Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust claims CQC report is “not balanced”, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment

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5.18pm The Care Quality Commission has published a report following its inspection of two services at Colchester General Hospital.

The CQC carried out a responsive inspection to respond to information of concern around performance and care received by patients in the accident and emergency department and the emergency assessment unit.

It rated the two services as inadequate and has placed conditions on the trust’s registration to help it improve how patients are assessed, discharged and transferred for the most appropriate medical attention.

In a statement posted on its website Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust acceped it delivered care which was sometimes below the standards expected by patients.

However, it said it was “concerned that the CQC report is not balanced and does not reflect the unprecedented pressures [the trust] was under at the time of the inspection in November and December last year or the considerable progress the trust has made over the past 12 months.”

Lucy Moore, the trust’s chief executive, said: “The examples of poor care that the CQC has identified in its report are unacceptable.

“They do not reflect the standards which we expect to deliver consistently for all our patients, and we have already taken urgent action to address shortfalls.

“However, I am disappointed that the CQC has decided to rate Colchester General Hospital as inadequate following visits to the A&E department and emergency assessment unit.

“While being exceptionally busy can never be an acceptable excuse for providing sub-standard care, it is not unreasonable to point out the inspectors visited at a time of unprecedented demand within the NHS when, frankly, many hospitals like ours were struggling.

“Many people - including our staff - will not be surprised to read that clinicians were very busy and working under considerable stress.”

5.11pm Here’s another comment:

“It would appear that an ill thought out / communicated plan has met with the rejection that many should have anticipated. The result is more uncertainty when the NHS needs clarity. It is time to take a fundamental look at how the budget for healthcare is used to provide effective and efficient services to patients rather than how it is allocated between self interested parties.”

5.01pm There’s been an extraordinary number of comments under our story on the 2015-16 tariff being scuppered. Here’s a couple:

“Finally the reality gap between the spreadsheets and the bedsheets has become too great. The centre is in full retreat, not setting a tariff, not devolving more commissioning. All problems are now being parked up on the lawns of a new government.”

3.03pm Laura Serrant has joined the panel of HSJ’s Future of NHS Leadership inquiry.

The professor of community and pubic health nursing at Wolverhampton University, currently seconded part time to NHS England as research lead on the Compassion in Practice e-programme, joins a group of experts led by University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust chief executive Sir Robert Naylor.

In 2014, HSJ named Professor Serrant as one of its inspirational women, top clinical leaders and a BME pioneer.

2.34pm The National Quality Board, with support from other partners, has published ’Improving experiences of care: Our shared understanding and ambition’, which sets out a common way for the national health and care organisations on the NQB to talk about people’s experiences of care and their roles in improving them.

The document includes the organisation’s shared ambition for improving people’s experiences of care, and also includes examples of good practice and resources, to support organisations and individuals in improving experiences of care. It also aims to provide people who use services with an understanding of what they can expect from their experiences of care.

2.22pm Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust is in talks to enter into a formal ‘buddying’ arrangement with Royal United Hospitals Bath FT, following the end of its relationship with Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals FT.

The Nottinghamshire trust has also mentioned in board papers the possibility of buddying with Luton and Dunstable University Hospital FT for assistance in improving its emergency department performance.

1.49pm The numbers of qualified nursing staff recruited by the NHS in England has reached record levels, with numbers increasing by more than 3,000 in a single month.

The latest workforce data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows the total number of full time equivalent qualified nursing, midwifery and health visitor staff hit 316,561 in October– its highest ever recorded level and 3,047 higher than in September.

This is the largest single monthly increase seen in nurse staffing levels since monthly records began in September 2009.

1.20pm Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust posted a £7.2m deficit for the first eight months of the 2014-15 financial year, according to figures published last week which give the fullest indication to date of the hospital’s financial problems.

Publication of the substantial deficit position for the small trust follows Circle, the company which has been running the hospital under a franchise arrangement, announcing earlier this month that it was terminating the agreement. The company said the franchise was “not sustainable” in its existing form. The announcement was made on the same day that the CareQuality Commission recommended it be placed in special measures after rating it “inadequate”

12.22pm The Medical Defence Union has said there is no need for a clinical accident investigation body to be established to investigate NHS complaints, but there should be better coordination of existing systems to ensure lessons are learned from incidents

The MDU made the comments in written evidence to the public administration select committee’s inquiry into NHS complaints and clinical failure in England. The PASC is seeking views on the effectiveness of current procedures, as well as whether a new clinical accident investigation branch of the Department of Health should be established. The review is also seeking views on the current capacity of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to manage and investigate clinical complaints and their ability to analyse and assess medical evidence.

Michael Devlin, MDU head of professional standards and liaison, is due to appear before the PASC to give evidence on 3 February. He said:

“We are concerned about the suggestion that yet another body should be introduced to look at patient safety. There are already numerous organisations with significant expertise who can investigate a patient safety incident and we think there is no need for an additional body.

“Rather than creating new and additional layers of regulation, reporting and oversight, NHS staff should receive more support and encouragement to learn from incidents and complaints within an open organisation culture. If individual staff know that what they say will be addressed in a fair and impartial way, there will be more of an incentive to share concerns.”

