The chief executive of NHS England is to appear in front of the Commons health select committee next Tuesday, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

Live logo

5.30pmThe latest in our End Game blog: The elderly. Why don’t they just “Get a Grip”? Not our words – this is the unfortunate name of a scheme by two CCG to make things better for local elderly people.   

5.00pm A strike by pathology staff at Royal Berkshire Hospital, due to begin tomorrow, has been postponed by two weeks while a deal is considered.

Pathology staff, members of the health union Unite, had threatened to not process tests for GPs and other outside providers in Berkshire, following a dispute over reduced staffing levels. The staff planned to continue to process tests from patients within the hospital during the strike.

Unite regional officer Debbie Watson said: “Unite has hammered out a deal with the trust’s management that our members will carefully consider – in the meantime, the industrial action has been postponed for two weeks.

“A key element included an executive member of the trust’s board meeting with Unite reps on a regular basis to discuss matters of concern – this had not been forthcoming up to now.

“Our members will now receive overtime payments for the extra hours worked and it was also agreed not to run one night-time shift.

“We are hopeful that the fine detail can be ironed out in the next couple of weeks between our members and the management. This has been a victory for our members who have stood firm on the important principles of staffing levels and patient safety.”

4.30pm In the King’s Fund blog, health policy fellow Chris Naylor, who has been working on sabbatical with the Public Health Foundation of India this year, examines what the NHS can learn from India beyond cutting costs.  

He writes that there are “several things” have struck him about the approach taken in India.

“One is that the health system (or at least the publicly funded part of it) has had to learn to actively involve the local community as a partner in service delivery.

“A second is that there are some very innovative examples of thinking creatively about human resources, in particular using task-sharing approaches to extend the capabilities of lower-cost staff.

“The shortage of resources may have made these kinds of approaches necessary in India, but in both cases the lessons we can learn for the UK are as much about quality as cost.”

4.00pm Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust has received a ‘good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission, according to an inspection report.

Inspectors also found found “no evidence” to support widely reported allegations of unsafe care made by a group of midwives at the trust.

The trust’s accident and emergency department was rated ‘outstanding’, the first A&E to be given this rating under the CQC new ratings system.

3.30pm Our sister title Nursing Times reports that Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has launched a £1.2m campaign to recruit more nurses including bringing in up to 60 new staff from Spain.

3.10pm EXCLUSIVE: Monitor has appointed Hugo Mascie-Taylor as its new medical director and executive director of patient and clinical engagement, HSJ has learned.

3.00pm The BBC reports on concerns by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons about the rise in number of young people seeking cosmetic procedures.

2.30pm In The Independent, lung cancer is overtake breast cancer as the biggest cancer killer among women “within the next few years”, according to an international study published today.

2.00pm The Times reports that Simon Stevens will meet one of the country’s most prominent whistleblowers who has won a decade-long fight to clear his name.

Raj Mattu, who was a leading heart doctor before he was suspended by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, raised concerns about deaths on his wards.

He was found to be have been unfairly dismissed in a landmark employment tribunal last week.

1.30pm In today’s papers this lunchtime, the number of older people is soon expected to outstrip the number of family members able to provide informal care for them for the first time, The Guardian reports.

The IPPR think tank predicts that within four years, 800,000 people may be in need of care, including 20,000 with no family to care for them.

You can read the full report here.

1.00pm BREAKING: The Commons health select committee will take evidence from NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens this coming Tuesday at 2.30pm

12.30pm The medical director at Imperial College Healthcare Trust has resigned from the position following an investigation by the trust.

12.15pm A four-strong consortium of Sussex providers has scooped a five-year musculoskeletal contract worth £210m.

The service is due to launch in October with “hubs”, offering specialist treatment working alongside smaller “spokes”, offering more commonplace treatments. The arrangement aims to provide more treatments closer to patients’ homes.

The partnership’s new care pathways have been drawn up  with the input of current MSK patients and local GPs.

Click here to find out who the providers are.

12.00pm Hospital admissions for bites and strikes by dogs amongst people living in the most deprived areas of England are three times as high as in the least deprived areas, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

In the 12 months to January 2014, the rate for hospital admission for  people living in the 10 per cent most deprived areas was 24.1 per 100,000 (1,240 admissions), compared to an admission rate of 8.1 per 100,000 (428 admissions) in the 10 per cent least deprived areas.

Regionally, the highest rates of admissions for dog bites and strikes were in:

  • Merseyside (281 admissions, 23.6 per 100,000 population),
  • Durham, Darlington and Tees (269 admissions, 22.8 per 100,000), and West Yorkshire (498 admissions, 21.7 per 100,000).

By contrast, the lowest rates of admissions were in:

  • Kent and Medway (92 admissions, 5.3 per 100,000 population),
  • Surrey and Sussex (186 admissions, 6.9 per 100,000) and London (634 admissions, 7.6 per 100,000.

