Commons public accounts committee accuses government of “loss of momentum” in drive to improve cancer services, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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3.56pm Pharmaceutical companies behind two drugs that were to be removed from the cancer drugs fund have successfuly appealed for them to remain on the list, according to the charity Breast Cancer Care.

Responding to the decision to keep everolimus (Afinitor) and eribulin (Halaven) on the Cancer Drugs Fund, after an appeal from Novartis and Eisai, Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care said:

“After a worrying few months it will be an enormous relief for people living with secondary breast cancer, which is incurable, to hear that life-extending drugs everolimus (Afinitor) and eribulin (Halaven) will remain on the Cancer Drugs Fund.

“However it is unacceptable that so many patients had to go through this period of uncertainty and live with the fear that the drugs they so desperately need would be out of reach. While others will still be denied the chance of improved quality of life as effective treatments for a range of other cancers are still being removed from the Fund today.

“This entire process shows that the Cancer Drugs Fund is on rocky ground and a long-term sustainable system must be found. This can’t be delayed any longer, it needs to happen now.”

3.10pm Three Conservative members of the Commons health committee have put together a document compiling evidence presented to the parliamentary body during its inquiry into public expenditure on health and social care.

A report of the committee’s inquiry was due to be published but has since been prevented due to disputes between the two main political parties over its content and format.

The document, put together by MPs Charlotte Leslie, Robert Jenrick and Andrew Percy brings together elements of the report and can be found here.

The dossier says that the weight of the evidence presented to the committee showed that:

  • “There had not been an extension of charges or top-ups during the current parliament, and that these are not planned.”
  • “Very little increase in private sector providers since 2010”
  • “A general trend of declining administration costs in the NHS”
  • “No evidence that the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, [a trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the United States] poses a threat to the NHS.”

All the evidence in the report is publicly available.

2.22pm The Department of Health has agreed a package of support and capital payments totalling £327.7m with Frimley Park Hospital Foundation Trust as part of its takeover of another trust, HSJ can reveal.

The news comes as the newly merged organisation, Frimley Health FT, is forecasting a £22.9m deficit for 2014-15 - £17m worse than its planned end of year position.

The £277m-turnover Frimley Park acquired £253m-turnover Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals FT in October.

2.12pm A group of foundation trusts that received £188m in Department of Health bailouts this year has been told the funding will now be switched to loans, as part of a push for financially distressed organisations to ‘manage their finances better’, HSJ has learned.

Monitor last week wrote to the 11 FTs saying that the DH had decided to move from making “interim support” payments in the form of public dividend capital to loans, in a “departure from current practice”.

The letter, from the regulator’s finance and risk director Jason Dorsett, said the terms of these loans were not yet finalised, but it would share them with the trusts this week. The terms will not be negotiable.

2.04pm A resignation letter from four accident and emergency consultants has heavily criticised the management of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust and local reconfiguration plans.

The four A&E consultants - Richard Morrell, Sarah Crawford, Christopher Hetherington and David Gemmell - resigned en masse from the trust’s Alexandra Hospital in Redditch last month after all securing jobs at Warwick Hospital.

Their joint letter to the trust - published on the trust website - accuses “successive management decisions” of undermining services at the Alexandra, which they say has “led to the self-fulfilling prophecy of failing and unsustainable services”.

But in a response letter from the trust’s five divisional medical directors, they say the consultant’s interpretation of events “needed to be challenged”.

1.58pm Commenting on the announcement, Rick Henderson, chief executive of umbrella body Homeless Link, said: “This funding is positive news and will enable more vulnerable people to access the stable accommodation they need to get their lives back on track.

“Homeless people experience some of the poorest health in our society so investment which aims to improve people’s housing and health situation together should be welcomed.

“However, this is only sustainable with funding for support, health services and care for the people living there. The reality is many services have had to cut back on frontline staff, and only 4 per cent get any investment from the NHS.

“Achieving the ambitious health targets this programme has set will require joint investment from health, social care and homelessness partners. We encourage commissioners to work together to ensure these projects deliver lasting change.” 

1.55pm Homeless people will benefit from a £55m fund to upgrade existing accommodation and provide new housing, the Department of Health has announced.

