3.23pm The case of two senior nurses who ran Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust accident and emergency department is being heard by the Nursing and Midwifery Council this week and next week. Full details of the charges against Tracy White and Sharon Turner can be found on the NMC website but central to the allegations is that they falsified waiting times to meet the four hour A&E target.
It is also alleged that Ms Turner referred to patients of Asian origin as “suicide bombers” and when a colleague was admitted following an overdose said: “He should have taken a few more pills and done the job properly”. Ms White is also accused of being rude to patients and collegues, allegedly saying a patient who had just had an abortion “she can wait, if you can do that to your baby”, or words to that effect.
3.03pm MPs are still piling the pressure on Sir David Nicholson, the Telegraph reports this afternoon. The paper reports that, ahead of Sir David’s appearance before the Health Select Committee tomorrow, “MPs” have accused “politicians” of closing ranks around the NHS over the scandal at Stafford Hospital.
Charlotte Leslie, Conservative MP for Bristol North West, has tabled a Commons early day motion calling for Sir David to “face consequences” for the scandal, which has now been signed by 20 MPs, including 15 Conservatives.
David Cameron has said he has “confidence” in Sir David.
2.52pm David Williams HSJ Local Briefing on QIPP (quality, innovation, productivity and prevention) savings in Birmingham and Solihull is now online. He reveals trusts and commissioners are in discussions about developing a year of care tariff to drive the delivery of more care closer to home.
2.35pm An analysis of the 14 hospital trusts being investigated by the Department of Health over higher than expected death rates has highlighted medical staffing as a possible cause. The analysis by academics from Plymouth University was carried out exclusively for HSJ. It found the trusts being investigated had an average of 56.1 doctors and 19.7 consultant doctors per hundred beds, compared with 67.5 doctors and 24 consultants per hundred beds at trusts which are not being investigated. The researchers argue here that the findings appear to show excess mortality is “rooted in a funding formula that overestimates the healthcare needs of younger populations and underestimates the needs of older ones”.
2.18pm: Leading patient representative group National Voices has called for the controversial competition regulations to be reconsidered. HSJ reporter David Williams tweets: “RT @dwilliamsHSJ: significant RT @NVTweeting We have written to SOS asking for the section 75 regs to be withdrawn and reconsidered. http://t.co/BwkIVoY736”
1.41pm: The NHS Commissioning Board has appointed Neil Churchill, chief executive of Asthma UK, as its director of patient experience, HSJ has learned. Mr Churchill, a regular contributor to HSJ, will be the lead director for domain four of the NHS Outcomes Framework, relating to patient experience. An HSJ story will follow. His past pieces are available to subscribers
12.25pm One of the largest ever surveys of medical registrars has highlighted concerns about the impact of their workloads on patient safety. The survey was carried out by the Royal College of Physicians and published in the report Hospital workforce: Fit for the future? today.
12.22pm The NHS Commissioning Board has published new operating model for the commissioning of armed froces’ healthcare.
12.07pm A round up of other NHS news from the weekend: The Sunday Express reported that “at least 1,165 people have starved to death in NHS hospitals over the past four years” while the Observer carried a leaked letter from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to health minister Earl Howe accusing the government of privatisaing the NHS “by stealth”. The letter is referring to controversial regulations to the Health and Social Care Act, reported on by HSJ here. Earle Howe has previously written to parliament playing down the impact of the new regulations.
In the latest letter from the Academy, chair Professor Terence Stephenson suggests that unless the regulations, published weeks ago without fanfare to supplement the main health and social care bill passed last year, are amended, healthcare will be disrupted and hospital services damaged as a result of time-consuming, disruptive and unnecessary tendering processes. He says the regulations are “at odds” with reassurances given last year to the colleges, which had warned that “unnecessary competition [would] destabilise complex, interconnected local health economies, in particular hospitals, potentially having adverse effects on patient services”.
