Chief executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust resigns weeks after trust criticised by the Care Quality Commission, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

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4.56pm Publication of the 2015-16 ‘tariff’ prices for NHS services has been held back amid high level political discussions about the possibility of securing extra funding for health in the autumn statement, HSJ understands.

NHS England and Monitor, which share responsibility for pricing under the Health Act 2012, had planned to begin formal public consultation last week on their proposed tariff for 2015-16.

However, the tariff remains unpublished, and as of this morning there was no firm date for its expected release.

Two well placed sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to HSJ that the pricing authorities had been asked to hold back publication of the tariff while political discussions were underway about the possibility of securing extra funding for the health service in 2015-16.

4.18pm The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has announced that he will establish and chair a new mental health taskforce which will include cabinet ministers from across the coalition.

The taskforce will include the secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt, home secretary Theresa May, comunities secretary Eric Pickles, education secretary Nicky Morgan, justice secretary chris grayling, business secretary Vince Cable, work and pensions cecretary Iain Duncan Smith, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and ministers from education, health and defence.

The taskforce will meet within days and urgently examine:

  • improving mental health services for young people
  • welfare and employment issues and helping people back into work
  • improving crisis care and preventing the large numbers of people with severe mental health problems ending up in police cells and prisons

Mr Clegg said: “This is too big an issue for the NHS to deal with alone. The whole of government needs to combine its efforts and pool its resources to help the millions of people whose mental health condition is preventing them from getting on in life.”

3.37pm Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has announced that Sam Barrell has been appointed as its new chief executive, in a rare example of a CCG boss being appointed to run a hospital trust.

The appointment follows an announcement in September by current chief executive Jo Cubbon that she intends to retire in the New Year.

Dr Barrell is currently chief clinical officer at South Devon and Torbay CCG. As well as her role at the CCG, Dr Barrell has continued as senior partner at her GP practice, and she has previously worked as an anaesthetist in large acute trusts in London and the South East.

She said: “I am thrilled to be joining [Taunton and Somerset] as chief executive.

“It is a high performing hospital, but also one facing some significant challenges and opportunities over the next few years. I look forward to working with colleagues across the organisation to ensure it continues to deliver really high quality care and treatment to the people of Somerset.”

2.47pm NHS England is acting unlawfully by failing to properly involve and inform patients about its primary care commissioning decisions, a High Court judge has said.

In a ruling with wide ranging implications for the commissioning body, Justice Popplewell last week found NHS England had and continued to flout key sections of the NHS Act.

These require commissioners to ensure individual patients are consulted or informed about the “development and consideration” of decisions about or changes to primary care where they affect health services they might use.

The lawyers who brought the case claim NHS England could now face legal challenges over its historic decisions about primary commissioning.

2.12pm The chief executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust has resigned, weeks after the trust was criticised by the Care Quality Commission.

Tony Bell will remain at the trust “for the time being”, according to a spokeswoman. He will then work for NHS England on national policy “in the short term”.

Chief nurse Elizabeth McManus will take over as acting chief executive.

A senior source in the sector said the trust’s recent critical CQC inspection “was the tipping point” for the trust.

1.42pm South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust has been left “deeply disappointed” after losing out on the contract to provide an integrated NHS 111 and GP out of hours service in Somerset.

The contract is the first to be reprocured since the launch of the service in 2013.

The trust lost out to Northern Doctors Urgent Care, a GP led social enterprise that was named preferred bidder by Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group last week.

1.18pm Too many opportunities for NHS organisations to learn from mistakes are still being missed because of complex and bureaucratic complaints procedures, an association of retired NHS staff has said.

The NHS Retirement Fellowship, has called for a new “complaints charter” for the NHS.

Fellowship National Director John Rostill said: “Our members know how much valuable learning can be found in complaints. What frustrates them is that this learning is too often lost in bureaucracy and a defensive culture.”

1.13pm The Financial Times carries an interview with George Freeman, the life sciences minister (newspaper only). In it he discusses the review he launched last week to explore ways of shortcutting the 10-15 years it typically takes to develop new medicine by opening the NHS to fast-track clinical trials and using UK patient data to aid research.

Mr Freeman says: “My central mission is to define a world in which the Treasury can view healthcare as not just a cost but also as a major asset.”

12.23pm The Daily Telegraph reports on 30 NHS workers arriving in Sierra Leone yesterday in efforts to combat the spread of Ebola.

