Government accused of 'wasting millions of pounds' as it abandons sale of NHS staffing agency (The Independent: 7 September 2017)

Ministers have been accused of “wasting millions of pounds” after abandoning the controversial sale of an NHS staffing agency.

Public services union Unison protested that exploring the aborted privatisation of NHS Professionals had involved “filling the pockets of management consultants”, at a time of a recruitment crisis.

The Department of Health abandoned the sale on Thursday of the agency that supplies more than 90,000 doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, after failing to receive any adequate bids.

The proposal had been strongly criticised because the use of NHS Professionals saves the NHS about £70m a year by supplying staff more cheaply than private sector agencies.

Embarrassingly, it is the second privatisation halted within a year, after a plan to sell off the Land Registry, the body that records the ownership of property, was shelved last September.

Labour hailed the announcement as a “major U-turn on a misguided policy from a Government with no solution to the workforce crisis in the NHS” more


NHS warns of ‘dangerous’ beds shortage this winter (The Guardian: 3 September 2017)

Patients could die this winter because the NHS is alarmingly unprepared to deal with the surge of people who fall ill during the cold weather, hospital bosses warn today.

NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, fears lives could be lost because patients are being forced to spend long periods waiting in ambulances outside A&E, or on trolleys.

Hospitals are so “dangerously short” of beds that they may be unable to cope with the coming winter, Chris Hopson, the organisation’s chief executive, told the Observer. They will struggle even more than last winter – when chaotic scenes led the Red Cross to call the situation “a humanitarian crisis” – because a £1bn government initiative intended to free 2,000-3,000 beds by September has failed, he added. 

That scheme aimed to reduce the proportion of beds occupied by patients who are fit to be discharged but cannot leave – called “delayed transfers of care” – to 3.5% of all beds by this month. It was 5.6% of beds at the end of 2016 and still 5.2% at the end of June, NHS figures more


GPs quit NHS in England at rate of 400 a month (The Financial Times: 3 September 2017)

Family doctors have been leaving the National Health Service at a rate of more than 400 a month, threatening the government’s pledge to ensure general practitioners can provide the public with a seven-day-a-week operation.

A total of 5,159 GPs departed from the NHS in England between April 2016 and March 2017, according to NHS Digital, which collects health data. The figures emerged after the Financial Times revealed that recruitment agencies could be paid up to £100m by the NHS to find 5,000 GPs — about half of them from overseas — to fill worsening staffing gaps in England. But this recruitment drive may not be enough to enable the government hit its target for GPs to provide a seven-day service to the public by more


DH puts £730m NHS logistics contract on the market (HSJ: 1 September 2017)

Organisations are set to bid for a contract worth nearly three quarters of a billion pounds after the Department of Health published a tender as part of its new national procurement model.

The contract is for the provision of a logistics service to the NHS, and is the penultimate invitation to tender issued under the DH’s “Future Operating Model” for procurement.

Worth up to £730m over five years, the logistics service is the largest of the five contracts published so far by the DH for the various elements of the model.

It will replace part of the contract for the NHS Supply Chain held between the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) and DHL, which expires in autumn next year.

Under the new contract the logistics provider will:

  • Manage existing logistics services including warehouses, transport, inventory, customer services, and site facilities;
  • Provide “in-bound logistics and inter-depot trunking service” at a site to be decided by the winning bidder and the BSA;
  • Provide support for an expansion of logistics services to meet “projected demand increases”.

In addition, the winning bidder must provide delivery services for continence products to residential homes, care homes, domestic premises, and any NHS-funded providers of community healthcare services.

The contract is scheduled to last for three years, with the potential to twice extend on a 12-month basis.

In the tender documents it is said the BSA “welcomes tenders from potential providers collaborating as a group of economic operators or sub-contracting elements of their obligations” more


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