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4.18pm: The NHS Partners Network, which represents private providers to the NHS, has welcomed the F&F test results. It says: “We are very pleased to note that the independent sector scored higher than any of the other categories of inpatient provider, with a total score for the sector of 92, well above the 73 average score.
“NHSPN is also very pleased to see that 6 of the top 10 hospitals are independent sector providers. Moreover, the response rates for the sector from friends and family members were above average: 29.3% compared to 26.9%. “


2.13pm: Stephen Dorrell, chairman of the Commons health committee, says he has “grave concern” over the actions of the CQC in relation to its handling of problems at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust.

His concerns were expressed in a letter to James Titcombe, whose baby son Joshua died at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust in 2008.

Mr Dorrell said: “It is a matter of grave concern, for example, that the CQC north west regional team apparently downgraded the risk rating of the trust as a consequence of the decision of the ombudsman not to investigate the circumstances of your son’s death, when assurances had previously been given that the CQC would deal with systemic issues arising from the serious untoward incidents at the maternity unit at Furness.


12.55pm: NHS England wants to investigate whether it could scrap payment by results for some services as early as 2015-16.

Its director of strategic finance, Sam Higginson, has told HSJ that emergency care and the treatment of long-term conditions were two areas where NHS England wanted to consider the possibility of moving away from activity-based payments to “pay for performance”.

12.40pm: Doctors are less likely to report the death of a woman to a coroner than they are a man’s, according to a new study. Medics reported the deaths of 49 per cent of male deaths compared to 39 per cent of female deaths, across a 10-year period. And coroners hold fewer inquests for women than men, the research found.



12.17pm: Response rates for the June Friends and Family Test in-patient survey data ranged from 2.7 per cent, achieved by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust to 100 per cent achieved by private hospital Aspen – Parkside Hospital in south London.

Experts, including the Picker Institute, which oversees the NHS’s annual in-patient survey, have said the variation in response rates raised questions about the comparability of the data.

NHS England national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey has admitted the variation in response rates was a concern. However, he stressed data and performance on response rates would improve.

12.09pm: The Daily Telegraph reports that Reckitt Benckiser, the multinational consumer goods company is being sued by the NHS for approximately £90m after being accused of restricting the supply of Gaviscon heartburn medicine to boost its sales.

It states that the NHS legal claim was filed  in 2011 by the then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. Reckitt is alleged to have delayed the release of its recipe for Gaviscon Original, to prevent cheaper generic forms of it being made. This forced the NHS to use the more expensive medicine Gaviscon Advance.

11.59am: On the Friends and Family test, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing says “the number of people who would recommend their care in A&E is lower than those who would recommend their inpatient care. While we acknowledge that this is based on a smaller proportion of people who took the test, we do believe that there are specific problems affecting A&E services at the moment which must be closely monitored”.

He adds, “there are already staffing problems within A&E, as well as rising attendances due to problems elsewhere in the urgent and out of hours care system. This data should be used to highlight weaknesses and to ensure that the emergency care system is able to cope with all eventualities.”

11.44am: The Daily Telegraph’s science correspondent, Nick Collins, writes about the official figures of the Friends and Family test. The results that were released today revealed that 66 inpatient wards were given a negative score in April, 38 in May and 36 in June. He includes Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information’s statement: “This is the boldest move yet to promote real openness in the NHS and to concentrate our focus on improvement in care.”

11.27am: On the friends and family test, Dr Johnny Marshall, director of policy at the NHS Confederation says “given the variation in the way responses are collected from patients, we need to be alive to the impact this will have on results.”

He added in a statement: “While the feedback from these tests is really useful to add to the wider pool of information we have to judge trusts on the standards of their services, we shouldn’t necessarily use it in isolation to make initial comparisons between organisations.”

11.23am: The Daily Mail’s GP columnist, Dr Martin Scurr, writes that he feels doctors must go back to working seven days a week. He writes “When I graduated, an orthopaedic surgeon could expect 33,000 hours of training after he qualified as a doctor before becoming a consultant; now it’s about 7,000 hours”.

He writes that working seven days a week should improve patient safety.

11.10am: “The way in which the data for the friends and family test is collected varies widely and is open to gaming. People who respond are not part of a random sample, but are self selecting or worse, are encouraged to respond by staff”, says Jocelyn Cornwell, director of health charity Point of Care Foundation.

Commenting on the friends and family test results today she says “clearly there is a temptation for staff to encourage responses from patients who they feel will respond positively, especially as a positive result is linked to financial reward. Also, the information provided is not meaningful. We know that patients are more likely to be positive when they’re in hospital than when they’re at home”.

“Some hospitals were using much better methods of collecting feedback. But they’ve had to abandon what they were doing and replace it with this rather blunt instrument. Which is not good for patients, or for developing useful information to improve health services.

In her statement she urges the “Government to think again about how more useful information on patient care could be collected and used to improve services.”

10.52am: The Guardian frontpage headline “Pullout from NHS 111 helpline leaves service on life support.” It writes that the NHS 111 pilot scheme suggested that it would cost on average £13 per call to cover salaries and other expenses, but the actual payment it was receiving was closer to £8.

It writes that Channel 4’s Dispatches programme showed insufficient staff, long wait for callers and ambulances being dispatched unnecessarily. HSJ covered this story yesterday.

10.45am: The Financial Times reports this morning that private sector companies are “engaged in an ‘arms race’ to win £5bn worth of National Health Service work being tendered, including hospitals, mental healthcare, pathology and GP clinics” (Arms race’ over £5bn NHS contracts).

The paper has commissioned research by consultancy firm Bain which found that “160 large-scale contracts are being advertised to private sector bidders, including seven that are worth more than £100m”.

The consultancy told the paper it had seen a “significant increase in contract volumes, driven by financial pressures and the [2012] Health and Social Care Act”.

Its head of health Christian Mazzi is reported as saying: “Now the rules of the game are changing. We can compete for all of the NHS budget on equal terms. What was traditionally locked up in the NHS is going to become available to the private sector.”

10.42am: The Spectator’s contributing editor, Melissa Kite, wrote in today’s Guardian that she is concerned when retail giants such as PC world are held up as an exemplar of customer satisfaction that the NHS should be striving to attain.

She wonders whether, like the private utility companies have demonstrated, a privatised NHS could produce “the same bad service at the same high cost”.

She suggests revisiting Sir Willam Bevridge’s ideals, which included incentivising those who can afford to pay for their own healthcare, to do so.


10.28am: Six out of top 10 hospitals on the Friends and Family Test June in-patient league table are private sector providers.

10.27am: HSJ reporter David Williams tweets:

10.22am: Mid Stafforshire scores 77 making it 63rd out of 170 providers








9.57am: HSJ reporter James Illman tweets on friends and family test scores


9.55am: Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said “the publication of the friends and family test results today will be an historic moment for the NHS.”

This simple test will throw a spotlight on both good and poor care, and sends a clear signal to every NHS organisation that patients must come first every time.”


8.48am: Good morning, companies are already using smartphone technology to gather personal data that can monitor and intervene in our health.

Doctors will become part of these “consumers” in constant contact with the health system armed with up to date technology that is available 24/7, considers Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, on HSJ’s commissioning channel today. Technology is powerful and amazing − but we must never forget that medicine is an art, as well as a science she warns.