HSJ’s round up of all the key commitments, latest developments and exclusive interviews, plus the rest of today’s news and comment
3.26pm There’s been a big response to Sir David Nicholson’s comments yesterday about the financial state of the NHS, including in the newspapers and on social media (the former NHS England chief executive’s name was trending on Twitter yesterday).
However Sir David probably was not expecting this response - Katie Hopkins has written a piece for the Sun’s election website advising him to “pipe down”.
Here’s a couple of quotes from the controversial Ms Hopkins: “Sir David Nicholson – the ex chief of NHS England – has taken to our TVs to warn us the NHS is facing a substantial financial problem.
“You bet it is David. Largely because you used to run it.”
“I fail to see how the man who headed up Mid-Staffs for 10 months… now thinks he is in a position to lecture us on our NHS.”
We’ll keep an eye out for a response from Sir David…
1.41pm Unison, the union, has commented on the news that a medical incident officer was drafted in to help a stretched A&E department cope in Worcestershire (see 11.25am this morning on HSJ Live).
Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: “When the ambulance service is forced to draft in a doctor that it only usually calls upon when there’s been a major disaster just to help on a normal day in Worcester’s A&E under-pressure department, it’s clear that things have gone horribly wrong.
“But while the situation in Worcester is particularly extreme, a lack of funding and cuts in staffing – at a time when more and more people are calling upon A&E departments when they fall ill or injure themselves – is slowly developing into crises in hospitals up and down the country.
“It’s no wonder that a recent UNISON survey suggests that long hours, staff shortages and the mental demands of the job mean nine in ten (91 per cent) of ambulance workers say they are suffering with stress. And as the ambulances stack up outside A&E departments unable to deliver theirpatients, the whole system slows down – and in the case of Worcester almost grinds to a halt.”
She blamed the problems on the fact that “ministers simply haven’t put enough money into the NHS”.
“We are now beginning to see what happens when you starve the health service of the cash it needs.”
1.30pm Hospitals could reduce length of stay and improve patient outcomes if they reimagine the way more than 10 million patients a year undergo surgery in the NHS, HSJ has been told.
The Royal College of Anaesthetists has urged NHS leaders to develop what it calls a perioperative medicine approach to surgery, where clinicians consider not just the surgery but wider health factors that can affect a patient’s long term recovery.
The college said a better integrated approach to surgical patients would help the 250,000 patients a year who are at risk of developing complications from deteriorating after surgery. It would also benefit hospitals as fewer readmissions and complications would lead to fewer cancelled operations, as well as quicker recovery and discharge from hospital.
1.26pm The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation Trust is planning for a financial deficit for the first time in its history.
The Birmingham based specialist trust, which has a turnover of about £80m, said having to plan for £2m deficit for 2015-16 was “unprecedented”.
According to this month’s trust board papers, it also expects to have finished 2014-15 with a deficit for the first time.
The forecast deficit for 2014-15 is £200,000, although a trust spokeswoman told HSJ the final deficit was likely to be “slightly higher”.
1.25pm Integration of health and social care will help improve services but will not be the answer to the financial challenge facing the sector, the new president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Service has said.
In his inaugural speech at ADASS’s spring conference, Ray James said commissioners and providers needed to speak with one “evidence based” voice to make the case to politicians for a “sustainable funding solution for the next five years and beyond”.
He said: “Closer health and care is central to the solution, but I‘m disappointed when people talk about it being the answer to all the financial challenges. There’s no international evidence that says it’ll make that scale of difference.
“The future has to combine integration with a sustainable financial settlement for both health and social care.”
1.21pm Weston Area Health Trust’s chief executive is to step down to become chief operating officer of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in Wales.
The trust announced Nick Wood’s resignation yesterday, but he had informed the board several weeks ago, a trust spokeswoman said.
Weston Area Health is the country’s smallest acute trust, with an annual turnover of £97m.
The provider was designated as a financially challenged trust in 2007-08 and has received £37m in additional funding over the last five and a half years.
The trust board said in 2011 that it was not viable in its current form and is now in the process of being acquired by neighbouring Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust.
11.25am BBC Online reports that NHS managers in the West Midlands were forced to bring in a doctor who is usually on call for major disasters to cope with problems at an underpressure A&E department.
The doctor, known as a medical incident officer, cared for eight patients on Friday night at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, part of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust.
In an “unprecedented” move, West Midlands Ambulance Service demanded action following delays in treatment.
The Care Quality Commission said it was monitoring the situation.
It was the first time a medical incident officer has been deployed to a hospital in the West Midlands, according to the ambulance service.
11.09am Times columnist Philip Collins cites NHS spending as part of the “fantasy pledges” made by parties during the election campaign “which the electorate knows is too great an exaggeration”.
“It is no surprise to find the Labour party rushing into the campaign with a battery of spending pledges” with “£12.5bn for the NHS [and] and 34,000 more doctors and nurses,” he argues.
He adds: “For a party that was supposed to run on economic prudence, it is extraordinary how much imaginary money the Tories are spending. The NHS can have whatever it wants, with the bidding starting at £8bn.”
(For the avoidance of doubt, the £12.5bn Labour pledge referred to by Mr Collins equates to an extra £2.5bn a year over a five year parliament.)
10.58am The Times reports that a blood test could be used predict breast cancer up to five years before the disease develops, according to a study.
10.48am The Daily Mail carries an article on Sir David Nicholson, the former chief executive of NHS England, saying Labour should commit to the £8bn extra funding called for by the NHS Five Year Forward View.
Revisiting their nickname for Sir David as the “man with no shame” in relation to his role at the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority during the Stafford Hospital scandal, the Mail says he has become “the latest expert to warn that Ed Miliband’s plans will not provide enough cash to keep the service going”.
9.51am The Financial Times reports that the next government will face immediate pressure to inject more cash into the National Health Service to avoid a crisis, according to an analysis by the paper that reveals hospitals have plunged far more deeply into the red than has been officially acknowledged.
NHS hospitals and other providers finished 2014-15 with hidden deficits approaching £1.6bn and face a further £2.3bn black hole this financial year, the analysis reveals.
7.00am The NHS has been firmly established as a crucial election battleground, with all parties making flagship pledges about the future of the service. Here HSJ rounds up the key commitments, policies and developments, including from our exclusive interviews with Jeremy Hunt and Andy Burnham