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  • Yorkshire reconfigurations loom
  • Board ponders future role of clinical senates.
  • High death rates reported at five trusts
  • Euro Commission criticises QALY
  • New European rules on movement of health professionals
  • Claim that focus on teens weakens contraception services

4.52pm The functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) will not be transferred to theCare Quality Commission and the Health Research Authority, the department of health has announced. All four organisations had opposed the move, proposed by the government as part of the drive to reduce the number of arms length bodies, claiming they had already made all possible efficiencies by merging back office functions.

The department said it had listened to their views and decided against the move at this time but remained “committed to achieving further efficiencies in the way the HFEA and the HTA operate” and had commissioned an independent review to consider the feasibility of a merger.  

3.52pm Organisers have announced details of tomorrow’s rally against the proposed downgrade of Lewisham Hospital. Thousands of people are expected to attend the event, making it one of the biggest protests against hospital reconfiguration. Further details from www.savelewishamhospital.com. hsj.co.uk will carry the news of Jeremy Hunt’s decision about whether to downgrade the hospital next Friday.

2.48pm Health minister Anna Soubry has written to trust chief executives to remind them of their responsibility to share information on violent crime with the police. A study found trusts are not complying with guidance in this area. The letter is attached (right).

2.23pm NICE has responded to the European Commission’s report which claims the QALY method for judging cost effectiveness of drugs is flawed. They have rounded up leading experts in the field who argue that although the QALY is not perfect it is the best system currently available for making sure resources are used fairly.

1.33pm @NickGolding tweets: “Civil service head @SirBobKerslake says other gov depts must match what @DHgovuk is doing with its prog for change http://ow.ly/h7G2z

12.40pm Three clinical commissioning groups have been legally directed by the NHS Commissioning Board because of problems detected in authorisation. The board announced the outcomes of the second wave of CCG authorisations on Tuesday. Nineteen of the 67 tested were authorised with no conditions.

12.27pm HSJ brings news of two major reconfiguation projects in Yorkshire:

The health economy in North Yorkshire could be up to £156m in deficit by 2016-17 unless action is taken, a report has warned. A clinical services review, prepared for NHS North Yorkshire and York, warns that even this figure – which ignores any changes to resource allocation - does not include the current structural deficit. Although there are no firm plans a reconfiguation is strongly mooted.

Meanwhile, commissioners are preparing to consult on proposals to downgrade two accident and emergency units run by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which is forecasting a £26m deficit for 2012-13.

The Mid Yorkshire Clinical Services Strategy, developed over the past 18 months, was presented to the board of the West Yorkshire primary care trust cluster earlier this month. It has the backing of Wakefield and North Kirklees clinical commissiong groups and of the acute trust itself.

12.26pm @HSJnews tweets: “Entry Deadline extended: You now have until 15 Feb to perfect your entries for the Care Integration Awards #CINTawards13.”

10.59am: The NHS Commissioning Board has published a document on the future role of clinical senates - a policy idea proposed as part of the NHS Future Forum review of the government’s health reforms. Senates are meant to be regional sources of regional clinical thinking and advice to commissioners, but beyond this their role has been extremely unclear.

10.34am David Williams writes: The Guardian tackles the subject of acute sector reconfiguration this morning. They lead on an interview with NHS Commissioning Board medical director Bruce Keogh, who calls on politicians to stop playing politics with hospital service closures.

There is also a two-page exploration of reconfiguration controversies all over England, a piece by Polly Toynbee predicting more tumult to come, and a leader which accuses Number 10 of scrambling around “for a means of keeping everything as it is – at least until 2015”.

The Keogh story uses material from two separate HSJ exclusives without attribution.

Shadow health minister Andy Burnham might be a little frustrated that all this overshadows his sweeping policy review launch, which only made a downpage story on page 17.

10.30am Public health minister Anna Soubry has given the government’s response to a consultation on the future of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Human Tissue Authority. Both bodies will be retained but an independent review will be launched, reporting in April, on how “they can carry out their regulatory and statutory safeguarding functions in a more streamlined and efficient way”.

It will look at “reducing the burden of inspections, information collection and process of research approvals” and look at sharing back office resources with other regulators or the DH.

10.24am The Department of Health has published a series of indicators on the acute sector for December. Some key findings are:

  • There were 3,758 adult critical care beds available with 3,067 occupied, giving an occupancy rate of 81.6%. This is the lowest occupancy rate observed this winter, but higher than December 2011 were the figure was 80.1%.
  • The number of urgent operations cancelled was 220, which compares to 318 in November 2012 and 389 in December 2011. This is the lowest number observed in the past 12 months, were previously figures ranged from 229 to 389.
  • There were 107,631 total delayed days during the month, of which 63,743 were acute. 66.9% of all delays were attributable to the NHS, 26.6% were attributable to Social Care and 6.5%, where both agencies were responsible.

10.22am Public Health England has published its surveillance strategy, designed to help it provide “the right information at the right time and in the right place to inform decision-making and action-taking”.

10.14am @HSJEditor tweets: “‘This is worse than the Lansley debacle’. Not all HSJ rdrs like Andy Burnham’s plans for H&SC integration http://bit.ly/XEs0oD  (tho most do).”

10.12am The Financial Times reports today that IBM has developed a new anti-microbial gel to combat drug resistant hospital-acquired infections, which is based on “the science it uses to produce semiconductors”. The newspaper states that although research is still in early stages IBM envisages a range of commercial applications for the gel, including using it to coat medical equipment like catheters, or in pharmaceuticals to treat bacterial and fungal infections.

10.06am The NHS Confederation’s European Office has described as a positive step forward new rules on doctors, nurses and other health professionals who move between countries. Members of the European Parliament Internal Market Committee this week voted in favour of allowing regulatory bodies to check health professionals’ ability to speak local languages, a warning system to be set up to alert other countries of professionals being struck off and doctors’ training being kept at five years.

10.03am Death rates at five trusts have been “higher than expected” two years in a row, figures show. The mortality ratios at the five English trusts have been “persistently high” between July 2010 and June 2012, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) compares the number of patients who die following hospitalisation at a trust with the number who would be expected to die.

10.01am The European Commission has published a new report that claims the Quality Adjusted Life Years approach to deciding which treatments are made available by health services is “dangerously flawed”. The report called for the method, which is used in the UK and is under consideration by other nations in Europe, to be abandoned.

7.48am: Good morning, has the focus on teenagers distorted the delivery of high quality contraceptive services? The advisory group on contraception campaigns for health reforms has warned cutting contraceptive services is a false economy. They’ve written a blueprint on the commissioning principles they argue should be at the heart of sexual health policy nationally.