Tweeting NHS leaders explain what they get from the social media platform, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

4.30pm With just under a year to go until the general election, the King’s Fund has launched a new election tracker on its website.

This will track key election-related developments in health and social care in the run up to polling day.

A statement from the fund said: “We hope the tracker will provide a useful reference point and tell the story as the health and social care debate unfolds. We will be tweeting as we update it, so, if you don’t already, do follow us at @thekingsfund and use #election2015 if you are tweeting.”

3.54pm: The Daily Mail reports on a hospital that has become the first in Britain to trial a futuristic way of getting medications to patients quickly.

Wexham Park Hospital, in Slough, is using Futurama-style tubes to deliver prescriptions. The series of pneumatic tubes shoot prescription medications to wards and departments all over the hospital. For the full story -and pictures - click here.

3:48pm: The British Medical Association, in conjunction with the Royal College of General Practitioners, has launched new guidance for GPs and commissioners to ensure that the rights of workers in medical supply chains are protected.

Across the UK the NHS spends over £40bn per year on the procurement of goods and services, but there is emerging evidence that the basic employment rights of those workers involved in the supply chains are infringed and their health is at risk.

The BMA has campaigned for fair and ethical trade in medical supplies since 2007 and this new guidance calls on the NHS to explore opportunities to adopt ethical procurement and encourages doctors to engage on the issue in their own NHS organisation.

Dr Simon Poole, chair of the BMA’s GP commissioning and service development committee, said: “Doctors enjoy a unique and privileged position in society and have a responsibility to promote the health and well being of the most vulnerable. Clinical commissioners, as doctors who manage significant budgets, have a particularly important role to ensure that these principles are at the heart of NHS procurement and commissioning arrangements.

“There is significant support for ethical procurement from the medical profession with a recent BMA survey of doctors showing that 88 per cent are in favour of the NHS pursuing an ethical procurement strategy. This guidance is a step in the journey to inform doctors and managers in CCGs and the wider NHS of the impact which can be made through a commitment to ethical procurement.

“This represents an opportunity to develop and embed structures within our NHS to care not only for patients, but also for those who work to support the infrastructure and materials we so often take for granted in our daily work.”

3:29pm: Some interesting responses from our Twitter story this morning.

Glen Burley, chief executive of South Warickshire Foundation Trust commented: “I find it easier to Tweet through our corporate @nhsswft account (using a CEO hashtag). I have direct access to the account (our Comms Team trust me!) and I find it an easy way to show how responsive we are to patients and get messages to more people. Using a corporate account means it is less about me and more about the Trust.”

An anonymous user writes: “Most use Twitter as a broadcast medium in my experience. DULL DULL DULL. “This is what I did today”, “I’ve had a lovely letter about Ward 6”.
Very few start real conversations - many I suspect believe that starting to Tweet will help overcome poor staff survey results, specifically “Communication with Senior Managers”.
Twitter & social media needs to form part of a joined up, coherent, comms and engagement strategy. It is one way to reach one segment of the community.”

Another anonymous comment reads:“I use Twitter and other social media in my personal life and its got great potential.
“I also use Facebook to keep an eye on trends, thinking and public opinion. Unfortunately, our current Director doesn’t useocial media personally in any way and has stopped as much of the organisation as they can from using it - purely on the basis of their own prejudice and unwillingness to engage with it. We’ve got good, enthusiatic staff tearing their hair out over the opportunities we’re missing.”

2:23pm: Exclusive research by HSJ has shown how NHS leaders are taking to Twitter in large numbers. The Twitterati reveal what they get out of using the social networking platform here.

Contributions from:

Gavin Boyle, chief executive, Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust

Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust

Stuart Poynor, chief executive, Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust

Tony Chambers, chief executive, Countess of Chester Hospital Foundation Trust

Samantha Jones, chief executive, West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust

Dr Sam Barrell, chief clinical officer, South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group

2:08pm: Entries have opened for the most sought-after accolades in healthcare.

