Nurses and GPs to be 'first responders' to 999 calls as winter crisis deepens (The Independent: 31 December 2017)

Nurses and GPs are to be sent to answer 999 calls ahead of ambulance crews in the latest evidence of the winter crisis engulfing the NHS, The Independent can reveal.

Health chiefs in the North East have told nurses and GPs they may have to act as “first responders” for patients who have fallen in their own homes or residential homes and may even need to administer painkillers, including intravenous morphine, if ambulances are delayed.

Bosses said the scheme was necessary because of a massive increase in demand and was intended to avert more “tragic” cases involving older patients with serious fractures and no pain relief. But senior doctors have said the move could affect patient more


Richard Branson's Virgin healthcare firm scoops £1bn of NHS contracts (The Guardian: 29 December 2017)

Richard Branson’s Virgin Care won a record £1bn of NHS contracts last year, as £3.1bn of health services were privatised despite a government pledge to reduce the proportion of care provided by private companies.

Overall, private firms scooped 267 – almost 70% – of the 386 clinical contracts that were put out to tender in England during 2016-17, according to a new report. They included the seven highest value contracts, worth £2.43bn between them, and 13 of the 20 most lucrative tenders.

The £3.1bn in contracts, a big rise on the previous year’s £2.4bn, prompted concern that profit-driven companies are increasingly involved in delivering care, in a development that undermines repeated assurances by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, that they play only a marginal more


NHS trust boss resigns in protest over underfunding of health services (The Guardian: 10 December 2017)

The boss of one of the NHS’s biggest trusts has resigned in protest at what he claims is such serious government underfunding that hospitals cannot perform their key role properly.

Bob Kerslake, who was the head of the civil service until 2015, is quitting as the chairman of the board at King’s College hospital in London, after a long-running dispute with the NHS watchdog over its finances. Ministers are in denial about the reality of how much extra money the NHS requires, he says.

In an article for the Guardian, Lord Kerslake, a highly respected crossbench peer and former permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, explains that he is stepping down because hospitals are being asked to agree to meet unrealistically demanding savings more


Private health firm gives GPs operation price list for impatient patients (The Guardian: 5 December 2017)

A private healthcare company has sent letters to hundreds of GPs setting out a price list of operations they could offer their patients to beat NHS delays and restrictions.

Care UK, which runs nine centres offering treatment on the NHS, said it intended to use spare theatre time to provide “self pay” procedures ranging from earwax removal to hip replacements.

The company said it was trialling the scheme at two treatment centres in the west of England but insisted core work at the sites would remain NHS referrals.

The move has, however, alarmed some GPs and health campaigners who fear it is another example of creeping privatisation in the more



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