Catch up on the key events from the NHS Confederation conference, HSJ’s exclusive interview with Jeremy Hunt and NICE stops work on safe staffing guidelines

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7.56pm Apologies for and the HSJ app being unavailble for a large part of today due to technical problems. We hope you were able to keep track of today’s breaking stories on Twitter.

Here is a round-up of the big stories on an important day for health policy:

11.18am Back to the NHS confederation conference, Jeremy Hunt has said the NHS is NHS not very good at buying products, with “huge variability” in what hospitals are paying for same items, giving the example of toilet roll.

He said Carter will shortly publish his plans for a model hospital,how to get the best prices on products.

11.13am Two headline waiting times targets for planned care are being dropped by the NHS on the basis they are creating ‘perverse incentives’, HSJ can reveal.

The move to drop the admitted and non-admitted elective waiting time targets is expected to be announced by the health secretary this morning.

The third elective target - the “incomplete standard”, which states 92 per cent of patients who have not yet started treatment should have been waiting no more than 18 weeks - will be retained.

11.08am Mr Hunt also told delegates:”Your leadership matters more than any of my policies”.

11.05am Mr Hunt has said he argued within his party for a commitment to the additional £8bn for the NHS in its pre-election manifesto. He added “we now need to focus our attention to the £2bn of efficiency savings that the NHS has committed to deliver”, but he stressed they were not cuts.

10.58am Jeremy Hunt is now speaking at the NHS Confederation conference. HSJ reporter Sophie Barnes (@sophieevebarnes) is covering his speech live.

10.53am In response to Shaun Lintern’s story that NICE is suspending its work on safe staffing levels, Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said: “It is widely recognised that you need the right number of nursing staff on wards to make sure patients get high quality and safe care. This has been set out in reports by Sir Robert Francis, Sir Bruce Keogh and Don Berwick.

“Commissioning NICE to develop safe staffing guidelines was a welcome recognition of the need for strong, evidence based staffing levels to assure patient safety.

“NICE has done excellent work on safe staffing, which was rigorous, well researched and respected. It provided clarity on what safe staffing looks like and importantly it put patient safety first.

“Hard working nurses are under a great deal of pressure and need to be properly supported, and these NICE guidelines played a vital role in doing this.

“If staffing levels are not based on evidence there is a danger they will be based on cost. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past, where staffing levels were cut to save money, and patients suffered as a result. We are concerned that this move is driven by affordability, and patients and staff must be assured that this is not the case.

“Whatever replaces the NICE guidelines must continue to emulate their evidence based and safety focused approach. Straying from this course now would be failing both staff and patients.”


10.52am In the Commons, Sarah Wollaston has described the term “success regime” as a “classic example of NHS newspeak”.

10.49am HSJ correspondent Will Hazell is also tweeting about an urgent uestion being debated in Parliaement about the new NHS success regime.

10.47am Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to give his speech to the NHS Confederation conferance shortly. Follow HSJ Live and reporters tweeting from the hashtag #confed2015 for full updates.

10.15am In response to Shaun Lintern’s story on NICE suspending work on safe staffing levels, the King’s Fund’s John Appleby has tweeted:

10.10am Jeremy Hunt is due to give a speech at the NHS Confederation conference at 10.45 this morning. Follow @sophieevebarnes and @davewwest for live twitter updates.

10.05am This morning we broke a story about NICE suspending their work on safe staffing levels. Simon Stevens hinted at this in his speech at the NHS Confederation conference yesterday, here’s our story from yesterday on this.

Here’s a reader comment on our NICE story: “NICE were similarly twitchy in 2011, and backed away from anything controversial, lest they get shut down. It would be ‘nice’ to have some reassurance from the Secretary of State that NICE, which is an internationally respected body, will have the freedom to be fearless in the pursuit of excellent care.”

9.25am Meanwhile, we have broken the major story that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has suspended with immediate effect its work to determine safe staffing levels across the NHS. The decision appears to mark a significant departure from recommendations of the Francis report. It follows the announcement yesterday by NHS England Simon Stevens he had asked his chief nurse Jane Cummings to review the approach to staffing guidance.

9.21am Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to speak this morning at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool. He is expected to refer to adjustments to be made to NHS waiting times standards, including those for elective treatment.

A review of standards by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England medical director, has begun, and he has written on his findings to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens.

Guidance on an adjusted approach is expected to be sent to the system in coming days.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. We begin the day with a comment piece from Liz Little of Dr Foster on

Liz argues that the inquiry into how the NHS handles patient data in the programme must be completed if people are to receive the reassurances they need.