Ed Miliband pledges to halt ‘privatisation of NHS’ at election campaign launch, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment

Live logo

17.17pm The Department of Health today published new guidance on commissioning services for women and girls affected by female genital mutilation (FGM).

The guidance urges commissioners to ensure appropriate services are in place in the light of new information and increased awareness of the scale of the problem.

‘Given this development and the increased awareness of the care needs of women and girls with FGM, NHS commissioners must ensure that standard commissioning processes can be used to take account of this need, and provide FGM services as required,’ it says.

The DH also put out separate guidance for NHS organisations to help them formulate or review safeguarding policies and procedures around FGM.

17.02pm The recipents of £350million in funding for primary care were announced by NHS England today.

Thirty-seven pilot schemes in England will get funding as part of the second wave of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund. Meanwhile more than 1,000 GP practices across the country have had bids approved for funding in principle as part of the first tranche of the £1billion, four-year Primary Care Infrastructure Fund.

16.26pm A former NHS finance chief who defrauded the health service of more than £2 million has been ordered to pay back the money, reports The Eastbourne Herald.

Trevor Cosson stole nearly £2.2million from Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust and East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust and is currently serving a prison sentence of five years and four months.

Today he was told by a judge at Blackfriars Crown Court the sum would be confiscated, reports the Herald, which quotes Richard Hampton, head of external engagement and services at NHS Protect.

‘Today is a good day for taxpayers and NHS patients. NHS Protect has recovered over two million pounds for patient care that was stolen by Trevor Cosson, a senior NHS finance manager,’ said Mr Hampton.

‘Cosson is already in jail serving a long prison term after NHS Protect’s successful fraud and money-laundering investigation last year.

‘Cosson’s staggering dishonesty and greed has really let down the vast majority of NHS workers - most of whom do hard, honest work for a lot less money than he was paid.’

15.39pm More than 100 NHS hospitals in Britain contain fast food outlets, reports The Daily Mail.

‘Critics argue the presence of Burger King, Costa Coffee and Greggs around sick patients goes as far as being negligent - and is simply adding to the soaring obesity crisis,’ says the paper. 

15.27pm The Care Quality Commission has said it is ‘shining a spotlight’ on good and outstanding NHS care with a new report.

The regulator said that since launching its new inspection regime in September 2013, it had identified “three emerging themes” that underpinned the best performing providers. Fing out more here.

15.15pm Never mind marketisation. The biggest threat to the NHS is lack of reform, according to The New Statesman’s politics blog, which argues politicians are not being straight with voters about the need for change.

Local A&Es will have to close, the NHS workforce must be reduced and doctors will no longer be able to avoid out-of-hours and weekend working, says the article.

15.00pm The GMB union has claimed managers at East Sussex Healthcare Trust have ‘let down staff’ and called for a new culture of openness at the organisation, which has been rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission.

GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said he was not surprised by the CQC verdict.

‘GMB had no doubt that the CQC findings would finally highlight poor leadership an communication and lack of engagement with both staff and the public in its damning report,’ he said in a statement.

‘The report makes clear that staff feel disengaged and undervalued and have had to work in a culture where they have been made to feel afraid to speak out or to share their concerns. It also mentions that the unilaterally imposed reconfigurations had led to services deteriorating and had left them unable to respond to the needs of those using the service.’

In particular he criticised the decision to hire a turnaround director ‘who then spent hundreds of thousands of pounds more bringing in further so called experts, to forcefully redeploy staff, close, mothball or relocate wards and reconfigure services between the hospitals and community’.

‘They have only managed to deliver inadequate outcomes condemned by the CQC inspection in September 2014,’ Mr Palmer added. ‘They have let down staff working in the trust, together with the patients and public of the south east.’

14.50pm New training standards for healthcare assistants should be made mandatory as part of a journey towards ‘inevitable’ full registration of the care workforce, the author of the Cavendish review has said.

Camilla Cavendish, a Care Quality Commission board member and associate editor of The Sunday Timesled a review into the training standards of care assistants in 2013. She also told HSJ the CQC would need to be ‘rigorous’ in its approach to overseeing new HCA standards that come into effect next month. Read more here.

14.44pm The Care Quality Commission will no longer give risk ratings for GP practices as part of its intelligent monitoring process.

The decision was made following a meeting with GP leaders yesterday. Read HSJ’s story here.

14.41pm Salford Royal Foundation Trust has been rated ‘outstanding’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

The Manchester trust, which was inspected by the regulator in January, is the second in the country to receive the top rating, following Frimley Health Foundation Trust in September.

Read more here.

14.32pm Teaching hospitals are continuing to refuse ‘out of area’ referrals in defiance of new rules from NHS England.