The figures also show an overall increase in hospital admissions caused by dogs and other mammals, including horses, foxes and cats. In the 12 months to January 2014 there were 9,710 hospital admissions – an increase of seven per cent on the previous 12 month period when there were 9,080 admissions.

Dog bites and strikes accounted for 6,740 admissions - an increase of six per cent from the 6,370 admissions in the previous period. Bites and strikes by other mammals accounted for 2,970 admissions, a 10 per cent increase from the 2,700 admissions in the previous 12months.                                                                                               

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: “This is fascinating new data that we haven’t produced before.

“Our statistics also show that hospitals have dealt with more admissions for bites and strikes by mammals compared to last year.

“We know that dog bite rates are particularly high among young children. As we head towards the summer months, when admission rates for dog bites are at their highest, these trends may be worth further study by healthcare organisations and public sector bodies.”

You can view the full report at here.

11.45am A project to identify the 50 most influential people in the integration of health and care services has been launched by HSJ and its sister title Local Government Chronicle.

The two titles have appointed judges with vast experience across the health and local government sectors to use their expert knowledge to name the people who are doing the most to shape and lead the integration of services.

Readers of both titles are being asked for nominations of people who are doing the most to drive integration, especially in individual geographical areas.

Please let us know your nominee’s name, organisation and job title, as well as your reason for nominating them.

Tweet your nomination to #Integration50 or email to LGCfeatures editor Rachel Dalton at with “Integration 50” in the subject line.

11.30am Labour has criticised ministers after figures showed an 11 per cent rise in the number of women whose smear test was overdue.

Around 3.7 million were late with their check-ups in 2012-13, 364,000 more than in 2009-10.

The biggest increases were among working age women, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

11.15am Over in our comment section, the Department of Health’s Transforming Primary Care document doesn’t say enough on the innovation needed in primary care provision, says Richard Murray, director of policy at the King’s Fund.

11.00am In Resource Centre this morning, Tricia Woodhead, Emma Vaux and Ed Donald look at how an alternative approach to training can teach doctors how to improve services, not just implement them.

10.45am EXCLUSIVE: Millions of pounds could be invested in the training and development of lower paid NHS staff to help them progress into nursing and other professional roles, HSJ has learned.

Health Education England is considering boosting the proportion of the £5bn education and training budget it spends on the lowest paid NHS staff by 1 per cent a year for five years, papers seen by HSJ reveal.

10.15am Commenting on the figures on midwife shortages revealed by Woman’s Hour, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We very much welcome the findings of this FOI. It is worrying that a quarter of NHS  trusts have not conducted any kind of assessment of the number of midwives they need to employ for more than five years – some have not done so for more than a decade.

“Meanwhile, the number of births is booming – 2012 saw more births than any year since 1971. And, even then, four in every five NHS trusts say they have midwife vacancies – a situation that we feel is getting worse, not better. This has to change.

“The pressure on maternity units becomes worse when there is a mix of insufficient midwives to begin with. On top of this, midwifery vacancies are not being filled. This is a recipe for disaster and can have a disastrous impact on staff morale, burn out and sickness rates, which only make a maternity service even more short-staffed.

We hear from some heads of midwifery that trusts are not conducting proper assessments of staffing requirements because they know they won’t be able to afford to implement the findings – so they bury their heads in the sand and stick with their out-of-date assessments that no longer bear relation to their needs and the needs of mothers and babies.

“Our assessment is that we need around 4800 more midwives in England. The Government is increasing the number of midwives, and that is welcome, but much more needs to be done”.

10.00am A special edition of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, beginning now, will discuss new figures revealing midwife shortages across trusts.

Of the 99 NHS trusts that responded to a Freedom of Information request by Woman’s Hour, nearly a quarter have not assessed their midwife workforce needs in past four years; nine per cent have not assessed their workforce needs in the past 10 years and two thirds have not recently assessed their workforce needs.

The FOI request looked at vacancies over the past three years, over six-monthly intervals. Whilst it shows a persistent level of vacancies, the actual number of vacancies is at its lowest level for three years and has been declining during this period.

You can listen to the programme here.

9.40am In his latest leader column, HSJ editor Alastair McLellan says a test of Simon Stevens’ vision for the NHS will be the how much sense he can bring to specialised commissioning.

9.25am EXCLUSIVE: NHS England was set to blow its budget for specialised services by at least £450m in 2013-14, largely due to “predictable” overspends at acute hospitals.

The latest NHS England data, obtained by HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that at the end of December the body was forecasting a spend of £13.2bn on specialised services.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We start the day with the news that a lack of secure inpatient NHS beds has driven a £21m overspend in NHS England’s budget for independent sector mental health providers.

HSJ analysis reveals the organisation overspent £21m on independent mental health providers, 5 per cent more than its planned spending on this sector.