Full coverage of NHS Change Day 2015, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.42pm The NHS Confederation has written an open letter to Commons health committe chair, Sarah Wollaston, to say they are “disappointed” their report into health and care spending will not be published. Here’s the letter

Dear Dr Wollaston MP, 

We are writing to you regarding your committee’s inquiry into public expenditure on health and care. The below signed gave evidence to this inquiry.

We are disappointed that, despite much work and considerable input from a broad range of organisation and members of the public, the committee has taken the decision not to publish their report before the dissolution of parliament ahead of the general election.

Spending on health and care services is a hugely important issue to people who use these services, their loved ones, the staff who are employed by these services, and ultimately to the taxpayer. This issue will no doubt be a key topic for the British public in the forthcoming election.  

It is concerning that, as we head into the election, we now do so without a cross party view from parliament on the future funding of our health and care services. We know that this is a contentious area, which makes your report even more important.

During the election campaign and beyond, we need a frank and honest debate with the public about the pressures which face health and care. The health select committee could play a role in facilitating that debate with its clear and considered views. In our evidence we sought to assist the committee in doing so, trusting that the result would be fair, timely and objective. 

We urge the committee to fulfil its responsibilities by returning to this matter and publishing their report in good time ahead of the general election. 

Yours sincerely

Rob Webster, chief executive, NHS Confederation

David Hare, chief executive, NHS Partners 

4.44pm Here’s what former NHS England chief executive, Sir David Nicholson, tweeted about NHS Change Day earlier today:

4.21pm HSJ’s Dave West is appearing on Radio 5 Live’s NHS phone-in with Nicky Campbell tomorrow morning. The debate will feature politicians from across the political spectrum setting out their plans for the health service, with Dave “fact checking” and commenting on their proposals.

The show kicks off at 8.30am tomorrow and will last for an hour and a half, followed by a further half hour on the 5 Live Facebook page.

As well as tuning in to the programme, you can follow the discussion on Twitter using #YourNHS. And of course we’ll also be giving you blow by blow coverage here on HSJ Live.

3.30pm The number of emergency admissions from care homes in England has increased by 41 per cent since 2010, according to figures obtained by the Labour Party.

There were nearly 20,000 emergency admissions among care home residents in 2013-14, up from fewer than 14,000 in 2010-11.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s shadow care minister, said:

“Families with parents in residential care will be deeply worried that thousands more frail elderly people are being admitted to hospital from care homes under the Tories’ failing plan. In many cases, with the right care and support, this could be prevented.

“Labour has a better plan. We would invest an extra £2.5 billion in the NHS each year to recruit 8,000 GPs, 20,000 nurses and 5,000 homecare workers – giving staff the time to care.

“Labour will also join up NHS and social care services, so staff can work together to prevent elderly people reaching crisis point in the first place, avoiding the need for more expensive hospital care.”

2.18pm Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust has appointed a new non executive director and an associate non executive director to its trust board.

Gary Crowe has been appointed as a non executive director and Jane Gaddum was appointed associate non executive director and both took up post on 6 March 2015.

Nigel Ratcliffe, chairman of the trust, said: “I am delighted to welcome Gary and Jane to the trust. Together they offer a wealth of health, commercial expertise which will be very beneficial to the delivery of health and social care services.

“These appointments bring further strategic thinking and management experience which compliments the strong clinical experience currently on the trust board.”

1.59pm Simon Stevens is doing dementia training today as part of NHS Change Day. 

Mr Stevens said: “NHS Change Day is proof positive that the best way to improve care is to back the creativity, commitment and compassion of the Health Service’s 1.3 million inspirational staff, working alongside our patients and local communities. Speaking personally, I’m spending today talking to people with learning disabilities and their families about how to overhaul the support they get by giving them the clout to ensure their needs and choices really count. I’ll also be getting ‘dementia friendly’ training from Andy Tysoe, a nurse from Chester who has helped lead previous NHS Change Days. The bottom line is that today is a golden opportunity for each of us to grab the bull by the horns, and collectively make the thousands of individual changes to care that add up to truly enormous improvements for millions of our patients.”

1.43pm The question of how to fund health and social care “will be central to the decisions facing whoever is the next government”, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said, as he unveiled a series of projects to make the money go further, the Financial Times reports.

Almost 30 areas have been chosen to pilot new ways of working that aim to bridge the divide between health and community care that has existed since the health service was founded in 1948.

1.31pm The Financial Times reports that Britain’s biggest elderly care home providers have warned that cuts to public funding for residents are “unsustainable” and more homes will close unless the situation improves.

Four Seasons, Bupa and HC-One, the three biggest providers in the £24bn care home market, all told the FT that the system was in crisis.

Their warning came amid growing concerns about health and social care funding. The charity Age UK said government spending on elderly care homes was slashed by nearly a fifth between 2010 and 2014.

1.21pm Circle has dropped its plan to request a review of the ‘inadequate’ rating given to Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust by the Care Quality Commission.

The Cambridgeshire district general hospital, which is the only privately operated trust in the country, was rated “inadequate” by the regulator in January in relation to whether it was caring, safe and well led. It has been put into special measures.

Circle had previously indicated that it intended to appeal against its rating. Shortly before the inspection report was published, Circle chief executive Steve Melton said the company “fully [expected] it to be unbalanced and to disagree with many of its conclusions”.

