Morecambe Bay inquiry chair warns of ‘disastrous’ consequence for the NHS if its focuses too much on financial savings, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment.

Live logo

3.01pm Monitor has deferred for up to a year a decision on whether Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust should become a foundation trust.

Following an assessment process, Monitor concluded that the way the trust is run is “not as strong as the regulator would expect from a foundation trust”. In particular, the trust must ensure its board works as effectively as possible, and that it has robust plans demonstrating it can provide services to patients in a financially sustainable way for the future, the regulator said.

Miranda Carter, executive director of provider appraisal at Monitor, said: “We have deferred making a decision on Dudley and Walsall’s application, as the trust has further work to do before it meets the requirements of a foundation trust.

2.49pm A survey of consultant physicians in the UK has revealed notable support around the plans for a seven day NHS.

The Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, which conducted the study, said 68 per cent of consultant physicians stated they would “in principle” support the plan.

The findings suggested a correlation between physicians who routinely work seven days and support for the plan, with stronger support from the specialties that often have to work weekends, including acute internal medicine, stroke medicine and cardiology.

The study also underlined the growing need for consultants who can meet the needs of frail older patients.

Dr Harriet Gordon, director of the RCP’s medical workforce unit, said: “It is clear that a majority of consultant physicians in the UK support the principle of a seven day NHS – however there needs to be much more discussion around how such a plan is implemented.

“In order to make the seven-day service a reality, we will need strong clinical leadership and involvement in redesigning services around the patient, as envisioned in our Future Hospital Programme, in addition to extra resources. This includes earlier access to specialist opinion within the hospital, and specialist care reaching out into the community to provide seamless services across primary, secondary and community care, as reflected in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.”

2.21pm The evolution of the NHS will be undermined without better use of cloud-based computing, according to survey findings released by a provider of the service.

A report from Huddle, which said it surveyed more than 2,000 NHS employees, suggested that “despite government initiatives to drive greater use of cloud computing across the public sector, many parts of the NHS are struggling to embrace the technology”.

2.09pm The Health Foundation has launched a report proposing that action is needed now on five fronts to help health care services in England meet the challenges they face by 2020 and beyond.

 Shaping the future: A strategic framework for a successful NHS sets out five areas of focus to achieve the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View and put the service on a more sustainable footing for the future.

It provides a framework for thinking around active cost management; process improvement for quality and efficiency; new ways of delivering care and support; scientific discovery, technology and skills; and focus on population health.

The report argues that a successful NHS strategy cannot be lifted from another country or calculated using a special formula – that no ‘silver bullet’ exists which will solve the complex challenges. Alignment – co-ordination between the different layers – and prioritisation of the areas with the greatest impact will be critical, it says.

Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive, said: “The question isn’t whether to achieve the aspirations outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward view, but how. Our report outlines the main elements of a strategy which has quality of care and increased productivity at its heart. We hope this framing will help steer policymakers and others in the NHS as they act on multiple fronts to address the challenges ahead.”

Richard Taunt, director of policy, said: “The current challenges facing the NHS make the task to improve health and care particularly difficult. We need a strategic and intelligent approach to help the health service tackle a set of profound challenges, over this parliament and beyond.

Shaping the future proposes a framework focused on a set of layered and interlinked plans, which will require a strong focus on practical implementation, constantly evaluating progress and adapting over time.”

12.07pm Sarah-Jane Marsh is to be appointed chief executive officer of Birmingham Women’s Hospital Foundation Trust, a role she will take on in addition to her current job in charge of Birmingham Children’s Hospital FT.

The move throws into doubt the long term future of a £70m redevelopment project at Birmingham Women’s, which is closely associated with former chief executive Ros Keeton, who departed last month.

Although some clinical commissioning groups have joint accountable officers, and sharing chiefs is an established practice in local government, this is believed to be the first example of a single individual leading more than one NHS provider on a permanent basis.

11.51am The chair of the inquiry into care failings at Morecambe Bay has warned of a “disastrous consequence” for the NHS if it focuses too much on financial savings at the expense of patient safety.

Bill Kirkup, who led the investigation into maternal and infant deaths at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, told HSJ his fear was that, as the system sought to bring budgets under control, people would be “distracted” from ensuring safety and past mistakes would be repeated.

Dr Kirkup said: “I don’t think that in the medium term there is any dichotomy between pursuing quality and pursuing efficiency because high quality care is more efficient; you get it right first time.

“Just because of the financial position we are in at the moment, we are going to see that people’s priorities have to be focused on balancing the books, and that will distract them from patient safety and other aspects of quality. That would be a really disastrous consequence of all of this.”

10.40am More from Norman Lamb at the Commissioning Show:


10.36am HSJ reporter Judith Welikala is at the Commissioning Show at London’s Excel Arena this morning. Former Lib Dem care minister Norman Lamb, speaking at the event, has said the government’s NHS pledges ‘don’t stack up’. See updates from Judith here.

10.29am Transfusions of laboratory-grown blood will take place in Britain within two years, in what scientists have described as a landmark trial for transplant science, The Times reports.

The NHS has said that by 2017 it will have developed the technology to manufacture red blood cells in enough quantity to transfer them to 20 patients.

The researchers, working in collaboration with teams at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford, are growing the blood from stem cells taken from adult and umbilical cord blood.

10.25am The Times reports claims from doctors that the ten-minute consultations most GPs offer their patients are “impossible” against the backdrop of a surge in chronic and complex illnesses.

The time window is “out of date” and should be substantially increased, the British Medical Association said.

GPs typically spend eight to ten minutes on each appointment, and some face a “conveyor belt” of as many as 60 patients a day, the paper said.

10.21am The Daily Mail reports that a senior NHS manager was bludgeoned and stabbed to death after her husband discovered she had been having an affair with a policeman, following an inquest yesterday.

Yvonne Davies, who was head of public relations at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, was attacked with a hammer and knife in her home by Andrew Davies, 45, the inquest heard.

10.02am Chair of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Julie Mellor, has announced she will stand aside from her position when the public services ombudsman bill receives royal assent. She will continue to lead the board and support the executive as trhe service transforms over the next 18 to 24 months.

Since 2012 she has been working to create a single ombudsman service, covering all public services for England including health and social care and UK non-devolved services. The bill to make this happen was announced in last month’s Queen’s speech.

She said: “I believe this new ombudsman service will be better for the public, better for parliament and better value for money. I want the new service to have the best possible chance of success and to achieve this it’s vital that there is continuity in leadership during the transition to the new organisation.  

“That’s why I have decided to stand aside as and when the bill receives royal assent, enabling parliament to make an appointment to the twin roles of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and chair elect of the new service.

“Creation of the new service is one of three things we set out to achieve three years ago. The second was to dramatically increase investigation volume to meet demand. Thanks to our staff and the executive team this has now been achieved with an increase from 400 to 5,000 investigations and resolutions a year, giving more people final decisions on their unresolved complaint.

“Our third goal is to introduce a set of promises to our users about what they can expect from our service and a level of consistency and transparency about our investigation methods to give people greater confidence in our decisions whether we uphold their complaint or not. This is now our focus and my priority is to support the executive and staff in delivering this ahead of transition to the new service.”

9.50am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with news that a consortium bid led by social enterprise Locala has been selected as the preferred bidder for a ‘prime provider’ community services contract worth £285m, HSJ can reveal.

The bid also involves South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, a local hospice and other third sector organisations. Several sources with knowledge of the bidding process have told HSJ this consortium had been named as the preferred bidder.