2.49pm An article in the Financial Times today (Private healthcare misses out on profit in NHS woes) suggests that the high price of private medical insurance has prevented private healthcare from cashing in on the recent barrage of negative publicity about the NHS.
The piece links yesterday’s Competition Commission finding that “private patients were having to pay almost £200m a year in additional costs because of a lack of competition between private healthcare providers” and figures from market analysts Laing and Buisson, which show that the proportion of UK citizens with private medical cover dropped last year to its lowest level since records began.
It states: “Consumers have been put off [private medical cover] by high prices as their incomes have been pressed, which insurers say overrides concerns about the NHS.”
2.25pm Matt Tee, chief operating officer for the NHS Confederation, has commented on today’s release of written complaints data.
Mr Tee said: “All over England, NHS organisations will be scrutinising this data to see where and how they should target their efforts to improve care for local people.
“In the wake of the Francis report, it is absolutely right that NHS organisations take every opportunity to continually improve their responsiveness to feedback from patients and their families. After all, effective feedback and complaints systems are an integral part of an open and transparent NHS.
“But we also need to keep a realistic eye on what today’s statistics mean for the majority of NHS patients. The NHS performs hundreds of millions of procedures each year, and only a very small number of these ever give cause for a complaint.
“We should also keep in mind that the volume of complaints does not necessarily indicate an organisation’s quality. A high number of complaints can reflect an organisation’s willingness to listen to negative feedback, and to learn how to make things better, for example.”
2.13pm Monitor has launched an investigation into whether Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust breached its licence when a patient was abused while in its care.
The regulator stepped in after shortcomings were identified in the way the trust safeguarded its service users.
Calderstones is a specialist mental health and learning disability trust.
Police investigated specific allegations of abuse earlier this year but decided to take no further action.
Monitor will now look into whether the episode may be evidence of wider problems with the way the trust is run, and whether it could have prevented or reduced the risk of abuse.
The regulator has also written to the Care Quality Commission asking it to undertake an urgent review of standards of care at Calderstones.
Monitor regional director Robert Davidson said: “The fact that this issue was not identified by the trust may indicate a failure in the way the trust is working, so we have opened a formal regulatory investigation and also asked the CQC to assess the quality of care provided by the trust as a priority.
“We want to make sure that patients are receiving the best possible standards of care, and we will look closely at how the trust is run to determine whether it has breached the conditions of its licence to provide NHS healthcare services.”
No decision has been taken about whether regulatory action is required.
2.11pm A senior NHS England official has weighed in to an HSJ reader debate about commissioning support policy.
The comment thread under David Williams’s exclusive from earlier this week revealing that NHS England were completely rethinking the plans to “externalise” CSUs. Readers were mostly derisive of NHS England’s policy on the subject.
Bob Ricketts, NHS England’s director for commissioning support strategy and market development replied: “As the article states, the CCG shareholder model is just one of a range of options that we’re currently exploring and which we hope to consult on later this year.
“We remain committed to ensuring every CCG has access to excellent and affordable commissioning support and are able to choose where the get this from. This is essential if they are to meet the future financial challenges and drive transformational change. This is therefore about enabling excellent commissioning, not replicating previous models.
“There is no one size fits all approach to creating autonomous CSUs. We have been clear from the outset that CSUs – who are already operating as semi-autonomous entities - will decide on their future form with their staff and their customers that best meets their vision and values together. This will be subject to a rigorous assurance process.
“CCGs owning shares in a CSU or commissioning support supplier may well be an option that works in some health communities. However, there are a number of legal considerations and restrictions underpinning this option which may make the model unworkable in other areas, especially where CSUs are providing services to other customers.
“Our consultation later this year will set out the potential options, their advantages and disadvantages which will be an opportunity for people to feed their views into.”
1.23pm A new director of communications has been appointed at NHS England.
Simon Enright is due to take up his post within a few weeks, HSJ understands.
Roger Davidson is currently interim director of communications at NHS England.
The former BBC journalist was head of local TV at the corporation, and has previously worked on Newsnight.
1.08pm Social services bosses have condemned sub-minimum wage pay for care workers.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Sandie Keene said: “We all of us fully understand the serious financial pressures facing the private home care sector. They are no less than those faced by the economy as a whole. But that cannot be used in any way as a justification from breaking the law.”
Mrs Keene was responding to a report published by the Resolution Foundation suggesting that up to one in ten care workers is paid less than thecurrent minimum wage of £6.19 per hour.
She said: “There is much in the report which ADASS would support such as increasing penalties for companies which break the law, clearer payslips, ensuring care firms include reasonable payment for staff when bidding for contracts and better Government guidance for the social care sector on applying minimum wage.
“However, we continue to dispute that all ‘15-minute care slots’ are inappropriate. There is much evidence that medicines management, just checking, and/or some carer support tasks can be achieved in shorter timescales.”
The High Court has ordered a second inquest be held into the death of a Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust patient whose death was the subject of a cover-up by hospital managers.
John Moore-Robinson died from a ruptured spleen in April 2006 after being told by a junior doctor he had bruised his ribs following a mountain bike accident. He was never given a CT scan and sent home despite sweating profusely, vomiting and being in too much pain to walk.
12.18pm Here’s the release in full from the Health and Safety Executive:
“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to prosecute Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust over the death of Gillian Astbury, it announced today.
“Peter Galsworthy, HSE Head of Operations in the West Midlands, said:
‘We have concluded our investigation into the death of Gillian Astbury at Stafford Hospital and have decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings in this case.
