Calls for a moratorium on A&E closures and the rest of today’s news

4.41pm Breaking news - David Williams tweets that Heatherwood and Wexham Park Foundation Trust is in talks with nearby Frimley Park Foundation Trust over a possible acquisition.

The news should not be a great surprise to anyone who read last year’s HSJ Local Briefing on the subject.

Read the full story here.

1.39pm: Breaking news - our reporter Ben Clover (@BenClover) has tweeted regarding the South East London reconfiguration controversy: Lewisham Council begin legal challenge to the Lewisham Hospital decision. Given Hunt until Feb 22 to withdraw plan or face JR.

We have a news story on the development.

1.33pm: Health Education England chief executive Duncan Selbie, previously a senior DH civil servant responsbile for enforcing performance across England, has published his Friday message. With apparent reference to the Francis report, he says: “The hardest thing to do as a leader is to create an environment where people feel able to tell the truth and that they genuinely see this as their duty. I don’t want to add to the mountain of comment about what Francis had to say on Mid Staffs, save only that we all need to reflect on what it means for us as individuals and organisations. What I do want to say is that I recognise my personal responsibility for creating an environment within the public health system where telling the truth, however hard that sometimes may be, defines us.”

12.41pm: A chair is being sought for the NHS Information Centre. The organisation has never had a chair before, and is taking on a new status and roles under the Health Act.

12.31pm Our analysis of the Francis report is still going on, and we’re still digging stories out of its 1,919 pages. Reporter Sarah Calkin writes: “The status of healthcare management as a profession needs to be enhanced in order to bridge the gap between managers and clinicians, according to Robert Francis QC.

“In his report, Mr Francis notes that the “tenure” of trust chief executives is “shockingly short” and the pool of candidates for such posts is “often small”. He also says clinicians are reluctant to put themselves forward for senior leadership roles.

It’s the lead story on HSJ’s website this lunchtime.

11.54am New on HSJ’s Resource Centre: Clare Wexler examines why commissioners and patients must behave differently - including using technology better - if care pathways for the treatment of chronic disease are to improve.

11.44am A study published in the British Medical Journal featured prominently on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. The study found that cutting the amount of paracetemol available in a single packet has reduced the number of deaths through overdose.

Today, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is calling for legislation to stop all retailers selling large quantities of the painkiller.

A press release from the society condemns Poundland for selling three packs of paracetemol for £1.

11.39am HSJ will be hosting a Twitter chat at 1.30pm today. Do you think Francis’s proposals for regulatory change will improve the NHS? Use the hashtag #hsjchat to take part.

11.35am HSJ has launched a webpage showcasing its content which is freely accessible to non-subscribers. Naturally, HSJ Live sits at the top of it!

11am HSJ’s waiting times expert Rob Findlay, also known as NHS Gooroo, has written a blog for us explaining that a last minute rule change could remove some perverse incentives for trusts.

There have been several drafts of the NHS Standard Contract published since late 2012. The most recent one, the gooroo explains, gives top priority to clearing long-wait backlogs.

This represens a “dramatic turnaround in waiting times penalties during the drafting of this contract,” he says.

10.49am The renowned Nick Timmins, former public policy editor of the Financial Times, has written this blog for the Institute for Government about the Francis report.

He welcomes the recommended duty of candour, but argues that if implemented in full the Francis report could impose new layers of bureaucracy on the NHS

10.45am HSJ is still producing plenty of post Francis report news. Shaun Lintern’s latest piece on the report, examining Francis’ claim that good nurses should be rewarded with more pay, can be read here.

10.43am NHS Commissioning Board chief nurse Jane Cummings has a piece in the Telegraph headlined “Nurses who don’t care about patients must leave the NHS”.

The decision to have two chief nurses - one in the Department of Health and another at the board, should be kept under review, Robert Francis argued.

10.39am There is some pro-NHS tubthumping from leading Left commentatory Polly Toynbee in the Guardian today. Ms Toynbee warns that the NHS’s enemies will seize on the current [financial] crunch to declare the service broken.

She also accuses the NHS Confederation of cravenly going along with Andrew Lansley’s reorganisation.

The Confed’s actual position was this: “Our members are still not convinced that the reforms will immediately enable the NHS to tackle the most significant challenges it faces, in particular, maintaining quality standards and providing more integrated care while also achieving the £20 billion efficiency savings required to meet rising demand.

“Whatever the outcome of the parliamentary process, their most pressing issue is the need for clarity, certainty and stability as soon as possible so that they can address these challenges.

“Our members support in principle many of the proposals in the Bill, as outlined above, but they also continue to have major practical concerns about how the new arrangements will work.”

10.30am The BBC has this analysis of Sir David Nicholson. It sets out the case, argued by his opponents, that he should resign from his post as commissioning board chief because he oversaw the Staffordshire health economy when Mid Staffordshire Trust was failing patients.

However, the article concludes that Sir David has the support of ministers, and quotes a government adviser saying: “Even if there was an appetite to get rid of him we couldn’t afford to. We have a major restructuring on our hands and growing financial problems.

“He is the man who has a grip on the system. Without him we would be in real trouble.”

10.25am The Mail also carries a horror story about care at Stafford Hospital. One healthcare assistant allegedly dragged a frail dementia patient around by his pyjamas and called him an ‘animal’.

Bonka Kostova will appear before the Nursing and Midwifery Council next week, the Mail reports.

The Daily Telegraph has the same story here.

10.22am Although Robert Francis QC did not offer much in the way of direct criticism of senior NHS managers, yesterday’s Daily Mail carried extensive coverage of commissioning board chief executive Sir David Nicholson.

Today, they appear to have turned down the heat on Sir David. The only seriously negative piece about him comes from the pen of their columnist Jan Moir. The controversial to say the least commentator compares Sir David to Fred “the Shred” Goodwin, the wildly unpopular former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland. She also offers high dudgeon analysis of NHS hospitals such as: “You’d be better taking your chances in the Upper Congo  Infirmary rather than admitting yourself into some of our slummier hellholes.”

10.05am Good morning and, welcome to HSJ’s rolling news blog.

First up - a Labour MP has called for a moratorium on accident and emergency unit closures. In a sign that NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh’s calls to keep the politics out of reconfiguration were all in vain, Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing Southall has said Sir Bruce’s review of A&E units was being carried out in an “obscene rush” and will not provide the necessary evidence for closures and downgrades.