Reports that Sir David Nicholson might be lined up to “pre-announce” his retirement, according to a report, and the rest of today’s news.

3.50pm: HSJ reporter Ben Clover tweets from the FT Governors’ Association conference, where Richard Douglas, DH director general for policy and finance, is speaking: “@BenClover: Richard Douglas: We’ve seen efficiency savings on staff and pay-restraint, even some on drugs. But procurement savings haven’t done as well”

3.35pm Innovation charity Nesta have published a new report calling for more rapid development of technology and policies to share health information between patients, clinicians, researchers and healthcare providers. The report is published alongside the results of a survey which found that a third of people used Google for health advice, but only one in eight thought it was the most reliable source, and only one in sixteen would recommend using a search engine to check symptoms.

3.12pm: The Royal College of Nursing has responded to the Monitor report mentioned below, highlighting how the NHS is struggling to cope with emergency demand.

Peter Carter, Chief Executive, said: “This report is an unsettling but unsurprising insight into a system which is struggling to cope with fewer resources and rising demand, and it is patients who are suffering as a result.

“We know from our own research and from our members that the system is running at capacity, and cannot handle any extra demand such as winter viruses. It is unacceptable for patients to have to wait so long during an already difficult time.

“This is also evidence of a system which is fragmented and failing to work together. The report mentions the delays caused by problems accessing community care services and this shows the knock-on effects that cuts to community services can have on the rest of the system.

“District nursing staff work to keep people out of hospitals in the first place, and cutting staff in this area is real short-term thinking. You cannot take resources away from acute care if the community services are not there to take up the slack.”

2.43pm: The government’s income uplift for GP contractors in 2013-14 has been announced. It comes after the BMA rejected the review body’s initial recommendation. Further announcements on controversial changes to the contract are expected soon. Bill from NHS Employers tweets: “GMS contract uplift for 2013/14 announced

2.29pm: The NHS Commissioning Board has published the final wave of CCG authorisation outcomes. They include some with serious conditions, and two cases in which practices had refused and had to be ordered to join CCGs.

1.59pm: The Commons health committee has confirmed it will take evidence from sacked United Lincolnshire Hospitals chief executive on Tuesday at 9.30am. Also giving evidence will be David Bowles, former chair of United Lincolnshire Trust. Mr Walker recently said he had breached a confidentiality clause to air concerns about patient safety under NHS East Midlands and the NHS chief executive.

13.40pm HSJ’s full coverage of the Monitor Q3 report is now live (Third of foundation trusts failed A&E waiting targets in Q3).

12.40pm: Monitor has published its latest summary of NHS foundation trust performance. It appears to highlight problems with A&E performance. Full HSJ coverage will follow. Monitor tweets: “Here’s Monitor’s review of #NHS foundation trust performance for quarter 3 2012/13 (1 Oct - 31 Dec)”

12.00am And umbrella body NHS Employers has also issued a statement in response to the health secretary’s intervention on gagging clauses. NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles said: “We support initiatives that help create a climate of openness and transparency. NHS organisations know how crucial this is for building public confidence.

“Significant progress has been made in recent years to improve procedures for staff to raise concerns and the vast majority of NHS staff say they know how to and feel safe to do so. We want this to be the case for all our staff.

“NHS staff must have absolute faith in effective procedures.

“Compromise agreements remain a valuable tool for both employers and employees and can be used in sensible and legitimate ways that reduce costs to employers, help ensure value for money and meet the interests of patients and the public.”

11.30am You can read HSJ reporter Sarah Calkin’s take on the government’s plans to tighten up on the use of gagging clauses in compromise agreements with NHS employees here.

11.00am More from Malcolm Grant’s speech to the Innovation Expo. @dwilliamsHSJ tweets:

“Grant: I was reprimanded recently quite rightly for saying ccgs were immature orgs. They’re coming on faster than I forecast.”


“Grant: I worry abt overreaction to the Francis report. There’s a high level of pt satisfaction. Need to ensure morale isn’t affected.”

10.50am The Nuffield Trust has published a new report with some advice on how the government should respond to the Francis Inquiry.

The think tank’s recommendations include:

  • making development of standards of care for vulnerable older patients the “first priority”;
  • giving the Care Quality Commission responsibility for leading development of standards of care;
  • clarifying the regulatory arrangements for healthcare providers; and
  • enhancing the role of routinely collected, real-time data as a means of measuring care quality.

10.40am HSJ reporter David Williams is tweeting live from the Healthcare Innovation Expo this morning (@dwilliamsHSJ). Currently covering Commissioning Board chair Malcolm Grant’s speech. Some sample tweets:

“Malcolm Grant says NHS is great at innovation but bad at plagiarism. Jim Easton stood on the same stage 2 yrs ago and said exactly the same.”

“Grant: increasing patient satisfaction since 06 matches performance on waiting times. Defence of target culture under D-Nick?”

“Grant: the SoS has no power to tell the board what to do. Worth bearing in mind in the D-Nick debate post Apr 1”

“Grant: 18,000 commissioning staff will no longer be employed in the NHS on Apr 1”

“Grant suggests a plagiarism prize to recognise NHS orgs who nick ideas off others.”

“Grant: the first three weeks after Apr 1 are going to be really hard in terms of making sure serious things don’t go wrong.”

10.25am In case you missed it from yesterday: HSJ has learned that the NHS Commissioning Board is to apply for a legal exemption to allow vital information to flow lawfully around the health service commissioning system after 1 April. The board will make a submission to the indeptendent NHS ethics and confidentiality committee tomorrow, with the intention of allowing patient identifiable data to flow between the NHS Information Centre, clinical commissioning groups, and the board.

10.20am The Department of Health has conceded that hospital-level mortality rates were “around at that time” that Sir David was overseeing Mid Staffordshire Trust, HSJ reports this morning.

During questioning at the Commons health committee last week Sir David, the NHS chief executive, told MPs he was not aware of and had never received information about hospital-level mortality rates during his tenure as chief executive in the West Midlands.

10.15am Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that “senior government figures” are considering a plan for NHS Commissioning Board chief executive Sir David Nicholson to “‘pre-announce’ his retirement”.

“Sir David would then step down later this year or early in 2014, having managed the NHS through the first months of major Coalition reforms starting next month,” the paper states.

10.00am The Daily Mail has an interview with health secretary Jeremy Hunt this morning under the headline Victory for NHS whistleblowers, about his plans to give departing NHS staff “a new legal right to raise issues that could be in the public interest, such as patient safety, death rates and poor care. Could this ‘win’ for the Mail be a sop to encourage the paper to ease off its ‘sack Nicholson’ campaign?

9.41am: Good morning, today on Dr Nigel Millar, chief medical officer for the Canterbury District Health Board, looks at how the 2011 Christchurch earthquake forced healthcare leaders to take innovative healthcare models moved out of planning and into action. He writes: “New Zealand is no stranger to paperless healthcare systems. It was among the first countries in the world to establish an electronic population health index: a comprehensive database containing nearly 20 years of health data.

“In Christchurch, it was the development of an electronic cloud-based patient record system that helped to get local healthcare provision back on its feet so quickly following the devastating 2011 earthquake.”