The launch of Nursing Times’ Speak out Safely campaign to improve protection for nurses and other NHS staff raising concerns also attracted a lot of coverage.
11.54am A report published today by Laing and Bussion finds primary care trusts increased their spend on services commissioned from the independent sector by 10.7 per cent in 2011-12. The press release announcing the report (which can be purchased for £895 excl VAT) claims total NHS spending on healthcare services supplied by the independent sector in England was estimated at £5.9bn in 2011-2012 - some 6.5 per cent of the £90.7bn total healthcare spending by PCTs in England during the period.
11.47am The Francis report fallout is not the only NHS news making the papers this morning. The Telegraph also has a story on page 13. “Tired at work? Keep a pillow by your desk, says NHS adviser”, runs the headline.
“Release any inner gremlins telling you that you are lazy for napping,” Jayne Morris is quoted as saying. “Remind yourself of the benefits.”
However the story describes Ms Morris as a “health sector life coach” for something called “NHS Online”.
No such NHS organisation exists, although Ms Morris does appear to be a real person.
The confusion wasn’t enough to stop the TaxPayers’ Alliance getting into a fury about her advice. “Taxpayers will find it astonishing that NHS Online is spending money on a ‘life coach’”, said chief executive Matthew Sinclair.
11.46am Saturday’s Daily Mail story about Sandra Haynes Kirkbright claims she was suspended from Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust in an attempt to “silence” her after she refused to “fiddle its shocking death rates”. The trust maintains she was suspended for bullying and harassment. It seems worth pointing out that Ms Haynes Kirkbright previously worked at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. In his evidence to the inquiry mortality rates expert Sir Brian Jarman referred to meeting a new Texan coder whose arrival at the trust had been followed by a dramatic reduction in deaths from fractured neck of femur and an increase in the proportion of deaths coded as palliative. Sir Brian described the change as a “concerted effort”
10.53am The Daily Mail follows up on Saturday’s story about the mortality coder from Texas Sandra Haynes Kirkbright with claims that hospitals are hiring CHKS to “’re-classify’ potentially avoidable deaths”. The story refers to an email sent to NHS trusts in 2008, and seen in evidence to the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, that claimed adjusting the mortality index to exclude deaths from terminal illness reduced mortality rates by just over a third. In response CHKS said any changes they proposed were about increasing accuracy, not improving mortality rates.
10.37am The final version of the Francis report into Stafford Hospital was “neutered by civil servants”, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The story, on page 11, is based on comments by mortality rates pioneer Brian Jarman. Prof Jarman said Robert Francis’ report was “muted, and failed to include key concerns over NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson. Although it was difficult to prove that the intention was to protect Sir David, that has been the effect, he added.
10.35am Former health minister Lord Darzi has put forward a robust defence of NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson in today’s Times. The respected surgeon claims Sir David should have been credited as second author on his seminal 2008 report High Quality Care for All.
He writes: “I remember how Sir David passionately made the case that quality of care had to be everyone’s responsibility, not just that of doctors. Indeed it was Sir David who said that quality should be the organising principle” of the health service. It was Sir David who appointed me friend, colleague and pioneer in quality management Sir Bruce Keogh as the first NHS Medical Director. In the journey towards high-quality care David Nicholson has led the way.”
Lord Darzi concludes: “Dispensing with David Nicholson now would be a distortion of the past and an unnecessary risk to the future.”
The opinion piece follows an editorial in Friday’s Times which called for Sir David to go, the first national newspaper apart from the Daily Mail to do so.
7.55am Good morning, community-based eyecare pathways like those in Sheffield and Stockport save money, add value to GP services and benefit patients, writes Katrina Venerus.
A series of pathways, which cover the gamut of eye problems, have been developed by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit. LOCSU is a support organisation for local optical committees across England. It helps community optometrists and opticians work together with local commissioners to design and add value to local eye health pathways, making services accessible for patients and cost-effective for the NHS.