Now in their 33rd year, the HSJ Awards recognise and reward best practice in healthcare organisations throughout the country.

We invite you to nominate examples of innovation and excellence in your organisation that have made a real difference to your patients and staff.

Your entries will be judged by our experts and your peers and your achievements will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in London on 19 November.

Why enter the HSJ Awards?

  • Winners tell us the recognition gives a huge boost to their teams and organisations. An accolade can enhance projects, raise morale, and helped with securing backing and finance.
  • In an ever more challenging financial and structural NHS landscape, sharing best practice with your peers and never been more important. The HSJ Awards are a platform to showcase your successes.
  • It has never been easier, with our new simplified entry process.

Entries are open until 23 June

1:51pm HSJ has just published a special report on whistleblowing, which considers how NHS leaders can create a working environment in which communication flows freely between managers and staff.

Where warning signs start to show, it allows organisations to be ready to detect and deal with them.

The Francis report recommended “employers must have robust ‘whistleblowing’ policies in place with clear procedures which enable staff to raise concerns where they identify poor practice causing unnecessary suffering and loss of dignity to service users”. 

David Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, addresses organisational approaches to getting the gags off staff.

But giving employees the confidence to speak up without fear is a challenge. Jennifer Trueland considers the mechanisms that might be put in place so staff don’t suffer in silence.

Two case studies give examples of best practice.

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust’s “Dear John…” initiative allows staff to express their concerns directly to chief executive John Short.

1:30pm Care Minister Norman Lamb has written a blog on the Department of Health website to mark the passing of the Care Bill into law. Marking the passing of the Care Act 2014 he writes:

“The Care Act represents the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years, putting people and their carers in control of their care and support. For the first time, the Act will put a limit on the amount anyone will have to pay towards the costs of their care.

“And, crucially, the Act delivers key elements of the government’s response to the Francis Inquiry into the awful events at Mid Staffordshire hospital, increasing transparency and openness and helping drive up the quality of care across the system.

“Care and support is something that nearly everyone in this country will experience at some point in their lives; even if you don’t need care yourself, you will probably know a family member or friend who does, or you may care for someone. And many more of us will need care in the future so it is important for us to have a modern system that can keep up with the demands of a growing ageing population.”

For his full blog post - click here

1:21pm Accurate, timely data is essential for clinicians and managers to respond to urgent problems and meet performance targets. However, “information overload” is a problem that can affect all healthcare professionals. Vast amounts of data, ranging from telemedicine to patient records, can be spread across several systems with varying degrees of timeliness.

HSJ’s free webinar – Using information to drive efficiency improvements in healthcare – brings together experts to discuss how timely data can help managers and clinicians.



12:52pm HSJ reporter recently wrote about the outsourcing options being mulled by NHS England:

The lay-offs, understood to run into the hundreds, are being imposed as part of  a major back office restructuring at the agency.







12:14pm In The Times today, a “toxic combination of conditions” for nursing home and homecare staff has led to frail, older people are not receiving sufficient help, business expert and Baroness Kingsmill has warned.

A former employment lawyer, she said the care sector had the most underqualified, undertrained and underpaid staff.

The Times also reports on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence warning that couples with fertility problems are being let down by the “postcode lottery” on NHS payment for IVF.

A report by the Royal College of Physicians has found that doctors and nurses are afraid to tell patients they are dying, meaning that patients are dying on a routine basis without being aware they are in the final days of their life, The Times reports.

You can read the full report here

Also in The Times, research suggested that 20 per of cent of patients taking the cholesterol-reducing drug statin suffer side effects have been found to be flawed. The claim has been retracted, after

Patients have been urged not to shy away from statins after a key claim about potential harm caused by the cholesterol-lowering drugs was withdrawn.

