Future of ISTCs, emergency services review and the rest of today’s news

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2.47pm: The Department of Health has sent a letter to primary care trusts asking them to repeat a complicated accounting exercise they undertook in the summer. The letter, which commercial director Peter Coates sent out yesterday, asks PCTs to re-send an audit they completed last July of property related costs.

The letter is intricately worded but asks PCTs to re-send the property related costs in their “baseline report”, completed last July - these will have details of spend and income associated with PCT properties which will transfer either to NHS Property Services Ltd or, in the case of LIFT properties, to Community Health Partnerships. Mr Coates explains that the updated figures should be significantly different to the earlier ones.

HSJ reporter David Williams suggests on twitter that there may be a gap between PCT property costs and the income they get from those assets - that means that the companies taking over PCT properties may not have enough income from them to pay for their maintenance. That the DH have asked PCTs to look at the numbers again and re-submit them suggests they are hoping this is an accounting issue.

“It is recognised that this data collection is being requested at a particularly busy time in the planning round, but given the importance of the information, PCTs are asked to give a high priority to this work and submit completed returns by 1 February 2013,” Mr Coates’ letter ends.

1.44pm: A final report about avoiding serious care problems, and improving quality and safety, in the new NHS system has been published by the Department of Health. The report was drawn up by the National Quality Board. The final report draws on a previously published draft. The DH has also published a guide to forming a “quality surveillance group” - part of the recommended infrastructure for avoiding quality failures.

12.23pm: NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar has responded to this morning’s A&E review announcement - highlighting the need for service redesign. He said: “There is no getting away from the fact that the current structure of these services needs to change if we are to secure the best-quality patient experience, improve clinical outcomes and, ultimately, save lives… There is still a vital need for local urgent care services, but the development of a world-class specialist emergency system capable of saving lives also requires having the right expertise, in the right place, at the right time. The review by Sir Bruce will help clarify the best arrangement of services.”

12.15pm: Our coverage of Sir David Nicholson’s concern about NHS providers struggling to find “top drawer leaders” has drawn much comment from readers. In one comment, The Tempest and Lord of the Rings are invoked.

9.49am Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is to lead a review of urgent and emergency serivces for the NHS Commissioning Board.

The work will set out a series of definitions for urgent and emergency care that clinical commissioning groups will use when planning reconfigurations.

A statement from the commissioning board said the review would “set out the different levels and definitions of emergency care. These range from top-level trauma centres at major hospitals to local accident and emergency departments and facilities providing access to expert nurses and GPs for the treatment of more routine but urgent health problems.”

The review will also look at increasing seven-day cover and its terms of reference will be published “shortly”, the statement said.

7.37am A recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has concluded that “the expansion of independent sector treatment centres is not a marginal policy reform”. Over the five years to 2010-11, the number of ISTCs grew from 10 to 161. By the end of that period they were providing 3.5 per cent of all first outpatient appointments, totalling almost half a million attendances. As ISTCs seem here to stay, Emlyn Williams examines their future and the pressure acute trusts might face to take them over.