Health secretary’s speech on patient safety and the rest of the today’s news

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3.59pm: HSJ has published the latest revelations on the Department of Health’s plans for two property companies merger.

Community Health Partnerships and NHS Property Services Ltd are beginning a programme of joint working and will merge in 2015. Both are private companies wholly owned by the health secretary.

Read the full story by our reporter David Williams here.

3.35pm: On Thursday, exclusively revealed senior directors at NHS Direct warned it was not safe to go live with the West Midlands NHS 111 contract but were overruled.

HSJ has covered the troubled rollout of the non-emergency telephone number extensively since Andrew Lansley first announced it in 2010. Here is round-up of our comprehensive coverage from 2010 to the most recent revelations.

3.32pm: More reactions are coming in response to Jeremy Hunt’s speech this morning.

Chris Hopson, CEO of the Foundation Trust Network, has said: The sight of people grabbing the headlines on the back of the NHS is never edifying. As Jeremy Hunt said this morning, David Prior and David Behan are outstanding public servants who are already successfully leading the much-needed changes at the CQC. For example  people are complaining today that the CQC’s generalist inspection regime needs to change to a specialist one. Have none of them bothered to read the CQC’s consultation paper from Monday and its strategy document from two months ago, which set out the new leadership team’s plans to make exactly that change?

“We have to give the new CQC leadership team the time, space and support to do their work. It’s folly to try to sink them with the sins of the past. Let’s also not forget the patients here. We should be focussing on those who let down Joshua Titcombe and other families, not those who are trying to fix the CQC.”

2.35pm: Monitor has announced its findings in relation to complaints about commissioning of learning disability services by Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust.

Monitor said it “failed to conduct transparent decision-making in its commissioning of learning disability services” but “there was no decision made by the trust to exclude the independent sector from providing specialist inpatient mental health and learning disability services”.

You can read the report here.

1.49pm: Mike Birtwistle tweets:

1.42pm: British Medical Association has also commented on Jeremy Hunt’s speech.

Dr Paul Flynn, chair of the BMA’s consultants committee, said: “We absolutely agree that patient safety should be the top priority of every NHS organisation. 

“It is already the case that everyone admitted to hospital is under the ultimate care of an individual consultant.  As long as patient confidentiality issues are taken into account, we welcome measures to make clearer which staff are responsible for their safety.

“However, only a fundamental culture shift will prevent another Mid-Staffordshire.   As recent events have shown, staff not only need to feel able to raise patient safety issues, but also must be confident that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon.  We welcome the Health Secretary’s commitment to improving patient safety and moving towards a culture of transparency.”

12.47pm: Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has made a speech this morning on the “silent scandal of patient safety”.

He said: “In the wake of Mid Staffs, Morecambe Bay and many other shocking lapses in care, we must ask ourselves whether we, along with other countries, have become so numbed to the inevitability of patient harm that we accept the unacceptable.

“That grim fatalism about the statistics has blunted the anger that we should feel about every single individual we let down, anger that should be the fuel of an uncompromising determination to put things right.”

He also proposed five areas where the NHS needs to make progress:

  • A culture of openness
  • Harnessing NHS frontline staff
  • Strengthening accountability in the doctor/patient relationship
  • System incentives for patient safety issues
  • Better understanding of how proper measurement works to achieve the goal of harm-free patient care

Here is the full text.

12.12pm: Anna Jefferson, the CQC media manager who was one of those named in the Grant Thornton report into CQC failings in relation to Morecambe Bay, has published a lengthy statement in response.

11.05am: The CQC has published its earlier review into its handling of Morecambe Bay, which according to Grant Thornton was suppressed. Read the entire document here.

10.48am: Royal College of Physicians has commented on Jeremy Hunt’s speech on patient safety today.

RCP president Sir Richard Thompson said: “The health secretary is right to focus on creating a supportive and transparent culture in the NHS. Robert Francis called for a fundamental culture change in NHS so that patients are the first priority of all that the NHS does.

“The RCP believes that more and better clinical leadership will help to develop and facilitate this. All doctors are clinical leaders; from day one on the ward they take responsibility for patient care and make decisions that affect others, so that leadership is a fundamental part of doctor’s professionalism.

“One of the RCP’s key recommendations to the Francis Inquiry was that every patient should have a named consultant responsible for their care. We welcome this call from the Health Secretary, and also we believe it will help to improve patient experience of healthcare.”

10.37am: The CQC cover up scandal moves off the front page of the Daily Mail today but the story gets a two page spread on pages eight and nine under the headline “The final insult to baby Joshua”.

Joshua Titcombe was one of the babies believed to have died at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust due to poor care. The headline refers to former CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower’s reference to him in her statement as “baby T” rather than by his full name. The paper also asks why Ms Bower did not help police with the investigation into Joshua’s death. Her staff apparently told police she could not help because she had no direct day-to-day involvement in the case.

10.18am: Amid acres of coverage in the nationals about the CQC, the Guardian has this piece on the three former officials most under fire.

Anna Jefferson, it says, had a reputation for being part of the regulator’s “praetorian guard”. Jill Finney was considered to have landed on her feet when she went from the CQC to Nominet, while Cynthia Bower had “once been the protégé of Sir David Nicholson”.

10.11am: The CQC has published further allegations about former its chief executive Cynthia Bower linked to Morecambe Bay.

The Telegraph reports that the head of the NHS watchdog declined to co-operate with police inquiries into the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal, six weeks before its executives covered up their failings, according to email diclosures.

10.02am: Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt will say in a speech later today that NHS must tackle the “silent scandal of errors” which resulted in 3,000 NHS patients dying needlessly last year.

In a speech at University College London Hospitals, he is expected to say that the UK has become “so numbed to the inevitability of patient harm that we accept the unacceptable”.

Mr Hunt’s words come after allegations that the Care Quality Commission were involved in a cover-up of its failure to investigate into baby deaths at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria.

He will also reveal that 325 “never events” were recorded in last year - incidents so unacceptable that they should never happen. Read the full story here.

8.35am: In 10 years the number of deaths caused by cancer is expected to increase by 30 per cent for men and 12 per cent for women, and in just eight years the number of people living with dementia will rise to over a million.

On HSJ innovation and efficiency channel Steve Dewar looks at what effect the ageing population will have for end of life care and hospices.