Six million A&E attendances because patients cannot get a GP appointment, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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4.15pm Midwives and maternity support workers in England have voted ‘yes’, in a consultation about whether they are prepared to take industrial action over NHS pay.

The Royal College of Midwives consultation which closed on Friday asked midwives and maternity support workers working in the NHS in England if they were prepared to take industrial action.

Over 94% of midwives who responded to the consultation said they would consider industrial action of some kind over pay, with 46.5% of the RCM’s members responding to the consultation.

The RCM will be taking the results of this consultation to an extraordinary meeting of the RCM board in the next few weeks, where a decision will be made there about whether the college moves to a formal ballot of its members on industrial action.

3.54pm Andrew Ridley, chief executive of the North and East London Commissioning Support Unit, has been made project director for the better care fund initiative by Simon Stevens.

Mr Stevens executive report in NHS England’s latest board papers says: “Discussion continues with central and local government partners about the BCF, and the real-world impact of a £1.9 billion incremental hypothecation of NHS funding from next April. NHS England is supportive in principle of the direction of travel, but wants greater rigour about what the funding transfers will achieve locally in 2015-16, with transparent financial risk-sharing between the local partners for delivering planned results. Sir Bob Kerslake and I have agreed we will create a joint NHS England/Department of Communities and Local Government/Department of Health taskforce to oversee BCF planning and implementation. I have asked Andrew Ridley, chief executive of the North and East London CSU, to take on the role of project director for the BCF initiative.

The papers also reveal that the arms length body has had a “very substantial response from CCGs wanting to take up our offer of enhanced powers for primary care commissioning”.

Mr Stevens executive report continues: “This represents a welcome move towards the more locally-adaptable, holistic, population-based approach to NHS commissioning and provision that I advocated in my recent speech to the NHS Confederation annual conference. I view it as just a first instalment in a series of further local options we will be making available over the coming months. I expect to set out a radical new ‘step-change’ option in my speech to the LGA conference next week.”

3.15pm The Priory Group has announced its new medical director.

Sylvia Tang joins the private mental health provider from Camden and Islington Foundation Trust, where she has been deputy chief executive and medical director since 2012. She begins her new role in October.

Dr Tang said: “The Priory Group has an outstanding reputation within the healthcare sector for the quality of its services and I am keen to build on this position. My experience and expertise means I am well-placed to help the company to continue delivering the best possible services and outcomes for service users and their families, as well as ensuring that Priory continues to innovate and excel to exceed commissioner expectation and requirements.”

2.05pm A new briefing from the Nuffield Trust has warned that government and opposition proposals to enable easier access to GPs could risk stretching NHS resources further where this may not be in the best interests of patients.

According to the Nuffield Trust there is evidence that easily accessed services often attract people with minor ailments who would otherwise have dealt with problems themselves.

This could prevent resources being focused on people with complex and serious problems, potentially undermining the government’s aims for general practice to take pressure off hospitals and improve co-ordination for frail older people, the Nuffield Trust argues.

1.50pm Plymouth Hospitals Trust is seeking “exceptional” permission from the NHS Trust Development Authority as it expects to return to financial balance in five years instead of the usual three.

The £405m turnover trust finished 2013-14 with a deficit of £13m after receiving £13m in financial support from the Department of Health to help with its cash flow.

Plymouth is forecasting an identical position this year, which would make it the fourth consecutive year it has ended the year with a deficit.

Under NHS accounting rules trusts are required to break even over a three year period.

12.56pm The Independent reports that George Osborne’s plans to merge income tax and national insurance has been criticised by as a “way of undermining the NHS”.

Labour member of the Commons treasury select committee, George Mann argued that because people understand NI to cover social welfare, including the NHS, “merging it with tax would be a long term way of undermining the NHS”.

12.51pm Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plan to shame doctors who fail to refer potential cancer patients for hospital scans has been criticised by leading GPs, the Daily Mail reports. They warn that Hunt’s proposal could see an increase in waiting times due to congestion of outpatient clinics that would result from unnecessary ‘precautionary’ referrals of patients.

12.50pm The chair of the British Medical Association, Mark Porter, has warned that the combination of inadequate funding and an increasing demand from patients for services is putting further pressure on an already financially struggling NHS, The Guardian reports.

12.42pm A foreign doctor who killed a pensioner on his first shift in Britain is suing the son of the dead man for referring to the locum as “an animal”, The Telegraph reports.

12.38pm Also in The Telegraph, two former Care Quality Commission executives have gone into business providing “reputation management” advice to the public sector.

Cynthia Bower, the former chief executive of the CQC, and Jill Finney, her former deputy, have formed The Grace Partnership.

In the article Ms Finney also reveals she is seeking legal action in relation to suggestions that she covered-up failings at the regulator. She said: “I have never been involved in any cover up. I confirm that the allegations made against me in the report published by the CQC have, at all times, been strenuously denied and are currently the subject of proceedings for defamation in the High Court. Any suggestion that I have been involved in any cover up or in “presiding over cover-ups” is entirely without foundation and defamatory of me.”

12.21pm The Daily Telegraph reports that thousands of people waiting for organ transplants have been offered hope after scientists discovered a way to keep organs healthy for up to four days.

The technique would enable hearts, livers, corneas, skin and kidneys to be obtained from as far away as Australia and could save hundreds of lives each year.

11.37am Entries for the HSJ Awards 2014, the most sought after accolades in British healthcare, close on Friday 4 July.

Now in their 33rd year, HSJ Awards’ 22 categories recognise and reward best practice in healthcare organisations throughout the country.

The entry deadline - extended due to popular demand - will close on Friday 4 July and so this is your last chance to be in the running for the largest and most sought after accolade in British healthcare.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

11.28am The British Medical Association is suing a whistleblowing surgeon for legal costs of up to £250,000 following the collapse of a High Court battle.

Consultant paediatric surgeon Edwin Jesudason made protected disclosures about the surgery department at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust in 2009 and said the BMA acted against his wishes to settle the case in 2012.

11.11am Strained A&E departments are having to deal with millions of additional patients because people are struggling to get a timely GP appointment, new research suggests.

Estimates suggest that nearly six million attendances at English A&E departments could be due to patients being unable to get a convenient appointment with their family doctor, the study found.

For every 100 patients who try to get an appointment at their local GP surgery, 1.7 will resort to attending the emergency department, the authors said.

10.58am The Department of Health has pinpointed five key areas where it wants the health service to cut costs in a bid to slash £2bn from the 2015-16 budget, HSJ has learned.

The areas were laid out in a presentation by John Warrington, DH deputy director of procurement, policy and research, to senior NHS figures and seen by HSJ, in which the DH estimated it could achieve up to £1.8bn worth of savings across five main categories.

Up to £530m of savings could be made on clinical procurement and a further £450m through the better use of temporary staff, he said.

10.00am GP practices that repeatedly fail to spot signs of cancer and are slow to refer patients for tests will be identified on a health service website, The Times reports (newspaper only).

Doctors deemed to be missing too many cases will be marked out with a red flag on the site, which also intends to name practices that force patients to make repeated visits before being referred for tests.

9.59am The Times reports that more than one in four visits to accident and emergency happen because patients could not see a GP, a study by researchers at Imperial College London has found.

The difficulty of booking a GP’s appointment is leading to almost six million trips to A&E every year and piling pressure on hospitals, according to the researchers.

9.30am Good morning. The brave people willing to raise concerns in the health service can only rely on patchy systems to protect them during a process that is lagging behind the rhetoric.