5.04pm: Breaking: Staffordshire Police has announced plans to review evidence from the Francis report “to identify whether there is any potential for criminal charges” in the wake of care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
4.55pm: The government has confirmed its plans for changes to the GP performers list following a consultation. They include creating a single national list run by the NHS Commissioning Board, and that “changes have been made to the power to suspend performers on the list. This includes an ability to immediately suspend a performer from the list where it is necessary to do so for the protection of patients or the public.”
4.10pm: The largest commercial provider of healthcare professionals to the NHS, HCL Workforce Solutions, has published results of a survey on staffing of A&E departments. It says the “chronic shortage of emergency doctors” is beginning to “impact trusts’ ability to maintain service”.
2.25pm: Crispin Dowler, HSJ senior correspondent, has highlighted, in light of the Gary Walker case, his story from 2011 which that revealed foundation trusts have spent more than £5.7m on pay-offs to departing staff over the past three years.
1.52pm HSJ’s reporter David Williams, who was live tweeting Jeremy Hunt’s World At One interview, tweets:
“Seems Hunt’s focus is on United Lincs’ use of the gag, not whether or not Gary Walker is telling the truth. That means…
“…he’s not YET interested in whether Nicholson and Hakin had a role in his dismissal.”
More quotes from Jeremy Hunt, this time on NHS target culture. Mr Hunt said: “When you talk about the way you treat whistleblowers, you’re talking about the problems of failure. We need to understand why the culture got wrong in the first place, not everywhere in the NHS. And to attack that fundamental culture we had of targets before anything else, targets at all costs, targets even when it compromised patient safety.”
1.37pm Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has just appeared on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme to discuss the Gary Walker gagging order.
He said too much of the NHS system was concerned with “institutional self preservation instead of actually getting to the bottom of whether there are patient safety issues.”
Although the Department of Health already had good guidelines encouraging whistleblowing, Mr Hunt said that these were not being followed everywhere in the NHS, and that a change in culture was necessary.
The secretary of state criticised United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust for sending a threatening lawyers’ letter to Mr Walker after he spoke out yesterday. “Patient safety should be the number one priority,” he said.
Mr Hunt said he did not know how widespread gagging orders were across the NHS, and that the first he heard of Mr Walker’s case was on the Radio 4 Today programme yesterday.
He revealed he has written to the trust to find out the precise terms of the agreement, so he can judge whether it was lawful.
In a letter to Mr Hunt yesterday, health select committee chair Stephen Dorrell expressed concerns that gagging orders were contrary to DH policy and to the Public Interest Disclosure Act.
Mr Hunt also said he was “very concerned” that it appears Mr Walker was being “leaned on” not to speak out, and added that this was a “very critical test case”.
12.05pm: Public Health England has finalised, and published, its organisational structure and senior executive appointments.
11.07am: Monitor has intervened at the Rotherham Foundation Trust, telling it to improve its management of finances and make sure services are sustainable. Monitor said the trust had significantly underperformed on its financial plans, failed to deliver savings plans, and failed to successfully implement a new electronic patient record system. It appointed a new interim chief executive earlier this month.
10.40am: Surveys by the Medical Protection Society has led to it comparing the government’s plans for online access to medical records to opening a “Pandora’s Box”, unless there are proper safeguards in place to protect patient confidentiality.
The MPS said it was concerned when access was granted, it could have unintended and serious consequences.
Its surveys revealed that 80% of the public would be concerned for the security of their medical records and 86% of MPS members would be concerned for the security of patients’ medical records if they become accessible online.
10.37am: The Daily Telegraph today devotes quite a lot of space to Mid Staffs and related issues.
The lead piece in the comment and features section sees Nick Seddon of thinktank Reform praise Salford’s David Dalton and Birmingham’s Dame Julie Moore for running great hospitals, while “closing down or selling off places like Stafford or South London… or outsourcing the management of Hinchingbrooke… sends exactly the right signal to the rest of the service.
Page four of the paper carries a report on the findings of research by HCL Workforce Solutions on the number of locums working in A&E departments.
Inside the paper has promised a spread (pages 14-15) on “NHS scandals” and carries the story on Gary Walker and Dame Barabra Hakin, with the rest of the spread reporting “up to 50 per cent” of the patients who died at Mid Staffs were on the Liverpool care Pathway, that a Mid Staffs midwife has kept her job after her GMC appearance and the GMC report on junior doctors’ hours and the European Working Time Directive.
9.49am: Leading members of Patients First, the organisation campaigning for support for whistleblowers, has written to the prime minister David Cameron in relation to the Walker case, the Francis report and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson. The letter says: “We are writing to you because of our extreme disappointment at the Government’s response to the latest report into MidStaffordshire. We wish to draw to your attention information you may not have been aware of when you expressed your support for Sir David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS.
“The Francis report condemns the ‘culture’ of the NHS but any organisational culture is set or heavily influenced by its leaders and in this case specifically the Chief Executive of the NHS… You have been written to separately with very serious complaints about the involvement of senior civil servants in this particular cover up and the failure to investigate those complaints, first made in July 2012.”
9.23am: Developments have continued in the story of former United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive Gary Walker: Chair of the Commons health committee Stephen Dorrell has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt to say: “I am sure you will understand therefore, particularly in the light of the government’s endorsement of the care recommendations of the Francis Report about the important need for a fundamental change of culture within the NHS, that we were concerned and disappointed to hear that Mr Walker had received a lawyers’ letter which he has interpreted as reinforcing the constraints upon him under the terms of the ‘gagging clause’ in his compromise agreement.
“The committee intends to write to Mr Walker to invite him to set out in detail the nature of the concerns which lay behind the breakdown of his relationship with the Lincolnshire Trust. Before doing so, however, I would be grateful if you would confirm that neither the trust nor any other NHS body will seek to enforce any clause in Mr Walker’s compromise agreement which would impinge on his capacity to respond fully to the committee’s request.”
8.04am: Good morning, a hospital-to-hospital peer review model is being adopted in the South West of England to improve dementia care. Teams from one hospital will be reviewing another hospital in order to promote accountability, transparency, learning and leadership. A regional expert reference group has brought clinical leads and local partners together to design, sign up to and deliver an improvement programme over a sustained period.