Minister clashes with nursing union over Mid Staffs response

HSJ live logo

HSJ live logo

5.15pm: The RCN Congress has voted overwhelmingly to reject a key recommendation from Robert Francis QC that the union should consider splitting its trade union and professional responsibilities.

The vote was won by 99.3 per cent of RCN members.

4.40pm: HSJ report Sarah Calkin tweets: #RCNcongress to debate an emergency motion on #Francis’ recommendation on dividing RCN into a union and a royal college.

A second tweet says: In light of recent criticism RCN congress believes it is more effective as a dual role.

3.10pm: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has hit back at the RCN’s criticism of the Government today and said the union has “very serious” questions to answer over its conduct as the Mid Staffs scandal developed.

In a Sky News interview Mr Hunt added: “Let me say this, I think the Royal College of Nursing have got to be very, very careful. They missed what happened at Mid Staffs. The Francis report levelled some very serious criticisms about it. It said that they basically allowed their trade union responsibilities to trump their responsibilities as a royal college to raise professional standards and that they have a conflict of interest.

“I think that before they start criticising the Government for accepting recommendations that are going to improve compassionate care throughout the NHS, they need to answer those very, very serious criticisms themselves.”

Robert Francis QC criticised the RCN for being “ineffective” and suggested the union consider splitting its professional college and union responsibilities.

3pm: In response to the Labour Party’s announcment to hold a commission on health integration, Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: “We welcome the focus on improving the integration of health and social care as physiotherapists witness the failings in this area on a daily basis.

“Too many patients are left in hospital long after they need to be because there is inadequate provision for them to complete their rehabilitation back at home.

“This is very distressing for the patient and can also lead to gaps in their treatment that increase the likelihood of further ill-health and readmission to hospital later on.

“That is a senseless waste of money at a time when resources are scarce, so any attempts to improve the coordination of health and social care are to be welcomed. Physiotherapists are ideally placed to help plan and deliver those integrated services.

“The NHS cannot sustain any further upheaval so we would caution against any policy that would require another major structural reorganisation, but we look forward to seeing how we can contribute to the commission set up today.”

2.15pm: NHS England is to host an event in London tomorrow for clinical leaders to share experiences of a project designed to support GPs commissioning mental health services.

In January the Primary Care Mental Health Leadership Development Programme was launched to improve patient care and develop innovative, collaborative, cost-efficient methods to equip staff to address the needs of Londoners with mental health conditions.

Developed in partnership with UCL Partners Academic Health Science Partnership and led by Dr Geraldine Strathdee and training expert Glen Monks, the 10-day programme brings together national experts from a range of disciplines, with those teaching on the programme including patients and their families.

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England National Clinical Director of Mental Health, said: “The overarching aim of the programme is to provide support for the development of a more sustainable managed network that will support primary care mental health leadership and be influential in driving improvements in mental health across London, in both areas of commissioning and mental health service provision.”

The speakers at the event will be NHS England Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England National Clinical Director of Mental Health Dr Geraldine Strathdee, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis University College London, Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission David Behan CBE, NHS England Domain 2 Director Dr Martin McShane, Chairman of University College London Partners Professor Cyril Chantler and training expert Glen Monks.

Planning for the future: building on the national leadership support programme and the vision of the 31 London CCG mental health leaders is being held tomorrow in London.

12.50pm: It has emerged that the Labour party’s commission looking at integration, chaired by Sir John Oldham, also includes a set of other prominent experts.

They are Richard Smith, former BMJ Editor; Angela Coulter, Dept of Public Health, University of Oxford; Marion Dinwoodie, chief executive of Kent Community Health Trust; Hilary Chapman, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals FT chief nurse; Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society chief executive; Sally Brearley, lay member of National Quality Board and patient involvement expert; Ian Philp, former national clinical director for older people; Jay Stickland, head of adult care, Greenwich Social Services; Peter Hay, director of social care in Birmingham and past president ADAS.

A GP leader will be joining the Commission and will be named shortly.

12.45pm: Labour is to set up an independent commission to investigate how best to integrate health and social care.

It says without such co-ordination there will be a £29bn gap in the health budget by 2020 because of “a rising need for care as society gets older”.

HSJ’s Dave West tweeted regarding the Labour announcement today: I haven’t seen quotes from @Ed_Miliband yet today repeating the intention to give most NHS funding to councils - anyone else?

