The former head of a commissioning support unit is to lead the implementation phase of NHS 111, plus the rest of today’s news and comment.

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6.00pm On BBC Radio 4 at 8pm tonight, reporter Jenny Cuffe will speak to two GPs, one in rural Yorkshire soon to lose a quarter of his funding, and another in a busy urban practice in Salford.

The programme will examine pressures on general practice, with the government pushing for longer opening hours and the Labour party committing to a 48 hour appointment target, and one in seven practices in England reporting having to make redundancies because of the squeeze on spending.

You can listen the programme here.

5.49pm A Trust has expressed “serious concern” at its own financial position after it reported a £2.6m deficit at the end of April, £1.5m worse than planned.

University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust’s cost improvement programme is £500,000 behind plan after only one month of the new financial year, board documents also show.

A rise in bed occupancy will need to be tackled within the next two months, in order to boost trust income, they suggest.

5.35pm Former health secretary Andrew Lansley is to be put forward by the prime minister to become Britain’s next European commissioner, according to The Financial Times.

Mr Lansley, who spearheaded the government’s wide reaching health reforms under the Health Act 2012, could have remit to shape Europe’s energy strategy and approach to shale gas, the paper reports.

His ministerial colleagues have said he has been promised the role by prime minister David Cameron, the paper writes. “Andrew feels it was promised to him and it looks like he’ll get it,” said one minister.

5.01pm Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership Trust is recruiting a new chair.

It follows the departure of former chair, Glyn Shaw, after six years in the position.

Stuart Hill, vice chair and non-executive director at the trust, is currently serving as interim chair.

The appointment process is being led by the NHS Trust Development Authority.

Trust chief executive Gary Graham  said: “We are looking for someone with a real passion for the NHS and, in particular, mental health services.

“Their role will be to lead our trust board in determining our vision, strategy and future direction, and help us to provide the very best mental health services for our communities.”

4.35pm The former head of a commissioning support unit is to lead the implementation phase of NHS 111.

Rob Bacon was managing director of Central Midlands CSU until its merger with Staffordshire and Lancashire CSU in April.

Staffordshire and Lancashire boss Derek Kitchen has been appointed managing director of the newly formed Midlands and Lancashire CSU.

The new organisation will serve a population of almost 5,900,000 across Birmingham, the Black Country, Herefordshire, Lancashire, Solihull, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Telford and Wrekin with a combined commissioning budget of £6.84bn.

Mr Kitchen, said he is “excited by the opportunity of leading Midlands and Lancashire CSU in providing excellent commissioning support across our area”.

 “My best wishes go to Rob Bacon in his new national leadership responsibility for NHS 111,” he added.

 NHS 111 replaced NHS Direct, which formally closed on 31 March, to become the health service’s single non-emergency helpline.

4.02pm Join HSJ’s online discussion on how to provide a ‘John Lewis’ service.

Earlier this month we reported on how Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group had borrowed retail techniques to provide a better experience for its patients.

On 2 June at 1pm a group of leadership and experience experts and patient representatives will gather here on to discuss in detail what and how healthcare organisations should take from stores such as John Lewis, whether it is appropriate for the NHS to treat patients as “customers”, and if the NHS can afford to deliver a premium service.

To take part in the discussion you need to be a registered user of Sign up for free here.

3.05pm Arden Commissioning Unit has been appointedby the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham to develop a pulmonary rehabilitation project – one of the first contracts to be awarded to a CSU outside of their immediate geographic area.  

Work on the project has already begun. It is due to be completed by April next year.

The CSU has deployed a project manager to oversee the project locally, who will work with both the Arden team and local partners involved in the project, including Barking and Dagenham Clinical Commissioning Group, clinical providers and local leisure services.

Rachel Pearce, Arden CSU’s managing director, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham to lead this project.

“We specialise in working with multidisciplinary teams and engaging with public, private and voluntary sector partners to achieve a common objective. We’re looking forward to making headway on this exciting opportunity.”

The rate of standardised hospital admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the borough is more than double the national average.

2.37pm HSJ’s exclusive interview with Salford Royal Foundation Trust chief executive Sir David Dalton, who is heading a major government review, has generated a lot of debate.

Sir David said he hoped the review would offer NHS providers a series of new options, which could include national chains of hospitals.

One reader said: “German chains of geographically distributed hospitals compete with charity (mainly church) and municipally run hospitals.

“Germany has very high quality hospital care at low unit costs (overall system costs are higher due to poor demand [management]/ lack of rationing, depending on your view)

“The key to the success of this system is that providers compete on quality (not price which is set), that patients have informed choice, and there are consequences for good and bad performance.”

