NHS bosses urge hospitals to send patients to private firms (The Guardian: 31 August 2018)

NHS bosses have urged hospitals to send patients to be treated by private healthcare firms in a bid to reduce the increasing number of patients waiting for planned operations.

The move has sparked claims that it will waste scarce NHS funding and that profit-driven operators will use the service’s desperation to cut waiting lists to charge higher prices.

The total number of patients in England on the waiting list – for procedures such as hip or knee replacements or cataract removals – rose to 4.3 million in June, the highest figure for a decade....read more


‘Grossly underfunded’ practices unable to compete with online providers, warn GPs (Pulse: 30 August 2018)

Private online providers are creating competition between NHS practices that is threatening the loss of both patients and staff and could lead to practice closures, GPs have warned.

The companies are setting up services at a time when NHS practices are so underfunded they are struggling to offer basic GMS care, let alone develop technology for online consultations, suggested the GPs.

Anxieties are also growing among practices because they are unable to compete with the ‘aggressive’ advertising used by private providers, they added....read more


Children forced to travel hundreds of miles for NHS mental health treatment (The Guardian: 29 August 2018)

Children and young people with serious mental health problems are receiving treatment as far as 285 miles away from their homes, despite a pledge to end such practice, because bed shortages in some areas are so severe.

Experts say sending highly troubled under-18s to units far from their family and friends can be frightening for them, reduces their chances of recovery and increases their risk of self-harm.

In all, 1,039 children and adolescents in England were admitted to a non-local bed in 2017-18, in many cases more than 100 miles from home, figures collated by NHS England show. Many had complex mental health problems that often involve a risk of self-harm or suicide, such as severe depression, eating disorders, psychosis and personality disorders....read more


NHS maternity units were forced to close 287 times last year (The Guardian: 28 August 2018)

Almost half of maternity units at hospitals in England were closed to expectant mothers at least once during 2017, research by Labour has found, with the party blaming staff shortages and other resourcing problems.

Freedom of information (FoI) requests by Labour identified almost 300 occasions when maternity units were closed and expectant mothers sent elsewhere, with the most common reasons cited being a lack of capacity and staffing issues.

The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, called the statistics “a disgrace”, saying there was an urgent need for improved resources. The party is linking the issue to a shortage of midwives, after the Royal College of Midwives warned about a shortage of 3,500 people in the profession....read more


Campaign group wins right to appeal ACO ruling (HSJ: 17 August 2018)

The Court of Appeal has granted a campaign group permission to appeal a judicial review ruling it lost against NHS England in May.

The campaign group, 999 Call for the NHS, launched a judicial review against NHS England for plans to introduce “whole population annual payments” through its accountable care organisation contract, last year.

Following a hearing in April 2018 however, a judge dismissed the group’s claim that whole population payments are unlawful under the current Health and Social Care Act....read more


Thousands of cancer patients face NHS treatment delays (The Guardian: 9 August 2018)

Record numbers of suspected cancer patients are facing delays before starting their treatment amid growing pressure on increasingly overstretched NHS services for the disease.

In the 12 months to June, 130,553 people in England had to wait more than two weeks for their first appointment with a cancer specialist after being urgently referred by a GP.

That was a big increase on the 104,930 who had to wait longer than 14 days in the same period in 2016-17. In June this year alone, 16,235 people did not meet their specialist for the first time within the 14 days guaranteed by the NHS constitution....read more


Virgin awarded almost £2bn of NHS contracts in the past five years (The Guardian: 5 August 2018)

Virgin has been awarded almost £2bn worth of NHS contracts over the past five years as Richard Branson’s company has quietly become one of the UK’s leading healthcare providers, Guardian analysis has found.

In one year alone, the company’s health arm, Virgin Care, won deals potentially worth £1bn to provide services around England, making it the biggest winner among private companies bidding for NHS work over the period.

The company and its subsidiaries now hold at least 400 contracts across the public sector – ranging from healthcare in prisons to school immunisation programmes and dementia care for the elderly....read more


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