New science minister Greg Clark has started his job with a declaration of war against superbugs, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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3.57pm The Department of Health has insisted that accident and emergency waiting times have not been missed.

The DH laid out several points in a statement:

“1. The A&E performance standard has been met this week (w/e 13 July) with 95.3% of patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. It was also met for the first quarter of this year (April to June 2014) with performance at 95.1% and was met for the whole of last year (2013-14) with performance at 95.7%. This is thanks to the hard work of NHS staff.

“2. The target has been met despite more people attending A&E than ever before. There has been an increase of 32% of people attending A&E departments from 16.5 million in 2003-04 to 21.7 million in 2013-14, and an increase of 1.3 million more attendances compared to only four years ago.

“3. The four hour standard of patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours was introduced in 2004/5 and has always applied to all types of A&Es, including major A&E departments, minor injury units, and walk-in centres, and not just those type 1 units that deal with the most complex cases.

“4. NHS England measures performance for type 1, 2 and 3 A&Es but the official standard of 95 per cent of people being admitted, transferred or discharged applies to all types of A&E. The target was changed from 98 per cent to 95 per cent in 2010 because of clear advice from clinical professionals that it was best thing for patient care.

“6. The Department works closely with NHS England, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority who look at NHS performance across the NHS. In addition, £400m is being made available to ensure local urgent and emergency care and planned services are sustainable year-round and ready for the pressures of winter.”

3.43pm Monitor and NHS England have proposed a single efficiency factor of between 3 and 5 per cent for 2015-16 that will apply across the health service.

The proposal is set out in an engagement document released today by the two organisations, which said they are also exploring the introduction of a “leakage factor” into the NHS.

3.20pm There will be no change next year to controversial rules that restrict the payments hospitals receive for emergency admissions and readmissions, under plans set out today by Monitor and NHS England.

3.02pm Monitor has signalled the end of block contracts currently used to fund NHS mental health providers as part of a major shake up of the national payment system due to be introduced next year.

In a pre-consultation paper on the national tariff for 2015-16 - released today - the regulator said it wants the mental health clustering system to become the main driver of prices.

It has also proposed developing a new set of mental health “currencies” as part of any future payment system.

2.45pm Monitor and NHS England today floated plans to tighten their grip on the pricing of specialist services while mounting a push for local commissioners to move away from national NHS prices.

Early proposals for the 2015-16 NHS payment system - published this afternoon - signal the two bodies’ intention to extract greater “value” from hospital services that have no national price and to accelerate “the pace of convergence towards only remunerating efficient costs for specialised services”.

They propose to do this either by providing commissioners with new guidance on existing contracting options or by introducing new rules for local price setting in the 2015-16 national tariff.

2.01pm In response to the news that A&E waiting times targets have been missed for 52 consecutive weeks, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “This sustained slump in A&E simply cannot be ignored by David Cameron any longer. The NHS is heading towards the rocks and we urgently need some honesty from the Prime Minister about how he plans to turn it around.

“David Cameron’s only response to date has been to try to redefine his target and spin his way out of trouble. Such self-serving complacency is dangerous for patients and cannot continue. Cameron must face up to the scale of the challenge facing A&E and come up with credible proposals to ease the pressure.

“The crisis in A&E is a problem of this Government’s making. It has got harder for people to get a GP appointment while social care has been cut to the bone. The result is record numbers coming through A&E and thousands of older people trapped in hospital. The pressure is backing up through A&E, ambulance response times are getting worse and waiting lists at a six-year high.

“If this problem is not addressed now, it will drag down the rest of the NHS. The NHS cannot afford another year of living dangerously like the one we have just had. People can see how quickly the NHS is heading downhill and they are becoming increasingly worried about it. It explains why you can’t trust David Cameron with the NHS.”

1.53pm Accident and emergency waiting times targets have been missed for 52 weeks in a row, according to NHS England figures released today.

Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, told the BBC: “A lot of this is related to the ageing population and while the percentage rise may seem small we are still talking about a lot of people.

