Health services overloaded despite support pledges, claims report (Guardian: 21 May 2018)
Hospitals have been left dangerously overloaded because NHS bosses and ministers have failed to fulfil pledges to build up health services in or near people’s homes, a new report claims.
Patients are also losing out because a long-promised revolution in how NHS care is delivered to help them stay healthy at home and avoid unnecessary stays in hospital has not happened.
The warning, by the main organisation representing NHS trusts in England, also casts grave doubt on the progress of the Five Year Forward View, the government’s plan for improving the NHS.
Community services trusts, which specialise in providing out-of-hospital care, have been left “overstretched, underfunded and understaffed” because promises to expand their key role have not led to concrete action, claims NHS Providers....read more
NHS cost-cutting Capita contract put 'patients at serious risk of harm', find auditors (Independent: 17 May 2018)
Patients have been “put at serious risk of harm” by the failure of a £330m outsourcing exercise which NHS England contracted to the private firm Capita in a bid to cut costs, the National Audit Office has warned.
Women were dropped from national cervical cancer screening programmes and medical records and supplies have gone undelivered because of NHS England’s “deeply unsatisfactory” contract, it said in a report.
In a damning review the auditors lamented the outsourcing failure of another major public contract, saying neither the NHS nor Capita understood the complexity of the service....read more
GP practice taken over by Virgin Care goes from outstanding to inadequate in under two years (iNews: 16 May 2018)
A GP practice taken over by Virgin Care has been placed in special measures after going from an official rating of “outstanding” to “inadequate” in less than two years despite increased funding.
The Sutherland Lodge practice in Chelmsford, Essex, was taken over by the private provider in July 2016 after the previous partners handed back their contracts following £400,000 funding cuts to their contract with NHS England. Prior to Virgin Care taking over, the practice was among the 4 per cent rated outstanding across England. But an inspection report published on 14 May by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) reveals that Sutherland Lodge is now rated inadequate overall....read more
NHS spending £1.5bn a year on temporary nurses as staff leave in droves, study reveals (The Independent: 14 May 2018)
The NHS is spending almost £1.5bn a year on agency nurses while its own staff are leaving in droves, a new report suggests.
The vast outlay on temp workers would be enough to pay the wages of 66,000 full-time positions for a year, according to the study by The Open University.
It claims the health of patients could be put at risk because of the constant churn of staff....read more
Patients being turned away from sexual health clinics, RCN says (The Guardian: 14 May 2018)
Nurses have reported having to turn patients away from short-staffed sexual health clinics, leading to fears over a drop in infection testing.
Overstretched resources in the field mean that the public are being left unprotected, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which launches a report on Monday as sexual health experts warn that services are at “tipping point” due to budget cuts.
It found that the number of 18- to 24-year-olds being tested for chlamydia, the most common disease, has fallen by close to half a million in the five years since the government moved public health services into local authorities. Despite a 25% fall in tests, recent figures recorded a higher level of positive diagnoses, now at 128,000 cases a year.
The past five years coincided with what the RCN described as detrimental changes to commissioning of services, funding reductions and a “dangerous” recruitment freeze....read more
'Three-quarters of public worried about nurse staffing' (BBC: 13 May 2018)
Three in four people do not think there are enough nurses to care safely for patients in the NHS, a survey suggests.
The poll of 1,600 UK adults - carried out by YouGov for the Royal College of Nursing - found 74% were concerned about staffing levels.
Latest figures for England show one in nine posts is vacant.
The RCN branded the situation dangerous, but ministers said steps were being taken to recruit more nurses....read more
Government plans to tackle mental health crisis 'will fail a generation' (The Guardian: 9 May 2018)
Government plans to tackle the mental health crisis among young people will fail a generation who desperately need help, two committees of MPs warn today.
Proposals in a green paper to “transform” NHS mental health care for young people through maximum four-week waiting times to access help and improved support in schools will take too long to effect real change, the committees say.
In a joint report, the Commons health and social care and education select committees criticise the plans as unambitious and inadequate given the fast-rising need for care and too reliant on already overworked teachers.
“This strategy does not go far enough, which raises the very real prospect of hundreds of thousands of children missing out on getting the help they so desperately need,” said Rob Halfon, the Conservative chair of the latter committee and former education minister.
Although ministers have pledged to introduce maximum waiting times is only to be made available across up to a quarter of England by 2022-23....read more
Shock figures from top thinktank reveal extent of NHS crisis (The Guardian: 5 May 2018)
The NHS has among the lowest per capita numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds in the western world, a new study of international health spending has revealed.
The stark findings come from a new King’s Fund analysis of health data from 21 countries, collected by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. They reveal that only Poland has fewer doctors and nurses than the UK, while only Canada, Denmark and Sweden have fewer hospital beds, and that Britain also falls short when it comes to scanners.
