Dr Foster Intelligence has been bought by an Australian telecoms giant, HSJ can exclusively reveal, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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3.56pm The consultancy KPMG has announced a strategic partnership with UK Trade & Investment which will see the two organisations supporting the growth of UK exports of goods and expertise.

UKTI and KPMG will work together over the coming months on a number of initiatives to support current and new exporters.

The first initiative to be announced involves a continuation of work with the NHS Leadership Academy. With the support of Healthcare UK, the government body which supports the UK health sector to do business overseas, KPMG will work with the NHS Leadership Academy to take their training programmes to countries where there is growing demand for the UK’s expertise in healthcare leadership.

Created in 2012, the Leadership Academy has already trained over 36,000 leaders at all levels in the NHS in England.

Trade minister Lord Livingston said: “It’s great to see UKTI and KPMG come together to present this vision for how we can work in partnership over the next two years.

“In particular, the plans to work with the NHS to extend the NHS Leadership Academy across the globe are an excellent example of how Government and the private sector can work together to encourage economic growth.”

Howard Lyons, managing director of Healthcare UK, said: “People sometimes forget how highly valued the NHS brand is overseas, with many emerging markets looking to replicate elements of our health system.

“We strongly believe that taking the inspiring NHS Leadership Academy and its programmes overseas, delivering revenues back to the NHS, will be of major interest and showcase a real success story.”

3.27pm NHS Employers today said it would welcome discussions about the General Medical Council’s new whistleblowing report, and hopes that any accepted recommendations are taken forward together with the recommendations of the recent Freedom to Speak Up Report.

‘The handling by the General Medical Council of cases involving whistleblowers’, an independent report by Sir Anthony Hooper commissioned by the GMC, was published today.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “Employers are working hard to remove any cultural barriers that could prevent fair treatment - or the expectation of fair treatment - for doctors who raise concerns. There is already good progress and we need to get this right for the NHS, staff and patients.

“We would welcome a discussion about Sir Anthony’s findings and hope that any accepted recommendations are taken forward together with those of the recently published Freedom to Speak Up Report.

“Our new Draw the Line campaign includes an excellent barometer to help NHS organisations meet a good standard in their whistleblowing arrangements.”

3.04pm A letter to the editor:

Dear Sir,

Almost a year ago the National Review into Asthma Deaths found that two thirds of deaths could have been prevented with better routine care and recommended a National Clinical Audit on Asthma. Although 1 in 11 people in the UK have asthma, an audit of asthma care has still not been commissioned.

We are urging NHS England decision-makers to implement a National Clinical Audit on asthma immediately. Audits for diseases such as stroke have driven improvements in care and reduced unnecessary hospital admissions. Yet, asthma remains one of the few long-term conditions in the UK not to have an audit, despite significant evidence of variations in care and outcomes. This is putting the lives of people with asthma at risk, costs the NHS £1 billion each year and millions in lost days at work and school.

A recent study of paediatric asthma care in hospitals found that almost 80% of children who were admitted to hospital were readmitted within three months. Often these children failed to receive the basic standards of asthma care, such as being given a written asthma action plan, which is proven to reduce costly admissions. Without a full National Clinical Audit it will be difficult to identify the areas where asthma care needs the most improvement.

What is known is that many of the lives lost are due to poor asthma care. Data from the ONS reveals there has been an 11% increase in asthma deaths since 2009 in the UK. Tragically, the equivalent of a classroom of children still die from asthmas each year and we continue to have one of the worst mortality rates for childhood asthma in Western Europe. In the 21st century children should not be dying from preventable asthma attacks.

Ignoring the urgent need for a National Clinical Audit on Asthma is not only a waste of NHS resources, but it leaves many people with asthma at ongoing risk of having potentially life threatening asthma attacks.

Yours sincerely,

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive, Asthma UK; Dr Kevin Gruffydd-Jones, Respiratory Lead, Royal College of General Practitioners; Dr James Y. Paton, Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, British Paediatric Respiratory Society; Dr Stephen Gaduzo, Chair of Executive Committee, Primary Care Respiratory Society UK; Dr Bernard Higgins, Chair, BTS Executive Committee, British Thoracic Society; Aziz Sheikh, Professor of Primary Care & Development at The University of Edinburgh; Chris Griffiths, Co-Director, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

3.02pm Another interesting nugget from today’s NHS England board meeting, thanks to HSJ’s Judith Welikala:

2.42pm A new law on avoidable harm in health and social care is set to receive royal assent today.

