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Top stories today:

  • Commissioning board’s proposed ban on some cardiology procedures could “seriously disadvantage” patients and damage the UK’s reputation
  • NHS bodies prepare “common purpose framework” on integration
  • Newham Clinical Commissioning Group director Charles O’Hanlon on surviving Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • 25,000 march to save NHS services in Lewisham
  • Three days to enter the HSJ/Nursing Times Care Integration Awards
  • NHS Confederation chief backs social impact bonds
  • East Sussex trust plans “difficult decisions” to cut spending to sustainable levels
  • Rumours of SoS announcement on future of Lewisham Hospital this Thursday


5.20pm The number of NHS staff choosing to be vaccinated against flu is on course to reach its highest levels by the end of this winter, NHS Employers says. A release from the organisation cites Department of Health data released today, showing 44 per cent of frontline NHS staff had received their jab by the end of December - up from the previous end of year best of 43 per cent, a year earlier.

NHS Employers hope to top last winter’s end of season figure of 44.7 per cent.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation said: “NHS trusts and their staff have done a fantastic job to increase the number of vaccinations each year. Almost half a million NHS staff are now vaccinated and this greatly reduces the chance of them contracting flu, and passing it on to their family or vulnerable patients.”

3.31pm HSJ editor Alastair McLellan tweets that he has been asked to issue “an apology to Catholics worldwide” for a headline on a recent article.

The offending phrase: Immaculate contraception: better sexual health services.

2.36pm: Mark Britnell, the former NHS director-general and global health chairman of KPMG, who has previously been linked to the job of NHS chief executive, has a column in The Times today. Mr Britnell writes in support of DH plans for the UK to “sell healthcare to the whole world”. Among his comments are: “We have one of the strongest health services in the world, with some of the best people, and our life sciences sector is second only to America’s.

“With a little entrepreneurial flair, we can increase trade, improve innovation and general wealth. In the past three and a half years, I have worked in 40 countries on about 130 occasions and have seen how the NHS can generate earnings as well as improve health.”

Mr Britnell highlights specifically that the “NHS is well placed to design, build, finance and operate new facilities” in China, and that while at the DH “we ran the largest and most successful randomised control train in the world for telehealth.” The results of the trial known as the “whole system demonstrator”, he says, were “amazing - lower mortality rates, reduced costs and happier patients”.

2.17pm NHS Networks has given its verdict on Andy Burnham’s proposals to fully integrate NHS and social care budgets.

“It’s as if Mr Burnham were proposing a tidal wave to solve an earthquake. With more than two years to go before the next general election, Mr Burnham can afford to be bold. There is plenty of time to water down the proposals and retreat to the sidelines.

The post also describes Andrew Lansley’s reforms as “the most radical reforms since Henry VIII decided to decommission the monasteries.”

1.36pm HSJ has heard rumours that Jeremy Hunt will announce his decision on the future of Lewisham Hospital on Thursday. He is legally obliged to make a decision on the downgrade and reconfiguration proposals on Friday but there had been speculation he would not announce them until Monday 4 February.

1.22pm East Sussex Healthcare Trust has warned that “difficult decisions” will be necessary if it is to cut its monthly spend to sustainable levels.

Currently the trust spends £32m a month, and has to bring that down to £30m.

Chief executive Darren Grayson said the overspend would see the trust finish the financial year in an “unacceptable deficit position”.

The £361m turnover trust organisation has longstanding financial problems, which saw it put into turnaround in August 2011. It finished 2011-12 with a small surplus of £87,000 but needed support from commissioners amounting to nearly £16m.

1.16pm Consultants at University Hospital of North Staffordshire have said that former chief executive Julia Bridgwater, who resigned earlier this month, has been made a “scapegoat”. The trust is forecasting a £23m deficit this year.

HSJ understands dozens of consultants have separately emailed trust chairman John MacDonald expressing concern over her treatment.

1.07pm HSJ’s Sarah Calkin reports that the NHS Commissioning Board’s proposed blanket ban on some interventional cardiology procedures could “seriously disadvantage” some patients and damage the UK’s reputation for innovation.

The British Cardiovascular Interventional Society claims advice from leading clinicians was ignored by the commissioning board in drawing up service specifications for three rare procedures designed to reduce the risk of stroke or heart failure.

The society wrote to the board earlier this month.

12.34pm NHS bodies are collaborating on a “common purpose framework” for integrated care, David Williams reports. The Department of Health, NHS Commissioning Board, regulators, and the Local Goverment association are jointly producing the document, which is set to be published by May.

