Controversial proposed trade treaty between Europe and the US will not negatively impact the NHS, insists government minister, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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3.33pm Libby Purves’ opinion column in The Times discusses the Ashya King case; the five-year old boy with a brain tumour who was removed from an English hospital to Spain by his parents in the hope that he could receive treatment which is not currently available in the NHS. His parents are now facing extradition proceedings on a charge of neglect

She says the case raises “troubling questions about the relationship between patients and professionals” and how clinicians communicate with their patients.

Minister of state for trade and investment Lord Livingston repeatedly stressed during a media briefing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that the NHS would “not be impacted” by the trade agreement.  

The minister from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills rejected calls by Labour to exclude the NHS from the deal. The Labour Party had said the partnership would open up the health service to private firms and leave it vulnerable to legal challenges from US health companies to their contract decisions.  

East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust’s board heard last week that it faced a shortfall of 50 beds by next month, even though the maximum number of beds which could be safely staffed were opened.

Karen Miles, the trust’s associate director of operations, told the board: “This year we are going to open the number of beds that are safe.

“Anything above that we are going to have to have discussions with commissioners.”

1.40pm Also in The Times, patients are at the mercy of a fragmented health system obsessed with bureaucracy rather than with patient need, charities say.

People need better information to make their own decisions about treatment and doctors must be trained to help them do so, say Mind, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Alzheimer’s Society and 70 other charities in a letter to the newspaper.

1.15pm The Times reports that Khan is now the most common surname for doctors in Britain. It is followed by Patel, also from the Indian subcontinent, ahead of the plain English names Smith and Jones.

The figures, extracted from the General Medical Council’s register, show the depth of the contribution to the NHS from doctors whose families originated in the Commonwealth.

Spire Healthcare, Circle and Ramsay Health all released their half yearly results last week.

Spire’s total revenue from the NHS in the six months to 30 June was £116.9m - 29 per cent higher than the £90m it made from the sector during the same period in 2013. 

Its NHS volumes - measured in the form of total inpatient and day case discharges - also increased from 36,900 for the first six months of 2013 to 45,900 in 2014, a 24 per cent rise.

12.25pm Facing a bleak future, George Eliot Hospital took the decision to make leadership changes and create a new vision to radically redesigning its paediatric service. Nadeem Moghal - director of strategy and knowledge management, associate medical director and consultant paediatric nephrologist - tells how the service has reached new heights.

11.27am The Guardian reports that 19 NHS patients in South Devon are having the outcome of their cataract surgery reviewed after two reported problems with their eyes following operations carried out at a private hospital.

South Devon Healthcare Foundation entered into a contract with the privately run Mount Stuart in July. The reviewed cases all come from the first day of operations that took place under the contract.

11.05am James Illman tweets further detail: “Lord Livingston: ‘The NHS will not be impacted by TTIP…TTIP does not introduce new rights [for private firms to legally challenge CCGs].’”

11.05am HSJ reporter James Illman is at a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills conference where the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a key topic of conversation.

He tweets: “NHS by far biggest talking point at the TTIP briefing. BIS’s Lord Livingston forced to repeatedly insist deal will not negatively impact NHS”

The move has been unveiled by Public Health England in a letter circulated last month to both the service directors and council chief executives, whose formal approval of plans had previously been considered sufficient.

It comes amid concern that some local authorities were using the £2.6bn national public health income they inherited from primary care trusts to plug gaps in their budgets, according to HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle.

10.57am Help us find the top innovators in healthcare by submitting your nomination by 5 September.

We are looking for people who you believe meet one of the following criteria:

  • Significance: how big was the initial challenge; how did they drive success where others have failed?
  • Impact: what effect has the person’s work had within and beyond their organisation; how widely has this innovation been shared?
  • Support: to what extent does your nominee help others to innovate?

Send us your nomination by this Friday and the final list will be announced during October.

10.48am The Independent reports that the parents of a five-year-old boy with brain cancer who took their son out of hospital without doctors’ consent will appear in court in Madrid today after their disappearance raised questions about the availability of some cancer treatments on the NHS.

According to the trust’s August board papers, it received responses from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire Trust to its request for support. The bid process closed in July.

The trust said the stability partner would help to deliver the maternity service, which has been the focal point of a care scandal in recent years.

The leader of the local authority, Mike Heenan, has consulted lawyers in a bid to prevent Stafford Hospital from losing its consultant led maternity department.

It would be the third legal challenge to changes at the troubled hospital since the health secretary accepted the report of trust special administrators in February.

9.50am The Financial Times reported over the weekend that Labour leader Ed Miliband is considering introducing a “health tax” or exempting the health service from deficit reduction in an attempt to prove he can deliver a better service.

The NHS will be at the centre of Labour’s election campaign and the paper reports that Mr Miliband wants to offer a single big policy to prove to voters that Labour will be a better custodian of its future than the Conservatives.

The Labour leader is looking at excluding the NHS from Labour’s planned deficit cuts by designating borrowing specifically for the health service, although this may look similar to an expected promise from Tories and Lib Dems to ringfence the NHS from post-2015 cuts.