Care services minister Norman Lamb said he would vote in favour of allowing terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to choose to be helped to kill themselves, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

Live logo

5.20pm In The Guardian, Jacky Davis, co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, writes: “A bad death means not only suffering for the patient but a cruel legacy for those left behind.”

She writes in support of a bill to legalise assisted dying. Care services minister Norman Lamb said he would vote in favour of allowing terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to choose to be helped to kill themselves.

Dr Davis writes of her brother’s suicide at the age of 60, after being diagnosed with had terminal cancer, “Out of respect for my brother’s memory and for the sake of the many facing the same situation, let us legislate for assisted dying for the mentally competent, terminally ill patient. It may even be ourselves one of these days,” she argues.  

5.01pm The BBC reports on the number of cases of scarlet fever reaching 24-year-high, according to data from Public Health England.

PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance Theresa Lamagni said: “We will continue to closely monitor these increases and work with healthcare professionals to try and halt the spread of infection.”

4.40pm In our other sister title Nursing Times, work on proposals and a consultation for another increase in the annual registration fee for the Nursing and Midwifery Council is continuing, despite early objections from nurses, according to the Department of Health.

4.21pm A cross-sector coalition has formed to warn the government of major concerns over the Care Bill, according to our sister title Local Government Chronicle.

Ahead of the legislation’s report stage in the House of Commons today, the County Councils Network, the LGA and Solace all warned that councils would be left with major cost increases that could put the government’s social care reforms at risk.

3.59pm In his weekly column for The Daily Telegraph, psychiatrist Max Pemberton advises caution over recent claims that high-protein diets are as dangerous as smoking.

“Spin like this is dangerous. It undermines the scientific process, reducing it to a series of soundbites that cause panic and confusion. It does the scientific community a tremendous disservice and undoes much of the hard work that goes on to educate people about healthy eating,” he writes.  

“The best dietary advice for this kind of research is to take it with a large pinch of salt. Metaphorically speaking, of course – for we all know about the dangers of salt, don’t we?”

He also discusses the “whole sorry affair” surrounding and the “social model of disability”.  

3.35pm The College of Emergency Medicine said it welcomes ‘Ripping off the sticking plaster’, the second report NHS Confederation’s second report on urgent and emergency care, which it describes as “an authoritative and timely contribution to the debate”.

It draws attention to the following areas mentioned in the report:

  • co-located urgent care centres adjacent to A&E departments are a proven method to decongest departments
  • modelling emergency care networks on the system introduced for major trauma is unlikely to accrue similar advantages and is associated with considerable risk
  • that there are far too few senior emergency medicine doctors in the NHS

The previous report ‘Emergency care- An Accident Waiting to Happen’ made recommendations on how to address recruitment and retention.

3.14pm In the NHS Voices blog, Jonathan Fagge, chief exective of Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, writes that although innovation may be seen as an “an exercise in risk-taking; an investment of time, energy, credibility and money, for an uncertain outcome”, the NHS must innovate and adapt in order to survive its “overwhelming set of challenges”.

2.47pm The Nuffield Trust has posted video links to speeches from health secretary Jeremy Hunt and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham from its health policy summit last week.

2.27pm ITV News reports on a warning by the Alzheimer’s Society of the ethical challenges of a blood test that could predict the onset of the disease.

Doug Brown, the charity’s director of research and development : “Having such a test would be an interesting development, but it also throws up ethical considerations.”

He added: “If this does develop in the future people must be given a choice about whether they would want to know, and fully understand the implications.

He said there need to be larger studies with different populations before it could be turned into a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.

1.43pm One of the country’s most developed academic-NHS centres has agreed a major partnership with a pharmaceutical giant, aiming to increase the number of patients in clinical trials.

The Swiss-based drug and diagnostics giant Roche will be able to increase numbers in trials for drugs in exchange for sharing its expertise with the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, they told HSJ.

1.20pm The BBC reports on Labour criticising  government plans to give greater powers to the Department of Health to close hospitals, arguing it puts finance “in the driving seat” rather than patient care.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told Mr Burnham told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Jeremy Hunt is now trying to ram these new rules through Parliament. It’s wrong, dangerous and, in my view, will damage public trust in the NHS.”

“Hospitals will need to change but I would argue that this is emphatically not the way to do it. Change shouldn’t ever be imposed on local communities,” he said.

“Given the growing financial problems in the NHS, I would say that all hospitals in England won’t be safe if this change goes through.”

1.00pm Private care centre Casualty First has enlisted Transport Media to launch a campaign promoting their medical services in London.

Superside advertising will be displayed across buses in the St John’s Wood area from March the 10th, as part of a two week promotion to highlight the centre’s walk-in centre.

12.48pm To enforce proposed legislation about smoking in cars carrying children, the government must be prepared to reinforce it with a powerful awareness campaign, explains Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

11.51am It is a “scandal” that one in three cystic fibrosis sufferers who are waiting for donated lungs die while on the transplant list, a charity has warned.

