The Information Commissioners’ Office has launched a consulation on the standards which will govern how data will be anonymised by the project, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment

Live logo

5.08pm HSJ would like to welcome NHS England chief executive David Nicholson to Twitter. He is tweeting @DavidNich0lson.

5.01pm The chair and chief executive of Medway Foundation Trust have both resigned.

Trust chair Denise Harker said: “We have some amazing and dedicated staff at this trust and I am proud to have worked with them.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow board members, Trust members and Governors for their tremendous support and encouragement.”

Chief executive Mark Devlin said “After four years as chief executive I feel this is the right moment to move on and encourage a new leadership to build on what’s been achieved and take the Trust forward into its next phase.  It’s been a real privilege to work with everyone in Team Medway.”

Colin Wilby, the trust’s senior independent director, said, “On behalf of the Trust board and Governors, I would like to thank Mark and Denise for their dedication and integrity.  Their commitment to public service is indisputable and we wish them both every success in the future.”

Their successors are expected to be announced next month.

4.34pm A fresh consultation on the standards which will govern how data will be anonymised by the project has been launched, the information watchdog has announced.

The Information Commissioners’ Office said interested parties have until 28 February to respond to its consultation on its guidelines, Anonymisation: managing data protection risk code of practice.

The move comes as debate intensifies around the project which involves extracting personal data from patients’ GP records and linking it with their hospital records.

Privacy campaigners, GPs and other critics say the project could jeopardise the safety of patients’ confidential information.

NHS England has robustly defended the project.

Writing for HSJ, NHS England chief data officer Geraint Lewis cited the ICO’s anonymisation guidelines as a key “privacy safeguard” which would ensure patients’ confidential information would be not be exposed.

4.22pm HSJ is hosting a Twitter chat tomorrow to discuss innovation traps and how they stop new ideas from improving the NHS.

Recently Craig Bennett and Glyn Jones from the innovation team at Lancashire Care Foundation Trust wrote about the seven innovation sins of the NHS.

Craig and Glyn will be on Twitter tomorrow 12.30pm to discuss the seven innovation sins and how best the NHS should “go forth, repent and be free of sin”. Join in using the hashtag #HSJchat.

The topics for discussion include which sins create the NHS’s biggest barrier for progress, how they can best be “repented”, and how the NHS can avoid these pitfalls.

4.14pm The chair of South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust has resigned with immediate effect following the judgement of a tribunal which found in favour of two former employees of neighbouring trust Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust.

Chair Peter Hildrew said: “As the most senior office holder in the organisation I take responsibility for the actions, some of them my own, which have led the tribunal panel to conclude that our trust has caused detriment to two former employees of Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust. This damages the reputation of the trust, for which I am truly sorry.

“It has been a privilege to serve as chairman of South Devon Healthcare and I am proud of all that the trust has achieved during my six years in office.  I wish the Trust and its staff every success in continuing to deliver excellent services to our local community.”

Vice-chairman, Topsy Murray, takes on the role of acting vice-chair with immediate effect until the Council of Governors appoints a new chairman.

Acting Chairman, Topsy Murray, who has been a non-executive director at the trust since 2010 and Vice-Chair since 1 March 2012 said: “We are grateful to Peter for his leadership and support over the last nine years. Under his direction, this trust has flourished.  We will continue to focus on delivering excellent health care for our patients.”

4.05pm Our sister publication Nursing Times reports that trusts are failing to protect the mental health of nurses and other key staff, according to research that shows many do not have a mental wellbeing policy in place.

3.45pm The BBC reports that Number 10 has told the Conservative MPs that it will not oppose a rebel amendment to the Immigration Bill which is being debated now in the Commons.

The amendment, tabled by MP Dominic Raab, would mean some temporary migrants, for example students, would pay a £200 annual charge for NHS services.

Ministers are expected to abstain from voting on the amendment, over concerns it may be illegal.

The Liberal Democrats will oppose the amendment, while Labour MP have been told to vote against it.

The amendment is backed by 100 backbench Conservative MPs.

3.10pm Norfolk County Council is to take its social care service for working age adults with mental health problems back under its direct control after shortcomings emerged in the service which was run by a mental health trust.

The service had been provided by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust since 2008.

3.03pm Channel 4’s Fact Check blog also analyses the figures, which suggest a surge in the very old being admitted to accident and emergency units.

Researcher Patrick Worrall writes: “Figures released by Labour this week seem to suggest the very oldest are being rushed to hospital by ambulance in massively increased numbers, supposedly because of government cuts to adult social care.

