Howe calls for ministers to tone down talk of ‘failing hospitals’, Nicholson steps into Morecambe Bay furore and the rest of today’s news and comment

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5.05pm: Southern London Healthcare Trust has confirmed via its website this afternoon that it will be dissolved on October 1.

Most of its services will be managed by King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, and the newly-formed Lewisham and Greenwich Trust.

Some services will transfer to Dartford and Gravesham Trust, Oxleas Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Foundation Trust.

A statement on the trust website said: “There will be no disruption to healthcare for patients in outer south east London.

“Throughout September all patient data will be safely and securely transferred to the trusts that will be taking over the management.”

The developments are in line with the announcement made by Jeremy Hunt in January.

4.45pm: Lewisham Healthcare Trust has just announced it will merge with Queen Elizabeth Hospital to create new trust, Lewisham and Greenwich Trust on October 1.

In a statement on its website the trust said services would not be changing following the merger, and patient appointments are unaffected.

The trust said the legal battle over the future of Lewisham accident and emergency department would not affect the merger: “All services at Lewisham Hospital – including for maternity and emergency care – are running as normal. In July 2013, Government plans to downgrade Lewisham’s emergency and maternity services in two to three years’ time were overturned by the High Court, following a legal challenge by Lewisham Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign.

“The Department of Health is appealing this decision. The judicial review and appeal do not affect the formation of the new trust, as there is clear distinction between service change and organisational change.”

It also revealed Lewisham Healthcare Trust would not be taking on legacy debt from South London Healthcare and said additional financial support was being provided to cover the cost of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s PFI contract.

Read the full statement here.

The merger of the Greenwich site with Lewisham Healthcare trust was proposed as part of the trust special administrator process.

This was to be a precursor to the downgrade of services at Lewisham, but the High Court ruled in the summer that the secretary of state for health did not have the power to force the downgrade of Lewisham services.

In contrast to the TSA’s recommendations, today’s announcement makes it clear that the merger will not affect services at Lewisham hospital.

3pm: The Department of Health has published the transcript of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s speech on the future of primary care.

You can download it from the Department of Health website here.

2.50pm: Also responding to the PHSO report on sepsis Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said: “This report shows the tragic consequences of sepsis and raises an important issue for everyone in health care. It is vital that all staff are provided with training and support to enable them to recognise the signs and symptoms of sepsis, and crucially to know how to act quickly when sepsis is diagnosed.”

2.45pm: Dr Andrew Rhodes, chair of the Itensive Care Society education and training committee has suppored calls for better sepsis care made by the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor.

Dr Rhodes said early detection was vital adding: “On the whole, sepsis can be treated with some simple interventions, such as providing fluids, oxygen and antibiotics. Unfortunately we have evidence to show that despite the effectiveness of these interventions, they are often given late and sometimes not at all.”

Seminars on sepsis form part of a programme of events to be held by the ICS in the coming months.

2.30pm: Joanna David has been appointed Assistant Director, Adult Social Care Reform for the LGA and ADASS – a role that will help shape the Care Bill and influence the future of adult social care and support in England.

The Care Bill, introduced to Parliament in May 2013, is designed to update adult care and support in England. 

Joanna David will work on behalf of the LGA and ADASS to support negotiations to improve the detail of the Care Bill and its supporting regulations during its passage through Parliament.  She will also put in place practical arrangements for the implementation of the Bill, expected to gain Royal Assent before next year’s parliamentary summer recess.

12.45pm: The final three surgical specialties are set publish outcomes data for individual hospital consultants, including mortality rates, from today.

This completes the staged ‘pilot’ publication of this data that started in June this year.

It is part of NHS England’s drive for greater transparency and a commitment to providing patients with more information about their treatment to help the NHS drive up quality of care.

Today data will be published for upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery and head and neck cancer surgeries. This will be followed by data on bowel cancer surgery on 23 September.

Along with previous reports from seven clinical specialties, this information will be available from the NHS Choices website: 

11.26am The Guardian reports today on the NHS ombudsman’s “highly critical report” which warns patients are dying unnecessarily because they receive poor treatment when they contract sepsis. Dame Julie Mellor has ordered the NHS to overhaul its handling of sepsis urgently – the condition leads to an estimated 37,000 deaths a year in the UK – after uncovering serious, “recurring shortcomings”.

HSJ covered the story on 9 September.

11.21am HSJ reporter David Williams is tweeting live from the NHS England board meeting this morning. Follow him on @dwilliamsHSJ, or you can keep up with his tweets on here.

11.06am NHS managers getting sick of government talk of “failure and mediocrity” in some hospital trusts may be able to look forward to a change of tone, according to health minister Lord Howe.

Speaking at a conference yesterday, the minister said he thought the “pendulum” of public opinion had “swung far too far the other way, and people think that standards are slipping, which they are not”.

He added: “I’ve come to feel that whilst we don’t want to cover up the bad, and we want to confront it and make sure we can cure it, nevertheless there is a need I think for more balance in the messaging that we put around this, and the language that we use.

“I’m not keen on the phrase ‘failing hospitals’.”

His language is in contrast to Jeremy Hunt’s statement following the Keogh Review earlier this year, when the health secretary said “failure and mediocrity” was “deeply entrenched” in some of the trusts that had been reviewed.

10.44am Tory MP Michael Ellis has warned that an increasing fear of litigation may inhibit doctors from trying innovative approaches that could lead to medical breakthroughs, the Press Association reports today. Mr Ellis told the House of Commons: ” The law may not have changed much but society has. The number of lawsuits filed against the NHS has doubled in four years.

“Last year’s payout was £1.2bn. The Treasury provision for claims against the NHS has now reached £19bn.

“So doctors are increasingly frightened of being sued and even less likely to feel able to innovate.”

Mr Ellis was speaking in support of the Medical Innovation Bill.

10.37am HSJ senior correspondent Ben Clover has revealed details of three of the bidders for academic health science centre accreditation, available to HSJ subscribers here.

10.27am HSJ’s Shaun Lintern has seen a letter sent from NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay chief exec Jackie Daniel, following his personal visit to the scandal hit foundation trust. In the letter, Sir David warns that “cultural problems” persist at the Cumbrian provider, and says that NHS England will financially support a “reconciliation process” with families who had experienced poor care.

The news comes a day after health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the terms of an independent investigation into care failures in Morecambe Bay’s maternity services.

10.19am The merger of integration pioneer Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust has been approved by the NHS Trust Development Authority, HSJ’s Sarah Calkin reports this morning.

Following this approval, the acquisition by South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust will now need to be cleared by FT regulator Monitor and competition watchdog the Office of Fair Trading. A TDA board paper said the “creation of a vertically integrated health and social care organisation” would be “a unique evaluation challenge for both Monitor and the OFT”.

8:49am: Getting clinicians productively engaged in procurement requires cultural as well as practical change. Bart’s Health Trust medical director Steve Ryan says some of the practices he has encountered in clinical procurement are “quite long standing, somewhat Byzantine with groups of clinicians pretty much having their own supplier and meeting reps”.

Today on HSJ’s comissioning channel, Mario Varela explains how the trust got its clinicians involved in procurement, helping to save millions on pacemakers, prostheses and more.