Nurses will see their pay ‘cut by 12% over a decade’ (The Guardian: 29 April 2017)
workers will have had their pay cut by 12% by the end of the decade because of a government-imposed wage restraint that is now exacerbating chronic understaffing, new research reveals.
The 625,000 health service staff who earn at least £22,000 will have seen their income fall by 12% between 2010-11 and 2020-21 as a result of years of below-inflation 0% and 1% pay rises eroding their spending power, according to a report by the Health Foundation thinktank
The real-terms drop in pay will hit NHS personnel across the UK who are on band five or above in the service’s pay scales, which includes all 315,000 nurses. The Royal College of Nursing’s 270,000 members are currently being polled on whether they should strike – for the first time in their history – in protest at the government holding down their pay by limiting rises to 1% every year until 2020.
Staff salaries have already been cut by 6% since the coalition came to power in 2010, more than the 2% seen across the economy as a whole in that time, the report found. Midwives have seen their pay shrink by 6%, but doctors and health visitors have been hit by 8% and 12% drops respectively.
The Health Foundation also found that England could face a shortfall of 42,000 nurses by 2020, and almost half of all nurses believe that current staffing levels are already dangerously stretched.
Staff pay has fallen back so much that it is now causing major problems, the thinktank said. “The current phase of national NHS pay bill control began at a time of economic recession, with low inflation and high unemployment. However, this is increasingly being replaced by greater numbers of staff shortages and the likelihood of higher inflation.” It adds: “Having contained NHS staff earnings growth in recent years, UK governments now face a situation where recent trends and future projections highlight that earnings in the broader economy are growing more rapidly, and inflation is at a level that will erode the purchasing power of NHS staff.”....read more
Government ‘lacks credible plan’ for improving GP access, say MPs (Pulse: 27 April 2017)
The Government's plans to boost access to GP appointments and expand the workforce lack credibility, according to an influentiual committee of MPs.
The Public Accounts Committee made the comments in a progress report on the Government's GP access programme, which aims to deliver 8am-8pm routine appointments to all, seven days a week, by 2020 and 5,000 more GPs by 2020.
According to the report, the Government is 'moving ahead in rolling out extended hours without really understanding the level of access currently being provided or how to get the best from existing resources'.
It also noted that there is a risk that the evening and weekend GP appointments pledge ‘could prove expensive and duplicate existing out-of-hours services’
On access, the report also noted that 'many GP services are closed to patients at times during supposedly core hours, leading to worse outcomes for patients'.
It highlighted NHS England's attempts to address this via the changes to the extended hours DES in this year’s GMS contract and recommended that NHS England reports back on progress later this year.
The report further warned that there had been 'no progress’ on increasing the number of GPs in the past year, following the latest GP workforce figures which showed the full-time workforce dropped by 1.3% (400 GPs) in the last three months of 2016.
Children's hospital units forced to close to new patients due to staff shortages (The Guardian: 18 April 2017)
Hospital units that treat children and very sick babies are having to shut their doors temporarily to new patients because they are “dangerously” short of specialist staff, a new report reveals.
Widespread shortages of paediatric doctors and nurses also means that the care children receive is being put at risk, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
A chronic lack of staff is forcing doctors to take potentially life or death decisions about which patients to treat quickly, one paediatrician said. “Last night we only had one registrar instead of two. We had an emergency in A&E and [the] labour ward at the same time and she had to make a snap decision which to go to. It’s being forced to dice with death,” said the medic, who asked to remain anonymous.
Another paediatrician said: “It’s becoming normal to do the work of two or three so corners are constantly being cut and kids don’t get the time and attention they deserve.”
The RCPCH’s new report, based on information supplied by NHS trusts and boards across the UK, found that “in the year to September 2015, shortages of nurses and/or doctors led to periods of closure to new admissions by 31% of paediatric inpatient units and 41% of neonatal units”. Temporary closures have occurred since, as demand for children’s care and resulting admissions have soared. For example, Stafford County hospital had to shut its paediatric A&E unitlast year.
Its report warns that there are 241 vacancies for paediatricians across the NHS and that the number of young doctors choosing to specialise in that area has fallen 28% in the last two years alone....read more
Private provider beats GP federation to NHS contract (HSJ: 18 April 2017)
Commissioners in north London have awarded an extended primary care services contract to a private provider over the GP federation that was already providing the service, HSJ has learned.
Camden Clinical Commissioning Group has appointed AT Medics, a private provider of primary care services, as its extended GP access provider following a procurement process. It is a GP led provider of various primary care services in London, including core GP services and urgent care.
This was despite a receiving bid from the Haverstock Healthcare, a GP federation operating in the borough, and which currently provides the service. It covers 200,000 patients across 26 GP practices in Camden.
HSJ understands that the contract has been awarded as part of a joint procurement process for extended GP services accross five North central London CCG areas – Camden, Haringay, Islington, Barnet and Enfield – related to the national GP access fund.
In a message to local GPs, Rebecca Thornley, assistant director of primary care at Camden CCG, said: “AT Medics, who run King’s Cross Surgery, demonstrated their understanding of the local health system and the needs of Camden patients through the bidding process....read more
Revealed: 100,000 wait more than two weeks to see cancer specialist (The Guardian: 18 April 2017)
More than 100,000 patients a year are “having their worst fears dragged out” by having to wait longer than the stated maximum of two weeks to see a cancer specialist to find out if they have the disease, new NHS figures obtained by the Guardian reveal.
