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3.50pm: The Commons health committee has announced its intention to examine “how prepared the NHS is to move to the new system of commissioning”. It is seeking comments in particular on:

  • The state of readiness of the NHS Commissioning Board (including in respect of: commissioning services directly; authorising Clinical Commissioning Groups; establishing Local Area Teams)
  • The state of readiness and capability of Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • The effect on the commissioning of services of the requirement to provide for competition and patient choice
  • The effect on patient care of the transition to the new system

2.58pm: The government has confirmed further details of the review of the NHS complaints system, being carried out in the wake of the Francis report.

1.52pm: Robert Royce - King’s Fund fellow and hospital trust director - has been highlighting concerning A&E performance statistics from the DH. It follows Monitor highlighting serious problems yesterday.

Robert Royce tweets: “66 Trusts below 90% for type 1.Of these 18 below 80%. Milton Keynes 67.7%! Bet some multiple A&E trusts probably have an A&E matching that…

“There were only 13 twelve hour breaches in whole of Qtr 3. In last four weeks there have been 27.”

12.30pm: Patrick Leahy has tweeted: “Government have just announced NHS will need to offer counselling to all women requesting an abortion http://t.co/AurVzyvbYY”

12.05pm: The Commons health committee has confirmed it will publish its annual report on Public expenditure on health and care services on Tuesday 19 March.

11.55am: The Yorkshire Post has published a story about spending by Monitor on management consultancy. It says: “The Yorkshire Post can reveal the organisation, which regulates elite NHS foundation trusts and is taking on key powers under the Government’s much-criticised health service reforms, has forked out £6.35m in fees since April for advice from PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and McKinsey.

“The huge scale of payments was last night branded a “gravy train” by a senior MP amid criticism over the increasing role of private sector consultants in the NHS. Between April and January, Monitor paid PwC £2.7m, McKinsey £1.9m, KPMG £900,000 and Deloitte £800,000 for a range of projects from its £19.5m budget.”

11.20am Also on HSJ Local, the Care Quality Commission has issued a warning notice to Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust after concerns service improvements have not gone far enough.

The trust – which appointed a new chief executive in the autumn – has been under the spotlight after several critical CQC reports, and having persistently high mortality rates.

Although the CQC’s unannounced inspection found many improvements, it was still concerned about how the trust assessed and monitored the quality of services.

11.19am Financially challenged Imperial College Healthcare Trust is expecting to record an £11.5m surplus this year, £11m more than expected, following significant efficiency savings. Read the full story on HSJ Local here.

10.29am The Financial Times appears to have belatedly joined the clamour from newspapers calling for Sir David Nicholson to take a fall for the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

Its editorial this morning states: “In the drive to find better, more cost-effective ways to deliver healthcare, ministers have indulged in continual restructuring.

“Along the way there has been a breakdown between management and delivery of services. The focus on patients has been lost in pursuit of targets. Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive who briefly presided over the failing Mid Staffordshire hospital trust, should pay the price for these failures.”

Before readers in the anti-Nicholson camp rejoice, it’s worth noting that the solution the FT proposes to these problems in NHS culture is the introduction of performance related pay.

It also speculates that the current wave of restructuring may help to “relieve pressure on hospitals”. We look forward to seeing what impact the introduction of clinical commissioning has on demand for acute services.

10.28am Andy Cowper’s piece for HSJ about mergers and acquisitions, has been hailed as well written and “very good” by Bill Morgan of MHP Health Mandate. And why not? Here’s the piece, featuring contributions from Sir Robert Naylor, Bob Ricketts and Matt Tee, among others.

10.24am The Times reports that the health secretary is planning to rewrite rules for recruitment, to allow “jobs in [NHS] senior management to be opened up to talented executives from the private sector and charities”. The private bosses “could receive swift training for NHS jobs without first having to work in the health service”.

The move appears to be a policy response to the Francis report, although it is unclear which recommendation it responds to, or how it differs from a normal open recruitment process. Francis highlighted concerns about leadership.

10.00am A couple of new entries on HSJ’s End Game blog.

First, End Game learns that George Eliot Hospital trust is training volunteers in aromatherapy techniques.

Second, this insider account from this week’s NHS Innovation Expo.

9.54am The Daily Telegraph runs a story on page 14 headlined “NHS chief does share blame for Mid Staffs scandal, admits Hunt”.

This follows the paper’s story yesterday that Sir David Nicholson would “pre-announce” his stepping down.

Today’s story comes from Jeremy Hunt’s appearance in the House of Commons during a debate on NHS accountability and quotes him saying: “As a manager in the system that failed to spot and rectify the appalling cases of Mid Staffs he does bear some responsibility. He’s apologised and been held to account by this House and many others.

“But I don’t believe he bears total responsibility or indeed personal responsibility for what happened.”

9.50am No health news in the Daily Mail this morning - but columnist Steve Bird has written more than a page about a surgeon who can’t find work in the NHS. “Is it because he blew the whistle on child deaths at a leading hospital?” asks the headline.

Edwini Jesudason formerly worked at Alder Hey children’s hospital. You can read the full piece here.

8.25am: Good morning, a Commons health committee report said: “The NHS complaints system sometimes compounds and exacerbates the negative experiences of patients. In such situations, patients have little choice but to give up or turn to the legal system.”

Health mediation is more effective than the traditional complaints process writes Terry Leigh and Tony Hamlin today on HSJ’s Leadership channel.