It’s a neat idea, but health experts tend to find that these things are more complicated than they first appear – and this story is no exception.”

2.58pm In the Nuffield Trust’s Quality Watch blog, senior research analyst Ian Blunt looks into media reports of an 81 per cent rise in the number of people over the age of 90 being taken to accident and emergency units by ambulance in the last four years.

He notes that the way the data has been recorded has changed within this period.

“The recording of person-level activity in A&E suffers from being a relatively new data set – the earlier years of this dataset (like 2009/10) did not record all of the A&E attendances that actually happened.

“That means whenever we compare raw numbers in 2012 to those from 2009 we are likely to see a large increase.”

The figures were released this week by Labour.

2.30pm In the Nuffield Trust blog, chief executive Andy McKeon writes about Clause 118 of the Care Bill, being debated today by a Commons committee, in which the government is taking the opportunity to ‘clarify’ the law surrounding the Trust Special Administrator’s powers to drag other trusts into the frame when considering what to do with a failing one”.

He argues: “It is a sensible measure to deal with failing trusts, but a wise government and regulator would use it sparingly. Any changes needed to a successful neighbouring organisation for the overall benefit of the health economy should be subject to the normal service change consultation requirements.”

2.03pm The University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust has revealed an error was made in the information it provided for the Friends and Family Test in maternity services for December 2013.

This means that the information for the trust on NHS England’s website is incorrect, as as the negative number was transposed with the positive.

A spokesman for the trust said “we regret that an error was made in the information we provided”.

1.55pm The BBC’s Beth Rose writes on the previously unknown first operation carried out by the pioneering surgeon Joseph Lister in 1851.

1.29pm The Times also dedicates a leader to the NHS “revolving door” and “absurdly generous redundancy terms”.

1.24pm The Times reports that the chairman of the health select committee, Stephen Dorrell, has asked for an explanation from Jeremy Hunt as to why highly paid NHS managers were given large redundancy payments and re-employed within the health service within months.

Earlier this week the paper reported that some managers received six figure payoffs when health bodies were abolished in March last year, with one individual receiving £370,000, before returning to jobs in the health service within months.

1.18pm In today’s papers this lunchtime, The Guardian has a roundtable discussion with food and nutrition experts on whether retailers should do more to promote healthier diets, given the public health ‘timebomb’ the UK faces over obesity and its related diseases.

1.00pm Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s director for patients and information, said reports that GPs could be fined if patients opt out of are “not true” on Twitter.

12.46pm The British Medical Association has also commented on the powers of the Trust Special Administer, ahead of the debate over proposed amendments to Clause 118 of the Care Bill.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA Council, said: “It is right that ministers have taken on board the BMA’s concerns that this legislation in its original form would have paved the way for backdoor reconfiguration of hospitals without taking into consideration clinical or local needs.

“We’ve called for changes to put this right. These amendments are a step in the right direction in making sure that staff and managers at neighbouring trusts affected by a TSA recommendation in the future will be properly consulted and their responses considered.

“In the longer term, we recognise that with the NHS under immense strain there is pressure to make changes to the way in which services are delivered. But such changes do not happen in isolation, and it must be recognised that the impact of a Trust Special Administrator investigation on neighbouring trusts affects not only clinicians but can also lead to patient uncertainty, huge cost to the taxpayer and have long-term negative consequences for proper planning of local healthcare services.”

12.33pm NHS Clinical Commissioners has commented on Clause 118 of the Care Bill on the powers of Trust Special Administrators, which is being scrunitised by a Commons committee today.

Co-chair of its leadership group, Dr Steve Kell, said: “CCGs have a key role as system leaders and their strong partnership approach with NHS England and local authorities means they are ideally placed to make informed decisions on behalf of their populations.”

NHS Clinical Commissioners state they reject any proposal which does not take account of the role of CCGs in determining hospital services, their statutory duty to consult populations and their autonomy in making clinically-led decisions.

12.20pm The organisation Doctors of the World has expressed concerns about proposals outlined in the Immigration Bill, which has its third reading in the House of Commons today.

Leigh Daynes, executive director of Doctors of the World UK, said: “We have serious concerns about plans for the Department of Health to share data with the Home Office. Vulnerable people will be even more unlikely to access healthcare if by doing so they risk being arrested.

“At our clinic in east London we have seen 38-week pregnant women too afraid to access any antenatal care, as well as people with serious illnesses such as HIV denied access to a GP. Only yesterday we were contacted by a woman with a sick 6-week-old baby whose GP surgery refused to even see her.