A spokesman for the company confirmed to HSJ yesterday it would not proceed with the challenge.

1.17pm East London Foundation Trust has been chosen by two clinical commissioning groups to deliver mental health services contracts worth £60m in Bedfordshire and Luton.

Under the two new contracts, awarded by Bedfordshire and Luton CCGs, 1,000 staff will transfer to the trust from 1 April. Many of the services will transfer from South Essex Partnership University FT.

The Bedfordshire contract will run for seven years with an option to extend by an extra two years. It will cover improving access to psychological therapies, older adult mental health and learning disability services, adult rehabilitation and recovery services and child and adolescent mental health services.

1.10pm Allegations of bullying and harassment at a troubled West Midlands hospitals trust will be investigated by an independent review commissioned by the NHS Trust Development Authority.

The TDA has commissioned the Good Governance Institute to lead the independent review into claims at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust after it last month pledged to hold an investigation.

The authority said the review would look at how the trust had handled concerns as well as the application of the provider’s policies on whistleblowing and raising concerns, dignity at work and grievances.

12.48pm This year’s NHS Change Day March promises to be the biggest, and the most wide reaching and action packed yet. Shreshtha Trivedi reports on it for HSJ here.

12.18pm Patients in the NHS are now receiving personalised care based on their DNA code. Two families have been diagnosed with rare conditions as part of a project at Newcastle Hospitals and University that used an analysis of their genomes – the complete set of people’s genes – to properly understand the health issues they are experiencing. They will now receive personalised treatment.

One hundred thousand genomes will be sequenced across the country. The Department of Health said the UK will be “the world leader in collecting and decoding human genomes to help scientists and doctors understand rare disease and design personalised treatments”.

12.05pm Elsewhere, The Telegraph reports that one in four local authorities in England is failing the community by ignoring the needs of people with arthritis, a charity has claimed.

Arthritis Research UK said 26 per cent of councils in the country failed to properly consider the condition in their assessment of health needs in the community, while 66 per cent failed to consider back pain.

11.03am As you’ll probably know today is NHS Change Day.

In a video former health minister Lord Darzi argues that “change should be a part of any healthcare system”.

“We need more people to change, we need more practitioners in healthcare to change, we need more managers to change, we need the leadership to embrace change to keep up with the everyday demand that is facing us in the NHS,” he said.

Stephen Dorrell, former chair of the Commons health committee, argues that Change Day needs to focus on encouraging people to take responsibility for their own well being and health

10.47am NHS patients will be offered chemotherapy and dialysis in GP surgeries as part of a ‘radical’ overhaul of the way services are run, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said 29 “vanguard” sites to improve community health services will aim to ensure patients receive compassionate care, closer to home.

He said the plans across the country were a “very radical” attempt to redesign the way services are run, and lift pressures on the struggling NHS

Mr Stevens said up to 5 million people could benefit from the pilots, which will see GP surgeries set up in hospitals, expanded community services employing specialist doctors and better healthcare in care homes.

10.33am NHS England offered a group of trusts access to a £124m fund on the condition they dropped their opposition to its latest tariff offer, HSJ can reveal.

The national commissioning board’s finance director, Paul Baumann, wrote to 16 specialist trusts offering to backtrack on a commitment to slash funding they had previously received to mitigate the additional cost of highly specialist treatments for complex patients.

The fund, known as “Project Diamond” by the 10 London trusts it covers, also tops up the research funding they receive.

10.05am The Times reports that a parliamentary report on NHS spending has been blocked from publication because Labour “felt it was too supportive of the government”.

Labour MPs on the Commons health committee claimed that a draft study into NHS funding was over reliant on evidence from NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.

A Conservative source told The Times: “The Labour side came in determined to vote down this report because it wasn’t critical enough of the government. They won’t support anything they can’t weaponise.”

A Labour source dismissed this: “I don’t think all the evidence was put in the report and we wanted to go through it line by line. There was an attempt to write a report in a completely different way to anything we’d done before but it’s definitely not the case that we wanted to block the report.”

In the vote, the Tories were defeated 4-3 by Labour, with Sarah Wollaston, the committee chair, and Liberal Democrat Andrew George both abstaining. Dr Wollaston said last night that it would be inappropriate for her to comment.

7.00am London should be given control over the health and social care budgets, a report by the London Assembly argues.

London Assembly health spokesman Onkar Sahota calls for London’s NHS and social care budgets to be devolved to the London and for a new health commissioner to be appointed to work with the Mayor to coordinate health policy in the capital in a similar way that the Metropolitan Police Service is run.

Labour’s London Assembly health spokesman Onkar Sahota AM said: “In London we have unique health needs compared with other areas. We have fewer smokers, less risk of heart disease and lower cancer rates than the rest of the country. On the other hand we have a much younger population, higher rates of childhood obesity, HIV and serious mental illness.

“As with Manchester, London’s different needs should mean different solutions. That’s why we need a new London health commissioner with the powers to ensure London’s health and care services work together and meet the unique needs of our population.

“Devolution of health funding isn’t about creating a postcode lottery – it’s about solving one. Like Manchester we have to accept that we have a unique health reality in the capital. We need a health system which can respond to these local needs and adapt to make London a healthier city.”