Number of doctors choosing to become medical directors could be increased if they received more backing and encouragement, study finds. plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4:43pm Health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Eric Pickles, local government secretary, have written a letter to The Guardian in response to a front page story published yesterday with the headline: £3.8bn NHS Better Care Fund policy delayed after damning Whitehall review

“Contrary to your reports, far from halting the Better Care programme, we have made great progress on a project that heralds a historic merger between health and social care commissioning.

“The schemes in each area start from April 2015, but we asked for early drafts to be prepared a year early so we had time to make sure they offer the real benefits for patients envisaged when the scheme was set up. That is what is happening, and the result is an exciting collaboration which has seen local government and local NHS commissioners working together in a way that has never happened before.”

Read the full response here.

4:06pm Health authorities have pledged to check whether health and wellbeing boards are involving providers in better care fund plans as part of a Whitehall-led effort to increase scrutiny of local proposals.

The Department of Health will also work alongside Monitor, the Trust Development Authority, the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association to “support” HWBs to secure health providers “crucial” input, the DH told HSJ.

1:24pm The number of doctors choosing to become medical directors could be increased if they received more backing and encouragement.

A study among current medical directors, which was carried out by the NHS Trust Development Authority and Monitor, also found that one in four have only been in their job for up to a year and would like a better induction and more mentoring.

11:16am To see HSJ’s list of inspirational women from 2013 click here.

11:10am Nominate the inspirational women in healthcare who are driving transformational change in the NHS in 2014

HSJ, working with NHS Employers and the NHS Leadership Academy, are seeking to celebrate healthcare’s inspirational women – those driving transformational change within the NHS, both in clinical and non-clinical settings.

This July we will be celebrating inspirational women in leadership and top executive roles, but also those making a difference on the front line of the NHS and within middle and senior management positions.

Inspiration comes in many forms but, as a starting point, we are looking for people who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • delivering outstanding leadership;
  • sharing knowledge and expertise with others in the sector;
  • acting as a role model or mentor to colleagues;
  • driving innovation in service and patient delivery, service redesign or research; and
  • they are at the heart of shaping or influencing policy.

A panel of expert judges will decide on the final list and the list will appear both on and in HSJ during July.

You can make nominations by clicking here and filling in the boxes

The closing date for nominations is Friday 6 June.

10.33am Jeremy Hunt asked the chief medical officer to commission expert reviews of three homeopathic remedy studies carried out by a commercial French company – in spite of the CMO’s publically expressed belief that homeopathy is “rubbish”, The Guardian reports.

The health secretary’s action, which was revealed through a freedom of information request by the Buzzfeed website, followed lobbying from Conservative MP, David Treddinick, who is a vocal advocate of alternative medicines.

Also in The Guardian, patients with heart failure are dying because they receive inadequate care after being “scattered” around hospitals which have too few beds for them in specialist wards, doctors have warned.

Half of patients end up on non-specialist wards where they have a 54 per cent greater chance of dying in hospital as a result, according to a recent audit by experts of the NHS’s handling of almost 44,000 hospital admissions for acute heart failure in England and Wales in 2012-13.

Polly Toynbee has written a comment piece in today’s Guardian, arguing that “switching [care] to the community is no get-out-of-jail card” when it comes to reducing NHS spending. In the piece she references HSJ’s story that two-thirds of the public back funding increases to prevent services from being scaled back.

10.26am The Daily Mail reports that a family went to visit their grandmother in hospital only to discover her lying dead in her bed.

An inquest heard that nurses at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital were unaware 85-year-old Joan James had died until her son Martyn told them.

10.24am The Times reports that David Cameron has been forced to call for more assurances from US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer over its bid for British rival AstraZeneca, being accused of being a “cheerleader” for the company.

David Davis has also become the first senior Conservative to say the bid should be referred for a public interest test.

Also in The Times, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is to scrap planned restrictions on who could be prescribed enzalutamide, a treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer. This means that men who have previously tried abiraterone, another treatment for the disease, will have access to the drug.

10.20am Turning our attention to this morning’s papers,The Telegraph reports that disabled and elderly people who are locked up in care homes and hospitals could soon overwhelm the courts with legal challenges against their treatment, the president of the Family Division of the High Court has warned.

Sir James Munby said that the number of people forcibly deprived of their liberty on mental health grounds had been “vastly” underestimated.  

Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer are to be given fresh hope after an about-turn by NHS rationing bodies over a drug which extends life by five months, The Telegraph reports.

New draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says most men with the disease which has spread beyond the prostate should be allowed enzalutamide on the NHS.

7.00am Welcome to HSJ Live. As electronic health records move us closer to a paperless NHS, Helen Simpson and Andrew Rankin of DAC Beachcroft examine what the current trends are in procurement and contracting that will define the year.