“We see people who are being exploited, abused and trafficked, people with severe traumas, people who are destitute. These are not health tourists but vulnerable people who have lived here for a long time.

“Two-thirds of our patients reported difficulty accessing healthcare in the past year and one in five feared arrest if they sought medical help, figures which are much higher than the rest of Europe, reflecting the hostile environment that is being created in the UK right now.

“Without medical attention, illnesses spread and become harder and more expensive to treat. Creating more barriers to healthcare for those who need it, will not just hurt individuals but will endanger public health.

“Doctors will be required to make decisions about people’s eligibility for care when they should be focusing on treating the patient. GP’s must not become border guards.

“Ineligible patients who can pay should pay, but practical, cost-effective ways need to be found to meet the essential health needs of destitute migrants, and to better equip health workers to manage entitlement mechanisms.”

12.13pm What have the controversial section 75 procurement regulations meant for the NHS and its providers? HSJ is holding a free webinar on 5 February to explore the answer to this question.

The webinar will consider whether commissioners’ behaviours have changed since the regulations came into force in April, and how providers from both the NHS and independent sector can respond.

It will also look at other aspects of competition within the NHS and the changing landscape these developments present for providers and also for commissioners. 

Register today to view this free webinar. Can’t watch it live? You can catch up on demand at

11.49pm The BBC’s health correspondent Nick Triggle examines whether living in the city is damaging to people’s health. It follows analysis by the Royal Institute of British Architects, which conducted an analysis into nine major cities in England.

11.32pm Admissions to hospital for eating disorders has risen by eight per cent, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

In the 12 months to October 2013 hospitals dealt with 2,560 eating disorder admissions, compared to 2,370 admissions in the previous year.

HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning said: “Today’s report shows a national increase in the demand placed on hospitals by patients with an eating disorder.

“Hospitals not only dealt with more patients with an eating disorder than last year but compared to other admission types patients with these disorders tend to stay longer in hospital, which will be of significant interest to staff caring for these patients and those planning services.”  

11.21pm The committee of MPs scrutinising the Care Bill is expected to debate Clause 118 on the powers of Trust Special Administrators later today.

The Bill extends the remit of an administrator brought in to manage a failing trust, to be able to make recommendations about other trusts in the area.

Ahead of the debate, the Royal College of Physicians, the Foundation Trust Network the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the NHS Confederation have released a joint statement calling for consultation in the Trust Special Administrator process:

“No NHS Trust operates in isolation, and inevitably the failure of one trust will impact on others in the local area. It is important that Trust Special Administrators brought in to deal with failing trusts are able to consider the wider healthcare system in their investigations.

“If a Trust Special Administrator wishes to make recommendations about the design of the wider healthcare system, steps must be taken to ensure that neighbouring trusts and the local population have their voices heard. We welcome amendments to the Care Bill that require Trust Special Administrators to consult with the staff and management of other trusts affected by their recommendations, but we want to see this go further. We are calling for subsequent guidance to define how Trust Special Administrators should take a genuinely collaborative approach.

“Consultation with patients, clinicians, commissioners and other trusts must be substantial, and conducted at a stage when it is truly meaningful. Objections to the recommendations of a Trust Special Administrator must also be given a fair hearing, with disagreements made clear to politicians and the public.

“The bigger challenge is to avoid failure in the first place, and to redesign services without the constraints of the Trust Special Administrator failure regime. Decisions about the redesign of services should be a true collaboration between patients, clinicians and managers. Decisions should take a whole-system approach, and strong leadership is required throughout.”

11.15am Following the release of the first friends and family test results for maternity services, released today, Catherine Calderwood, national clinical director for maternity and women’s health at NHS England, writes that feedback is already helping the NHS to improve maternity services.

11.13am The first results of the Friends and Family Test for NHS-funded maternity services in England have been published today.

Data has been collected from pregnant women and mothers of new-born babies since October 2013.

138 NHS trusts submitted data for November and December to NHS England.  Only one organisation did not in October, citing difficulties collating the data.

More than 93,600 pieces of feedback were gathered in the first three months, representing a response rate of 19 per cent.

Results for individual trusts are expected will be published monthly on the NHS Choices website.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, NHS England’s clinical director for maternity and women’s health, said: “Maternity staff work hard to provide excellent services for women across the NHS. The Friends and Family Test provides an additional opportunity to capture feedback relating to maternity services.”

She added: “As hospitals are encouraged to follow up women’s responses with further questions about why they answered the way they did, we are making sure every pregnant woman or new mum has an opportunity to be heard. This will help us transform maternity services and better understand and meet families’ needs.

