Private providers get chance to bid for up to £15bn of NHS contracts (HSJ: 26 October 2016)

Private providers have been given the chance to bid for thousands of NHS services for the first time due to new European Union competition rules.

NHS England has published “prior information notices” for its specialised services contracts in the Official Journal of the European Union this month, in line with new EU regulations introduced in April.

Contracts will be awarded to incumbent providers unless expressions of interest are received. The notices say NHS England’s buying department is “looking for potential suppliers” to contact them with bid applications.

The national body commissions about £15bn worth of specialised services, and has created 278 contract “lots”, which encompass suites of services to be provided in specific geographies.

The public notices signal an intent to award whole contracts for 2017-19 to the incumbent providers, unless expressions of interest are received from alternative operators, triggering a competitive process.

Expressions of interest must be received within 21 days of 14 October, when the notice was published.

A private sector source, who asked not to be named, said non-NHS providers “already do more specialised work than is sometimes acknowledged”, often in partnership with an NHS more


Theresa May’s claim on NHS funding not true, say MPs (The Guardian: 31 October 2016)

Theresa May’s claims that the government is putting £10bn extra into the NHS are untrue and the underfunding of the health service is so severe that it may soon trigger rationing of treatment and hospital unit closures, a group of influential MPs have warned Philip Hammond.

Five MPs led by the Conservative Dr Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the Commons health select committee, have written to the chancellor demanding the government abandon its “incorrect” claims of putting £10bn into the NHS annual budget by the end of this parliament and admit the severity of its financial shortage.

“The continued use of the figure of £10bn for the additional health spending up to 2020-21 is not only incorrect but risks giving a false impression that the NHS is awash with cash,” Wollaston and four fellow committee members tell the chancellor in a letter.

“This figure is often combined with a claim that the government ‘has given the NHS what it asked for’. Again, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny as NHS England spending cannot be seen in isolation from other areas of health spending.”

The letter’s other signatures are Dr James Davies, a Conservative MP who is also a family doctor; Labour’s Ben Bradshaw, a former health minister, Labour MP Emma Reynolds; and Dr Philippa Whitford of the Scottish National party, who is an NHS breast cancer more


27,000 patients could lose their GP as chain hands back contract (Pulse: 31 October 2016)

Some 27,000 patients are at risk of losing their GP practice as a provider has decided to hand back a contract it says is 'not fit for purpose'.

Greenbrook Healthcare, which runs five practices in west London under one APMS contract, said it has been in discussions with NHS England since the beginning of the year to ‘address what support could be provided by them'.

But with no extra funding coming through, Greenbrook Healthcare - a private company which runs GP practices and urgent care centres across west and south London - has concluded that the best option is to end its 10-year contract nine months early, to ‘allow NHS England to look at the contract afresh’ more


No extra money for NHS, Theresa May tells health chief (The Guardian: 14 October 2016)

Theresa May has told the head of the NHS that it will get no extra money despite rapidly escalating problems that led to warnings this week that hospitals are close to breaking point.

The prime minister dashed any hopes of a cash boost in next month’s autumn statement when she met Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, senior NHS sources have told the Guardian. Instead she told him last month that the NHS should urgently focus on making efficiencies to fill the £22bn hole in its finances and not publicly seek more than the “£10bn extra” that ministers insist they have already pledged to provide during this parliament.

She told him the NHS could learn from the painful cuts to the Home Office and Ministry of Defence budgets that she and Philip Hammond, the chancellor, had overseen when they were in charge of those departments, according to senior figures in the NHS who were given an account of the discussion.

Senior Whitehall sources have confirmed that Hammond’s statement on 23 November will contain no new money for the NHS, despite increasingly vocal pleas from key NHS organisations and the public’s expectation of extra health spending if Britain voted to leave the EU.

NHS Providers, which represents 238 NHS trusts, last week accused ministers of perpetuating “a bit of a fantasy world” on how well the NHS is doing after the worst-ever performance figures for key waiting time targets for A&E care, planned hospital operations and cancer treatments led to warnings that it was starting to buckle under the strain of unprecedented demand.

Health experts warned that the NHS would have to ration treatment, shut hospital units and cut staff if it gets no extra money more


Social care cuts take English service to tipping point, regulator warns (The Guardian: 13 October 2016)

A&E units are struggling to cope because social care services that help elderly people have been cut so much that they are reaching a “tipping point”, England’s care regulator is to warn.