Only around 20 per cent of lungs donated are actually used in transplantation in the UK, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said.

11.41am The Care services minister said there appears to be “quite widespread public support” for ending a “cruel” system that left relatives unsure if they would be prosecuted.

Norman Lamb has backed moves to legalise assisted dying, in legislation drawn up by Labour former lord chancellor Lord Falconer of Thoroton.

He said he would vote in favour of allowing terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to choose to be helped to kill themselves.

Several previous attempts to legislate on the issue have failed and both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have said they personally oppose such a change. MPs are expected to be allowed a free vote on the issue if it is debated in the Commons.

11.30am In its leader column, The Daily Mail discusses moves to legalise assisted dying in the UK. “The Mail accepts there are few more emotive subjects as suicide,” the paper writes.

“But as ministers clear the way for allowing doctors to kill terminally ill patients, this paper feels we are sleepwalking into a law that will cause infinitely more anguish than it will relieve.”

11.23am Similarly, The Daily Mail reports on the NHS cancelling a £20,000 operation for a boy, seven, with cerebral palsy, who had waited two years on the grounds that it is “unfundable”.

11.10am Also in The Times, it is reported that a seven-year-old girl with cerebral palsy has had an operation to help her to walk after the NHS reversed a decision to cancel it.

The decision was changed following a campaign by residents near the family home of Shannon Bowley in Nottingham.

11.04am The Times reports that “scores” of people died last year in incidents linked to alleged failing by ambulance staff across England. It paper writes that shortages in funding and trained paramedics and a massive increase in demand over the last decade have put 999 services under severe pressure.

The paper made a series of Freedom of Information requests which showed that at least 59 people suffered “avoidable” deaths linked to ambulance services – some of these related to the time taken for an ambulance to arrive. It includes a case study here.

10.55am The Daily Telegraph leads on the development blood test for Alzheimer’s capable of predicting whether a person will develop dementia. Scientists say the test could lead to successful treatment that would halt or even prevent onset of the disease.

10.43am The Financial Times reports that the NHS is embarking on a large-scale outsourcing programme by inviting companies to bid for £1.2bn in contracts to provide frontline cancer treatment in district hospitals and care for the terminally ill.

The deals could see the private sector delivering all cancer and end-of-life treatment for children and adults across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent.

10.30amThe Guardian also reports that the government is planning to put calls by the emergency services on commercial mobile phone networks in a move that some fear could put lives at risk.

The government currently has its own taxpayer-built network for emergency services and army staff, but faces a large bill to upgrade it for use with 4G phones.

Concerns have been raised that the move could lead to call blackouts during major incidents.

10.20am In this morning’s papers, The Guardian reports that care minister Norman Lamb has said he would back moves to legalise assisted dying in the UK.

Mr Lamb made this commitment after it emerged that the government would give MPs a free vote on a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients should they choose to die.

The proposed legislation will be put before parliament in the coming months.

10.14am The NHS Confederation has today published a report in response to Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of urgent and emergency care.  

 Ripping off the sticking plaster calls for an end to “sticking plaster solutions” and to shift focus to solutions that will last into the longer-term.

It says fundamental change is needed and the problems of emergency care cannot be tackled by NHS organisations working in isolation.

It also calls for  joint working between different organisations with the NHS, as well as between providers and commissioners working together.

NHS Confederation chief executive  Rob Webster, said: “We know patients will go ‘where the lights are on” and instead of blaming patients for going to the wrong place, we need to build a system around patients and to give them the care they need, when they need it.

“Looking at urgent and emergency care in isolation, or just as a hospital problem, without an appreciation or understanding of what is going on across the rest of the NHS and social care will not solve the long-term issues. This will require primary care, acute, ambulance, mental health, social care and community services to work together in networks.

“We need to build on the existing good practice which is out there, but change needs to happen, and fast.”

He added: “What the NHS needs is a substantial change in approach, looking at the best place to provide care, with the right staff who are comfortable working in both an acute and community setting. Our members are leading the way in finding innovative solutions to reduce the pressure on emergency departments.

“The report complements our 2015 Challenge − which is about politicians from all parties recognising the urgent need for service change in the NHS; and for the NHS to be ready to change to better meet the future needs of patients.”

9.55am Patient centred care that follows a person’s entire treatment pathway needs new models to effectively accommodate its different phases. Sally McClean and colleagues show how stroke care can be improved using mathematics.

9.45am Over the weekend, The Guardian reported on cross-party revolts the government faces this week over plans to give the health secretary and his officials increased powers to close hospital services, including accident and emergency units.

Clause 119, referred to as the “hospital closure clause” by critics, was added to the Care Bill, being debated in parliament this week, following the verdict by the court of appeal last October that Jeremy Hunt was acting beyond his powers in plans to downgrade accident and emergancy and maternity services in Lewisham Hospital, South London.

6.00am By using a support group programme patients have decreased their levels of depression, anxiety, hospital visits and use of medication, writes Helen Payne.