Shadow health minister Andy Burnham claims the health service is “demoralised, degraded and confused” two years into its reorganisation, and the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.28pm In The Guardian, social affairs writer Mary O’Hara calls for mental wellbeing to be tackled before it leads to a social crisis.

She writes: “Barely a week goes by without another sign that mental health services are strained to breaking point as people turn to them in greater numbers and as beds and staff are cut.

“This is serious stuff. Providing a safe and appropriate environment for people should be at the core of care. However, while the focus on crisis care is vital, so too are the less visible and less extreme aspects of facing life with mental health difficulties.”

4.45pm Smokers switching to e-cigarettes would be the “greatest health advance since vaccinations,” Professor David Nutt told BBC Radio 5 Live today.

The former government drugs advisor said: “I’m totally in favour of this kind of harm reduction approach.”

“These electronic cigarettes should not be controlled as medicines - they should be controlled more lightly than cigarettes in order to encourage people to switch.”

The Guardian recently reported that e-cigarettes could be available on the NHS as “medicines” by the end of the year.

4.22pm Jenni Middleton, editor of HSJ’s sister title Nursing Times looks at how much has changed in nursing since the publication of the Francis report.

“While Francis made it clear that no one professional group was to blame and that systemic failings across the board were responsible for what happened at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, nurses have very much borne the brunt”, she writes.

“To blame nursing and only nursing is to deny what really happened at Mid Staffordshire and that will ensure Francis leaves no suitable legacy. If the health service is to fix itself, it needs to recognise that nursing, while playing a significant part in the standard of carei s not the only piece of the puzzle that is not quite fitting correctly.”

3.45pm The Evening Standard reports that figures for the number of women being treated by the NHS for female genital mutilation will be published later in the year for the first time.

According to the paper, FGM will be issued an official code, which doctors and nurses will be able to report and log onto their hospital database.

Official codes for FGM will be issued for the first time so that doctors and nurses can log details of the wounds inflicted on each victim on their hospital database, according to The Evening Standard.

An initial national measure of the number of FGM victims in will be published in the autumn, followed by more detailed statistics in coming years.

3.08pm The Health Foundation has appointed Sir David Dalton, currently chief executive of Salford Royal Foundation Trust, as its new governor.

Sir David has held his current position for more than 12 years and has been an NHS chief executive for more than 20 years.

He also served on the Berwick Review of Patient Safety, which reported its recommendations to the prime minister in August last year, in wake of the Mid Staffs scandal.

Sir David said: ‘I am delighted to be taking up this responsibility for the Health Foundation at such a pivotal time for the organisation and the NHS. The Foundation is entering into a new phase, and expanding what it is doing, contributing to its mission of improving healthcare quality in the UK. I am excited to be joining the team that will help to influence the future shape of the charity.’

His appointment follows that of Dr Jennifer Dixon to the role of chief executive of the Health Foundation in October last year.

Dr Dixon said she is “thrilled that Sir David will be joining our team of governors.”

She added: “He has a wealth of experience across the NHS and a reputation for achieving on quality improvement and patient safety, two areas at the heart of our organisation. The progress made at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust is impressive.’

2.41pm Following the World Health Organization warning of a global “tidal wave” of cancer in the next 20 years, the BBC analyses why cancer is such a threat.

2.33pm The BBC reports on concerns raised by Healthwatch England over

Healthwatch England chair Anna Bradley told the BBC that in recent days almost a quarter of local Healthwatch groups had been in contact to raise concerns about the patient data sharing scheme.

She said: “Once again the NHS has decided it knows best and is ploughing ahead with plans to share this data whether we like it or not.

“To make matters worse, the communications around this have been so poor that we are now in the situation where all of us are about to be automatically opted in to a scheme we know little or nothing about.

“While we recognise that sharing the data could be of significant benefit to researchers, the NHS has a moral duty to consult with all of us and trust us to make our own decisions.”

2.10pm The trade union Unite has called for patient’s watchdog Healthwatch to replaced,  describing it is a “toothless tiger”.

This comes on ahead of the first anniversary of the Francis report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell said: “The last 12 months have been a wasted opportunity by Jeremy Hunt to start a cultural renewal in the health service by upgrading the level of public scrutiny.
“Healthwatch, the so-called patients’ watchdog, is a toothless tiger – we need to return to the old system similar to that of the community health councils (CHCs) which had real clout to expose alleged failings in the provision of patient care.”