A total of 102,697 people in England did not get to see a consultant within 14 days of being urgently referred by their GP last year – a key patient right in the NHS constitution. Some 25,153 people had to wait more than the official target of 62 days to start their treatment.
Macmillan Cancer Support said growing delays to see a specialist, have a diagnostic test and start treatment meant that “thousands of people are being left in an appalling state of limbo”. The Royal College of Radiologists said it feared that long waits beyond the supposed maximums may also reduce patients’ chances of survival and risk some cancers becoming untreatable.
The findings are contained in an analysis of cancer waiting times performance in 2016 undertaken by the House of Commons Library at the request of the shadow health secretary, John Ashworth. “These statistics should be a badge of shame for Theresa May. It’s a national disgrace that this Tory government’s sustained failure to properly fund cancer services has left thousands of patients waiting longer than expected for treatment they urgently need,” he said.
Dr Nicola Strickland, the president of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: “Any delay in diagnosis or time to start therapy risks a growth in the cancer, potentially making it incurable. These delays increase the anxiety experienced by patients and their relatives at this difficult time....read more
Social care system 'beginning to collapse' as 900 carers quit every day (BBC: 11 April 2017)
More than 900 adult social care workers a day quit their job in England last year, new figures reveal.
Service providers warn that growing staff shortages mean vulnerable people are receiving poorer levels of care.
In a letter to the prime minister, the chairman of the UK Homecare Association said the adult social care system - which applies to those over the age of 18 - has begun to collapse.
The government said an extra £2bn is being invested in the system.
An ageing population means demand is increasing for adult social care services.
Those who provide care to people directly in their own homes, or in nursing homes, say a growing shortage of staff means people face receiving deteriorating levels of care.
"You just can't provide a consistent level of care if you have to keep recruiting new people", said Sue Gregory, who has been a care home nurse in North Yorkshire for 13 years.
"Its very simple, not many people want to do this kind of work, and this is a profession that relies on you getting to know the people you are looking after."...read more
Record number of GP closures force 265,000 to find new doctors (The Guardian: 7 April 2017)
A record number of GP practices closed last year, forcing thousands of patients to find a new surgery, in spite of government attempts to stop local doctors shutting their doors.
NHS England data showed nearly a hundred practices closed in 2016, a 114% increase in GP closures compared with figures from 2014. Of the 92 practices that shut, 58 did so completely, while 34 merged with other local surgeries in order to pool resources.
The drop in GP numbers meant 265,000 patients – an increase of 150% from 2014 – had to change their practice last year, often travelling further for care. Brighton was particularly badly affected with 9,000 patients displaced when four practices closed. There have been a total of seven closures in the city over the past two years.
The new data, obtained by the GP website Pulse, has renewed fears that family doctors are not coping with increased demand and need an urgent cash injection to survive. Senior doctors also expressed concern that government funding was not being targeted correctly. ...read more
Biggest ever NHS tender launched as £6bn contract put on market (HSJ: 7 April 2017)
Manchester health leaders have kicked off the search for providers of “out of hospital” health and care services across the city under a contract worth nearly £6bn – the largest ever NHS services tender.
A tender document, published by NHS Shared Business Services, sets out for the first time the contract value and other details of the ambitious plan to set up a “local care organisation” to provide all non-acute services – including social care – across the city.
The LCO will hold a single 10 year contract to provide services for a population of around 600,000 across the city – but not the entire Greater Manchester devolution region. The contract will be let by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, a partnership between the city council and a newly formed single clinical commissioning group.
The notice, which calls for expressions of interest by the end of April, said: “Commissioners seek responses from interested providers who wish to deliver… a local care organisation for the population of Manchester with the aim of bringing together a range of health, social care and public health services to be delivered in the community.”
“The LCO is envisaged [to have] an emphasis upon: local population health and prevention of ill health; connecting to community assets and building upon people’s strengths and self-management skills; and targeted care support people’s needs particularly as needs change and become more complex. The estimated total contract value for the 10 year contract term is £5.9bn.”...read more
Virgin Care and CCG in dispute over changes to £270m contract (HSJ: 11 April 2017)
A Midlands clinical commissioning group is locked in a contract dispute with Virgin Care over a controversial “prime provider” contract awarded last year, HSJ has learned.
East Staffordshire CCG disagrees with “contractual claims” made by the independent provider to make changes to the £270m “prime provider” deal that began in May 2016.
The fixed price, seven year contract covers community services, with Virgin Care coordinating services for frail elderly patients, people with long term conditions and intermediate care. Last year, the CCG said it had used the prime provider contract model as it did not have the capacity to deliver the required integration of services.
However, in governing body papers published on 30 March, the CCG said there have been “a number of contractual claims made by Virgin Care for variations to the contract… these continue to be managed through the prescribed contract management and dispute resolution processes”. It is not clear what the nature of these claims are.
The documents also said the CCG is utilising a number of “contractual actions” in relation to Virgin Care in its prime contractor role, and the outcome of “contractual claims made by Virgin Care” present a “potential risk” to the group’s finances....read more