Today’s news and comment

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3.38pm David Williams’ story on NHS England facing unfunded redundancy costs has attracted a lot of reader comment. Here’s two:

“This shows the need for an national NHS contract whereby everyone is employed directly by the NHS and not within individual statutory organisations. That means employees can be moved, subject to consultation, between NHS organisations as opposed to being made redundant. It would stop the “fat cat” practice of taking redundancy then taking up another NHS role and pocketing the big cheque.”

“Unfortunately, the whole premise of this halving of family health costs is misplaced. While it may well be possible to think of ways of managing the optometrist, pharmacist and dentist contracts in a more remote, hands off way, to try to do that with GPs (for which contract most of these staff are employed) will be an astonishing mistake. This is a serious disaster in the making, as I was warning several years ago when this was first floated. It continues to be so.”

2.38pm The number of patients getting an infection while under NHS care is “unacceptably high”, health officials have warned.

Healthcare-associated infections are a “very real threat” to patients, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has said.

One in 16 people treated in the NHS picks up an infection- around 300,000 people each year, according to NICE research.

The most common kind of infections include pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and surgical site infections.

1.03pm The Guardian reports that patients could be asked to pay for their own crutches, walking sticks and neck braces under proposals drawn up by South Warwickshire CCG.

12.30pm The high street and third sector will soon become mainstream providers of digital health and care services to the public as a result of growing pressure on the NHS, according to healthcare consultancy D Health.

In a recent study, the company found there has been a relatively slow uptake of new technology by state healthcare services compared to modest commercial success experienced by developers and entrepreneurs.

D Health argue that an ageing population and the increasing burden of lifestyle disease will mean that some services, particularly those relating to care of the elderly, mental health and obesity, may become over-prescribed or lose priority.

This in turn will create opportunities for retailers and organisations such as charities and housing associations to bridge the gap, the company believes.

12.14pm Staggering junior doctors’ training rotations could help to prevent the “black Wednesday” phenomenon, medical experts have said.

Studies have previously linked the first Wednesday in August, the day when freshly qualified doctors arrive on hospital wards, to higher death rates among patients.

This day also coincides with a changeovers in the training schedules of junior medics already employed.

Now the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has recommended that while all Foundation Year 1 - junior doctors in the first year of the programme which forms the bridge between medical school and specialist training - should commence work on the first Wednesday in August, junior doctors already working in hospitals should not change over departments until September.

12.05pm A Clinical Commissioning Group has been told by a High Court judge that its policy on assistive reproduction technique - is “unlawful”.

In a case heard at the High Court this week, lawyers for Elizabeth Rose, aged 25, challenged Thanet CCG’s refusal to pay for oocyte cryopreservation - the process of freezing her eggs.

Ms Rose fears she will be left infertile by bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy procedures she will soon undergo.

The judge, Justice Jay, dismissed Ms Rose’s application for a judicial review because she applied for NHS-funded treatment before the latest guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence was issued. The latest guidance gives stronger support to the efficacy of oocyte cryopreservation based on a larger body of evidence.

However, Justice Jay wrote in his judgement that the CCG’s policy is “unlawful” because it does not follow the latest NICE guidance issued last year.

12.00pm Police and ambulance crews were called to a serious disturbance in Britain’s most high-profile secure mental health hospital - months after staff raised concerns about under-manned wards, it has emerged.

Officers attended Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire after violence flared in Epsom Ward, in July last year, Thames Valley Police confirmed.

11.29am Two clinical commissioning groups have become the first in central and eastern England to be awarded Investors in People accreditation.

Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG and West Suffolk CCG have been awarded “gold” accreditation, which is achieved through reaching specified quality standards for developing employees, improving performance and realising objectives through effective management.

Amanda Lyes, chief corporate services officer for both CCGs said: “Every member of staff should be proud of this achievement.”

11.20am The NHS has breached the target for 90 per cent of admitted patients to start treatment within 18 weeks for the first time since 2011, the latest figures from NHS England reveal.

Only 89.9 per cent of admitted patients started treatment within 18 weeks in February. However, the non-admitted and incomplete pathway targets of 95 per cent and 92 per cent were met at 96.3 per cent and 93.5 per cent respectively.

10.52am The front page splash of the Daily Mail is an NHS story: one in 16 patients are developing infections on NHS wards because of poor hygiene among staff, according to NICE.

10.46am Also inThe Times, a report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has called for the training rotas of junior doctors to be staggered. In the existing system trainee doctors change jobs in the first week of August which the report argues leads to “complete chaos” on wards and an increase in patient deaths.

10.44am The Times reports on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence saying doctors and nurses should wash their hands more to cut “unacceptable” rates of hospital infections. The body said patients should not be afraid of asking staff if they have washed their hands before being treated.

10.38am The Independent reports that the discovery of a key molecule that controls the first contact between a human egg cell and a sperm, allowing them to fuse and form a fertilised egg, could yield a breakthrough in treating women with fertility problems.

New contraceptives that could prevent fertilisation without blocking the production of either eggs or sperm could also be developed thanks to research on the molecule, which is found on the surface of the egg cell.

10.26am Also in the FT, a partnership between drug companies and the charity Cancer Research UK is pioneering an approach to clinical development, in which several experimental treatments are tested at once within one trial.

The National Lung Matrix Trial will test 12 medicines from AstraZeneca and two from Pfizer in lung cancer patients at NHS centres across Britain. Each patient will be given the drug best suited to treat their cancer, as shown by genetic profiling.

10.20am Turning to this morning’s papers, the Financial Times reports that the life expectancy gap between the wealthiest and poorest areas of the UK has shrunk, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

In the decade to 2012, the gap between the regions with the highest longevity where incomes tend to be higher, and those with the lowest longevity where incomes tend to be lower, fell from 10.6 to 10.3 years for men, and from 9.2 to 8.1 for women.

There are also signs that the longevity of men is improving in particular. In the four years between 2006-08 and 2010-12, life expectancy at birth rose to 78.9 years for men, a gain of 1.4 years, and to 82.7 years for women, a more modest gain of one year.

10.08am Suffolk commissioners plan to create a single “care co-ordination centre” as part of a contract bundling proposal which could put outsourcing giant Serco in pole position for the role.

Proposals for the single call centre were unveiled in Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group board papers.

These reveal that the board discussed a paper outlining exploratory plans for a “health and social care coordination centre” last month.

Under the proposals, the call centre would field its NHS 111, out-of-hours and community services contracts, all of which are up for renewal.

9.56am NHS England has an “unfunded cost pressure” for 2014-15, which sources have linked to a large-scale redundancy programme it failed to finish last year.

The lay-offs, understood to run into the hundreds, are being imposed as part of a major back office restructuring at the agency.

7.00am Welcome to HSJ Live. To start the day, Malcolm Gladwell’s observations on the blitz can be transferred to an NHS in flux, argues Craig Barrett, executive director of workforce, innovation and transformation at Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, in his latest article on leadership literature.