12.18pm Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, has commented on the latest A&E figures. Here’s what he said:

“A&Es in England have now missed the government’s A&E target for 80 weeks in a row. But there is still no sign of a plan from David Cameron to turn things around.

“Patients waiting too long for ambulances and too long to be seen in A&E cannot wait any longer for the prime minister to get his act together. But, sadly, this government’s focus is not on patient care but on PR, with hospitals seemingly under pressure to downplay problems for political and reputational reasons.

“Ministers caused this crisis by making it harder to see a GP and cutting home care from vulnerable people. Their failure to act now is leaving thousands of patients exposed to too much risk. The Tory A&E crisis is proof they can’t be trusted with the NHS.

“The government should implement Labour’s five-point A&E plan and match the commitment to give the NHS an extra £2.5 billion each year for the doctors and nurses it desperately needs.”

11.41am A Labour-led government will only survive the challenge of the next five years if it empowers people to shape the public services they use, according to a new pamphlet written by two of the party’s rising stars, The Guardian reports (paper only).

The intervention of Liz Kendall and Steve Reed, two junior ministers, published today, amounts to a last-minute push to sharpen Labour manifesto on devolution and service reform, and draws on recent innovations in service delivery including handing people personal budgets for health.

The duo’s thinking has the strong support of Jon Cruddas, the chair of the Labour party policy review, but his blueprint to shed the model of the top-down state has met strong internal resistance.

The authors frankly admit that too many public services are still not good enough and that they assume a type of parent-child relationship in which politicians and the state cast themselves as the superhero capable of solving society’s problems.

11.23am Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust’s medical director is to step down from his role, the trust has confirmed to HSJ.

Krishna Sethia plans to step down in spring this year, after six years in the position. However, he will remain with the trust as a consultant in urology.

11.08am The NHS 111 service struggled in December with only 79.4 per cent of calls answered within one minute.

This is a slump in performance compared to November where 90.6 per cent of calls were answered within a minute.

Since NHS 111 began in 2010, only March 2013 had a lower performance with 78.3 per cent of calls answered within a minute.

In December 2014, 6.1 per cent of calls were abandoned after waiting longer than 30 seconds without being answered, more than in November 2014 - 2.2 per cent - which was previously the highest number in 2014. 

There were 1,398,166 calls to NHS 111 in December, which is equivalent to 45,000 per day. This was much higher than the previous largest figure of 1,112,633 from May 2014, or 36,000 per day.

11.06am Delayed transfers of care were at their highest point for this winter and higher than at any point last winter, according to NHS England’s figures for last week.

The average number of beds occupied per day for delayed discharge was 4,300, up from 4,200 the week before.

Elective operations are being increasingly cancelled as accident and emergency departments have seen an increased demand on their services since last year.

The latest figures for 19-25 January show that the number of elective operations cancelled increased by 39 per cent since the same week last year. There were 1,565 operations cancelled last week compared to 1,126 last year.

The number of urgent operations cancelled within 24 hours also increased, from 55 last year to 67 this year.

Attendances to A&Es jumped up again, after a two week lull. Last week 253,374 patients attended major A&Es compared to 244,546 the week before. There was also an increase in admissions, with 75,743 patients admitted compared to 74,175 the week before. Despite this increase trusts’ performance against the four hour target continued to improve with 89.4 per cent of patients seen within target compared to 88.5 per cent the previous week.

There were 158 patients waiting over 12 hours to be admitted compared to 65 the week before.

University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust was responsible for 150 of these patients. The trust has had large numbers of patients waiting over 12 hours for the past month.

10.13am Labour party divisions over the role of private companies in the NHS re-emerged last night as a former minister said treatment should be delivered by whoever offered “the highest quality care,” The Times reports.

Lord Ara Darzi, the former health minister, spoke out after Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, had stepped up his claims that the Tories would sell off chunks of the NHS.

“I believe we should prefer the providers who deliver the highest quality care, whether they be public, private or not-for-profit,” Lord Darzi told BBC Newsnight.

The intervention comes after two Blairite former cabinet ministers warned that the party must not simply promise more funds for the NHS without pledging to reform it.

Alan Milburn and Lord Hutton have since been rebuked by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.

10.01am Also in The Telegraph, new research suggests that the controversial drug Tamiflu does halt the spread of influenza, potentially judtifying the government’s decision to spend £500m stockpiling the medicine.

Research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Michigan found that Tamiflu cuts the length of disease by a day and significantly reduces the chances of suffering life threatening complications.

9.47am Browsing through this morning’s papers, The Daily Telegraph reports that the rise in the numbers who are obese or overweight has slowed, with levels beginning to “plateau”.

A 20 year study by King’s College London shows that in the decadue up to 2004, the prevalence of children who were overweight and obese increased by an average of more than eight per cent a year. Since then, the rate of increase has been less than half a per cent a year, the study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood says.

7.00am Good morning. Labour’s 10 year plan has some laudable aims but leaves many questions unanswered. It is not yet clear how it will follow through on its ambitions, writes Saffron Cordery director of policy and strategy of NHS Providers.