seriously.

11.15am Moving on to today’s papers, The Times reports that Healthwatch England is to investigate what happens to thousands of vulnerable patients who are sent home from hospital without proper support.

11.00am In Resource Centre,council scrutiny of the NHS Health Checks programme is important in the fight to improve public health, writes Tim Gilling, deputy executive director at Centre for Public Scrutiny.

10.45am In our latest HSJ’s latest data video, senior correspondent Sarah Calkin explains NHS England’s specialised commissioning overspend.

10.30am Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, has joined the board of trustees at the King’s Fund.

Ms Mitchell joined the MS Society last year. Prior to that she was director general at Age UK.

Sir Christopher Kelly, chair of the King’s Fund, said he is “really pleased to welcome Michelle Mitchell to our board of trustees”.

“Michelle is a highly respected and experienced leader in the charity sector. With her knowledge of how patients and carers use and experience health and social care services I know she will offer valuable input to the work the King’s Fund does to improve care.”

Ms Mitchell added she is “delighted to be joining the King’s Fund at this critical time.

“We face serious challenges about how we can improve health and social care. I look forward to making sure the King’s Fund remains at the centre of these debates.”

10.15am Widespread vacancies in the clinical reference groups established by NHS England to link specialist and non-specialist services have led to a deterioration in patient experience, it has been alleged.

The claim follows HSJ analysis revealing that almost three-quarters of the 75 reference groups are yet to appoint a co-chair, more than a year after they were set up.

10.00am: Accurate, timely data is essential for clinicians and managers to respond to urgent problems and meet performance targets. However, “information overload” is a problem that can affect all healthcare professionals.

Vast amounts of data, ranging from telemedicine to patient records, can be spread across several systems with varying degrees of timeliness.

HSJ’s free webinar – Using information to drive efficiency improvements in healthcare – brings together experts to discuss how timely data can help managers and clinicians.

Having the right data at the right time can allow managers and clinicians to respond to urgent issues, such as patients about to breach the four hour accident and emergency target.

Timely information also enables staff to anticipate and avoid difficulties. As many of these issues are linked to targets or key performance indicators, there can be financial and reputational repercussions if organisations do not react in time. 

This free webinar will look at the value of timely information, ask how it can be provided in both a clinical setting and to help managers, and how it can contribute to efficiency improvements in healthcare.

Register now to ensure you are up to date on this crucial topic for all NHS organisations.

9.39am: Local commissioners who are not directly involved with failing hospitals will be consulted over trust special administrator recommendations after the government last night adopted an amendment to the Care Bill.

The government made a concession following campaigning from MPs, pressure groups and trust representative bodies calling for amendments to Clause 118 to include the views of commissioners who might find their neighbouring trust affected by a downgrade or closure of a local failing hospital.
Clause 118 was dubbed the “hospital closure clause” after it was proposed as part of the Care Bill following Jeremy Hunt’s defeat in the High Court where the judge found that he had acted outside of his powers in trying to cut back services at Lewisham Hospital under the trust special administration regime.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. In the post-Francis world, are health and wellbeing boards the key to increased health and care system accountability? That’s what Aliko Ahmed and Kelechi Nnoaham argue in a comment piece for HSJ.