A provider of GP out-of-hours services is taking legal action after it lost bids in two out of three areas where they being tendered, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.40pm Sky News reports that media proprietor Richard Desmond is considering selling the Health Lottery, after being approached by a number of potential buyers.

Proceeds from the Health Lottery go towards local health initiatives that are not covered by existing NHS funding.

3.53pm Care minister Norman Lamb and Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund, discussed integrated care and its benefits on BBC Somerset this morning.

Their discussion begins roughly 1h35m into the programme.

3.35pm The BBC’s health correspondent Nick Tringle writes: “The problem with a relentless focus on something - such as the A&E waiting time target - is that there is a risk the real issue is missed.

“Like a magic trick, the eye is diverted elsewhere and fails to spot what has been happening right in front of it.”

He notes the rise in emergency admissions, which were 105,000 a week before Christmas, the highest since numbers being recorded in 2010.

“The more emergency cases that are admitted the more challenging it becomes for the rest of the hospital system,” he said.

2.50pm Waiting for treatment on the NHS puts a big strain on patients says Cathy O’Sullivan, acting director of the board of Community Health Councils in Wales, told the BBC that waiting lists put “enormous strain on patients”.

Meanwhile, Conservative health spokesman Darren Millar AM said Welsh government should put greater investment into frontline NHS services.

1.05pm Last November HSJ reported that the surgeon Edwin Jesudason claimed he was victimised for being a whistleblower by Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust.

He took his case to the High Court, supported by the BMA, but lost. It was unclear what caused the case to collapse. Mr Jesudason withdraw his allegations and resigned from his post with immediate effect.

However, an internal review presented to the trust board in December found significant safety concerns in its theatre departments.

The report was released today after it was obtained by Channel 4 News.

Written by director of nursing, Gill Core, who sits on the trust’s board, it highlights safety issues and long-standing concerns among staff.

12.47pm The BBC has published its weekly A&E tracker for the first week of 2014.

Nick Triggle, the BBC’s health correspondent, said despite breaching its 95 per cent target for four hour A&E waits, “the NHS is doing slightly better than it was for the first week of 2013”.

He said “performance is food compared to last year” for many measures. “In regards to trolley waits for admission, ambulances queuing outside A&E and cancelled operations the data shows an improvement on this time last year.”

12.33pm Take a look at HSJ’s interactive timeline on hospital transformation in 2013.

Hospital redesigns and improvement programmes had a turbulent 2013 following the impact of the Francis report and its 290 recommendations.

Sir Mike Richards was appointed as the first chief inspector of hospitals and was given with the power to place trusts in a failure regime.

12.22pm The Guardian also interviews Janet Wisely, chief executive of the Health Research Authority, who said the biggest challenge facing the NHS is “removing unnecessary barriers and empowering the NHS so the UK is seen globally as the place to do health research”.

12.13pm As part of NHS Change Day, Pollyanna Jones, regulatory performance manager at King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, writes in The Guardian: “This is an entirely voluntary movement led by people who, like me, believe a change to the NHS would be best coming from within the organisation.

“And if you are cynical or have problems with the NHS, then this is your opportunity to have your voice heard and to make a small change for yourself, and for others. The only way to sweep the cynics up and make them genuine agents for change is from a grassroots social movement.

“These hardened workers will not respond to boardroom, top-down tactics and suggestions for change – but this is their opportunity to do what they want, independent of hierarchy. To make the changes they talk about after work in the pub on a Friday night.”

11.58am NHS England has unveiled Action for Diabetes, outlining how it will tackle diabetes in 2014.

It will continue to work with Public Health England to roll out of NHS Health Checks, a programme it hopes will prevent and diagnose thousands of Type 2 diabetes cases a year.

NHS England also said it will improve diabetes care based on the ‘House of Care’ model of integrated services around the needs of the individual.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for obesity and diabetes at NHS England, said: “Diabetes is a growing problem and is a good example of why we need new thinking about how to provide integrated services in the NHS  in the future.