Health minister Norman Lamb is understood to be working with senior figures from Number 10 in his bid to launch a new wave of integration “pioneers”, however his long awaited announcement on the subject might not take place as soon as initially expected.

For more, click here.

11.20am: The Department of Health has begun engagement in earnest with the pharma industry about moving towards value based pricing for products, it has emerged. ABPI chief executive Stephen Whitehead wrote a blog on the organisation’s website on Friday commenting: “To date, that detail [of value based pricing] has been conspicuous by its absence. That is why I am pleased to be able to report that the Department of Health has now agreed to begin discussions in earnest about how we make this work for patients, the NHS and industry.

“Getting this right will not be simple. If it was, it would have happened before.  We are going to need to get lots of different perspectives – particularly from patients and the charities who support them.  I look forward to hearing their views as we take this forward.”

11.07amWe must back social investment pioneers, NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar and Ben Jupp, director of Social Finance, say in HSJ today. The pair back social impact bonds, which require both a financial and social return on investment, and argue: “Just as the tech revolution in Silicon Valley required a new form of investment 30 years ago − the agile venture capital fund − the transition to a new form of healthcare today needs to a fresh approach to finance.”

10.58am Concerns are growing over the number of times police are having to step in to take patients to hospital instead of ambulance crews. Steve Williams, chair of the police federation of England and Wales, said that, although police resources are “stretched to near capacity”, in Essex alone they were having to take patients to hospital “almost daily” amid long waits for ambulances.

10.47am If you run an integrated health service, you only have three days left to enter the HSJ/Nursing Times Care Integration Awards.

The awards celebrate excellence in an area which arguably presents the greatest challenge to modern healthcare, and run across 12 categories, including cancer care, cardiac care, mental health and women’s health.

Full details are here.

10.42am HSJ news editor Nick Golding tweets: My old pal@nickdebois (from my local paper days) responds to Sir Bruce Keogh criticism of MPs who defend local A&Es: http://tinyurl.com/a77lba9.

Mr De Bois has scandal-hit Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust on his patch, and opposes plans to downgrade the Chase Farm accident and emergency unit.

10.35am Here’s our take on the Lewisham march. It’s the only HSJ story anyone here can think of that mentions either Millwall FC, who supported the protest, or radio presenter Nick Ferrari, let alone both of them.

10.31am Only one national paper has anything about public health minister Anna Soubry today - a short profile in the Independent. There’s plenty of knockabout stuff about her recent pronouncements on obesity and “dining al-desko”, but, highlighting her efforts to stop her daughters becoming obsessed with their weight, the piece concludes: “Ms Soubry speaks plainly, and (whisper it) she could even be speaking sense.”

Could she be winning over the left-leaning press? The Independent on Sunday’s Jane Merrick recently tweeted “She’s like an adrenaline shot in the flabby thigh of politics. Brilliant.”

10.23am The Lewisham march was widely covered in the national press over the weekend - click here for some examples. For an in depth HSJ analysis of the issue, a briefing from our London reporter Ben Clover will go online tomorrow.

10.17am An estimated 25,000 people marched on Saturday in support of Lewisham Hospital. Proposals aimed at making neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust financially viable would downgrade Lewisham’s emergency and maternity departments. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to make a final decision by 1 February.

The protest has been supported by Lewisham Healthcare Trust, who said before the demonstration that they do not support the plans.

10.05am Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust staff start industrial action, reports the BBC. NHS admin staff at Dewsbury Hospital, Pinderfields and Pontefract General Infirmary face pay cuts of of £2,800 a year, Unison claims. The trust is trying to save £24m by April.

10.00am A Channel 4 Dispatches investigation has found that two thirds of primary care trusts are sending obese patients to Weight Watchers. It has cost on average £800,000 a year since 2007. “NHS forks out £4m to send obese patients to Weight Watchers”, is the Daily Mail’s take.

7.51am: Good morning, associate director for delivery at Newham Clinical Commissioning Group Charles O’Hanlon has written a moving account on surviving Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He calls for fellow commissioners to take on board the potential of ambulatory care models in terms of patient satisfaction and ability to release savings for the health economy.

He writes: “as healthcare managers, we are told to look at our services through the eyes of the patient. While most of us will depend on the NHS sometime in our lives, thankfully few will experience first-hand, treatment for cancer.” Join him for a live discussion on cancer care commissioning on HSJ’s LinkedIn group Tuesday 5th February from 12.30 to 1.30pm.