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5.44pm: Not-quite-final call for entries for the HSJ Efficiency Awards. The deadline for entries is midnight on 3 May − this Friday. Find out more about all the categories and how to enter.

5.38pm: Highlights from HSJ’s roundtable debate on medicines optimisation are now online and free to download. The debate covered reshaping the role of community pharmacists, redesigning the prescribing process, and the urgent need to educate and communicate better with patients.

5.26pm: Yesterday’s HSJ story on the more than 10,000 NHS staff who have been made redundant as a result of the government’s commissioning reforms has unsurprisingly attracted some passionate responses. Join the debate here. One reader has posted a detailed comment on their experience of the new system, here are some exerts:

  • “Everything that was bad about PCT processes seems still to be there, it’s just that there now seem to be a couple of seemingly disinterested GPs present at the bidder meeting and interview stages.
  • “Whilst governments of all stripes love to bang on about the awful growth in bureaucracy of the NHS, the fortunes spent on managers and administrators, and all pledge to sweep it away, none of them seem to question how and why it has grown up.
  • “We’ve done the ‘reform’ and put in place a larger number of smaller organisations, with less resource before. What is it we think it going to be different this time?”

5.07pm: HSJ art editor Judy Skidmore has tweeted a preview of this week’s magazine cover (out on Friday). Can you identify all the leaders on it?

4.52pm: Patrick Leahy, a health public affairs specialist, tweets: “Care and support bill is expected to be one of the first bills published following next week’s Queen Speech #socialcare #hee”

4.50pm: For any HSJ readers who like the idea of becoming small screen icons, Channel Five is seeking a medically trained couple to front a major new health-themed TV series and are on the lookout for medical professionals to host the show. For details email health@five.tv

4.18pm: King’s College London’s national nursing research unit has published a policy update looking at whether NHS staff wellbeing affect patient experience of care.

Earlier this week on hsj.co.uk, Jill Maben, director of the unit, explained what the conclusions of the report mean for NHS staff and patients.

3.54pm: Bill Shields of Imperial College Healthcare Trust writes on hsj.co.uk that too many financial turnaround programmes fail because improvement is seen as the responsibility of the finance director when it involves the entire organisation.

He says: “Too many financial turnaround programmes fail because the improvement is seen as the responsibility of the finance director, or worse still, is sidelined by the set up of a programme management office and, therefore, immediately stops being everyone’s problem.”

3.09pm: Collaboration, targeted alliances and time-limited partnerships can produce better outcomes than formal organisational mergers, according to a paper by the NHS Confederation.

The paper says the NHS has a “poor track record” of mergers successfully delivering their objectives. It asks if the NHS would gain from more providers establishing “healthcare groups” − formally agreeing to work jointly on an area of shared interest − rather than risking the pitfalls that can accompany formal mergers

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: “It is absolutely right that we continue to look at all the options on the table, but we must also recognise that wholesale mergers of provider organisations are not the only way to deliver economies of scale, increase joined-up working, and ensure a shared commitment from multiple organisations.

“The new options for governing through healthcare groups set out in this paper can strengthen rather than reduce the connections to local people, and help maintain safe local services. They could also mean less upheaval for staff and for patients, many of whom worry that they will lose a valued service or even their job.”

2.16pm: A group of doctors has claimed changes to NHS commissioning are delaying radiotherapy treatment and putting patients’ lives at risk.

Government changes to the NHS mean selective internal radiotherapy treatment has to be approved by a new body, wasting time, the specialists say in the letter to the Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group, which was leaked to the Daily Mirror.

1.24pm: There are some interesting arguments being made on the HSJ story about how trusts are failing on medical leadership (see 11.29am). Join the debate here. Here’s what some readers have already said:

  • “Medics tend to avoid and distance themselves from finance and performance management. Those medics who are keen to be involved in organisational and pathway redesign are often reluctuant to make themselves unpopular with medical colleagues as this can be significantly career limiting for them.”
  • “In the last 10 years, leadership in the NHS have been ‘management leadership’ rather than ‘medical leadership’ and focused mainly on targets and finance, and patients have been numbers.”
  • “Medical leadership in the NHS is a poisoned chalice. In the UK, it uniformly attracts the most venal doctors. In the USA, it is richly rewarded, financially and with enormous influence.”