The fund opens for bids today, and will be used over the next 2 years. £25m is available for accommodation outside London and £30m in London (£15m from the Department of Health and £15m from the Greater London Authority).

The money will be used for two types of projects:

  • the Homeless Change project will provide upgraded hostel accommodation to improve physical and mental health outcomes for rough sleepers and to help reduce A&E attendance.
  • the Platform for Life project will create new low-rent shared accommodation for young people who want to work, but are struggling to hold down a job or attend college because of a lack of stable housing.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison, said: “Having nowhere stable to live, or sleeping on the street, can seriously damage a person’s health. It often leads to significant physical and mental health problems, and without accommodation and support, the chances of recovery are very limited.

“Joining up health and housing services can make a massive difference and I’m delighted that these funds have the potential to not only help people get on with their lives, but also to save valuable NHS resources by reducing A&E attendances.”

1.49pm Dr Ruth May, a former NHS theatre sister and chief nurse, is joining the regulator Monitor.

She has been appointed to the role of nursing director – a post within Monitor’s patient and clinical engagement team. In this role she will complement the clinical advice provided by Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor, Monitor’s medical director and executive director of patient and clinical engagement.

Dr May began her career with a variety of nursing roles before becoming a theatre sister at Frimley Park Hospital. She was acting director of nursing at Barnet Hospital before being appointed as the substantive director of nursing and deputy chief executive with Havering Primary Care Trust.

In October 2005, she became chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, a post which she held for two years. She has also been chief executive of Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.

Dr May joins Monitor from a role as regional chief nurse and nurse director for the Midlands and East region of NHS England.

Professor Mascie-Taylor said: “I’d like to warmly welcome Ruth to Monitor. She has a depth of knowledge both as a nurse and as a former NHS chief executive and I look forward to working with her.”

Dr May said: “This is a really exciting time to be joining Monitor. The NHS faces a real challenge delivering the quality of care patients expect within the funding available.

“The recent Stop the Pressure campaign, which I led, demonstrates how thinking creatively can improve patients’ experience – in this case reducing the number of pressure ulcers by 50 per cent – and deliver cost savings to the NHS.”

12.35pm There were less elective patients treated in January compared to the previous year, according to the latest data from NHS England.

In a sign that demand on accident and emergency departments affected elective care, 303,153 admitted patients began treatment in January, compared to 328,715 in the same month last year.

 Providers were forced to cancel 7,696 elective operations during January as A&E departments declared “major incidents’” due to the pressure on staff and beds.

 This was a 71 per cent increase on cancellations compared to January 2014.

12.31pm Approximately 63,000 health practitioners are underused, the Professional Standards Authority has said.

The UK now has a real opportunity to get more out of its health and care workforce, the Professional Standards Authority said today.

Acknowledging widespread recognition that we need new ways to deliver integrated care fit for the 21st century and tackle national health problems, Harry Cayton, the Authority’s chief executive, called for people in charge of health and care services to use a wider range of occupational groups.

Mr Cayton made the comments as the authority published its first report on the Accredited Registers programme, the Government programme to promote safety and quality in a wide range of health and care services across the UK. The extra level of assurance the programme offers gives commissioners and employers the confidence they need to make wider use of a workforce focused on prevention and wellbeing.

Mr Cayton said: “We all know we need to deliver new, innovative ways to improve people’s health. The NHS in England is re-examining the way they choose providers and exploring new models of integrated care better-suited to today.

“That means looking beyond the traditional confines of our health and care system and the traditional health professions. The 63,000 practitioners on 17 Accredited Registers covering 25 occupations must be a part of that, offering different approaches to care which commissioners can choose with the confidence that they are competent and safe.

“Having confidence in Accredited Registers covering health sciences, talking therapies, physical therapies and a range of complementary therapies means that we no longer have to depend solely on doctors and nurses but can create broader multidisciplinary teams. We must invest in prevention and wellbeing to deliver healthcare for the 21st century, and that means taking a wider view of the health and care workforce.”