2.01pm In The Guardian’s Health Professionals Network, Helen Gilburt, a fellow at The King’s Fund, argues that hospitals can learn from mental health when it comes to redesigning services, while still taking into account of patients’ needs.

1.50pm 64 per cent of adults are overweight or obese, according to local authority excess weight data published today by Public Health England. 

This figure had been estimated for a number of years, but this is the first time such data has been made publically available.

The data also shows regional variation in the numbers of people who are overweight or obese across England.

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England said: “Local authorities are ideally placed to develop co-ordinated action across their departments, services and partner organisations to tackle overweight and obesity in the local population. Many local authorities are already working hard to reduce obesity levels and these new data will help all local areas monitor their progress in tackling these longstanding problems.  Public Health England is committed to supporting local government and the local NHS.

“People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Excess weight can also affect self-esteem and mental health. Overall health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS over £5 billion each year.

“There is no silver bullet to reducing obesity; it is a complex issue that requires action at individual, family, local and national levels. We can all play our part in this by eating a healthy balanced diet and being more active.”

You can take a look at the full data here.

1.30pm Following his discussion about with NHS England’s director of patients and infomation this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme,Phil Booth, coordinator of medConfidential, said: “Millions of people still don’t have a clue their family’s medical records are about to be uploaded in identifiable form to a body they’ve never heard of, to be used for purposes other than their medical care - including being passed to companies outside the NHS in various forms.

“Now the head of the whole scheme has admitted they haven’t been clear enough about what patients must do to opt out, the game is up. No-one, least of all the Information Commissioner, can reasonably claim that patients have been properly notified. These uploads cannot go ahead with so many patients still being kept in the dark.”

1.10pm The Independent reports on study in the British Medical Journal, which finds that deaths caused by extreme heat in the UK are expected to more than treble by 2050 due to climate change and population growth.

“A lot of these deaths, both heat-related and cold-related, are occurring in people who are very infirm – mainly elderly people with underlying health problems,” said Dr Shakoor Hajat of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the lead author of the study. “Even if mean temperatures go over 20C we start seeing some heat-related deaths – usually from cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

“As the world warms up it’s likely that populations will adapt to some extent, however because of the increased variability [in the weather] that we’re expecting and the rate of change in the warming, it’s unclear how successful future adaptations will be.”

12.56pm The Guardian’s Alex Andreau argues that media reaction to the World Health Organization’s World Cancer Report, which warned of a global “tidal wave” of cancer in the next two decades, has put too much emphasis on moking, alcohol and obesity.

He writes: “Ignored is the report’s conclusion that only half of the 24m cases projected by 2035 may be preventable. Ignored is the conclusion that the main reasons for this increase are population growth and increased life expectancy. Instead, the focus has almost exclusively centred on other factors contributing to preventable cancers, and then very selectively.”

12.48pm Turning to today’s papers this lunchtime, The Guardian reports on Tim Kelsey’s appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, in which he admitted that NHS England should have been clear about the terms of the patient opt-out of its scheme.

Dawn Monaghan from the commissioner’s office, told Today: “At the moment we don’t think it is clear enough, on the website, or on the information that has been sent out, exactly what data is going to go and what is not going to go.

“What it says is that you can object to your personal confidential data leaving the GP surgery. We are not sure that without further explanation … whether people will understand what the means.”

12.40pm Do you read HSJ on your mobile? If so, please take five minutes to complete the survey, answering some simple questions about how you use HSJ’s mobile site.

We are striving to better understand how our readers use our mobile platform and how best we can improve our service. Your contribution will help us make your experience of HSJ”s mobile site more useful and engaging.

12.30pm Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s director for patients and information discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. He was joined by Phil Booth, coordinator for the patients’ organisation medConfidential. Their discussion begins roughly 2h10m into the programme. You can listen to their discussion here.

Mr Kelsey said: “What we’re doing is trying to ask patients to give us their permission to use their data to use their data in order to analyse what treatments and services deliver the best outcomes for them”

He said data records in hospitals “has powered the analysis of things like death rates in hospitals” and that the Mid-Staffordshire scandal would not have been identified without it.

Mr Kelsey added that for 25 years privacy has never been compromised with hospital data.