HSJ has also learned that some trusts are planning to challenge the measure on patient safety grounds. Read the full story here.

14.25pm Update: Labour has confirmed to HSJ via Twitter that the party’s profit cap would not apply to GP practices. Read HSJ’s story on the policy announcement here.

14.19pm A profit cap for private firms delivering NHS care could have ‘unintended consquences’, suggests the NHS Partners Network, responding to the Labour policy announced by Ed Miliband earlier today.

‘Independent sector providers deliver high quality NHS care to large numbers of NHS patients every year and work closely with commissioners to ensure they deliver the best possible services,” said chief executive David Hare.

‘Across the country these productive relationships are helping the NHS to respond to the challenges of a 21st century health system and mean that patients receive timely access to treatment and tests supported by the tens of thousands of staff employed by independent sector providers.

‘It is important that any new policies enable NHS commissioners to work with the independent sector to invest in extra NHS capacity and introduce the kind of service transformation imagined in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

‘Independent sector providers would want to work with any future Labour government to mitigate any risk or unintended consequences that could arise from the introduction of a profit cap and ensure that NHS patients continue to benefit from the services provided by the independent sector.’

14.09pm Monitor has deferred for up to a year its decision on whether Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust should become a foundation trust.

The regulator said it was deferring the decision to enable the trust to ‘strengthen some of the aspects of how it is run’.

Birmingham Community Healthcare provides community and specialist health care services to patients in Birmingham and across the wider West Midlands region.

The Care Quality Commission rated the quality of the trust’s community services as ‘good’ overall in July 2014. However, Monitor said the organisation needed to ‘further enhance’ some aspects of the way it operates before it could gain foundation trust status.

‘We are deferring our decision on whether Birmingham Community should become a foundation trust for up to a year,’ said Miranda Carter, executive director of provider appraisal at Monitor.

‘We want to give the trust more time to build on work it is already doing to strengthen some aspects of how it is run before we are able to grant the freedoms that come with foundation status.’

13.13pm More on East Sussex Healthcare Trust’s ‘inadequate’ rating from the Care Quality Commission. Read HSJ’s story here.

12.55pm A national body to investigate medical accidents should be established immediately, say MPs.

The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee said the service was needed because of the scale of the problem in the NHS.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has already tasked Dr Mike Durkin, Director of Patient Safety at NHS England, to look into setting up a national independent patient safety investigation body.

However, the committee called for plans to be brought forward. ‘The cost of this body will be relatively small, compared to the costs and liabilities arising from clinical incidents at present,’ said the report.

The committee made it clear such an organiation could be expected to investigate every clincial incident. ”There will have to be clear criteria for deciding which incidents it should investigate, to avoid being overwhelmed by the large number that require routine investigation across the NHS,” said the report. ‘However, all untoward clinical incidents must be investigated: the only question is how and by whom.’

It recommended the creation of independent medical examiner posts in local areas to look into cases with one appointed for each clinical commissioning group ‘to examine hospital deaths, to keep families of the deceased informed, and to alert the coroner to cases of concern’. The idea is these examiners would refer cases to the proposed national body.

Read HSJ’s story here.

12.37pm More details on Labour’s plans for the NHS: Labour has confirmed to HSJ via Twitter that their ‘cap’ on profits of private NHS providers would apply only to contracts for clinical services - not, for example, pharmaceuticals or back office services.

12.26pm Director of Nursing for England Viv Bennett has published an open letter hailing progress on a government drive to boost health visitor numbers launched in 2011.

The campaign has delivered ‘what is thought to be the biggest percentage professional growth ever achieved in the NHS in this timescale’, she said in a blog post where she thanked health services and partners for their ‘incredible contributions’.

12.17pm Today’s Financial Times includes a feature on ‘new pharmacist giant’ Actavis, which last week overtook GlaxoSmithKline to become the world’s eighth largest drugmaker by market capitalisation.

11.29am Fewer NHS contracts would be awarded to private companies under Labour, Ed Miliband will pledge today as he launches the party’s election campaign.

Labour would protect the health service with a ‘double lock’ and ‘stop the tide of privatisation’, he will say in a speech at the Olympic Park in London.

This would include imposing a cap on profits when private companies provide NHS services and measures to stop “cherry picking” so firms cannot benefit from only treating easy cases.

Under Labour all outsourced contracts over a value of £500,000 would be required to include a profit cap.

‘For the first time, we will cap the profits that private health companies can make from our National Health Service. The standard rule will be a five per cent cap,’ Mr Miliband will announce. ‘Because the money we pay for our health care should be invested for patient care not for excess profits for private firms.’