He added: “There is more to do on the individual management of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients in the community, on hospital care, on services being integrated around patient needs and wants, and, underlying all of that, care being safe.

“The UK was recently shown to have the lowest rates of early death due to diabetes out of 19 comparable countries, however, there is much more we can do to reduce the numbers of people getting Type 2 diabetes and to improve the care that all people with diabetes receive.

“In the future, we want to see fewer people developing Type 2 diabetes, and we want to see all people with diabetes having the support to manage their condition, with access to specialist care when they need it.”

Professor Valabhji said: “New thinking about how to provide integrated services in the future is needed in order to give individuals the care and support they require in the most efficient and appropriate care settings, across primary, community, secondary, mental health and social care, and in a safe timescale.

Action for Diabetes shows the direction of travel NHS England is taking to support these improvements in outcomes, and we will continue to work hard to ensure improved care and outcomes for all people with long-term conditions, including diabetes.”

11.45am Staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trust are balloting for strike action over concerns changes to shift patterns could lead to paramedics working up to 10 hours without a meal break.

The health union Unite is balloting its 450 members at the service, claiming the new rota has been “rushed in” without consultation. It is calling for staff to have a protected meal break of 30 minutes after working six hours.

11.39am Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust has become the latest bidder to withdraw from a contest to win a flagship £800m older people’s services contract, HSJ’s Judith Welikala reports.

There are five bidders still participating in the tender to be the “lead bidder” for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group’s contract to create an integrated acute and community pathway for older people.

11.29am Two nurses convicted of murdering patients are among 11 NHS workers that have had their pensions taken away after committing serious offences, it has been revealed.

The Department of Health list names health workers who have lost their pensions after committing offences including murder, assault, theft and corruption.

The list was provided to The Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

11.22am The NHS narrowly missed its four-hour A&E waiting time target last week, according to the BBC.

Official figures for the week up to 5 January show 94.3% of patients were seen within four hours - below the 95% target.

11.15am Also in The Times, the government’s life sciences adviser has criticised the “increasingly science hostile” culture in the EU, which he said is impeding progress in medicine and agriculture.

George Freeman, who is also a Conservative MP, said EU privacy legislation is putting major medical research projects on cancer and Alzheimer’s disease under threat.

11.07am The Times reports that one the UK’s leading experts on prostate cancer has called for men with suspected with the disease to be given an MRI scan as a first option.

Dr Mark Emberton, of University College London, criticised the official guidance, which was updated this week, as “illogical”.

11am More from The Daily Telegraph, nutrition experts have denied that sugar is a dangerous as tobacco.

Dr Victoria Burley, a senior lecturer in nutritional epidemiology at Leeds University, described the comparison with alcohol and tobacco as “nuts”.

She said: It’s total hyperbole, quite crazy. The epidemiology for smoking causing cancer is strong.

“You can look at figures and see that one quarter of cancer deaths are linked to smoking, that’s something like 43,000 deaths a year.

“There is certainly evidence that obesity is linked to cancer and coronary heart disease but there is little evidence that there is a causal link between sugar and obesity.

Professor Susan Jebb, a diet and population health expert at the University of Oxford said: “The scale of the obesity problem in this country clearly needs greater action to improve the nation’s diet.

“But we need to move away from a reductionist approach which blames individual nutrients, such as sugar, and instead take a more holistic approach if we are going to reduce diet-related disease.”

10.50am The Daily Telegraph also reports that former health secretary Andrew Lansley has dismissed claims by doctors that sugar is the “new tobacco”.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, he said: “We have had significant success the reduction of salt in food, but it has to be understood that this can only be achieved with the industry on a voluntary basis… and it can only be done on an incremental basis.

You can’t simply slash the sugar in food, otherwise people won’t accept it.”