“If the 21 countries were a football league then the UK would be in the relegation zone in terms of the resources we put into our healthcare system, as measured by staff, equipment and beds in which to care for patients,” said Siva Anandaciva, the King’s Fund’s chief analyst....read more
NHS England short of more than 400 specialist cancer nurses, report says (The Guardian: 30 April 2018)
NHS cancer services are struggling with widespread shortages of specialist nurses who give patients drugs, help them through their illness and care for those who are dying, a report reveals.
Hospitals in England have vacancies for more than 400 specialist cancer nurses, chemotherapy nurses, palliative care nurses and also cancer support workers, raising doubts about the NHS’s ability to cope with the fast-growing number of people being diagnosed with the disease.
Macmillan Cancer Support, which undertook the research released on Monday, warned that cancer patients were losing out, with some forced to wait to receive chemotherapy, while cancer nurses were being “run ragged” as they were forced to take on heavier workloads because of rota gaps....read more
NHS England faces first legal challenge to plans for health shake-up (The Guardian: 23 April 2018)
NHS England faces a legal challenge to its plans to overhaul how the health service operates, which critics say are unlawful and could lead to patients being denied treatment.
Campaigners on Tuesday will try to derail plans to introduce of “ accountable care organisations” (ACOs), which they say could force doctors to decide what care a patient needs based on how much money is available rather than how sick someone is.
If the changes go through then individual hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will no longer each receive an annual budget of their own. Instead NHS bosses would give a joint budget to pay for healthcare in whole areas of England to an ACO that would be made up of all the acute, mental health and other providers of NHS care locally.
A judicial review has been secured by the campaign group 999 Call for the NHS. The group says the new contracts for the first wave of ACOs are unlawful under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and could threaten patient safety by forcing hospitals and doctors to ration patients’ access to treatment.....read more
Hunt warned over private hospital safety after NHS patient death (HSJ: 23 April 2018)
The safety of NHS patients treated in private hospitals has been raised directly with health secretary Jeremy Hunt following the death of an NHS patient.
Assistant coroner for Manchester West Simon Nelson has written to the health and social care secretary warning about poor processes for emergency transfers, the lack of responsibility private companies have for consultants they use, and junior doctors working alone for 24 hour shifts with a lack of training and monitoring.
He has given Mr Hunt until next month to respond, following his investigation into the care of 77 year old Peter O’Donnell.
Mr O’Donnell, who was an NHS patient, died in January 2017 after hip replacement surgery at BMI Healthcare’s Beaumont Hospital in Bolton. His hospital-acquired pneumonia was not properly recognised by staff, who dialled 999 to rush him to the Royal Bolton Hospital four days after his surgery, where he suffered a cardiac arrest resulting from organ failure and sepsis. He died a few days later having never regained consciousness.
The coroner said Mr O’Donnell showed signs of a chest infection which were not acted on. He said: “Thereafter, by reason of ineffective communication between professionals, irregular observations and inadequate documentation, opportunities to escalate his care were missed. Antibiotic therapy was significantly delayed.”...read more
First 36 GP practices sign deals with 'Uber-style' private GP company (Pulse: 23 April 2018)
Doctaly, the start-up company pairing NHS GP practices with private fee-paying patients, has signed deals with 36 UK GP practices.
This includes 35 practices in England, as well as latest sign-up Lockthorn Medical Centre based in Dumfries, Scotland.
The service is the first online platform in the UK that supports NHS GPs to see private patients.
VIa the app, GPs offer 15-minute consultations which cost £39.99 to £69.99 depending on the time and day of the week.
Earlier this year Doctaly, which has described its service as 'Uber-style' after the taxi-hailing app, secured funding from 1,185 large and small investors via crowd-funding.
GPs were being enticed to join Doctaly with added benefits when they invested in the campaign, and the company has said it is looking to recruit ‘as many doctors as possible’ from across the UK....read more
Rise in attacks on NHS workers blamed on lack of staff and delays (The Guardian: 17 April 2018)
Growing numbers of NHS personnel in England have been the victim of a violent attack at work, with understaffing and delays in patients accessing services being blamed for the rise.
Figures supplied by hospital trusts have shown that they recorded 56,435 physical assaults on staff in 2016-17, up 9.7% on the 51,447 recorded the year before.
The data, from 181 of the NHS’s 244 hospital trusts, was obtained by the HealthService Journal on behalf of the union Unison under the Freedom of Information Act.
Nurses, paramedics and mental health staff are among those most likely to be assaulted....read more
Hospital trusts accused of ‘backdoor privatisation’ (The Guardian: 16 April 2018)
Hospital trusts are spending millions of pounds setting up arm’s-length private companies, which health unions fear will turn staff transferred into them into “second-class employees”.
