University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust pulls bid, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment
4.34pm Our story on Lord Victor Adebowale’s concerns over the differential tariff deflator policy has picked up some interesting reader comments:
“I agree its laughable but many community trusts are so inefficient that this level of saving should be easily achieved.”
“In the end we’re talking about 0.3% of income, which is not much in the big scheme of things for most trusts (for us about £0.5m). However, what the whole issue has done is bring NHS England (and partners-in-crime Monitor) into disrepute, and undermine whatever confidence we had in them to take care of pricing. Which is a shame as they’ve done a fair amount of hard slog consulting etc. Whoever signed off this decision could use a day or two at the coal face of a community mental health team / inpatient ward…”
“Community and mental health trusts run with fundamentally different profiles of income and spend from acute hospitals, and with concomitant limitations on their ability to release funds in the relatively short term without impacting on the delivery of services. Would it not be more sensible to suggest that the minimum released is that associated with acute contracts but that stretch targets are agreed. I would agree that some community and mental health trusts would not have to work all that hard to release monies, but some would and this strikes me as a bit of blunt instrument that doesn’t take account of their differential funding histories or indeed how e.g. community trusts fit within an overall locality programme for moving services out of hospital. It would be a bit of a shame if we scuppered moving care to more appropriate care settings for a bit of short term financial gain.”
4.19pm Our reporter Will Hazell is live tweeting from the health select committee where Robert Francis QC is currently giving evidence on complaints. Follow @whazell for updates.
3.58pm In response to the Government’s vote last night in favour of an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to see a ban on smoking in cars when children are present, Professor Mitch Blair, Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: “Today’s vote is a victory for child health – and for the overall health of the nation. Today, Government has recognised its duty to protect children’s health and is sending a strong message to the tobacco industry; it is wrong to market cigarettes to impressionable young people. Introducing standardised packaging and banning the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s, will go a long way to prevent children from starting a damaging life-long habit.
“With one in five parents still lighting up around their children, the need to ban smoking around children has never been greater. Progressive legislation such as seat-belts in cars and the banning of drink-driving were once met with scepticism, but they have proven to make a significant difference. I have no doubt that an outright ban on smoking in cars will have the same positive results.
“An estimated 200,000 young people start smoking every year, resulting in a range of preventable conditions including chest infections, asthma and even lung cancer. If today’s moves goes some way to reducing those figures, the benefits will be felt by generations to come.”
3.07pm A man who fractured an NHS paramedic’s skull with a baseball bat has been sentenced to eight years’ detention in a young offenders’ institute.
Lewis Westwood, 19, of Hillbrook Road, Leyland, Preston, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent and one count of criminal damage after the unprovoked attack on the ambulance worker, who was attending a 999 callout to Westwood’s mother’s home.
Nick Martin, Area Security Manager for NHS Protect, said, “Today’s substantial sentence sends the right message that this kind of violent behaviour must not be tolerated. While this attack is at the extreme end of what NHS workers suffer, all attacks on NHS staff are a disgrace and are not “part of the job”. NHS staff should expect to be able to provide care in a safe environment, free from violence and physical assault. NHS Protect urges employers to take firm action in all cases of assault against NHS staff.”
2.36pm Unite has reacted to the news that University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust have left the George Eliot Hospital Trust bidding process.
The union is concerned that only one NHS trust is left in the running - South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, alongside two private companies - Circle and Care UK.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has some very serious questions to answer about what is happening at George Eliot – it is the thin end of the wedge for the local population, as private healthcare companies put profit before patient care.
“We don’t believe in the current ministerial panacea that because a hospital is in special measures, the private sector is the only answer.
“We believe that the future of district hospitals in England lies in a fully resourced, joined-up NHS and not being parcelled out to bidders from the private sector.
“Unite is active within the local community campaign to highlight the dangers of the privatisation of George Eliot and that the needs of local people should be put before that of private healthcare company shareholders.”
2.26pm University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust has pulled out of the George Eliot Hospital Trust bidding process.
Chief executive Andy Hardy said: “Over the last 6 months, we have seen a significant improvement in the performance of UHCW, in no small part owing to the innovative approach to delivery that our new executive team have established.
“Due to a combination of technical issues and our desire to focus even more on our future sustainability and bid for FT status, we have taken the strategic decision to withdraw our bid.”