Labour would repeal the current government’s ‘terrible’ Health and Social Care Act and replace with a system where the NHS is the ‘preferred provider’, he will confirm.

‘Their Act effectively forces the competitive tendering of services. A third of all contracts have gone to private providers since it was passed,” he will say. ‘This doesn’t fit the values of our NHS and it doesn’t serve the future of our NHS either.’

Other plans include:

  • Raising an extra £2.5 billion a year for the NHS through a mansion tax on properties over £2 million, tackling tax avoidance by hedge funds, and a levy on tobacco companies
  • Pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 new homecare workers and 3,000 more midwives.
  • Joining up services from home to hospital.
  • Guarantee no-one waits more than a week for vital cancer tests
  • Guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours - or on the same day if needed

11.17am Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust is reported to have launched an urgent investigation after a dementia patient who wandered out of Stoke Mandeville Hospital was found dead.

Violet Burton’s body was found a quarter of a mile away from the hospital, according to The Daily Mail. The 79-year-old is believed to have died of hypothermia but the cause of death has not yet been made public.

11.07am Better co-ordination of services is vital amid efforts to improve mental health provision for children and young people, according to a report by MPs and peers published today.

Children and young people should be consulted when commissioning services, stresses the report, which was launched by the National Children’s Bureau on behalf of four all-party parliamentary groups concerned with child welfare.

10.47am Attendances at accident and emergency departments were at their highest in three months, according to the latest data.

Last week 286,565 patients attended major A&Es, compared to 278,625 the previous week.

Admissions, which are felt to be a stronger measure of pressure on an A&E, were up on the previous week but roughly similar to previous weeks. There were 78,676 patients admitted via A&E compared to 77,662 the previous week.

Trusts continue to struggle to meet the target to see, treat, admit or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours. Only 89.6 per cent of patients at major A&Es were seen within four hours. This is the 88th week the target has been missed.

10.35am Surgeons at Papworth Hospital have carried out the UK’s first transplant of a non-beating heart.

The team behind the landmark procedure say it has the potential to save many more lives as the number of people on heart transplant waiting lists continues to grow.

The first patient to undergo the op was 60-year-old Huseyin Ulcan, who has the surgery earlier this month and is said to be making “remarkable progress”.

10.21am Men not women can now expect the healthiest lives, according to The Daily Mail, reporting on new figures from the Office of National Statistics.

The stats from the National Population Survey show women still live longer but the gap between the sexes is starting to close.

Meanwhile men are now likely to live a longer portion of their lives in good health.

The paper also reports on a US study that suggests high levels of fitness in middle age can help men survive cancer. Of those who developed lung, bowel or prostate cancer, keeping fit cut the chance of them dying from their disease by a third, found the study published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

10.04am East Sussex Healthcare Trust has been given a rating of ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC is considering whether to place the trust in special measures after re-inspecting the trust this week.

It has been six months since the first inspection took place. The report was delayed after the trust raised concerns over factual inaccuracies.

Inspectors were “extremely concerned” by the “disconnect” between senior management and frontline staff. They also had “serious concerns” over maternity, surgery and outpatients services. Story to follow.

10.01am More than 50 pilot sites will take part in a national trial of clinical pharmacists in accident and emergency departments. Read HSJ’s story here.

9.55am A national framework for the training and development of general managers within the NHS should be set up to support them in their role and ensure all are working to the same standards, a new guide to be published by HSJ, Nursing Times and NHS Improving Quality will reveal.

The free interactive guide - to be published on Monday - sets out how to drive effective change in the NHS and has been entirely curated from suggestions offered by the public as part of the Challenge Top-down Change campaign. Read more here.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. To kick us off, we report that United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has been taken out of special measures.

The NHS Trust Development Authority took the decision after the Care Quality Commission found that the provider had improved in areas including accident and emergency, surgery and outpatient services.

The trust, which runs four hospitals in the county, was put into special measures in 2013 following a review into trusts with persistently high mortality rates by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

Separately, Salford Royal Foundation Trust has been rated ‘outstanding’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

The North West trust received outstanding ratings for how caring, responsive and well led its services were, and ‘good’ ratings for their safety and effectiveness.

Its accident and emergency, medical care and end of life care services were also rated outstanding.

The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, said: “Just about all of the people we met on this inspection spoke positively about ensuring that patients received safe, clean and personal care every time.

“There is a clear focus on quality improvement across all staff groups to reduce patient harm, improve outcomes and patient experience, starting even before admission. 

He added that services were tailored to meet the specific needs of people both in Salford Royal Hospital and across the community, and that continuity was provided between the two.

However inspectors said the trust needed to improve safety checks on patients going through operating theatres, and had to ensure that outstanding repair work to the outpatient department was completed