“The average scores across the three months this has been running would indicate that we are largely delivering good maternity services across the country. But that does not mean we can rest on our laurels and we must strive to improve wherever we can.”

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s director for patients and information, said: “Focusing on improving maternity care is another bold move to promote real openness in the NHS and to concentrate on improving quality for patients.  Frontline staff have been quick to embrace this data as a tool to change things for the better.”

11.00am The NHS is facing a ‘financial bubble’, with more and more capital equipment requiring replacement yet competing demands for investment meaning many organisations are not taking the right spending decisions they need, writes Alison Moore.

She argues: “When applied incorrectly or inappropriately, the introduction of a third party to manage equipment procurement and maintenance of a whole estate can add a layer of bureaucracy and cost to procurement.”

10.50am The government has been accused of purposefully “overturning” the will of Parliament and of giving false assurances that mesothelioma sufferers would be made exempt from having to use their damages payments to cover their legal costs.

MPs have criticised the Ministry of Justice for reversing a pledge to amend the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill so that sufferers of the asbestos-related cancer did not fall foul of the new rules.

10.43am Six trusts have been identified as having a “persistently” higher than expected mortality rate according to the summary hospital-level mortality indicator, HSJ’s Sophie Barnes writes.

Click here to find out what trusts they are. Two are currently in special measures.

10.35am The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) a new chief executive

Andy Williams has previously overseen technology projects in the UK and abroad, for organisation including IBM, Alcatel-Lucent and CSC .

Mr Williams said: “I am delighted to be able to bring my experience and expertise to a role as important as this.  The HSCIC, since its creation in April last year, has made good progress in establishing itself as a highly influential source of information and analysis, as well as a provider of systems and services on which the NHS depends.

“No role in technology is more important than supporting the delivery of better patient care. I look forward to taking up my post in April and building on this early success.” 

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: “Andy’s track record speaks for itself.  His integrity and analytic skills, coupled with his extensive contacts across the informatics industry, will give HSCIC a further boost as it builds its reputation for information services.”

10.23am The challenge of commissioning dementia services that provide the best care for black and minority ethnic communities is growing, writes Kat Clayton, information officer at the Race Equality Foundation.

“Policy guidance relating to BME communities has been overlooked in the rollout of the national dementia strategy,” she notes.

“Improved training in cultural competency among care professionals is essential to ensure individuals are better supported.”

10.13am In Resource Centre, the progress that NHS organisations have made in equality, diversity and human rights is something to be proud of but much more still needs to done, says Carol Baxter, head of equality, diversity and human rights at NHS Employers.

She argues: “BME staff are overrepresented in “less attractive” specialisms and lower grades and have fewer opportunities for development.”

10.05am The chief inspector of general practice has said he has been “shocked” at some clinical commissioning groups’ apparent lack of knowledge about which bodies provide out of hours GP services in their area, HSJ’s Will Hazell reports.

Speaking at the Care Quality Commission’s board meeting last week, Steve Field said the regulator had written to CCGs to confirm which out of hours providers they were commissioning.

9.57am A judicial review will examine whether the lack of a national policy on ‘do not resuscitate’ notices is illegal, following a Court of Appeal ruling, writes HSJ reporter Sophie Barnes.

The judicial review application was brought by bereaved husband David Tracey against Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust and health secretary Jeremy Hunt after a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice was placed on his wife’s medical record, without her or her family knowing.

9.45am The Local Government Association has claimed a key part of the government’s social care reforms could cost councils five times more than estimated, triggering a row with the Department of Health.

According to the LGA, it will cost local government £1.1bn over the next decade to run the “deferred payments” system under which elderly residents borrow from councils to pay for their care, with councils recouping the money from the sale of any estate after death.

According to DH calculations, the loans themselves would be “cost neutral” but the programme could cost £230m to administer.

9.42am The number of regulatory actions taken by Monitor against foundation trusts so far in 2013-14 is already more than double the level of the whole of last year, HSJ analysis reveals.

Enforcement action has been taken on 21 occasions in the first 10 months of this year, compared to just nine instances in the whole of 2012-13.

7.00am Morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin with the news that the five acute trusts in Essex are involved in discussions to reconfigure the county’s specialised services.

A possible outcome of the talks could be the centralisation of services at different trusts, HSJ has learned.

One individual involved in the discussions said it was currently anticipated each trust could take responsibility for one service, with Colchester, for example, offering paediatrics and Mid Essex treating burns.