Another reader said: “It would be interesting to see who qualifies to be the ‘parent company’ of the chains. I imagine that the big FT teaching hospitals imagine that it will be them

“Most teaching hospitals are very inefficient at the basics, with above average reference costs, and worse than average IT and support services. They are often bailed out by research and SIFT money. Whilst many are places which one would chose for complex treatment, they have little to offer to turnaround underperforming DGHs.”

One reader was “sad to see terms such as failure”.

“If the Chains idea has real value and authenticity, it should not just be about so called successful Trust and so called failing Trusts. its all a bit more complex than that,” the reader added.

“As ever, the devil will be in the detail,” said another reader.  “Nobody can disagree with the concept of spreading good practice but how will successful and challenged performance be defined - a number of the current “buddy” organisations are beginning to struggle with existing national indicators?

“What happens if a successful Trust loses its way and retrenches to rectify issues at home? Does success in a large specialist/teaching hospital translate to a mixed DGH/Community Hospital? Can you really stretch a high functioning team over a larger scale organisation at pace? Does any form of organisational change create disruption?

“We seem to be assuming NHS horizontal solutions, why not non-NHS or vertical support from successful management teams? In fairness, Sir David has offered an insight and we should probably wait for the devilish detail.”

Do you agree with Sir David Dalton’s plans for hospital reform? Join the debate at

Click to read HSJ’s full coverage of the Dalton Review.

2.06pm A police investigation has been opened into claims that staff at Dudley Group Foundation Trust used unlawful restraint on patients, according to The Daily Mail and the BBC.

It comes after David Ore, a security manager at the trust, told The Mail that guards had been ordered to lock up elderly patients and children for up to 12 hours without no food or drink.

Mr Ore, who lost his job last week, told the paper about his concerns that would has been blacklisted from working in any NHS positions.

Last night, Mr Ore said he feared he had been blacklisted and could no longer work in the NHS.

“I have no faith that whistleblowers will be protected. The investigation against me can only be described as a witch hunt”, he said

“I doubt very much the culture of NHS trusts will ever be radically changed so those willing to stand up and be counted when things are wrong will be better protected.

“If staff who raise concerns will not be penalised, why am I looking for another job?”

However, trust chief executive Paula Clark told the BBC that Mr Ore’s case, and another case put forward by a former head of security of trust, had been “closed as unfounded”.

“Two more recent complaints of unnecessary force are being reviewed as a precaution,” she added.

John Marchant, who served as the trust’s head of security between 2000 and 2012, said patients would be restrained “for days and sometimes weeks” by being forced to stay in their rooms and beds, the BBC reports.

1.45pm Also in The Guardian, counselling and other psychological therapies can do more harm than good if they are of poor quality or the wrong type, according to new research.

Talking therapies are usually helpful to people who are distressed, but in a minority of cases they can leave vulnerable people more depressed than when they first sought help, the government-funded Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies study has found.

1.26pm The Guardian reports that a coalition pledge to roll out a violence reduction scheme in accident and emergency departments is not being achieved, A&E surgeons claim.

The government agreed in 2010 to introduce a nationwide scheme, which involved A&E departments sharing anonymised information about violent incidents with police forces, allowing problem spots to be identified.

However as few as a third of A&E departments in England have fully adopted the programme.

1.14pm The Times reports that an investigation is to be started into claims that the big insurance companies are routinely handed access to full details of patients’ GP records.

The information commissioner will look into allegations that life insurers are obtaining records that contain information such as patients’ mental health and relationship histories, according to the paper.

While insurers are expected to seek consent from customers before requesting select health information from their doctors, a group of clinicians believes that companies are breaching data protection rules by increasingly using such consent to seek full disclosure of records.

12.59pm The Financial Times reports that US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has conceded defeat in its controversial bid to take over British rival AstraZeneca.

Pfizer chair Ian Read said: “We continue to believe that our final proposal was valid compelling and represented full value for AstraZeneca based on the information that was available to us.”

AstraZeneca chair Leif Johansson said his firm would “continue building on the momentum we have already demonstrated as an independent company”.

12.28pm In an interview with the The Daily Telegraph, part of which can be watched online, Robert Francis has said we are now “getting a more honest debate than we have had in the past” about the health service.

“Historically politicians and ministers of health have thought of themselves… as a spokesman for the NHS rather than particularly for the patients, whereas I think now that is changing,” he said.

Mr Francis acknowledged it is “difficult” for politicians to support changes such as a local hospital closure or changes in the pattern of a service “because they of necessity respond to local concerns”.

“We need information to allow the public to understand that what is being proposed is likely to produce better outcomes, and then people can choose,” he added.

“They might want to choose to trade off less good outcomes for the benefit of having something local, but at least we can have a more rational debate about it rather than an immediate action which is to oppose any form of change in a local service.”