“We have a drastic shortage of doctors and that is hampering out ability to cope with rises in demand.

“We have to make the speciality more attractive.”

1.45pm Widespread changes to the Leicestershire Health economy have been agreed between the University Hospitals of Leicester and its local commissioners to plug an estimated £400m funding gap over the next four years.

University Hospitals of Leicester Trust has agreed an overarching blueprint to shift acute care into the community under the Better Care Together plan with local clinical commissioning groups.

The plans spell out the direction of travel for the health economy although detailed service by service proposals are yet to be confirmed.

11.52am Help us find the top innovators in healthcare.

HSJ, working with Bird & Bird, is seeking to celebrate healthcare’s top innovators – the people who have found new, innovative ways of tackling the challenges facing healthcare.

This October we will celebrate those working in the NHS and the wider healthcare sector who have taken innovative approaches that make a tangible difference to patients, their colleagues or wider society – and we are seeking your nominations.

We are looking for people who you believe have relevance in terms of meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  • Significance: how big was the initial challenge; how did they drive success where others have failed?
  • Impact: what effect has the person’s work had within and beyond their organisation; how widely has this innovation been shared?
  • Support: to what extent does your nominee help others to innovate?

A panel of expert judges will decide on the final list which will appear both on and in the magazine during October 2014.

The closing date for nominations is Monday 1 September.

11.30mThe Independent reports that the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence have produced controversial new medical guidelines to offer statins to currently healthy people in an attempt to reduce the number of people suffering heart attacks and strokes.

11.00am A Labour administration would establish a new agency to oversee reconfigurations of NHS services, the shadow health minister has told HSJ.

The organisation would also run public consultations on any proposed service alterations, and have the power to amend proposed changes as it saw fit, Andrew Gwynne said.

The new policy idea aims to restore public confidence in the process that leads to changes in NHS services.

10.47am New science minister Greg Clark has started his job with a declaration of war against superbugs.

Making his first announcement, Dr Clark said all seven UK research councils were joining forces to form a “war cabinet” to tackle antibiotic resistance.

The move follows prime minister David Cameron’s pledge to put Britain at the forefront of the fight against drug immune bacteria threatening to send medicine “back to the dark ages”.

10.16am With huge figures attributed to the scale of uncovered fraud in the NHS, Jonathan Nixon, an associate at the law frim Mills and Reeve, examines the potential for civil litigation to get quicker results than criminal prosecutions of alleged fraudsters.

10.12am The Royal College of Nursing projects that in a decade we might see the complete demise of district nurse services, but how can this be happening in tandem with calls to care for more patients at home, asks Tony Yeaman, national head of healthcare at law firm Weightmans LLP.

9.46am This week’s issue of HSJ magazine is now available to read on our tablet app.

In this week’s issue - with new front cover - HSJ analysis reveals that three-quarters of acute trusts failed to meet their own nursing number targets. Plus:

  • NHS England belatedly sets plans to balance its £97bn budget in 2014-15
  • More than a third of clinical commissioning groups have no plans to retender their community services, an HSJinvestigation reveals
  • Health Education England is to axe local board posts in its major shake up
  • HSJ is named magazine of the year at the Professional Publishers Association Awards - the “Oscars” of the publishing world
  • Matthew Swindells discusses how the digitisation of healthcare data is only the first step toward transforming the service through technology

To find the latest issue, simply navigate to “This week’s issue” on the app, or tap on the cover image on the homepage.

HSJ’s tablet app is free to download for both iPad and Android devices. iPad users can download it directly here, Android users will need to download it from the Google Play store.

9.21am NHS England has belatedly managed to set plans to balance its £97bn budget for 2014-15, in part because clinical commissioning groups are expected to perform worse than was budgeted for against income linked performance targets, HSJ has learned.

7.00am Good morning. As one healthcare IT system is replaced by yet another, it is time to question what is at the root of these failures and tackle the user experience, says Deborah Swinglehurst, Trisha Greenhalgh and Rob Stones.