‘HSE will be charging Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
‘Gillian Astbury died on 11 April 2007, of diabetic ketoacidosis, when she was an in-patient at the hospital. The immediate cause of death was the failure to administer insulin to a known diabetic patient.
‘Our case alleges that the trust failed to devise, implement or properly manage structured and effective systems of communication for sharing patient information, including in relation to shift handovers and record-keeping.’
“Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is due to appear before Stafford Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2013 for the first hearing in this case.”
12.12pm The Health and Safety Executive has announced today it is to prosecute Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust over the death of a patient. More soon….
11.59am More James Illman tweets about the friends and family test:
“Friends & Family Test July data on first look. As expected: specialist trusts continue to outperform rest & A&E response rate still low #FFT”
“Be good to hear from any trusts on their views of friends and family test now it’s had a few months to bed in #FFT”
“The response rate is all over the place for the friends and family test and it would be unwise to compare trusts on basis of it alone #FFT”
11.46am NHS England has published more friends and family test data this morning. Our data reporter James Illman tweets: “@NHSEngland has published the July Friends and Family Data results. Story on @HSJnews v shortly http://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/friends-and-family-test/friends-and-family-test-data/
11.44am Some findings from the Information Centre’s release today about complaints data.
Written complaints made against NHS hospitals and community health services in England totalled 109,300.
The number of written complaints recorded about family health services was 52,700.
The profession attracting the biggest number of written complaints was the “medical profession” - which includes doctors and surgeons - accounting for 47.1 per cent of hospital and community services complaints.
In family health services, more than half of complaints related to medical issues, with “GP administration” complaints making up more than a quarter of the total.
Complaints relating to “nursing, midwifery and health visiting” totalled 22.1 per cent.
Inpatient hospital services were complained about than outpatient services, mental health services or A&E.
11.15am The Health and Social Care Information Centre has published written complaints data this morning.
See the latest report, covering 2012-13, here. Stay tuned and we’ll pull out some of the key lines.
11.07am The BBC has published a series of readers’ pictures of grim hospital food, with commentary by professional chefs.
Horrendously overcooked broccoli is a running theme. Disappointingly, the provider trusts responsible are not named and/or shamed.
Apart from it being weirdly enjoyable to scroll through, the piece also raises interesting policy questions around whether standards could be raised by patients sharing this sort of information, and also around the role of food in helping patients get better and stay well.
11am We missed this yesterday afternoon. Here’s the NHS Confederation’s reaction to the appointment of Professor Steve Field to the Care Quality Commission as chief inspector of general practice.
NHS Confederation chief operating officer Matt Tee said: “Appointing Professor Field to this new role is an excellent step by the Care Quality Commission. It really cements their commitment to ensuring they oversee seamless working between health and social care services for patients, and is another sign that the CQC is putting together a very strong team for the present and the future.
“Steve brings with him a wealth of experience and a strong passion for tackling health inequalities. His commitment to driving up quality of healthcare - with success measured by genuinely better outcomes rather than boxes ticked - is a welcome sign that the CQC’s inspection and regulation regime will focus on things which really make a difference to health services and service users.
“With extensive experience as a practising GP, Professor Field will also bring to his new role a real understanding of the importance of ensuring GPs and their staff are fully engaged in designing meaningful inspection and regulation of their services.
“The NHS Confederation looks forward to working with Steve over the coming months in his new role.”
10.25am The Guardian reports on the Competition Commission’s investigation into private healthcare.
The provisional findings of the inquiry call for up to 20 hospitals to be sold from the three largest private hospital groups – HCA, Spire and BMI – in 11 locations. Between 2009 and 2011 the three firms used their market power to amass £500m to the detriment of consumers, according to the report.
Page eight in the Guardian also carries a story that scientists have grown miniature human brains in test tubes, creating a “tool” that will allow them to watch how the organs develop in the womb. The scientists say the organoids will be useful for biologists who want to analyse how conditions such as schizophrenia or autism occur in the brain.
10.23am New on our End Game blog: This account of how one NHS England director had to perform a complicated rhetorical somersault after attempting to make the case for more innovative uses of clinical data.
10.14am New on HSJ this morning: Union leaders have warned of the threat of industrial action among ambulance workers in a row over sick pay.
The GMB, Unison and Unite said their members in England had rejected plans they warned could lead to cuts of 25 per cent in sick pay.
Officials are warning they would ballot workers for industrial action if cuts are imposed.
10.11am Ipswich Hospital Trust has labelled its finances an area of “high risk” after auditors raised concerns about its savings plans.
The trust’s integrated performance report, published on its website this month, said its finances had a risk rating of “1”, denoting “high risk”.
10.06am The Daily Telegraph reports today that women who drink the equivalent of one glass of wine a night through their teens and early twenties increase their chance of breast cancer by one third, according to new research published inthe Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
10.04am On on HSJ this morning: The UK’s first private medical school is about to be launched.
The Buckingham Milton Keynes Medical School will receive no government funding to teach future doctors and nurses.
The not-for-profit venture is between the University of Buckingham and the Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation Trust, where students will spend time their clinical year.
9.01am: Good morning. On HSJ today, Bita Manzouri argues the promotion of a fair blame culture, to encourage the reporting of problems and promote learning from them, is crucial. Poor consenting is one of the most common causes of dissatisfaction and complaints/claims around surgery. On HSJ’s innovation and efficiency channel she details the seven steps needed to ensure clinical safety.