The private members bill successfully cleared the Commons yesterday after support from both the government and opposition.

It amends the Health and Social Care Act 2008, which established the Care Quality Commission, and removes discretion over whether services registered with the CQC should be safe. Instead, the regulations require the health secretary “to secure that services provided in the carrying on of regulated activities cause no avoidable harm”. The application and implementation of this requirement is expected to fall to the CQC.

2.30pm A new board has been appointed to run Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, led by former strategic health authority boss Alan Burns as chair.

However the chief executive and executive team of the trust, which was put in special measures after being rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission, will continue in their posts.

Appointments for the new non-executive directors will be announced shortly, as will an improvement director appointed by the NHS Trust Development Authority.

2.26pm Harmful alcohol consumption in England is unlikely to be reduced by the Public Health Responsibility Deal because the majority of its interventions are ineffective, poorly reported or were already happening anyway, according to two new studies published in Addiction.

The findings are part of a comprehensive independent evaluation of the Public Health Responsibility Deal conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Launched in March 2011, the Responsibility Deal is a public-private partnership between industry, government, public bodies and voluntary organisations in England. Organisations involved make voluntary ‘pledges’ on various areas, including alcohol, which are designed to improve public health.

Researchers analysed all publicly available data about organisations’ plans and progress towards achieving key alcohol pledges of the Responsibility Deal. They also conducted a systematic review of international evidence about the different types of interventions proposed by the organisations, in order to assess how effective the pledges would be in reducing harm from alcohol.

75% of the pledges aimed to provide consumer information and choice – interventions that are known to have limited effectiveness. The other 25 per cent included measures such as reducing alcohol content in products.

However, the researchers also noted that where some producers and retailers reported taking measures to reduce alcohol units, these appear to mainly involve launching and promoting new low-unit products rather than removing units from existing high-unit products. This could potentially increase the total number of alcohol products on the market.

Annual progress reports from organisations on their pledges were most often found to be poor quality, incomplete or unavailable. Only 11 per cent of alcohol pledge-related activities were found to be a direct result of the Responsibility Deal, with 65 per cent actions the organisations were already undertaking.**

The researchers say that while alcohol pledges may contribute to improving consumers’ knowledge and awareness, they are unlikely to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption.

Lead author Dr Cécile Knai, from the Policy Innovation Research Unit at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “We know that effective voluntary agreements are based on clearly-defined, evidence-based and quantifiable targets, which require partners to go beyond ‘business as usual’, and penalties for not delivering the pledges. However the alcohol pledges of the Public Health Responsibility haven’t met these criteria.

“Excessive alcohol consumption continues to be a major public health problem in England and needs to be addressed by effective interventions, notably those which change the market environment to make alcohol less available and more expensive. We hope our evaluation will contribute to decision-making about how to effectively tackle this problem.”

The evaluation of the Public Health Responsibility Deal was conducted by the Policy Innovation Research Unit, an independent research unit based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme. Sole responsibility for this research lies with the authors and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of Health. The Department of Health played no role in the design of the study, the interpretation of the findings, the writing of the paper or the decision to submit.

1.14pm Baroness Julia Cumberlege is to lead a major review of maternity services which is set to modernise care for women and babies across the country, NHS England announced today.

The programme of work will assess current maternity care provision and consider how services should be developed to meet the changing needs of women and babies.

The review was promised in the NHS Five Year Forward View and its terms of reference were published just after the report into maternity care at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust was published earlier this month.  

Baroness Cumberlege said: “NHS England recognises just how important the experience of childbirth is to women, their partners and the new born child. Though the majority find the care they receive to be good, this is a chance to raise standards of safety, to innovate and to explore how maternity services can best meet the needs of today.

“I see this review as an opportunity for parents to shape the services they want professionals to deliver. The team will travel widely in England to listen and to seek out and assess innovative models of care here and abroad.

“Shortly we will let you know how you can help. I will welcome the ideas of parents and professionals alike.”