Chief executive Maggie Oldham delivered a slide show presentation at the trust’s senior management team meeting last week which said “further restrictions on A&E opening times cannot be discounted”.
The changes may be necessary because “regular demand for beds is greater than sustainable supply”, her presentation explained.
Under the rules pharmaceutical companies can avoid having to test new drugs in children if the diseases they treat only affect adults.
But the “class waiver” in the 2007 regulations means children can miss out on medicines that may be effective against different cancers.
Websites such as the Your Doctor Boyfriend blog, which hopes to emulate a similar blog promoting “hot” British barristers, seem like “harmless fun” but could actually have undesirable ramifications, the Medical Defence Union said.
It also warned that easy access to doctors and other medical professionals through social media may encourage someone with “amorous feelings” to act on their urges.
11.44am One of the most underfunded clinical commissioning groups in England has warned that its position is putting important investments at risk – and has begun lobbying for a commitment to correct the “iniquity” in NHS allocations within five years.
Bury CCG, in Greater Manchester, is the sixth most underfunded CCG in the country according to the allocations formula approved by NHS England in December 2013.
As a result it has been awarded above average funding increases for each of the next two years: 3.41 per cent in 2014-15 against an average of 2.54 per cent, and 3.11 per cent the following year against an average of 2.09 per cent.
11.29am NHS England board member Lord Adebowale has described the policy of imposing cuts to mental health and community trusts, which are a fifth higher than those for other sectors, as “bordering on laughable”.
The non-executive director, who is also chief executive of the mental health charity Turning Point, has broken ranks with NHS England to criticise its decision to apply a differential tariff deflator to non-acute trusts in 2014-15.
Speaking to HSJ, Lord Adebowale said he hoped to examine the tariff decision as part of his work as chair of NHS England’s new parity of esteem committee. He said: “It is a concern and something I have raised at every level.”
Non-executive director David Allen said that the “situation has moved on considerably in the last week” and that the suspension of Dr Vasco-Knight was “in the best interest of all parties whilst a formal process is underway to investigate concerns raised by the recent employment tribunal”.
He added that the suspension was a “neutral act and has no bearing on the outcome of the process”.
10.57am Women are being wrongly warned during counselling sessions at supposedly “independent” clinics that an abortion could damage their health, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Counsellors at two crisis pregnancy centres, which are run privately and operate outside the NHS, were secretly incorrectly claiming that having an abortion could increase the risk of breast cancer and the propensity to sexually abuse children.
10.55am The Independent reports that Ed Miliband has promised that the public would be given a much bigger say over hospital closures under a future Labour Government.
Mr Miliband has called for a new culture of ‘people-powered’ public services.
10.50am Ed Miliband gave a speech at the Guardian’s Hugo Young lecture last night where he said that under a Labour government health and wellbeing boards will run the consultation on CCG reconfiguration plans.
HSJ editor Alastair McLellan has tweeted that this seems to be a “retreat” from the original Labour postiion:
“Isn’t Milliband speech a retreat on Burnham position that CCGs would only have an “advisory” role to Health and Wellbeing Boards?”
10.17am The Guardian reports that mental health issues are costing Britain £70bn a year, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The think tank said that mental health was the cause of 40 per cent of the 370,000 new claims for disability benefit each year.
10.07am A patient group entirely funded by drug companies helped to write an NHS report, reports The Times.
The Specialised Healthcare Alliance, an umbrella body for 90 charities for people with rare conditions, has as its chief executive John Murray, who is a drug company lobbyist.
Mr Murray co-wrote an NHS England strategy report with James Palmer. The report made no specific recommendations but does suggest that NHS England should abandon less effective treatments in favour of “new services or innovations”.
MPs called for a debate on the issue and Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt said: “This calls into question NHS England’s handling of 143 specialised services”.
10.00am The Times reports that children with cancer are being denied life-saving drugs through a loophole in EU rules, according to leading scientists.
Pharmaceutical companies are permitted to only test their drugs on adults but international experts say children’s lives could be saved if medicines were also tested by under 18s.
1,600 children a year in Britain who get cancer face potentially fatal delays and doctors are unsure how to use drugs because the pharmaceutical industry is “scared of children” says the Institute of Cancer Research.
7.00am Welcome to HSJ Live. In Resource Centre this morning, a study of healthcare leadership training needs is contributing to new locally led, patient centred and clinically driven development plans, write Tim Bryson and colleagues.