Fifteen trusts in England have already spent £3.2m between them creating wholly owned subsidiaries, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show.
The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre trust on Merseyside, one of the NHS’s cancer hospitals, has spent the most – £661,335 – on setting up a firm called PropCare with the help of consultants Hill Dickinson and KPMG.
Gloucestershire Hospitals trust has spent £403,000 establishing Gloucestershire Managed Services, with a further £15,000 likely. The Royal Free trust in London has also used an estimated £400,000 of its budget, though its board has yet signed off the creation of the company involved....read more
Revealed: 82 'ghost wards' containing 1,400 empty NHS beds (The Guardian: 13 April 2018)
Hospitals are mothballing scores of wards, closing them to patients despite the NHS’s ongoing beds crisis, new figures reveal.
At the last count in September 82 “ghost wards” were recorded containing 1,429 empty beds, the equivalent of two entire hospitals, according to data provided by hospital trusts across England. It represents a sharp increase on the 32 wards and 502 beds that were unused four years earlier, statistics obtained under freedom of information laws show.
The closures, often a result of hospitals not having enough staff or the money to keep wards open, have occurred at a time when the health service is under unprecedented pressure and struggling to cope with demand for beds.
Doctors’ leaders reacted with disbelief to the revelations, which come after the NHS endured its toughest winter for many years, during which many hospitals ran out of beds....read more
A&E waiting time figures reveal 'eternal winter' for NHS (The Guardian: 12 April 2018)
A record low in A&E treatment performance by the NHS has prompted warnings that the health service is in an “eternal winter” as hospitals cannot cope with rising patient need.
Just 76.4% of patients needing urgent care were treated within four hours at hospital accident and emergency units in England in March – the lowest proportion since records began in 2010 and down on the 76.9% figure in February.
In addition, the proportion of patients waiting to receive planned care in hospital within the 18 weeks guaranteed by the NHS constitution has fallen to its worst level. Just 87.9% of those awaiting hip, knee, hernia, cataract or other types of operations or procedures, began their care in February in that time. Almost half a million patients have waited longer than 18 weeks....read more
More elderly are dying after falls as care crisis deepens (The Guardian: 7 April 2018)
The number of Britons dying after suffering a fall is rising sharply, especially among the very old, raising fresh concern about the lack of social care and understaffing in hospitals and care homes.
Doctors are warning that while the trend is linked to the ageing population, the fact that the increase in deaths is outstripping the growth in numbers of people aged over 65 is a cause for alarm.
Office for National Statistics death registration data shows that between 2008 and 2016, among men over the age of 85, the number of deaths has risen by 177%. The rise among women has been smaller but is still significant – up 72%. These figures are for England and Wales....read more
Second private online GP provider looking to partner with NHS practices (Pulse: 4 April 2018)
A second major provider of private online GP consultations is looking to offer its services via the NHS, Pulse has learned.
Push Doctor, which currently offers video GP consultations ‘in minutes’ at £20 each, told Pulse that it is seeking ways to provide NHS services.
Birmingham LMC chair Dr Robert Morley told Pulse that Push Doctor had ‘contacted all Birmingham practices’ in a search for partners who could use its technology.
The bid comes as fellow online provider Babylon Health is actively seeking to expand its NHS service offering elsewhere in the UK, having already signed up thousands of patients since its London launch in November....read more
NHS trusts cancelled hundreds of cancer procedures over winter (The Guardian: 3 April 2018)
Hundreds of cancer operations were cancelled by English NHS trusts during winter, prompting a warning that delays to procedures could affect a patient’s chance of survival.
A poll of 81 acute NHS trusts by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) found more than half were forced to cancel at least one operation between December and February, with 530 scrapped in total.
Macmillan Cancer Support said the delays to some procedures could have affected the survival chances of patients.
Hospitals across England were instructed to delay pre-planned operations and routine outpatient appointments throughout January due to severe winter pressures. At the time, NHS England said cancer operations and time-critical procedures were exempt and should go ahead as planned.
However, the HSJ survey found 43 trusts cancelled operations, including some diagnostic procedures such as biopsies....read more
Former Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley blames NHS cuts for failure to diagnose his bowel cancer (The Independent: 3 April 2018)
A former Conservative health secretary has blamed government cuts to the NHS budget for failing to detect his bowel cancer sooner.
Andrew Lansley said cuts “wrongly” imposed by the Treasury had frustrated the delivery of a screening programme he introduced in 2010.
The Tory peer said doctors have told him he has “every reason to hope” his cancer can be effectively treated, keeping him alive for the long term....read more