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Having a baby can be one of the most joyous experiences you can go through and we know that the vast majority of women are happy with the maternity care they receive.

“But we also know great care isn’t everywhere. The time is right to take stock, and consider how we can best deliver maternity care safely in every part of the country, while better meeting the high expectations women and their families rightly have.

“Under Julia’s leadership, we need this review to independently assess the evidence - from this country and overseas - on how we can improve care for women, babies and their families.” 

Baroness Cumberlege is an honorary fellow at several royal collages including the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists. She chaired working parties for the Royal College of Physicians – which led to the ‘Doctors in Society’ (2005) and ‘Future Physicians: Changing Doctors in a Changing World’ (2010) reports.

She is also a patron of the National Childbirth Trust and vice president of the Royal College of Midwives. In the 1990s she also led a major review on maternity care, producing the ‘Changing Childbirth’ report for the Department of Health. 

She will work closely with other members of the review team and provide independent leadership for its overall work, which will include:

  • reviewing the UK and international evidence and making recommendations on safe and efficient models of maternity services, including midwife-led units;
  • ensuring that the NHS supports and enables women to make safe and appropriate choices of maternity care for them and their babies; and
  • supporting NHS staff, including midwives to provide responsive care.

A full list of members will be confirmed soon. They include:

  • Sir Cyril Chantler (Vice Chair)
  • Professor Cathy Warwick, Royal College of Midwives, Chief Executive
  • Dr David Richmond, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, President
  • Annie Francis, Neighbourhood Midwives, Chief Executive
  • Sarah Noble, Consultant Midwife, Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
  • Elizabeth Duff, NCT, Senior Policy Adviser
  • Alison Baum, Best Beginnings, Chief Executive
  • Rowan Davies, Mumsnet, Head of Policy and Campaigns
  • James Titcombe, Morecambe Bay parent and CQC adviser on safety
  • Dr Alan Fenton, Consultant Neonatal Paediatrician, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS FT
  • Professor James Walker,  Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Leeds
  • Dr Catherine Calderwood, National Clinical Director for Maternity and Women’s Health
  • Dr Jocelyn Cornwell, Point of Care Foundation, Chief Executive

The review team will establish a number of advisory groups covering the healthcare system, the voluntary sector and international models of care. They will also engage with NHS Citizen networks on the ideas and solutions they have for improving maternity care.

The review team will report its findings by the end of the year.

12.55pm Dame Barbara Hakin:


12.50pm Tim Kelsey says:

12.31pm BREAKING: Dr Foster Intelligence has been bought by an Australian telecoms giant, HSJ can exclusively reveal.

The health informatics company, which was formed through a joint venture with the Department of Health in 2006, has been acquired by Telstra Health, a provider of electronic health solutions which is a division of the Australian telecoms company, Telstra.

11.47am Speaking at NHS England’s board, national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey says:

11.43am NHS reform has stalled in this Parliament according to a new analysis published by the independent think tank Reform

The service has not shifted significantly towards the new vision set out by Simon Stevens in the Five Year Forward View. NHS England has warned that the next Government must find £22bn extra to spend on the NHS if it does not become much more efficient.

The study argues that a more efficient NHS should mean a smaller NHS workforce, given that around half the NHS budget is spent on staffing.  The rise in NHS staffing since 2013 suggests that the NHS is not becoming more efficient, as does the big increase in the number of hospitals in deficit.

The Five Year Forward View urges a change from an NHS where the default option is to treat patients in hospital.  As such the Reform study praises the reduction in the number of hospital beds by 5 per cent since 2010.  It is concerned however that spending on hospitals has risen by £4.7bn in real terms.  Spending on prevention and out-of-hospital care has fallen as a proportion of the total budget. 

Simon Stevens has emphasised the need for new models of health delivery.  The share of the NHS budget spent on private companies, charities and other organisations has barely risen from 8.5 per cent to 9.1 per cent.  The number of patients offered choice of hospital treatment has fallen.  The use of alternatives to hospital A&E departments, such as walk-in centres, has flat-lined after a period of growth.

All political parties want to deliver a more integrated NHS, meaning better co-ordination of care for elderly between hospitals and residential or nursing care.  That co-ordination has significantly worsened.  The numbers of days lost to delayed transfers out of hospitals has risen by almost two-thirds.

