Care access to be rationed in the hope it will force through extra funding (The Guardian: 30 November 2017)
NHS bosses are to meet to discuss plans to ration and delay patients’ access to care, which could set them on a collision course with ministers over health funding.
NHS England’s board will publicly debate what the service will and will not be able to afford to do next year after Philip Hammond gave it less than half the extra money it said it needed.
Thursday’s meeting comes amid unprecedented tension between the organisation’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, and Theresa May and Philip Hammond. Stevens antagonised both of them with a dramatic pre-budget plea that treatment waiting lists could spiral and mental health and cancer care be hit unless the NHS received a £4bn boost in last week’s Budget. The chancellor awarded it just £1.6bn extra....read more
Trust faces £48m repair bill for PFI hospital (HSJ: 29 November 2017)
A trust faces a £48m repair bill to make one of its hospitals safe because of loopholes in the drafting of its private finance initiative contract, Department of Health documents reveal.
Documents released to HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act show Lewisham and Greenwich Trust asked for money “essential to ensure patient safety” following power cuts, water shortages and floods....read more
Commissioners settle with Virgin following contract dispute (HSJ: 27 November 2017)
A legal dispute between Virgin Care and six Surrey clinical commissioning groups has been resolved – with an apparent payment by the NHS to the company.
The litigation – over a £82m procurement of children’s services across Surrey – was launched after the three year contract was awarded to Surrey Healthy Children and Families Services – an alliance between Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust and two local social enterprises.
Virgin Care Services started High Court proceedings against NHS England, Surrey County Council and the CCGs in November last year. It said there were “serious flaws in the procurement process” which had left it “so concerned” that it had launched the proceedings.
However, governing body papers for NHS Surrey Downs – one of the six CCGs involved - have revealed that its “liability” in the case is £328,000. The sum was published this month in a finance paper covering October on the CCG’s website. The paper was uploaded earlier this week but subsequently removed after HSJ started to enquire about the settlement. A CCG spokesperson said the reference had been removed because “the level of detail…should not have been included in the report.”...read more
Budget's £1.6bn cash boost for NHS less than half of experts’ advice (The Guardian: 22 November 2017)
Philip Hammond has bowed to intense pressure to give the NHS more money in Wednesday’s budget, but produced less than half the £4bn the health service’s own boss said it needed to look after patients properly next year.
A payment of £1.6bn for the NHS in England in 2018-19 will see its budget rise to £126bn, rather than the £124.4bn originally planned. Similarly, it will receive £900m more than planned in 2019-20 to help it withstand the pressures of coping with the increasing demand for care. However, both are one-off payments, not permanent additions to the NHS’s baseline budget.
The chancellor also promised £337m in emergency funding to boost NHS efforts to avoid its usual winter crisis in the next few months, in a move that underlines how nervous ministers are about a repeat of hospitals visibly struggling to cope during last winter’s “humanitarian crisis”....read more
Chancellor told to find billions more to rescue ‘top priority’ NHS in Budget (The Independent: 19 November 2017)
Two-thirds of the British public say the Chancellor must make the NHS his top priority in this week’s budget, as 90 MPs write to Theresa May to demand action over social care policy.
The Independent’s exclusive poll, carried out by BMG Research, finds that 64 per cent of the public want Philip Hammond to find billions more for the NHS, amid closures of A&E units and walk-in centres and as waiting lists lengthen for routine operations.
The poll cements health as easily the public’s number one concern, way ahead of education, social security, cutting the deficit – or housing, which is expected to be the Budget’s centrepiece....read more
Landmark study links Tory austerity to 120,000 deaths (The Independent: 16 November 2017)
The Conservatives have been accused of “economic murder” for austerity policies which a new study suggests have caused 120,000 deaths.
The paper found that there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels.
On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020, even with the extra funding that has been earmarked for public sector services this year.
Real terms funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2010, and the researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths....read more
NHS cash squeeze forces hospitals to postpone non-urgent operations (The Guardian: 16 November 2017)
The NHS is under fire for forcing patients who need surgery to wait at least three months before they can have an operation in order to save money.
NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Lincolnshire have provoked sustained criticism after deciding to introduce minimum waiting times for non-urgent surgery including cataract operations and joint replacements.
They have adopted the policy as a result of the NHS-wide cash squeeze and also because they insist that some patients’ condition clears up while they wait....read more
NHS needs £24bn more by 2022 or waiting lists will grow and care be hit (The Guardian: 8 November 2017)
The NHS will need up to £24bn more by 2022 than Theresa May plans to give it or patient care will worsen and treatment waiting times grow even longer, experts have said.
Rising demand for care means the NHS budget in England will have to jump to £152.6bn by the end of this parliament, which could be as much as £24.2bn more than ministers have pledged.
At least £4bn of that will have to come next year alone just to keep the NHS functioning well, three leading health thinktanks have said.
The estimates come a day after the boss of the service’s financial regulator warned that the NHS could “pop” unless it receives an emergency cash injection in the budget later this month....read more
Smartphone GP service 'risks luring doctors from frontline practice' (The Guardian: 6 November 2017)
GP leaders have raised concerns about the first NHS smartphone virtual GP service.
Millions of NHS patients who live or work in various locations in London can sign up to the service offering a GP consultation via a smartphone 24 hours a day.
But the Royal College of GPs said that while the scheme might be seen as a golden ticket for some patients, others are not eligible for it.
The GP at Hand service – created with the technology company Babylon Health – offers a booking system through a smartphone app, with the promise of a video consultation within two hours of booking.
If a patient needs a face-to-face appointment, he or she must travel to a clinic in a commuter hub.
Commenting on the launch of the project, Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Technology can achieve wonderful things when used properly, but we are really worried that schemes like this are creating a twin-track approach to NHS general practice and that patients are being ‘cherry-picked’, which could actually increase the pressures on traditional GPs based in the community....read more
Jeremy Hunt faces legal action over attempts to 'Americanise' the NHS (The Independent: 3 November 2017)
Legal action is being taken against Jeremy Hunt and the Department of Health over their proposals to restructure the NHS, The Independent can reveal.
Plans have been tabled to convert the NHS into a public/private enterprise, which critics say is based upon the US private health insurance-based system.
Senior health professionals and campaigners have now come together to take legal action and demand a judicial review, to ensure full parliamentary scrutiny of the proposals.
Under NHS England's new plans, the boundary between health and social care would be dissolved and new systems and structures would allow alternative funding sources, ultimately leading to the creation of new healthcare overseers called Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs).
ACOs would permit commercial, non-NHS bodies to run health and social services. They could be awarded huge contracts to manage and provide whole packages of care, allowing the ACOs to either provide the NHS service themselves or sub-contract it....read more