They are the first batch of NHS staff to be deployed to West Africa, and include GPs, nurses, psychiatrists and emergency medicine consultants. More than 1,000 people volunteered.

They will all work in treatment centres funded by the Department for International Development and built by British Army Royal Engineers.

12.15pm The government should set up a ‘transformation fund’ for general practice – to deliver better care for patients, enabling people to take more responsibility for their own health and utilise modern technology to access services remotely, according to a new report.

The independent report, commissioned by the Royal College of General Practitioners, calls for a revolution in the way general practice is delivered, moving away from the traditional ‘cottage industry’ model of small, relatively isolated surgeries towards an era where clinicians work differently with patients, and practices increasingly work together at scale – for example in federations – with other parts of the health service.

The report states that, practices working together at scale could become the ‘multi-speciality community providers’ called for by the NHS Five Year Forward View, which, as well as having GPs, would include specialists, pharmacists, social workers, community nurses and workers from the voluntary sector.

The author of the report, Mike Farrar, said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that we need a seismic shift in the way care is delivered, as well in the attitudes of clinicians, to ensure we can provide care to patients that is centred on the individual and as close to home as possible.”

12.05pm The Care Quality Commission’s struggle to employ enough staff to inspect all acute trusts by the end of next year has been flagged up as a “key risk” by its chief executive.

The watchdog’s ongoing recruitment difficulties come despite a concerted effort to bolster its contingent of staff and a decision to slash the number of planned inspections.

11.46am NHS workers across England and Northern Ireland held a strike today for the second time in the past two months over a pay dispute with the government.

Members from 11 health unions took part in the four-hour strike from 7am to 11am in England and 8am to 12 midday on Monday 24 November in Northern Ireland, after ministers refused to agree to a 1 per cent pay rise for all NHS staff.

This will be followed by four days of “work to rule” action for Royal College of Midwives members, meaning they will not work unpaid overtime and will take all of their breaks for the remainder of the week.

Meanwhile, Unite members will continue to work to rule for the next two months.

11.39am The Times writes that police are reportedly being forced to take patients to hospital because ambulances are unavailable.

Senior officers have launched an inquiry into concerns that police are having to act as drivers for patients, and provide first aid, because paramedics cannot respond to 999 calls.

It has been claimed that ambulance bosses are using the police to help make sure targets are met.

Simon Cole, chief constable of Leicestershire police, is heading the inquiry into the problem on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “I am concerned that police officers on occasion are having to transport people to hospital when they should not have to do so, because there isn’t ambulance availability.

11.25am The Times also reports that two thirds of young doctors say that they struggle to be objective and truthful with patients they like, according to researchers who warn that “chummy” medics are ‘blurring the boundaries’ between personal and professional relationships.

According to academics writing in The Lancet Oncology, doctors should not allow patients to call them by their first name, accept them as friends on Facebook or greet them with a hug, because this could impair their clinical judgment.

Regulators have warned that doctors who “breach boundaries” of friendship in real life or on social media could face disciplinary action for violating professional guidance.

10.50am The Times reports this morning that a loneliness helpline for older people has been recruited by the health watchdog to uncover cases of elder abuse amid fears that thousands of frail and vulnerable people are regularly harmed by their carers.

The Care Quality Commission has formed a partnership with the Silver Line where staff will help elderly people or their families gather details about possible abuse, raise concerns with management or refer cases to the inspectors.

The paper reports that in extreme cases, the police or safeguarding authorities would be called.

10.15am Patients want full control of their medical records and the technology exists to do it securely, so why are people still unable to do it? Shaun O’Hanlon answers that question here.

10.05am A succession of service redesigns across Greater Manchester has left staff fatigued and confused, according to the chief executive of one foundation trust.

Ann Barnes, chief executive of Stockport FT, said the latest reconfiguration, Healthier Together, had also pitched trusts across the conurbation into “direct competition” while those leading the redesign endorsed a collaborative and “partnership” approach.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with a comment piece from Nick Boyle, consultant general surgeon for the Circle Partnership, arguing that prime provider contracts are a solution for the NHS, not a problem.

Mr Boyle writes: “Prime provider contracts for musculoskeletal services are attracting a lot of attention and a lot of controversy.

“But the criticism is often ill founded and risks undermining an innovative way to improve services.”