The report published today sets out how the programme gives service users, employers and commissioners the confidence they need to use a wider range of practitioners. The benefits of the programme include:

  • all Registers which have been accredited to date have made improvements to their working practices to gain accreditation from the Authority, improving overall quality across the different sectors
  • if a practitioner is removed from one Accredited Register they cannot join another, protecting patients and consumers from malpractice
  • all Accredited Registers are required to carry out careful risk assessments to ensure they understand the risks their occupation may pose to the public and to ensure that they are managing those risks effectively.

12.25pm Development Secretary Justine Greening gave an update to the House of Commons on Britain’s work to beat Ebola in Sierra Leone and beyond:

I would like to refer the House to yesterday’s statement from Public Health England which confirmed that a military healthcare worker has tested positive and is being flown back and will shortly be in the Royal Free Hospital in London. Our thoughts are with her and her family at this time.

We are also assessing 4 other military healthcare workers, who had been in close contact with the patient. This is a purely precautionary move.

Our Armed Forces, our health workers, our diplomatic and my development staff are risking their lives to help Sierra Leone defeat this terrible disease and stop it spreading beyond West Africa. It is vitally important we do it. Halting the rise of the disease in West Africa is by far the most effective way of preventing Ebola infecting people in the UK and we indebted to those UK personnel for their efforts. Their commitment and their bravery has been outstanding.

Domestic preparedness

As my Rt Hon Friend, the Member for South West Surrey has said previously, the UK remains well placed to respond to this threat. The Chief Medical Officer confirms the risk to the UK remains low. An enormous amount of work has gone into making sure we are prepared in the UK now and in the future. The NHS has world leading infection control procedures. And we have put in place robust screening and monitoring arrangements to detect and isolate cases at home.

UK efforts in bringing down transmission

A few weeks ago I returned from my third visit to Sierra Leone in 5 months. In that time there have been significant improvements. The number of cases per week has reduced from well over 500 in November to less than 60 now.

Our strategy is working, and President Koroma and others have thanked the UK government and the UK public for their critical and unwavering support.

I am extremely proud that Britain’s support means there are now enough Ebola beds, testing labs, trained burial teams and an effective command and control structure to track down the disease across Sierra Leone and stop it spreading further.

The challenge now is to get to zero cases as quickly as possible. That is not going to be easy. We are looking at months not weeks till the end of this crisis.

But we have the right people and the right plan in place to deal with this. The UK will continue to provide critical support to this response, particularly in the health sector where we will help Sierra Leone tackle future disease outbreaks. We will hold our nerve and stay the course.

This ongoing package of support will now bring our total commitment to this response and the country’s early recovery to £427 million.

UK Response – changes, but staying the course

The UK response will change as we transition into the next phase. After 6 months on station RFA Argus will sail as previously planned by the end of this month having provided critical support to military and civilian volunteers on the ground. We will maintain the healthcare capabilities she has provided through continued UK military support at an enhanced MOD clinic in Freetown. Her helicopter capabilities will be replaced by commercial providers. Military personnel will also continue to play an important role at the dedicated Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Facility for healthcare workers and in supporting our Sierra Leonean partners with command and control, to respond to district level outbreaks.

Although the last planned deployment of NHS staff is due to end this month, we are mindful of further spikes in the caseload. To this end we have arranged for an NHS stand-by team to be on call to deploy within 48 hours. Throughout this response the cooperation of the NHS, the NHS Trusts and Public Health England has been tremendous both in Sierra Leone and at home. Over 150 NHS staff have so far been deployed to fight Ebola. This is testament to the superb flexibility of its staff at all levels.

Our support through Public Health England on labs will continue, as testing capacity is vital to the continued effort.


We are also planning for recovery. The Ebola crisis has disrupted markets and access to food and other essentials for many families. It has put an enormous strain on the country’s health care system and it has caused a generation of children to miss nearly a year of school.

For too many children, the Ebola crisis has resulted in a breakdown of family and community protection systems. Over 9,000 children are registered as having lost one or both parents in this crisis. They are vulnerable to neglect, abuse and exploitation.

Continued leadership from the governments in the region will be crucial to maintain the momentum. I welcome President Koroma’s leadership, and clear message that there can be no half victories. We will work with the government of Sierra Leone to re-open schools and hospitals safely, and ensure those most at risk and stigma, including orphans, have the support they need.

International support

Throughout the response, we have received critical support from international partners to help us staff treatment centres and labs across the country.