12.42pm: Alan Rosenbach, special policy lead at the Care Quality commission, has highlighted on Twitter that the high paid staff highlighted by the Daily Telegraph today make up a very small proportion of total NHS staff. King’s Fund chief economist John Appleby added: “mostly senior docs not managers I would have thought”

12.40pm: There have been 33 comments so far on HSJ journalist @dwilliamsHSJ’s NHS England plans to lead radical service change. It’s now free for registered users here:

12.30pm: Nursing Times editor Jenni Middleton tweets from the RCN congress: “Peter Carter: when nursing has difficult Qs to answer we won’t hide. When attention is misplaced, we will speak out. #rcncongress”

11.50am: Some 2,500 patients have died needlessly at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trustover the past decade, according to The Sunday Express front page lead story yesterday.

The hospital is one of 14 under investigation as part of a review into mortality rates being led by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

The story was based on unpublished figures compiled for the paper by Professor Sir Brian Jarman, who works at Imperial College, London, and runs the Dr Foster Intelligence Unit on hospital deaths.

11.10am: The Royal College of Nursing has criticised the Government over its response to the Francis report on Mid Staffordshire.

Chief executive Peter Carter said the Government’s refusal to implement minimum staffing levels and registration for healthcare assistants was disappointing.

Speaking as the union’s annual congress began in Liverpool Mr Carter said: “We know that some of the most important recommendations from the Francis inquiry are being ignored, potentially leaving in place the systemic failures which allowed such a tragedy to happen in the first place.”

Mr Carter added: “Student nurses in their training spend over 50% of their time in clinical areas.

“There seems to be a view out there that somehow they spend all of their time in universities. That simply isn’t the case. “

RCN president Andrea Spyropoulos criticised plans to make nurses work as a HCA for a year before starting their course to train as a nurse.

She said it would “waste taxpayers money” adding: “I don’t believe it will happen. I believe it is a really stupid idea that will not benefit patients.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “As individual trusts respond to the Francis inquiry we expect them to look at the issue of nursing numbers in their hospitals.

“However, if the RCN wants to have credibility in this debate then they must first set out how they are going to respond to the criticism levelled at them in the Francis report.”

The RCN was criticised and described as “ineffective” and not doing enough to support staff while Robert Francis QC suggested the RCN’s dual role of union and professional body should be split.

10.20am: The Daily Telegraph is leading with a story on 7,800 NHS staff earning over £100,000.

A survey by the newspaper of senior managers and medical consultants were earning above £100,000 while a third were found to be earning more than the Prime Minister’s salary of £142,500.

The highest paid executive earned £340,000 with the newspaper claiming the results showed the senior managers and doctors in the NHS have avoided having their pay affected by the Nicholson challenge.

The trust with the highest number of staff paid over £100,000 was University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust with 384 individuals. The Telegraph pointed out the CQC said the trust was “putting patients at risk” due to poor staffing levels last year.

RCN chief executive Peter Carter told the newspaper the high pay sent the wrong message at the time of frontline cuts.

Accordinng to the Telegraph the number of staff paid more than £100,000 has increased in the past year at almost half of the 75 trusts surveyed.

The newspaper also highlighted the 85 staff at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust being paid £100,000 up from 79 the year before and 121 staff at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust earning over £100,000.

The Department of Health told the newspaper many of the staff receiving the high salaries were hospital consultants and reflected their responsibilities and clinical skills.

A spokesman for the DH was quoted as saying: “Pay restraint is essential right across the public sector and the NHS cannot be exempt from that. We have cut spending on managers and back off administrators costs and the number of admin staff has fallen by over 18,000.”

9.50am: Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter has written in The Guardian that the government should stop “bashing the NHS”.

He writes: “Our NHS has not ‘normalised cruelty’, far from it; staff are delivering for patients every day… This does not mean that things do not go wrong, sadly they do.

“However, a blinkered focus on the negative impacts on how people feel about the health service. Patient satisfaction remains high, with around 90 per cent of people rating their care as good or excellent.“

9.45am: GPs across the UK should target parents of children who have not received the MMR vaccine according to Unite.

Unite said that there needs to be a public awareness programme that informs parents – and not scares them.

Professional officer Obi Amadi said: “What is happening with the measles outbreak in South Wales is the baleful legacy - 15 years on - of the discredited Andrew Wakefield who falsely made the claim linking the MMR vaccine and autism.

“GP practices should have the requirement to demonstrate they have invited – and reinvited all children - they know to come to the surgery to have the benefits of MMR explained to them. There is money available for this targeting.”

8.18am Good morning, across the developed world, an increasing number of hospitals are planning to safeguard their clinical and financial viability by merging with other organisations to improve performance, reduce costs and ensure scale.

However, examination of the evidence from previous hospital mergers suggests very few have delivered significant improvements in clinical quality or financial performance. Penelope Dash and colleagues look at why hospital consolidation succeeds or fails, and what lessons can be derived from history.