His comments come in response to comments made by doctors at the launch of the Action on Sugar campaign on Wednesday.

10.41am In today’s papers, The Daily Telegraph leads on pharmaceutical firms urging a rethink of proposals for new drugs to only be licensed for the NHS if they judged to be a benefit to wider society, over fears that the elderly could be denied new medicines.

Dr Paul Catchpole, the value and access director at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “It is concerning because, under the new appraisal system, cancer medicine might do less well because older people aren’t as beneficial to society.

“You might have a cancer treatment for a severe disease but because the majority of the cancer patients are elderly they aren’t generating wider societal benefits, they are more likely to be generating costs.

“But if you have got a medicine that gets someone back to work then you could argue, under this system, that that’s better for society.”

10.35am An internal review at a leading children’s hospital has found significant safety concerns in its theatre departments.

The report - released this afternoon by Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust after it was obtained by Channel 4 News - was presented to the trust board in December.

Written by director of nursing, Gill Core, who sits on the trust’s board, it highlights safety issues and long-standing concerns among staff.

10.27am Checks aimed at identifying poorly-performing doctors will do nothing to help find or stop them, according to a poll of more than 5,600 doctors.

More than 80 per cent of hospital doctors and 67 per cent of GPs also pointed to variations in care, saying there are certain doctors they would not want to treat their friends and family.

10.22am Please note: if iPad users have been experiencing difficulties recently with our tablet app, we recommend you delete it from the homescreen and download the latest version from www.hsj.co.uk/tablet-app

10.20am This week’s issue of HSJ magazine is now available to read on our tablet app.

In this week’s issue we examine how children of the 1980s can help to fast forward change in the NHS. Plus:

  • Northern groups lose out under the new allocations funding formula from NHS England
  • Senior managers’ lack of IT knowledge could thwart ambitions for a paperless NHS
  • New NHS exam could help to improve the standard of doctors
  • Health Education England unveils national staffing plan

10.11am What have the controversial section 75 procurement regulations meant for the NHS and its providers? HSJ is holding a free webinar to explore the answer to this question.

This webinar, sponsored by law firm DWF, will consider whether commissioners’ behaviours have changed since the regulations came into force in April, and how providers from both the NHS and independent sector can respond. It will also look at other aspects of competition within the NHS and the changing landscape these developments present for providers and also for commissioners. 

On the panel are: Matt Tee, chair, chief operating officer of the NHS Confederation, Jan Filochowski, former chief executive of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust and West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust, Michael Boyd, head of healthcare at DWF and Michael Watson, chief operating officer at Circle Partnership

Make sure you register today to watch to take part.

Can’t make it this time? Don’t worry, you can catch up on demand at www.hsj.co.uk/hsj-tv

10.04am In resource centre this morning, staff from Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust explain how it has improved its standards of cleanliness and infection control in its inpatient units thanks to an audit tool called MICE.

9.53am Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust has notified regulators that it has been failing standards on same sex accommodation for more than two years, despite reporting compliance, writes HSJ’s Sarah Calkin.

Ron Shields, interim chief executive of the troubled mental health and community services provider, told the trust’s board meeting on Wednesday the organisation should never have reported it was compliant with the standards.

9.46am A provider of GP out-of-hours services is taking legal action after it lost bids in two out of three areas where they being tendered, Ben Clover reports.

Northern Doctors Urgent Care has issued a challenge to the process followed by clinical commissioning groups in selecting out-of-hours providers in the North of Tyne area.

9.41am Weaknesses have been found in the General Medical Council’s handling of one in five of the fitness to practise cases that it closed early without doctors facing a disciplinary panel, HSJ’s Shaun Lintern can reveal.

An audit by the Professional Standards Authority, which oversees the work of the medical watchdog, uncovered problems in 22 of the 100 cases discontinued over a six month period.

6.00am Geraint Lewis writes that worryingly little is known about how different parts of the NHS are working together to provide joined-up care.