I was in Brussels last week to ensure that the international community remains engaged - first to defeat Ebola, and then to help Sierra Leone and the countries of the region back onto a path to sustainable recovery.

The international community must also learn lessons from this outbreak and together with the governments of the affected countries build a more resilient system for the future. We must do everything we can to ensure that a crisis of this nature never happens again.


In conclusion Mr Speaker, the UK did not stand on the side-lines when Sierra Leone needed us, and our strategy has saved thousands of lives and protected millions more around the world.

This response – though far from over – has shown the very best of what the UK can do overseas. I am incredibly proud of the way that we have stepped up to this challenge, and delivered in the toughest of circumstances. And so I am pleased to confirm that Her Majesty has agreed to honour this tremendous effort with the striking of a medal.


12.11pm People and their families who use care services will soon be able to make more informed choices about their care by seeing first-hand if the Care Quality Commission has judged them as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate.

New rules mean health and care providers will have to make arrangements to prominently display their CQC rating from 1 April 2015.

Following a public consultation in February that generated more than 730 responses, CQC’s final guidance for providers on how to display their performance ratings has now been issued.

CQC has developed a suite of posters that will be automatically generated through the regulator’s website for all care services that receive a CQC rating to download, print and display.

People can expect to start seeing performance ratings on provider websites as well as across premises, public entrances and waiting areas of care services from 1 April.

In-line with CQC’s enforcement policy, appropriate action – including imposing a fine (fixed penalty notice) – can be taken should CQC find providers are in breach of the regulation.

Chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, David Behan, said: “We know that our ratings are an important source of information to support people’s choice of service and the aim of this new requirement is all about helping to achieve better awareness and greater transparency for members of the public about which care services are Outstanding, Good, Require Improvement or Inadequate.

“I am determined for CQC to be on the side of people, and their families, who are receiving health and adult social care services so they can get access to safe, high quality and compassionate services that they have absolutely every right to expect.”

Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “By making inspection ratings more visible, we are helping people make more informed choices about their care, celebrating success and driving up standards.

“We want to have the safest health and social care system in the world and we know in the wake of Mid Staffs that transparency is vital in helping to improve standards of care. We have made significant changes to become safer and more transparent - this is another important milestone.”

Heléna Herklots, chief executive at Carers UK, added: “Ensuring that loved ones are being treated with dignity and respect is of paramount importance for families and they need to be able to access clear, independent and easy to find information.

“The new requirements on providers to display their CQC rating will help inform those in need of care, and their families, about the quality of care being provided.”

CQC’s final guidance for care providers on how to display their ratings is available to view here:

10.57am The Daily Telegraph patients with suspected cancer are being turned away from hospitals amid “alarming” NHS failings, investigations have found.

Health officials have rebuked hospitals for forcing patients to suffer delays which could cost lives, in order to reduce the number of cases they are treating.

It comes as a report by the Public Accounts Committee warns of an “an unacceptable and unexplained” postcode lottery in care for cancer patients across the country.

MPs said the continued failure of the NHS to meet targets to start treatment for cancer within two months was “alarming” and expressed concerns that older people are getting worse access to treatment.

The paper also writes that the NHS is to offer cooking classes to fat families and send overweight doctors and nurses to Slimming World, in a radical attempt to tackle the obesity crisis.

The head of the health service said NHS staff needed to start “practising what we preach” and slim down their own waistlines, before tackling the nation’s unhealthy lifestyles.

A new national programme will start by targeting 10,000 individuals at risk of Type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity.

GPs will contact those who are overweight, offering tests for pre-diabetes, with cookery lessons, exercise classes and online coaching to encourage weight loss for those at risk of developing the condition.

It follows NHS guidance last year which said most Britons should be offered slimming classes, in a bid to tackle crisis levels of obesity.

Elsewhere, the Telegraph reports that a mother whose son suffered brain damage during birth has been awarded damages of £5.25m in a landmark ruling that is set to change doctor-patient relationships throughout the UK.

Nadine Montgomery, 40, said medics failed to give her important advice that would probably have resulted in her choosing to have a caesarean section.

Instead, the petite, diabetes sufferer went ahead with a natural birth without knowing of the risks associated with her condition, and her baby was born with cerebral palsy.