However, he admitted that NHS England had not been clear enough about the opt out.

Mr Booth said the “biggest risk was undermining patients’ trust”.

11.48am Register today for the Patient Safety and Care Awards 2014, brought to you by HSJ and Nursing Times.

The entry deadline is 21 March.

11.38am BBC News leads on warnings of a global “tidal wave of cancer” by the World Health Organization.

The international health body predicts cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half of these are preventable.

Dr Chris Wild, director of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, told the BBC: “The global cancer burden is increasing and quite markedly, due predominately to the ageing of the populations and population growth.

“If we look at the cost of treatment of cancers, it is spiralling out of control, even for the high-income countries. Prevention is absolutely critical and it’s been somewhat neglected.”

11.20am In The Guardian’s Healthcare Professional Network, the NHS does not need micro-management but it does need micro-costing and an awareness of how we’re spending taxpayers’ money, argue Dr James Kingsland and Graham Roberts, chief medical adviser and chief executive of Assura Group.

10.55am NHS England and Monitor have said clinical commissioning groups can set their own prices for mental health and community services following claims that there is an institutional bias against the sector, HSJ’s Shaun Lintern reports.

The two organisations, which share responsibility for the national payment system, have been criticised for setting a tariff demanding savings a fifth higher from the mental health and community sector than from acute providers.

Now in a joint statement to HSJ, which first revealed the differential tariff last month, NHS England and Monitor have reminded commissioners that they have the freedom to set their own local prices in relation to locally negotiated block contracts for mental health and community services.

10.53am Are you not already a subscriber to HSJ? Did you know you can get a free trial of HSJ online? Simply sign up here for 14 days’ unlimited access.

10.48am What have the controversial section 75 procurement regulations meant for the NHS and its providers? HSJ is holding a free webinar tomorrow at 12.30pm to explore the answer to this question.

The webinar will consider whether commissioners’ behaviours have changed since the regulations came into force in April, and how providers from both the NHS and independent sector can respond.

It will also look at other aspects of competition within the NHS and the changing landscape these developments present for providers and also for commissioners. 

Register today to view this free webinar. Can’t watch it live? You can catch up on demand at

10.27am The NHS is “demoralised, degraded and confused”, two years into its reorganisation, shadow health minister Andy Burnham has claimed.

In a speech to union members in Birmingham, Mr Burnham said the government was “guilty of gross mismanagement of the NHS” which had left patients and staff “unsure who is responsible for what”.

10.23am What is the best way to commission end of life care?

On Friday 14 February at 12pm, HSJ – in association with Marie Curie Cancer Care – will be running a twitter chat to discuss the importance of partnership working in end of life care. Dr Peter Nightingale, the joint Royal College of GPs and Marie Curie clinical lead for end of life care, will be online taking questions and offering his thoughts.

Follow the @hsjnews and @mariecurieEOLC Twitter accounts to take part. We will be using #HSJEoLC – you can use this hashtag now to post questions and contributions for the debate.

10.16am To kick off today’s news, more must be done to address the “alarming” rise in cancer cases, experts have warned.

The warning comes as the latest figures show that the number of cases worldwide is expected to rise by 75 per cent in just 20 years.

10.10am Our sister title Nursing Times reports that next week will see the start of an eight-part document series following the lives of a group of student nurses in Nottingham and Manchester.

10.00am Apologies to our subscribers who did not receive any emails yesterday. Unfortunately there was a power cut at our data centre in the US. The matter has been resolved and everything will be back up and running today.

All our content is is available at, and you can take a look back at yesterday’s HSJ Live for the day’s news and comment.

9.50am How important is clinical research in the NHS? Help HSJ to find out the status of clinical research in the NHS by completing our survey.

HSJ, in association with the National Institute for Health Research, is preparing an article to investigate how clinical research is viewed at executive level within the NHS and would like to know what you think.

It will take only a few minutes to complete and all answers are anonymous. Plus you will go in the draw to win an iPad mini. To enter the draw, please submit your name and email address at the end of the survey.

The closing date is 15 February 2014.

9.35am Have a read of some details of the new legal framework for inquests that have not been widely covered but that are already having an impact on health and social care providers.

6.00am The NHS Equality and Diversity Council’s new equality delivery system is helping organisations to understand how equal access can drive care improvements, writes Habib Naqvi, senior manager for equalities at NHS England.