A worsening lack of at-home care services and beds in care homes are forcing hospitals to admit more patients as emergencies, which deepens their already serious financial problems. “What’s happening, we think, is that where people aren’t getting access to [social] care, and we are not preventing people’s needs developing through adult social care, is that they are presenting at A&E,” said David Behan, the CQC’s chief executive.

Figures contained in the commission’s annual report show that the number of hospital bed days lost through patients being unable to leave because social care was not available to allow them to be discharged safely soared from 108,482 in April 2012 to 184,199 in July this year – a 70% rise.

The fact that growing numbers of mainly frail, elderly people are being left without the help they need with basic chores such as washing, dressing and cooking “creates problems in other parts of the health and care system, such as overstretched A&E departments or delays in people leaving hospital,” he added. GP surgeries are also having to treat patients who became unwell or suffered an injury because they did not receive help they more


Vast majority of mental health trusts have safety concerns, CQC warns (HSJ: 13 October 2016)

Mental health trusts are facing serious safety concerns, with all but three of those rated by the Care Quality Commission before July needing to improve on safety, the regulator has found.

Today’s State of Care report shows that of the 47 mental health acute trusts inspected by the CQC before July 2016, four were rated as inadequate and 40 as requires improvement for the key question “are services safe?”

The regulator found that acute mental health wards and psychiatric intensive care units were the most dangerous, with 18 per cent rated inadequate for safety, and a further 62 per cent requiring improvement.

The report singled out poor “physical environments” as “frequently” contributing to safety concerns.

David Behan, the CQC’s chief executive, told HSJ: “One of the big issues is about the presence of ligature points in the physical environment where people are attempting suicide, or indeed in one or two cases people have committed more


Vulnerable practices 'to be allowed to fail and wither', says NHS England director (Pulse: 12 October 2016)

A senior NHS England official has said vulnerable practices must ‘transform…or be allowed to fail and wither’, a leaked document obtained by Pulse and the BBC has revealed.

Paul Twomey, medical director of the Yorkshire and Humber area team, made the claim in a briefing sent to NHS managers and GP leaders in the region.

He said that NHS England is ‘no longer in a position’ to continue supporting vulnerable practices ‘irrespective of their willingness or ability’ to more


NHS is most widely held concern of UK adults, survey finds (The Guardian: 9 October 2016)

The NHS has narrowly replaced immigration and Brexit as a key issue facing Britain in the minds of most voters, according to a new survey of public opinion by pollsters Ipsos Mori.

Two out of five (40%) mentioned the health service, hospitals or healthcare as a concern to them – more than cited any other issue. That was just ahead of the numbers who identified immigration or immigrants (39%) as either the most important or an important issue.

The European Union or Europe was mentioned the third highest number of times (35%), according to the poll of 980 adults chosen to be representative of the whole population.

Europe was also identified by the largest number of respondents (23%) as the single most important issue of all facing Britain today, ahead of immigration/immigrants (20%). Using that measure of concern the NHS was only the third most often-cited issue (10%) more


GP crisis as Jeremy Hunt breaks his £10million pledge to save failing surgeries (The Mirror: 3 October 2016)

Thousands of “patients are suffering” with no GP – exposing Jeremy Hunt ’s £10million pledge to save surgeries as a sham.

And senior doctors are warning the lack of action has left the NHS in danger of “imploding”.

The Health Secretary promised in June 2015 to hand the cash to surgeries that were on the brink of shutting.

But a report by doctors’ magazine Pulse reveals “barely any of the fund has actually made it to practices”.

Not one local NHS England team was able to say how much funding, if any, has been given to vulnerable GP practices.

The Pulse report also found that “in most cases” it has not even been decided which practices will receive the more


Act on children's mental ill health or risk national crisis, warns expert (The Guardian: 1 October 2016)

The UK should brace itself for a “tsunami” of adults with mental health problems unless urgent action is taken to help today’s children, according to one of the leading experts in the field.

Prof Dame Sue Bailey, chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, says the government needs to spend heavily now on mental health services for children if a crisis is to be averted.

“I describe mental health services as a car crash waiting to happen,” Bailey said. “The government is starting to do the right thing, NHS England is pulling the money through, but there are so many factors mitigating against it succeeding that it needs a financial fuel injection, right now.” 

Ahead of this week’s Conservative party conference, when the prime minister is expected to identify improving mental health as a key priority, Bailey, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said baby boomers like her needed to do more to help young people, not just for their children’s sake but for themselves.

“We’d see immediate benefits, a better transition from primary to secondary school, a better transition of children into the world of work; they’d be more robust, more resilient.”

She suggested that her generation owed it to those that more



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