Cathy Corrie, senior researcher at Reform, said: “NHS England rightly wants a more efficient NHS. That is difficult to square with the current increases in staff numbers and the impact this has on hospital finances.”

11.05am Cabinet office minister Francis Maude has said there is ‘much more’ scope for the use of personal budgets in health and social care.

He also strongly defended the use of staff owned mutuals in the provision of public services. He said they were the best innovation he had seen in government and could improve performance “almost overnight”.

11.00am The NHS workforce grew by more than 2 per cent last year, including a rise in the number of senior managers.

The latest annual census of NHS workforce by the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows the number of full time equivalent staff in NHS England grew by 2.1 per cent to September last year from the same period in 2013.

There were 35,200 managers and senior managers in the NHS in September 2014. Numbers have fallen by 2.3 per cent, or 842, compared to September 2004 but have started to rise since the Health and Social Care Act reforms in 2013 – with 577 more managers in September compared with a year earlier.

10.58am Care Quality Commission inspectors have returned to East Sussex Healthcare Trust just two days before the regulator is due to publish a report into the trust.

The unannounced two day inspection took place yesterday and today. The CQC is expected to publish its report tomorrow.

The publication of the CQC’s report from its inspection in September has already been delayed as the trust and the CQC have been back and forth during the quality assurance process and the trust challenged factual points in the report, a CQC spokesman said.

10.56am Ian Dodge:

10.45am The answer comes:

10.44am NHS England board: Moira Gibbs asks very interesting question to Ian Dodge and David Roberts:

10.38am Speaking at NHS England’s board meeting in Leeds today, chair Sir Malcolm Grant says:

10.36am The Times reports that millions of patients are to be offered innovative tests, scans and so-called smart pills in exchange for becoming “living labs” for global tech companies.

The health technology industry has been asked to provide its latest equipment free, or heavily discounted, in exchange for preferential access to swathes of the health service, in a deal to speed up the use of new technology.

The NHS is to advertise itself to health companies around the world, promising them a way to validate the latest wearable monitors, apps and diagnostic tests. Ministers hope that proving that such devices can keep large numbers of patients out of hospital will encourage the rest of the NHS to adopt them, while giving companies a valuable marketing tool.


The NHS is getting worse for the first time in 20 years, according to an analysis by the King’s Fund that warns of rising waiting times and overcrowded wards, The Times also reports.

Patients are at risk because one in six hospitals is essentially full and worse is to come after the election as the health service runs out of money, the report says.

In a mixed verdict on the government’s health record, the King’s Fund says that NHS performance held up well in the first half of the parliament before worsening as bosses ran out of easy efficiency savings.

10.27am NHS England’s business plan is due out tomorrow…

10.26am Judith Welikala tweets:

10.25am The six national NHS leadership bodies and the Department of Health are working on a “opportunity map” for efficiencies over the next five years, according to a note in NHS England’s board papers for its meeting today.

This will have “agreed high impact actions for 2015-16, and a proposed approach to engaging widely with frontline NHS organisations.”

10.21am HSJ’s Dave West tweets:

10.18am Follow Judith on Twitter for the latest from this morning’s NHS England Board meeting.

10.17am Simon Stevens says:


10.16am Judith Welikala covers comments by Simon Stevens:

10.15am HSJ’s Judith Welikala, who is at this morning’s NHS England Board meeting tweets:

10.08am Virgin Care has been awarded a £280m, seven-year prime provider contract to manage services in East Staffordshire, HSJ can reveal.

It beat competition from the only other shortlisted bidder, Optum, to win the contract to coordinate services for frail elderly patients, those with long term conditions and intermediate care.

The programme, supported by the 19 East Staffordshire GP practices, will come into effect from April next year and serve around 38,000 people with long term conditions as well as an estimated 6,000 frail older people.

It is a separate contract to a tender process being carried out by four other Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups for cancer and end of life care which is worth a total of £1.2bn. Virgin Care is bidding for the end of life care element of that tender worth £535m.

10.04am To see the full list click here.

9.40am The Salford Royal Foundation Trust chief executive is number one in HSJ’s second annual list of the exceptional chief executives leading NHS provider organisations.