12.03pm Flicking through today’s papers, Robert Francis has warned that the health service is so unsafe that if it was an airline “planes would fall out of the sky all the time”, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“If we ran our airline industry on the same basis, planes would be falling out of the sky all the time,” said Mr Francis, who chaired the inquiry into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Trust.

“We’ve just got to change the attitude that because it’s provided by the state it’s all right for a number of people to be treated badly; well it’s not. Airlines would go out of business very quickly if they worked that way.”

He said he was encouraged by the government’s response to the recommendations in his report, expressed concern that his recommendation for a statutory duty of candour to be.

“We do need to protect individuals by making sure they feel safe to report things to their employers. I felt a statutory duty would have assisted that. Too often those who raise concerns about things that go wrong become unpopular with colleagues; they need some form of protection and part of that is being able to say ‘I am under a duty to do this,’’ he told The Telegraph.

“It’s possible to do that with good leadership, without having the statutory duty, so let us see what happens - but that is a concern”.

The government at least partially accepted all but nine of Mr Francis’s 290 recommendations to improve care in the NHS last November.

While the government rejected the idea of applying a statutory legal duty of candour to individual doctors and nurses, ministers instead planned to include a new explicit duty in the professional codes for doctors and nurses.

HSJ reported in March that NHS providers will be required to tell patients about all but the very least serious patient safety incidents under the new statutory duty of candour, if the recommendations of a government commissioned review are adopted into law.

11.52am More from Resource Centre this morning, the ‘WWL Way’ has emerged from a series of initiatives to empower staff at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust. Nicole Ferguson, the trust’s engagement lead, explains how it works.

11.35am In Resource Centre today, volunteering bikers are transporting emergency supplies between sites in an innovative relationship between University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, says Louise Fleming, the trust’s external communications and press officer.

11.13am Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust has appointed its third interim chief executive since December as the trust continues to struggle in the wake of its cancer data scandal.

The trust has announced former Whipps Cross University Hospital Trust chief executive Lucy Moore has been appointed a new “long-term interim” chief executive. She replaces Kim Hodgson, who was only appointed on 13 January.

Dr Moore takes over the trust at a critical time as it braces itself for the findings of an independent probe into allegations that staff were bullied into manipulating cancer patients waiting time data.

The move follows the announcement earlier this month that Sally Irvine, its chair since 2010, is to step down in September.

10.51am Over in our comment section, an ambitious successor to the national dementia strategy is essential if we are to tackle one of the country’s major health issues, says former health secretary Alan Johnson.

10.35am The Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Stafford is seeking a judicial review of the decision to downgrade the town’s hospital.

Kate Godfrey lodged papers with Birmingham High Court last Friday, claiming the recommendations of the trust special administrator for Mid Staffordshire Hospital Foundation Trust were unlawful.

10.22am The number of enforcement actions issued by the Care Quality Commission to NHS trusts surged last year, in a further sign of the increased willingness of regulators to take action over quality concerns in the wake of the Francis report.

Papers presented at the regulator’s board meeting last week show a more than threefold increase in actions in 2013-14 on actions issued compared to the previous year.

The hike mirrors a similar increase in Monitor’s use of regulatory action reported by HSJ in January.

10.10am In his leader column, HSJ editor Alastair McLellon writes that the Dalton Review will need to reconcile common approaches with localism.

9.55am Sir David Dalton has rejected the idea that his review is about extending the concept of “superheads” from education to the health service, in an exclusive HSJ interview.

When the Department of Health launched the Dalton Review earlier this year, it said Sir David would look into “how the NHS can make better use of its best existing leaders, so called ‘superheads’”. These could “spread the highest standards for patients across the system by taking on struggling organisations or establishing national networks of NHS hospitals”, the DH said in a statement.

The term is borrowed from education, where it refers to talented headteachers parachuted into underperforming schools to turn them around.

But speaking to HSJ last week, Sir David insisted: “I don’t believe single heroic leadership - as in the superheads model - is the issue at play here. I think that’s far too simple, and inappropriate in the healthcare setting.” 

9.50am EXCLUSIVE: The hospital chief heading a major government review has spoken for the first time about the reforms he thinks will be needed to accelerate the spread of new organisational forms across the provider landscape.

Salford Royal Foundation Trust chief executive Sir David Dalton has been tasked by health secretary Jeremy Hunt with finding ways to encourage the best NHS providers to take charge of the most challenged. Early ideas included the establishment of European-style national hospital chains.

But speaking exclusively to HSJ, Sir David said he hoped the review would offer NHS providers a series of new options.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We start with the news that foundation trusts saw their surpluses plunge £358m last year as they boosted staff numbers in the overheated recruitment market, a report by Monitor indicates.

The recruitment of 24,000 extra employees in 147 foundation trusts- three times the 8,000 planned - was in part a response to the Francis report and Keogh review, both of which highlighted national care failings.