Capita announced as winner of £400m primary care support contract, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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3.38pm Unison, the union, has strongly condemned the government’s decision to award primary care support services to outsourcing giant Capita.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Confidential medical records should be handled safely and certainly not given to a profit making company. This move is wrong on so many levels and the consequences for people’s health if something goes wrong could be irreversible. 

“This government claims it is not privatising the NHS but transferring nearly a quarter of the workforce of NHS England to a massive international company puts the lie to that claim.

“It is a disgrace that such a major change in the way the NHS is administered of the NHS was carried out in secret behind closed doors. It is reckless and wrong that the government allowed this to happen without any public scrutiny. It is now up to ministers to reassure the public that their medical records remain safe.”

3.06pm A breakdown in post-mortem services has led to senior doctors being diverted from patient care, a royal college and coroner have warned.

The number of pathologists who are able and willing to carry out post-mortems has dwindled in recent years. The discipline is no longer included in their mandatory training, while the £97 fee per post-mortem is seen as too low to help boost participation.

The Royal College of Pathologists has been aware of problems across England, and has now been alerted by a coroner to the “collapse” of post-mortem services in Lancashire.

In a letter to the RCP, shared with HSJ, coroner James Adeley said the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has lost six pathologists in the last 12 months and has no permanent staff who perform post-mortems.

1.25pm Derbyshire Community Health Services Foundation Trust is urging all its staff to join a credit union, HSJ has learned.

The initiative, which allows all 3,200 employees to join one of the community based banks through a payroll deduction scheme, came about after local members of the trade union Unison used them to get out of financial difficulty.

An internal staff memo cites the benefits of joining a credit union as encouraging employees to get in a “healthy savings habit”.

11.57am Children’s health could suffer and drug related crime may increase if Treasury plans to cut £200 million from local authority budgets by next March are implemented, according to a survey of members of the Faculty of Public Health.

Nearly 300 of the FPH’s members responded to a survey about the potential impact of the cuts. The majority thought interventions to reduce obesity, smoking cessation, child health, drug treatment and sexual health services would all be affected by the cuts.

John Ashton, FPH president, said: “No matter where people live in England, these cuts are a potential disaster for their health and healthcare. 

“Cutting the prevention budget is a false economy. It will make it impossible to deliver the NHS Five Year Forward Plan, which stresses the importance of action on prevention and public health, was recently endorsed by ministers and which FPH supports.”

11.51am An NHS executive who sent poison pen letters to a junior colleague has been jailed, the Daily Mail reports.

Karl Perryman, 51, wrote eight anonymous letters to Joanne O’Neill-Brown.

The notes, supposedly from an outraged Christian woman, accused her of being an ‘accomplished liar’ and quoted parts of the Bible, called her ‘Jo Jo Judas’.

The notes were posted to Mrs O’Neill-Brown, her partner, her mother and senior staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

11.42am The Independent has published an obituary of Jamie Rentoul, a senior Department of Health civil servant who also directed Tony Blair’s strategy unit, who was well liked and respected in the health sector, and who has died of cancer at the age of 50. It is written by Will Huxter, who works as a senior NHS manager and was a friend of Jamie.

10.58am Like several papers, The Times reports this morning that thousands of foreign nurses face deportation because of changes to immigration rules, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

RCN research shows that 3,365 nurses now working in Britain, recruited at a cost of £20.2m, could be forced to leave from 2017. Under the rule changes, people from outside the European Economic Area must now be earning £35,000 or more before they are allowed to stay in the UK beyond six years, a sum far beyond the salary most nurses will reach in that time.

The college fears that if nursing shortages force hospitals to recruit more from overseas, by 2020 there could be almost 30,000 nurses in the same position, employed at a cost of almost £180m.

10.24am Also in The Telegraph (newspaper only), more than 10,000 extra GPs are required to deal with looming shortages across the country, senior doctors will say today.

In a speech to the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Liverpool, Mark Porter, the organisation’s head, will say the numbers are needed because so many GPs are due to retire in the next decade.

10.16am The Daily Telegraph reports that the NHS will not survive unless urgent steps are taken to bolster the elderly care system, a former care minister has warned.

Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat former coalition minister, said that cuts over the past five years to local council budgets have left the social care system “shrivelled” and nothing more than “a crisis care service”, adding that money needed to be shared more evenly with the NHS.

10.07am There is a little appetite among clinical commissioning groups to move their member practices off the national GP pay for performance framework, despite recently being given powers to do so, HSJ has found.

CCGs that took control of their primary care budgets in April, under delegated commissioning arrangements with NHS England, are permitted to replace the national quality and outcomes framework for GPs with a “locally designed incentive scheme”. However, they have overwhelmingly chosen not to do so.

This is despite the health secretary voicing his dissatisfaction with the QOF over recent years.

9.30am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with the news that Capita has been announced this morning as the preferred bidder for a national contract to provide back office support services for primary care.

The outsourcing firm’s bid was supported by Anglian Community Enterprise - a social enterprise providing community services in north east Essex. An NHS England spokeswoman described ACE as a “subcontractor” to Capita.

Capita beat competition from Capgemini and Equitini, the two other bidders shortlisted in January.