How CCGs and providers can end high weekend mortality rates and the rest of today’s news and comment

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2.50pm: Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing has responded to government plans to send managers into failing trusts.

He said: “There is no one solution to underperforming hospitals, however good leadership is an important factor and it is good news for patients when positive examples of leadership are shared across the NHS. This should also include nursing leadership, which plays such a crucial role in delivering safe patient care. It is also important that these posts should be back-filled to ensure that top-performing hospitals do not become victims of their own success.

“Hospitals can only provide the right standards of care if they have the right number of nursing staff on every ward and we would hope that by having strong leadership in place these failing hospitals can identify and solve staffing problems and improve patient safety.” 

1.20pm: HSJ has now published a full and detailed story following announcement by Jeremy Hunt on plans to buddy 11 failing hospitals with some of the best performing trusts in the country.

Mr Hunt’s comments constitute the first time a sitting health secretary has explicitly linked care failures to the drive to get all trusts to foundation trusts status.

Speaking at a press conference discussing the 11 trusts in “special measures”, Mr Hunt said: “We didn’t pick up problems as well as we should have and we have learned from that.

“There was too much of a sense in the system that the way you became an FT was that you got into surplus. In certain cases unacceptable compromises were made on staffing.”

Read the full story here.

12.50pm: Responding to the Secretary of State’s announcement of the  ‘special measures’ regime, Chris Hopson, FTN chief executive, said, “We agree that no stone should be left unturned in seeking to provide the highest quality care for patients.  The Secretary of State’s announcement, in effect, aligns existing processes and powers into a single approach to improving quality, and provides transparency on progress. 

“We welcome the decision to use the NHS’ highest performing organisations to spread their best practice rather than rely on expensive outside consultants.  We’ve argued for some time that support provided by the sector for the sector is best, particularly when there is world class expertise on offer.  Many organisations in difficulty will make the improvements required with support like this.  But for others, in the longer term, clinical and financial sustainability will depend on major structural change, like service reconfiguration or merger.”

12.30pm: The elective waiting list grew again in July, new data from NHS England shows.

There were 2.9 million patients on referral to treatment waiting list, up from 2.8 million in June, and continuing the five year high reported by HSJ last month. However, nationally the NHS was still meeting the targets to treat 90 per cent of admitted and 95 per cent of non-admitted patients within 18 weeks, with performance of 92 per cent and 97.2 per cent respectively.

Overall only 5.6 per cent of patients had waited longer than 18 weeks in July, against a maximum of 8 per cent under the government target.

12pm: Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust has welcomed the announcement of a buddy system for the 11 Keogh trusts.

The trust, which will be partnered with the Royal Free London Foundation Trust, said it was already making significant progress.

A review of nursing levels has been completed with 200 extra nursing posts created and filled with staff arriving this month.

It has introduced the post of a senior nurse responsible for improving the patient experience and patient stories being heard first-hand at trust board meetings and the trust has also revied infection control arrangements across the organisation.

Clare Panniker, chief executive, said: “We welcome our partnership with the Royal Free, and to learning from any best practice they can share with us. We believe we are making significant improvements to improving patient care.”

11am: Jeremy Hunt has today said he believes that “in certain cases unacceptable compromises were made on staffing” by aspirant foundation trusts.

The health secretary said the former Mid Staffordshire General Trust was one such case and there were “strong indications that might have happened in Morecambe Bay as well”.

Details here.

10.25: Experts say analysis of statistics needs to continue to help boost people’s health amid concerns at cuts being considered at the Office of National Statistics.

A public consultation is under way examining how the ONS can save about £9m this year and next in the face of “significant funding pressures”.

Read HSJ’s story here.

10.20am: The Daily Telegraph is reporting a study byWhich?, revealing the cost of care at home has risen by up to 160% over the past five years.

At the same time, the number of areas where state care is available to those with needs categorised as moderate or below, has halved it says.

The study also identified wide regional variations in the price of unsubsidised care from £6.05 per hour to £20. Advocates for the elderly have called the situation a ‘postcode lottery’ with a  potentially ‘disastrous result’ as older people decide they cannot afford care, Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK.

Details here.

The paper is also reporting the government has requested a review of national guidance on healthcare workers uniforms stating that communication with patients should take priority over the right of healthcare workers to wear a veil.

Health ministe Dr Dan Poulter said ‘Being unable to see a health care professional’s face can be a barrier to good and empathetic communication with patients’.

17 hospitals across five NHS trusts have already banned the niqab. These include: Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, Barts Health trust Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation trust Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Foundation Trust and Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation trust

10.10am: The brightest doctors could be sent to Harvard and trained to take over failing hospitals – the Daily Mail reports.

The paper says up to 50 of the “best doctors” as well as nurses and businessmen could be sent on a fast track course to turn them into NHS managers. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is concerned there is a “glut of ‘mediocre’ NHS managers”, the paper said.

Mr Hunt is expected to announced the plan this morning alongside plans for a buddying system for failing trusts – as revealed exclusively by HSJ yesterday.

The paper also carries a lead story about a teenager who died after a “catalogue of errors” at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust. Amie Miller died of encephalitis three days  after being taken to the trust’s accident and emergency department in November 2008.

An inquest jury found staff has misinterpreted the results of a CT scan and failed to carry out an MRI scan despite one being recommended. They also prescribed a drug which could have masked warning signs of brain damage.

10am: University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay has only fully met seven of the 40 recommendations it received from the Care Quality Commission last year for improving its emergency services, the regulator will report today.

The CQC began a probe of the foundation trust’s emergency services in early 2012, in the midst of a burgeoning care scandal. The investigation found patients were “at risk of poor care”, particularly emergency department and urgent care patients. It also highlighted an “apparent dislocation” between senior management and senior clinicians at the trust.

Details here

9.45am: Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust has taken out a £50m loan to partly fund its ambitious new electronic patient records system, HSJ has learned.   The loan will contribute a quarter of the finance required for the £200m “eHospital” programme contract, which itawarded in April to the American IT firms HP and Epic.

The trust’s integrated performance report, discussed at its annual meeting on 13 September, said: “The first £15m instalment of the eHospital loan (£50m in total) was drawn down at the end of May.”

Details available here.

9.30am: HSJ analysis has revealed a gulf between the stated aims of clinical commissioning groups and council hosted health and wellbeing boards, with the two organisations sharing no priorities in two-fifths of CCG areas.

The finding is based on analysis of the most recent strategies of health and wellbeing boards − the newly created forums in which health and care leaders come together − in 50 areas and the stated priorities of 61 corresponding CCGs. The research covered both the areas where the two types of organisation have identical boundaries and those where boundaries differ.

Read the analysis here.

8:56am: Health services should be centred around patient needs, with the focus on continuous improvements in quality. This includes making services available when people need them most: when they are acutely ill.

It is essential that commissioners and providers work together to improve safety and reduce variation. Following the reviews by Robert Francis and Don Berwick, it is no longer acceptable to avoid the difficulties this involves. The time has come to make the NHS safe 24 hours a day, seven days a week, say Steve Kell and Mike Pinkerton.