Member of staf suspended in relation to investigation into alleged wrongful manipulation of cancer patients’ waiting time data, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

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4.20pm Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust has suspended a member of staff in relation to an investigation into alleged wrongful manipulation of cancer patients’ waiting time data.

The FT confirmed the suspension to HSJ today.

It follows a Care Quality Commission report last year into the foundation trust which said that there were “inaccuracies” in waiting time data relating to cancer treatment. Staff told inspectors they were “pressured or bullied” to change data to make it seem as though people were being treated in line with national guidelines, the report said.

3.27pm The waiting list for planned healthcare treatments has grown to its longest length in six years, according to official figures.

The data shows that the elective waiting list grew by 8,000 between March and April, from 2.91 million to 2.99 million.

It was last at its highest level in March 2008, when it sat at 3.06 million.

2.32pm The government body charged with safeguarding patient information has ordered a significant number of trusts to “promptly” delete a series of datafields, which it claims could put patients at risk of being identified.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre told the trusts in a letter this week that some of the information in “secondary uses service” that they had submitted to the agency had been entered in an incorrect way.

HSJ understands that some of the trusts have been submitting data that failed to conform to national NHS data standards for the last 10 years.

2.26pm Health Education England has been accused of undervaluing the role doctors play in the wider NHS after it revealed plans to switch funding to non-medical roles.

The Medical Schools Council said it was concerned about comments made by HEE’s director of strategy and planning Jo Lenaghan in relation to the education and training body’s new 15-year strategic framework.

HEE, which has a £5bn budget, said it would begin transforming the way it plans its future workforce, with a shift in resources to non-medical roles, the creation of new generalist professions and the loss of some specialist medical roles.

2.18pm An exclusive from HSJ’s Sarah Calkin: GPs in Somerset have been given permission to ditch reporting against the majority of quality and outcomes framework indicators in favour of a locally developed approach, in a move seen as a “significant departure” for NHS England.

HSJ understands the Somerset Practice Quality Scheme will mean a significant reduction in bureaucracy for practices in the county that have taken part.

Under the revised scheme, they will only be required to report against a fraction of the indictors in the 2014-15 QOF framework. Release of the rest of the funding available for QOF will be dependent on the local area team being satisfied that practices are making progress on improving the sustainability and integration of services.

1.37pm Enabling patients to visit high street opticians for the treatment of minor conditions is convenient and also takes the pressure off secondary care, says Dharmesh Patel.

1.02pm HSJ is offering its readers the chance to win £100 to spend on Amazon, in partnership with Celesio. Find out more here.

12.58pm With radiology departments facing greater demands but less money, a conference of radiology managers explored problem solving ideas touching on everything from performance to seven day working. Click here to find out more.

12.30pm Two healthcare chiefs with experience in the non-acute sector have joined the Dalton review, which is examining ways to encourage the best providers to take charge of those that are struggling.

NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster and the chief executive of the Mental Health Network, Stephen Dalton, have joined the panel led by the chief executive of Salford Royal Foundation Trust Sir David Dalton.

You can find all of HSJ’s coverage of the Dalton review here.

11.45am The Guardian reports that ministers have ignored protests from doctors’ organisations and will bring in a criminal offence of “wilful neglect”.

NHS staff will face the risk of going to jail if they mistreat patients.

Deliberate or reckless behaviour towards patients will become punishable by up to five years in prison and/or £5,000 fines under the government’s amendment to the criminal justice and courts bill.

10.58am An exclusive from HSJ’s Shaun Lintern: ministers will today be accused of failing to implement recommendations from a damning report into the care of NHS patients with learning disabilities.

Former British Medical Association president Baroness Hollins is expected to use a debate in the House of Lords this afternoon to allege that the government has failed to act following the publication last year of the confidential inquiry into premature deaths of people with a learning disability.

10.45am The Times reports that more than 1,000 children die every year because Britain lags behind other rich countries in saving lives, research reveals.

The paper writes that Britain’s child death rate, which was among the best in Europe 40 years ago, is now among the worst, and experts warn that it will fall further behind without urgent action to prevent ill health and improve NHS services.

Most needless deaths are in babies born too early because of obesity, smoking and poor diet in mothers, as well as a lack of preventative services, according to research published in The Lancet.

10.17am Browsing through the morning’s papers, The Daily Telegraph reports that a pill that boosts the body’s immune system could help permanently fight off many types of cancer, according to scientists.

Researchers at UCL and Cambridge University knew that “delta-inhibitors” helped leukaemia patients, but they were surprised to discover that they are also effective against a range of other cancers.

9.50am Jeremy Hunt’s warning that there must be a “proper risk sharing profile” in all better care fund plans has been interpreted as a move to protect fragile acute hospital finances ahead of the general election.

The health secretary told last week’s NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool that hospitals should not bear all the risk if investments made from the £3.8bn better care fund failed to curb acute admissions.

9.40am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with the news that a political consensus is emerging in support of pooling all NHS and social care funding, with the idea now openly backed by both the shadow health secretary and his Liberal Democrat counterpart.

At the NHS Confederation conference last week, Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb both argued for a single health and care budget.