Her damages claim against Lanarkshire Health Board was previously rejected twice by Scottish courts, but has been upheld by seven judges at the Supreme Court in London.


10.43am Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, tweets:

10.32am The NHS and Public Health in England will today start a major national initiative to prevent illness by unveiling the first ever at-scale National NHS diabetes prevention programme.

Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, will announce the move in a major speech at the Diabetes UK conference in London. 

The programme, which is a joint initiative between NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, aims to significantly reduce the four million people in England otherwise expected to have Type 2 diabetes by 2025.

It is estimated that a big proportion of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented, and England will be the first country to implement a national evidence-based diabetes prevention programme at scale, delivering on the commitment set out in the NHS Forward View and PHE’s Evidence into Action last year.  

Well-designed randomised controlled trials in Finland, the USA, Japan, China and India show 30-60 per cent reductions in Type 2 diabetes incidence over three years in adults at high risk through intensive lifestyle change programme interventions. 

If the national programme could replicate this success, it could save tens of thousands of lives in the future and millions of pounds for the NHS.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “It’s time for the NHS to start practising what we preach. The NHS already spends an estimated £10bn a year on potentially avoidable illnesses, and the human toll is more than 100 amputations a week and around 20,000 early deaths every year.

“Yet for over a decade we’ve known that obesity prevention cuts diabetes and saves lives. If these results were from a pill we’d doubtless be popping it, but instead this programme succeeds by supporting people to lose weight, exercise and eat better.

“So today we commit to becoming the most successful country on the planet at implementing this evidence-based national diabetes prevention programme.”

Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “This innovative programme is putting ‘evidence into action’ on the ground. Despite Type 2 diabetes being largely preventable, 2.5million people in England already have the disease with another 9.6m at high risk of developing it and this cannot be ignored.”

The new NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme will initially target up to 10,000 people at a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, with national roll-out thereafter. 

Seven innovative ‘demonstrator’ sites around the country have been chosen to take part in the initial phase of the programme during which they will see more patients, monitor and test their local programmes help co-design and implement the national programme. 

They are: Birmingham South and Central CCG, Bradford City CCG, Durham County Council, Herefordshire CCG/LA, Medway CCG/LA,Salford CCG/LA, Southwark & Lambeth Councils and Southwark CCG. 

Their local schemes include drives on: weight loss, physical activity, cooking and nutrition, peer support plus telephone and on line support from trained professionals. 

The diabetes ‘demonstrator’ sites will test innovative ways to pinpoint those people who have a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes including for example via the NHS Health Check. In Bradford, for example, they have a programme to target everyone who is South Asian and aged 25 plus.

These sites will be supplemented with a national framework procurement for these prevention services, and a Prior Information Notice will be issued this month to formally notify potential providers about this.

PHE is also working with Imperial College Hospitals where we have started a bespoke weight loss pilot scheme for NHS staff which could provide a blueprint for national roll out. 

The £134,000 pilot scheme offers the Trust’s 10,000 staff an opportunity to access expert help from a range of dieticians, clinicians and the weight-management company MoreLife.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “We are delighted to be a part of the National Diabetes Prevention Programme and welcome the fact that people most at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes will be given the opportunity to help them reduce that risk. By making this investment now thousands of people over the next 12 months could successfully avoid or delay Type 2 diabetes and when this is rolled out nationwide the results could be even more spectacular.

“This is a real step change in terms of highlighting the seriousness with which Type 2 diabetes is viewed and we feel this prevention programme is hugely significant. We hope this will also send a clear message that still more needs to be done going forward to help people lead healthy lifestyles from the beginning to the ends of their lives.”

10.23am The Times reports that official data shows that a record number of youngsters are being admitted to hospital for self-harm, eating disorders, depression and other psychological disorders.

Emergency admissions for psychiatric conditions increased to 17,278 last year, double the number four years ago.

Experts say that exam stress, social media, bullying and the pressure to look slim and attractive are combining to make children’s lives unmanageable.

The Times has launched a “manifesto” written by Tanya Byron, a clinical psychologist and government adviser, to tackle the issue.

Also in The Times, all cigarettes will be sold in plain packets with graphic health warnings from next year after the change was backed by MPs.

