Trust fined £200,000 for death of Gillian Astbury in 2007, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.40pm Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust has been fined £200,000 for the “wholly avoidable” death of a diabetic patient.

The trust pleaded guilty earlier this year for failing to ensure the safety of Gillian Astbury, who died at the trust in 2007 after staff repeatedly failed to give her insulin.

At Stafford Crown Court today the trust was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £27,049 costs.

Peter Galsworthy, HSE head of operations in the West Midlands, said: “Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust failed to implement a proper handover system, or to oversee the proper completion of nursing records and the monitoring of care plans. In doing so they put Gillian Astbury at risk. The trust’s systems were simply not robust enough to ensure that staff consistently followed principles of good communication and record keeping. Gillian’s death was entirely preventable. She just needed to be given insulin.

“Gillian Astbury and her loved ones were failed by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Every hospital patient has the right to expect more. Serious safety management flaws were identified by our investigation. We expect lessons to be learned across the NHS to prevent this happening again.”

2.56pm The meaningful use of big data throws up a host of challenges, but the potential benefits are massive, write Axel Heitmueller and Sandy Pentland.

1.52pm Ali Parsa, the man who founded private health firm Circle, has launched an app to allow users to see GPs and specialist doctors via video link, order prescriptions and monitor their symptoms.

Mr Parsa said the “Babylon” app, which allows users to contact GPs via text and photo messaging and set up virtual consultations, would give people a “virtual health service in [their] pocket”.

1.29pm Northern Devon Healthcare Trust’s medical director has been appointed as chief executive of the integrated acute and community health provider.

Alison Diamond, who is also a local GP, will start the role on 1 May. She replaces Jac Kelly who led the trust for more than four years.

The board of the £220m turnover trust faced criticism at the end of last year for poor relationships with the rest of the health economy.

12.11pm Also in The Telegraph, cutting emergency admissions to hospital could put lives in danger, patient groups have warned.

Health officials have ordered hospitals to reduce admissions to levels not seen for a decade as £2bn is diverted from their budgets to pay for community and social services.

12.09pm The Daily Telegraph reports that GPs should offer financial advice from their surgeries because the stress of debt and money worries damages patients’ wellbeing, according to the chief executive of Public Health England.

Duncan Selbie said that financial concerns were “getting in the way” of the good health of many people and should be dealt with in GP surgeries.

11.45am Tom McKnight, head of NHS contract development at Specsavers, has written for HSJ on what commissioners can do to offer the best service possible for their population groups, the economic impact of age related hearing loss and what the future holds for community based hearing services.

11.25am In case you missed it on Friday afternoon, research by the consultancy MHP Health has revealed that nearly three quarters of the government’s integration pioneers and the Labour Party’s whole-person care innovation councils did not consider housing a factor in the planning of integrated NHS and social care services.

Last year the department of health and the Labour Party’s shadow health team announced 14 and 26 council areas respectively tasked with finding effective ways of delivering joined-up health and care services. This includes identifying how housing can be improved to tackle poor health or allow people to be cared for in their own home.

MHP found that just one quarter considered housing a key component of integration and that one in five councils did not recognise housing in the planning of local care services. However 94 per cent of councils consider the impact of housing as a wider determinant of people’s health.

10.53am MPs have called for an overhaul of the “outdated” public services watchdog to help prevent repeats of the Staffordshire hospital scandal.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman should be transformed into a more responsive “People’s Ombudsman” with tougher investigative powers, according to the Public Administration Committee.

10.48am The NHS is to examine the issue of pregnancy tests for women of child-bearing age before surgery after a woman was forced to abort her baby following a minor operation.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director for England, said he will investigate what changes needed to be implemented after the Sunday Telegraph reported that Louise Pellegrino, 37, underwent surgery to remove a cyst in her breast without knowing she was pregnant with her third child.

Subsequent tests showed that her baby had holoprosencephaly, a disorder where the front part of the brain does not develop properly. It has been linked with anaesthesia in early pregnancy and often results in late miscarriage or death soon after birth.

Ms Pellegrino, who aborted the baby at 16 weeks, said she would not have had the operation if had she known she was pregnant.

10.38am A leading doctor has warned that understaffing may be linked to the deaths of babies in NHS labour wards, the Daily Mail reports.

Figures show that 300 babies a year die during burth of shortly after, with a further 1,200 suffering brain damage or other major health problems.

Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We need to look at the possibility that understaffing, labour wards that are under pressure and busy, and stretched facilities may be a factor in some of these poor outcomes”.

10.31am Also in the Mail, a third of people struggle to cope at work because of depression, stress or burn out, according to a survey published today.

Only half of those feeling lonely or isolated had confided in a colleage, yet 71 per cent found that discussing their condition with a colleage helped them feel better, according to the poll by the charity Depression Alliance.

10.17am Leafing through today’s papers, the Daily Mail reports that rising numbers of GPs are quitting because they can’t face “five days a week of full-on clinical work”, a prominent doctor has said.

Dr Fiona Cornish, president of the Medical Women’s Society, said GPs are “burning out” because they are working for up to 12 hours a day, then dealing with piles of paperwork at the end of the day.

9.59am Jeremy Hunt was interviewed on the Andrew Marr show yesterday. If you missed it, the health secretary said a couple of interesting things.

Asked if the policy of NHS ringfencing would continue beyond 2015, Mr Hunt said: “We have already shown our instincts on that, if I can put it that way, by continuing to protect the NHS budget into the next financial year [2015-16].

“I think David Cameron and George Osborne are passionate about making sure the NHS continues to deliver for the British people and they understand the pressures it’s under.”

He also announced that the government was setting a central procurement list for the NHS to enable hospitals to make savings through the bulk purchase of ordinary items of equipment.

Currently hospitals negotiate prices individually for items they need. Under the new system, the NHS will negotiate centrally with suppliers.

The Department for Health estimates the move will save the NHS £500m by the end of 2015-6. It is part of a wider attempt to secure procurement savings in the NHS which will also see the appointment of a “procurement tsar”.

9.40am NHS England has established a turnaround team to get a grip on the spiralling specialised commissioning budget, HSJ has learned.

The team will be led by Paul Watson, NHS England regional director for the Midlands and East, for an initial period of three months. Alongside his regional role Mr Watson, also chaired NHS England’s specialised commissioning oversight group during 2013-14.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We start the day with the news that a mental health trust forced to free up inpatient beds by discharging patients into bed & breakfast accommodation has seen its bill for the measure rocket five-fold in less than a year.

London-based Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust saw the cost of moving discharged patients into B&Bs shoot up from £46,000 in 2012-13 to £264,000 in the 10 months to January this year.