The British Medical Journal has accepted that research that claimed that 20 per cent of patients on statins suffered side-effects was flawed. That claim, which was likened to scaremongering over the MMR jab, has been retracted after the journal accepted that it was the result of basic errors that were not spotted by researchers

More from The Times, researchers have found that a drug commonly used to treat depression could be used by Alzheimer’s patients.



11:48am Back to that NHS England Board meeting…

11.40am Exclusive research by HSJ has shown how NHS leaders are taking to Twitter in large numbers. Here the Twitterati reveal what they get out of using the social networking platform.

“I use Twitter is because I spend a lot of time engaging with young people and it’s something they use. Any patient or family member of a patient should use it,” says Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust (@BCHBoss)







10.55am The Daily Telegraph reports that sick and elderly hospital patients are not being told they are dying, a review has found. Fewer than half of people known to be in their final days were told by medical staff, the Royal College of Physicians report found.

Also in The Telegraph, the NHS should end the “postcode lottery” in IVF treatment according to new guidelines. Couples who have not conceived after a year should be offered three full cycles of IVF treatment if the woman is under 40, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has said. Similar guidance was issued last year but 75 per cent of trusts are yet to fully implement it.

Stevens says he was v struck by @rogerkline’s report which shows in certain areas on equalities we have gone backwards…

— James Illman (@Jamesillman) May 15, 2014

Simon Stevens says he hopes to say more about 5 year plan for NHS in his speech to NHS Confed in June.

— James Illman (@Jamesillman) May 15, 2014

10.45am HSJ reporter James Illman is at today’s NHE England Board meeting, Simon Stevens’ first as chief executive. Follow us for live coverage of the meeting.

10.42am The Daily Mail reports that the diets of UK teenagers are putting them at risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, a study suggests.

The government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, found that girls and boys aged 11- 19 typically consume 42 per cent too much sugar and 14 per cent too much saturated fat.

The paper also reports that NICE has told NHS managers to stop refusing women IVF, warning it is having a ‘devastating effect’ on their lives.

NICE has been forced to issue new guidance to local trusts over concerns there is a postcode lottery in the availability of treatment to couples struggling to have a baby.

10.40am A Quick peek at the morning papers:

The Guardian reports that fewer than half of NHS patients who were in their last hours or days were told that they were dying by hospital staff, according to a critical report from the Royal College of Physicians.

The report also found that a significant number of families are left feeling they have no emotional support.

A continued lack of specialist palliative care at weekends is also noted, 10 years on from NICE recommendations that it should be offered seven days a week.

The Guardian also reports that the authors of two reports published by the British Medical Journal have publicly retracted statements they made about the frequency of side effects experienced by people taking statins, following a charge by an Oxford professor that the information was wrong and could endanger lives.

The authors had claimed that 18-20 per cent of people on the cholesterol-reducing dugs suffered adverse effects. In an editorial published by the BMJ author Dr Fiona Godlee said the error was due to  misleading of the data from the study and was not picked up by the peer review process.

NHS organisations have been told by NICE to stop denying childless couples infertility treatment in what they describe as a “postcode lottery” on IVF, The Guardian reports.

NHS bodies in England and Wales are supposed to have been offering three cycles of IVF to infertile women up to the age of 40 since 2004. But 73 per cent of CCGs do not offer the three cycles, according to a survey in January of 198 of the 211 CCGs by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign.

10.00am Following our research on how many NHS leaders use Twitter - we’d like to hear from you. How do you use Twitter for work? Discuss this story online #connectedleaders

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. To start that day, trust chiefs have taken to Twitter in significant numbers in a bid to keep in contact with staff, swap ideas and drive good practice, HSJresearch has revealed.

More than one in three acute trust chiefs are active on the social network site, our analysis shows. Just more than half of mental health chiefs post tweets and a third of community provider chief executives have twitter handles.

Health chief tweeters told HSJ they also used the service to mentor junior colleagues, boost staff engagement and keep up with academic research.