However more than a third of MPs voted against the move, including ministers such as justice secretary Chris Grayling, the environment secretary Liz Truss, and the deputy chief whip Greg Hands.

GPs will seek out obese patients to offer advice on dieting, cookery lessons and dance classes, The Times reports.

Overweight NHS staff will also be put on diets with Slimming World, as the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said the health service had to “practice what we preach”.

Currently £10bn a year is spent on treating complications of diabetes.

10.20am HSJ’s Shaun Lintern, who interviewed Lord Willis, tweets this morning:

10.18am A radical blueprint to reshape the nursing workforce calls for nurses to follow a medical style model of training and the creation of a new ‘advanced healthcare assistant’ role.

Lord Willis, who led the Shape of Caring Review for Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, told HSJ the current £5bn education and training budget for the healthcare workforce should be reviewed to allocate more money towards multiprofessional training.

Currently, the majority of funding (more than £3bn) is spent solely on medical training.

He also said HEE should support trusts with funding for the postgraduate training recommended by the report.

10.08am Dave West tweets:

9.40am Listening to the BBC Radio 5 Live discussion show, Your NHS, HSJ’s David Williams tweets:

9.24am The NHS Confederation has written an open letter to Commons health committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston demanding that a committee report on the funding of health and care services in England be published before the general election.

It was reported yesterday that the report has been ‘binned’ due to a disagreement between Labour and the Conservatives over its findings and format.

The letter, signed by confederation chief executive Rob Webster and David Hare, head of the umbrella body’s partners network, representing NHS private sector providers, is re-published below:

Dear Dr Wollaston MP, 

We are writing to you regarding your Committee’s inquiry into public expenditure on health and care. The below signed gave evidence to this inquiry.

We are disappointed that, despite much work and considerable input from a broad range of organisation and members of the public, the Committee has taken the decision not to publish their report before the dissolution of parliament ahead of the general election.

Spending on health and care services is a hugely important issue to people who use these services, their loved ones, the staff who are employed by these services, and ultimately to the taxpayer. This issue will no doubt be a key topic for the British public in the forthcoming election.  

It is concerning that, as we head into the election, we now do so without a cross party view from parliament on the future funding of our health and care services. We know that this is a contentious area, which makes your report even more important.

During the election campaign and beyond, we need a frank and honest debate with the public about the pressures which face health and care. The health select committee could play a role in facilitating that debate with its clear and considered views. In our evidence we sought to assist the committee in doing so, trusting that the result would be fair, timely and objective. 

We urge the Committee to fulfil its responsibilities by returning to this matter and publishing their report in good time ahead of the general election. 

Yours sincerely

Rob Webster, chief executive, NHS Confederation

David Hare, chief executive, NHS Partners 

9.18am HSJ’s Dave West is taking part in a BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in discussion show on the future of the NHS. He is on a panel, along with representatives from the main political parties.

Dave will be ‘fact checking’ and commenting on the politicians’ plans for the NHS for two hours until 10am live on air and then 30 minutes in charge of the Radio 5 Facebook page.

Listen in here

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live. HSJ’s Dave West is appearing on Radio 5 Live’s NHS phone-in with Nicky Campbell this morning. The debate will feature politicians from across the political spectrum setting out their plans for the health service, with Dave “fact checking” and commenting on their proposals.

The show kicks off at 8.30am and will last for an hour and a half, followed by a further half hour on the 5 Live Facebook page. As well as tuning in to the programme, you can follow the discussion on Twitter using #YourNHS. And of course we’ll also be giving you blow by blow coverage here on HSJ Live.

We’ll make a start today with a report from the Commons public accounts committee accusing the Department of Health and NHS England of a “loss of momentum” in the drive to improve cancer services over the last two years.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge, said: “More and more people are getting cancer but the resources available to support improvement have gone down.

“Previous progress in improving cancer services was driven by strong national leadership but NHS England has downgraded the position of national clinical director for cancer to only a part-time role. The national cancer action team has been disbanded.

“Focus on cancer has also been diluted at a local level. Across the country, the 28 regional networks dedicated specifically to cancer have been replaced by 12 ‘strategic clinical networks’ covering both cancer and a wider range of other diseases.”