Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston elected to chair Commons health committee once again, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment

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4.05pm HSJ’s Shaun Lintern tweets:

1.40pm Emergency and high risk surgery in Greater Manchester will be concentrated on four sites, rather than five, commissioners have announced.

The decision, made yesterday as part of the Healthier Together programme, effectively leaves four foundation trusts vying for one remaining “specialist” slot.

Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal Hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital have already been guaranteed specialist status under the consultation proposals.

1.37pm Clinical commissioning groups in Greater Manchester are set to establish a shared support service function. It means they will not have to go to market to procure external services.

The move is being supported by NHS England, even though it recently instructed all CCGs to use its procurement framework to buy support services.

HSJ has learned that the reason for the exception for Greater Manchester CCGs is to enable their senior leaders to concentrate on the devolution arrangements being developed in the region.

11.38am St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust has started a round of mutually agreed resignations after its finances deteriorated sharply at the beginning of the year.

The trust reported a large deficit of £16.8m at the end of 2014-15 and is forecasting a £30m deficit for 2015-16.

In the mutually agreed resignation scheme, known as MARS, staff put themselves forward for redundancy and offered a severance payment in return. The scheme will run until 24 July.

11.29am The group will hand a letter over (see attached) to the DH urging health secretary Jeremy Hunt to reconsider the decision to suspend NICE’s safe staffing work.

11.24am Members of the campaign group Cure the NHS - relatives of patients and families affected by the Mid Staffordshire scandal - will be protesting outside Downing Street and the Department of Health’s Whitehall offices at 2pm today.

The protest comes in response to a decision by NHS England over the decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to suspend work on the safe staffing programme earlier this month.

As HSJ exclusively reported, the decision followed an announcement by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens that he had asked chief nurse Jane Cummings to consider rolling work on safe staffing levels into national reviews of urgent and emergency care, maternity and mental health services.

“A statement released by Cure the NHS last week reads: “The decision last week to suspend the work that NICE had been doing on safe staffing levels for nurses came as a bitter blow to Cure the NHS and the relatives of Mid Staffs.

“CTNHS battled to get the Mid Staffs Public Inquiry and to now have to battle for key recommendations to be implemented is a step too far, for us.

“For this recommendation to be given and then taken away is a bitter blow to us all. Sir Robert Francis recommended NICE for this important work because of their independence and expertise. Nursing unions, nurse leaders and the Council of Deans are unhappy that this work will transfer to NHS England and have voiced their concerns.

“We thought this Government understood the consequences of allowing the NHS to set its own staffing levels. Jeremy Hunt has been at the forefront of promoting patient safety.

“But this recent announcement appears to be a backward step and goes against all he has promoted.

“For the first time patients and nurses will come together to show how unhappy we are with this decision. On Thursday 18th June 2015 we will March from 10 Downing Street to Richmond House to hand a letter to Jeremy Hunt, asking him to reverse this decision, immediately.

11.13am HSJ senior correspondent David Williams tweets:

11.08am Healthwatch England has demanded explanations from councils that have imposed deep funding cuts on its local groups this year.

Almost a third of councils cut local Healthwatch budgets in 2015-16 by an average of 14 per cent, HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle has learned.

Through interviews with 147 of 148 local Healthwatch branches, 10 councils were identified as having cut local Healthwatch budgets by more than the reduction in their overall grant. One, Blackpool Council, is expected to increase.

10.47am Dr Sarah Wollaston has been elected as chair of the Commons health committee.

The MP for Totnes received the votes of 532 of her fellow MPs, while her only opponent David Tredinnick received 64 votes.

10.38am NHS England, the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and the University of Bristol have today announced the world’s first national programme to review – and ultimately reduce - premature deaths of people with learning disabilities.

The three-year project will be the first comprehensive, national review set up to get to the bottom of why people with learning disabilities typically die much earlier than average, and to inform a strategy to reduce this inequality.

Led by the University of Bristol’s Norah Fry Research Centre, the National Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme has been commissioned by HQIP on behalf of NHS England, and will seek to improve the quality of health and social care delivery for people with learning disabilities through a retrospective review of their deaths.

The case reviews will support health and social care professionals, and others, to identify, and take action on, the avoidable contributory factors leading to premature deaths in this population.

The 2010-13 Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities (CIPOLD, also carried out by the University of Bristol) found that nearly a quarter of people with learning disabilities were younger than 50 years when they died, with women dying on average at a younger age than men.

Elsewhere, CIPOLD reported that up to a third of the deaths of people with learning disabilities were from causes of death amenable to good quality healthcare (they could possibly have been addressed by better healthcare provision). The establishment of a national mortality review programme for people with learning disabilities was one of its 18 key recommendations.

It will form part of a raft of NHS England programmes designed to ensure that people with learning disabilities get the support and services they need, including radical plans to ensure more people are cared for in their communities instead of institutions, and work to drive up the uptake of Annual Health Checks and cancer screening, to spot and address the signs of ill health sooner.

The National Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme will work with other agencies such as the Learning Disability Public Health Observatory and the Transforming Care (Winterbourne View) Improvement Programme to reduce such health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities.

10.05am The entry deadline for the HSJ Awards 2015 has been extended to 3 July, giving you two extra weeks to enter.

There are 22 categories to enter this year, including a new category to showcase the organisation that best improves outcomes through learning and development.

9.58am Monitor has threatened a troubled foundation trust with leadership change if it fails to produce robust plans to recover its finances.

The regulator has also appointed a financial improvement director to oversee progress at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, which has forecast a deficit of £47m for this year.

It follows a Monitor investigation in March after the trust requested financial support.

9.53am The medical director at Barts Health Trust has become the latest executive director to leave the trust, HSJ has learned.

An email to staff by interim chief executive Alwen Williams today, and obtained by HSJ, reveals Steve Ryan, medical director since 2010, is leaving the trust next month to take up a role at the UCLPartners academic health sciences centre.

Mr Ryan is the latest executive director to leave the trust with the chief executive, chair, chief nurse and finance director all resigning since the start of the year

9.51am The Department of Health issued £874m in bailouts to trusts in 2014-15, HSJ can reveal.

Information released by the DH shows it made dozens of payments over the course of the year to support trusts, some of which were struggling to pay energy and agency bills.

The DH made £518.3m in “additions public dividend capital revenue support NHS temporary” to NHS trusts and £204.1m to foundation trusts, data published by the department shows.

A further £151.6m was paid to 13 NHS trusts as “policy payments” over the financial year, each described in the DH information as “support for the provision of health services”.

9.45am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. The time is long overdue for health informatics to be treated as a profession accountable to an appropriate regulatory body on par with the clinical professions, believes Tim Benson, co-founder of R-Outcomes and author of Principles of Heath Interoperability HL7 and SNOMED.