1.19pm: There are onyl two weeks left to nominate candidates for HSJ’s Inspirational Women in Healthcare. Fill in the nomination form for yourself or a colleague online.

12.30pm: Michael White has reflected on last week’s section 75 debate in the Lords. “Here was a rare debate, full of mature and impassioned expertise on both sides,” he says. However, he adds: “But the ‘Keep Calm’ faction might be wrong, I can see that. Uncertainty is huge and vultures circle.”

11.52am: Waiting times expert Rob Findlay has observed that “thousands of patients are apparently missing from the English waiting list” in his HSJ blog. He looks at a number of oddities in the January and February numbers and digs into the data to try to explain what is happening in the English waiting list.

Last week, HSJ revealed the large increase in the number of hospital trusts reporting patients waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted.

11.29am: HSJ editor Alastair McLellan has said “we need a stronger prescription for medical leadership” in his leader article. He writes: “Policy makers have been cautious in determining what good medical leadership should look like in hospitals… The new system leaders should be more prescriptive.”

Yesterday HSJ reported that there is a six-fold variation in the amount of time medical directors spend on their board duties, according to research co-authored by the King’s Fund. Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, also spoke to HSJ about the report’s findings.

11.02am: Lawyers have told HSJ that the deluge of retrospective claims for continuing healthcare funding that flooded into the NHS last year will take at least five years to be resolved.

Primary care trusts received an estimated 60,000 backdated requests for continuing care last year, after the Department of Health set a September 2012 deadline for anyone wishing to claim funding for care received between 2004-05 and 2010-11.

HSJ published an in-depth briefing on the impact of the contuining care claims on CCGs earlier this year.

10.32am: NHS England has published its latest bulletin for clinical commissioning groups.

In it, NHS England deputy chief executive Dame Barbara Hakin says: “Now we have successfully built the new clinically-led commissioning system, we must work together to make sure that it runs as smoothly and is the best it possibly can be.”

10.17am: In relation to the funding ringfence, The Guardian reports: “Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is confidently claiming the support of David Cameron and Nick Clegg in his attempts to prevent other government departments raiding his protected budget in the spending review on 26 June.

“Cabinet ministers formally submitted their offer of cuts to the Treasury on Tuesday. The Treasury is looking for £11bn overall cuts for 2015-16, but the composition of such savings is up for grabs.

“Hunt has told colleagues there is no sign anyone in the Treasury or Downing Street is willing to see the already pressurised health budget raided in a way that breaks coalition commitments to allow its budget to rise by 1% a year. He is convinced that his department – facing massive demographic-led costs pressure – needs its protected status to handle growing demand.”

10am: The debate has continued today on the NHS funding ringfence. It was discussed in Radio 4 Today programme’s key 8.10am slot. Former health minister Lord Warner called for more funding to be passported to fund social care, saying the NHS needed to have a debate about living on less money. King’s Fund chief economist John Appleby higlighted the existing huge pressure the NHS is under due to rising demand.

8.31am: A pilot study by Newcastle West CCG has shown transferring of musculoskeletal care into the community can provide higher quality patient care at reduced cost.

In a two-year pilot, Newcastle West CCG tested the pathway described in the Department of Health’s 2006 musculoskeletal services framework document. It found that modernisation not only works well for patients, but GP-generated musculoskeletal costs were also reduced.

8.27am: Good morning, many trusts are weak on medical leadership, a new research finds. The report partly led by the King’s Fund found almost three quarters of trusts had just one medic on their board. In a podcast Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund talks on how we engage doctors in medical leadership roles. He’s also written an opinion piece on the findings of the survey.