HSJ Awards winners announced, reaction to the government’s response to Francis, plus the rest of the day’s news and comment

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5.56pm The BBC reports that man has been charged with rape and four counts of indecent assault concerning incidents at hospitals in Berkshire, including Stoke Mandeville where Jimmy Saville is alleged to have sexually abused patients, in the 1970s and 1980s. He was held under Operation Yewtree, which was set up in the wake of the Saville scandal.

5.27pm Our sister publication Local Government Chronicle reports that a government review into employee engagement in the health service, announced by Norman Lamb in October, could boost take-up of social enterprises in local government.  

5.02pm The Evening Standard reveals the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee is to launch an official inquiry into female genital mutilation, in a bid to end the practice in Britain.

There will be a series of parliamentary hearings beginning in January, looking into whether NHS staff, schools and social workers are doing enough to prevent it.

“It is astonishing that since FGM was made a crime in 1985 nobody has been prosecuted,” said Keith Vaz, the committee’s chairman. “This is a concern both to the diaspora communities and also the NHS and it is important that light is cast on this practice and action is taken.”

4.40pm Two paramedics have been struck off after telling a dying dental nurse: “You just have a tummy bug,” according to The Telegraph. Sarah Thomas, 30, died at home after the paramedics refused to drive her to hospital.

Ian Crookall, chair of the disciplinary panel of the Health and Care Professions Council, which took the decision, said: “The public would be appalled at the lack of competence.

“The facts of the case would undermine public confidence in the profession in the eyes of any member of the public who was aware of the circumstances.”

4.19pm Following a roundtable discussion on maternal mental health, The Guardian’s Joanna Moorhead writes that “mental illness is rarely acknowledged for what it is: one of the biggest health risks in pregnancy,” but “perinatal mental health services have “Cinderella” status within the health service and tend to be delivered in a piecemeal, rather than a holistic, fashion”.

3.45pm Our sister publication Nursing Times has collated the views of five major healthcare unions on the government’s response to the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. Find out what they said here.

3.30pm The Evening Standard reports that surgeons at King’s College Hospital are the first in the UK to perform operations using an endoscope – “a snake-like device inserted via the mouth” – which cuts muscles at the base of the oesophagus, for patients who are unable to eat or drink.

3pm Robert Francis QC tells Channel 4’s Victoria McDonald he is pleased with the government’s response to his inquiry into patient deaths at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, noting openness, transparency ad candour as the most important of his recommendations.

2.29pm With Bulgarians and Romanians being able to work anywhere in the European Union as of next year, the BBC speaks to Bulgarian doctors who are already actively looking for work in other EU countries, including the UK.

Bulgaria has the lowest salaries in the EU. Vascular surgeon Dimitar Balezdrov earns roughly £800 a month. He work earn £60-70,000 a year for the same role in the UK.

Dr Balezdrov intends to move to the UK, saying “in the UK when you say you are a doctor, you are respected by society and that’s absolutely not true here.”

2.10pm Our new HSJ Hospital Transformation microsite is the home for articles and debate about the journey to improve our hospitals.

2.05pm In its leader column, The Times argues: “The Francis Report was a record of terrible bureaucratic failure and its worthy but bureaucratic solutions are not the complete answers.”

It says the “satisfaction of patients needs to be part of the way hospitals are judged and chief executives paid” and “inspection, better regulation and guidelines are no substitute for the daily regulation and that is provided by dutiful professionals and vigilant patients whose views are listened to with respect”.  

1.50pm Professor Keith Willett, who led the Keogh review of urgent and emergency care, said hospitals are “too inflexible” and suggested they emulate how supermarkets respond to customers’ changing demand, according to The Telegraph.

At a Westminster Health Forum event on Tuesday, Professor Willett said: “Sainsbury’s look at the till roll at nine o’clock every morning, they know the weather forecast for every store, and what’s on the shelves at midday reflects those two [factors].

“Our idea of seasonal variation or predictive modelling is patients in corridors and outliers. That’s about as good as the NHS has got.”

