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5.38pm Waiting times in England have been improving for years, mainly due to the previous government’s policies. But there is a way for the coalition to improve them further without setting unnecessarily tough targets, writes Rob Findlay, director of Gooroo

2.45pm NHS England have today announced changes to commissioning support arrangements for nine clinical commissioning groups in the south east.

The announcement has anticipated since Surrey and Sussex CSU was declared unviable in April, and HSJ understands it was originally due to be made in early June.

NHS Kent and Medway CSU will work with: High Weald Lewes Havens CCG; Hastings and Rother CCG; Eastbourne; Hailsham and Seaford CCG.

NHS South CSU will support: Crawley CCG; Horsham and Mid-Sussex CCG; Brighton and Hove CCG; Coastal West Sussex CCG.

And NHS South London CSU will support: East Surrey CCG, Guildford and Waverley CCG.

1.55pm Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has named private provider Circle as its preferred bidder to be prime contractor for its musculoskeletal integrated service.

The five-year £120m contract will see Circle organise the service which was previously handled by more than 20 separate contracts.

1.20pm The Oxford Academic Health Science Network has appointed Gary Ford as chief executive.

Professor Ford will join the Network from the University of Newcastle where he is the holder of the Jacobson chair of clinical pharmacology and the director of the National Institute for Health Research Stroke Research Network.

12.01pm NHS England has published figures showing the number of times patients have been prescribed specialist drugs that are available as part of the national Cancer Drugs Fund list.

The data shows an increase in the amount of drugs prescribed from the specialist list since April.

A NHS England statement said: “NHS England has made drugs that were previously only available through the Cancer Drugs Fund, routinely available in the NHS as well as adding five new drugs to the Cancer Drugs Fund list to treat 11 different indications of cancer.

“The majority of these drugs were added to the national list as soon as they were licensed, highlighting the responsiveness of the new centralised system and an overall increase in the availability of important cancer drugs.”

11.56am Accident and Emergency waiting times in Wales have improved for the fourth month in succession, with the percentage of patients being seen within four hours at its highest point this year, the Welsh government has announced.

Since April, the number of patients spending 12 hours or more in emergency care facilities has fallen by 78.7 per cent (from 2,268 to 483). This is a considerable achievement and shows Health Boards moving in the right direction to tackle the challenges facing A&E.”

11.53am The foundation trusts whose merger plans face being blocked by the Competition Commission have proposed performance against the friends and family test is used to mitigate against the loss of competition.

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals and Poole Hospital put forward the potential “remedy” to the commission, following its provisional findings, published last month, that a merger would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in 58 different services areas.

11.52am The Financial Times reports this morning that Chinese authorities are “stepping up scrutiny of the prices of medicines from western pharmaceutical groups, against a backdrop of growing evidence that consumers there are charged substantially more than in richer countries”.

The paper states that medicines comparisons are “highly complex, with prices varying over time, by volume and depending on whether they are sold to the public sector or paid for directly by patients, a common practice in China”.

But it adds that with China expanding the coverage of its healthcare system, “officials are keen to reduce the costs of drugs”. It quotes Princeton University health policy research analyst Tsung-Mei Cheng as saying drugs account for around 40 per cent of treatment costs in China, compared with around 20-30 per cent in Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

11.42am The Berwick report tacitly backed staffing ratios and the regulation of healthcare assistants in its recommendations, according to the senior nurse involved in the NHS patient safety review.

However, senior nursing figure Elaine Inglesby-Burke said these measures alone will not bring about the culture change the NHS needs.

10.46am The NHS needs to provide “proper out-of-hospital care” to be sustainable in future, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said as he urged doctors to accept changes to the way they work.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, he called for GPs to strengthen their relationship with patients in their care, including taking a greater responsibility for vulnerable people on their lists.

10.44am This morning’s Independent has a short story on page 13 about how a convicted murderer was allowed to go unsupervised during treatment provided by Southern Health Foundation Trust.

Daniel Rosenthal, a paranoid schizophrenic disappeared from Tatchbury Mount Hospital in Totton, Hampshire on Saturday. He was found in Southampton yesterday.

The Independent quotes a Southern Health spokesman as saying: “We will be looking into all the circumstances around this incident and a full internal investigation has already begun.”

10.36am A cancer prevention charity says England has fallen “woefully” behind Scotland and Wales in the provision of healthy food and drink in hospital vending machines.

10.33am The Guardian’s columnist Jackie Ashley’ calls for cross party support for 24/7 NHS care

8.45am: Good morning, while efforts have been made to extend pharmacy’s role, to date technology has been a barrier to achieving full integration with the wider healthcare team.

Pharmacists could be given access to elements of the patient’s GP record, with the patient’s consent. This would enable the profession to play the fullest possible role in patient care − giving CCGs new options for creating efficient patient pathways, writes Dr Shaun O’Hanlon. He discusses some of the potential pilots being rolled out to extend the pharmacists’ role on HSJ Innovation and Efficiency today.