1.32pm Craig Mason, chief executive of Dr Foster, argues in The Guardian that sharing hospital data worldwide will improve quality.

1.27pm Our sister publication Nursing Times reports on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence confirming it has been asked to provide guidance on safe staffing levels for adult inpatient wards and eight other settings.

1.18pm Mental health outpatient clinics are an inadequate model of care, say Laura Dunkley and colleagues, who explain how services can be brought into the 21st century. Read the full article here.

1.05pm The Royal College of Nursing has welcoming the release of Challenging bureaucracy.

Dr Peter Carter, it chief executive and general secretary, said: “Nursing staff who read this report will recognise the burden of paperwork it identifies, and will be pleased to see its helpful and well reasoned recommendations.

“Nursing staff will want to see prompt implementation, which will enable them focus on their patients. This is a huge opportunity for the NHS to free them to do this.”

12.55pm Doctors spend 2-10 hours a week collecting, recording and checking data, but patients are not getting the full benefits from it, according to a report by the NHS Confederation.

Challenging bureaucracy
was commissioned by the Department of Health in response to recommendations in the Francis report that information should not negatively impact patient care.

It calls for national bodies to develop a core dataset to avoid duplication of requests, collation and effort. It also argues for greater automatisation in the NHS in data collection, to free up time to staff to concentrate on patient care.

70% of doctors surveyed as part of the report say there has been significant rise in how much data they deal with in the past five years.

NHS Confederation associate director Dr Karen Castille said: “It is critical that we ensure this is not wasted time by extracting every ounce of value from it and turning it into helpful information that can be used to improve care.”

12.40pm HSJ Editor Alastair McLellan says using a proper persons test to bar directors from the health service will put even more pressure on the Care Quality Commission, and the government should abandon the idea. Read his column in full here.

12.30pm Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust has appointed PwC to run the process that will examine how to increase its efficiency and income but could recommend a change in governance structure.

12.24pm EXCLUSIVE: A second wave of winter pressure funding is to be made available for all accident and emergency departments, HSJ has discovered.

The Department of Health is this week expected to announce the creation of a new £150m fund, targeted at emergency departments that are not receiving a share of the £250m fund unveiled in September. Read the full story here.

11.02am Outsourcing giant Serco has asked NHS organisations for help filling vacancies at Suffolk Community Healthcare amid concerns over its performance.

The company, which won the £140m three year contract to deliver community services in the county in 2012, currently has 72 vacancies for staff and has sought secondments from the NHS to fill gaps. Read more here.

10.58am The Daily Mail and the Telegraph take different views on health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s appearance in the Commons yesterday. Quentin Letts in the Mail described it as “statesman like”, while Michael Deacon is less complimentary. He also highlights that Hunt and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham “for once resisted savaging each other” over the issue.

10.50am The government’s full response to the Francis report makes most of the national papers today. The Guardian has led on the announcement that trusts that fail to be open and honest with patients and families when they suffer poor care could be forced to pay the costs of any litigation. The paper also carries an interview with Frank Robinson, whose son died after being misdiagnosed at Stafford hospital in 2006.

10.45am Health care analysts have warned that some hospitals in England are not meeting safetyguidelines when carrying abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs.

Data specialists Dr Foster said that 21 NHS Trusts are performing abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs despite carrying out too few operations to meet clinical standards. Find out more here.

10.42am Two in every five NHS senior leaders believe the health service is in a worse condition following the current government’s reorganisation, according to a survey. Read the full story here.

10.35am The Welsh government has confirmed that a non-emergency NHS 111 phone line will not be introduced in Wales before April 2015, according to the BBC.

10.25am Catch up on HSJ’s comprehensive coverage of the government’s response to the Francis report yesterday, including line by line analysis.

10.15am The winners of the 2013 HSJ Awards were announced at a ceremony in London last night, celebrating healthcare excellence and innovation in a year that has presented many challenges arising from a changing landscape.

Among the winners were Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, which scooped Clinical Commissioning Group of the Year for its strong collaborative approach; and Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, which won Provider Trust of the Year in recognition of the quality of its patient experience.