News From The Web

Scottish independence: NHS in ‘£400m funding gap’

BBC Health - 16th September 2014 9:45 am

Confidential papers passed to the BBC suggest a radical cost-saving plan will be implemented in the Scottish NHS after the referendum.

The papers were presented to a meeting of health board chief executives and civil servants last month.

They suggest the NHS is facing a £400m funding gap, and sweeping changes will be needed for boards to break even.

The Scottish government said it was committed to “protecting and increasing the NHS budget”.

The papers were passed to the BBC and The Herald by a senior NHS whistleblower, who said they had become frustrated by the argument of the “Yes” campaign that the biggest threat to the NHS comes from the UK government.

The documents state: “The status quo and preservation of existing models of care are no longer an option given the pressing challenges we face.”

Read more at BBC Health.

Welsh nurse denied cancer treatment in England

Daily Mail - 15th September 2014 4:32 pm

A Welsh nurse has been forced to wait for potentially life-saving treatment after local health bosses refused to fund her care in England.

Beth Prout, from Pembroke, West Wales, has been diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer.

There are two hospitals in the UK able to provide the treatment the 57-year-old needs.

But NHS chiefs in Wales have refused to cover the cost of sending her to England for therapy.

A hospital in Manchester has agreed to provide the care, which could save Ms Prout’s life.

Welsh NHS bosses have agreed to pay £1,000 for an assessment, but are ‘awaiting further clinical information’ before reviewing her case.

Read more in the Daily Mail.

Addenbrooke’s doctor admits child sex offences

BBC Health - 4:15 pm

A child cancer specialist has admitted sexually abusing boys in his care.

Myles Bradbury, a paediatric haematologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, committed sexual offences against boys aged 11 to 15 between 2009 and 2013, Cambridge Crown Court heard.

The 41-year-old from Herringswell, Suffolk, pleaded guilty to 25 offences including sexual assault and the making of more than 16,000 indecent images.

He was bailed and is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Read more at BBC Health.

‘Jarrow March’ ends in pro-NHS rally in London

BBC Health - 8th September 2014 11:33 am

Thousands have attended a pro-NHS rally in London, the culmination of a 300-mile march organised by a group of mothers from County Durham.

The group from Darlington, the Darlo Mums, are opposing what they say is the privatisation of the NHS.

About 30 people took three weeks to march the full 300 miles from Jarrow in South Tyneside, organisers said.

The government said the NHS’s use of the private sector had only increased marginally in the last four years.

The march, which began on 16 August, was a re-enactment of the 1936 “Jarrow March”, a protest against poverty and unemployment during the Great Depression.

Read more at BBC Health.

Build homes for elderly on NHS land, says MP

BBC Health - 3rd September 2014 2:21 pm

Surplus NHS land should be used to build dedicated housing for older people, a former care minister says.

Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow - who led a review of residential care for the think tank Demos - said retirement villages and adapted flats were needed as well as traditional care homes.

The review also suggested planning rules could be relaxed and discounted prices offered to encourage investment.

In return, care providers could be asked to contribute to council care.

This could be done by setting quotas for the proportion of the new complexes set aside for state-funded care.

The model mirrors the Section 106 laws currently used to ensure property developers build affordable housing.

About 450,000 people in England live in residential care homes, but the numbers living in adapted housing known as extra care apartments or retirement complexes are much smaller.

Read more at BBC Health.

Circle’s Hinchingbrooke losses approach £5m limit

HSJ - 2nd September 2014 10:16 am

The losses built up by Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust in its first two years under private management are just £150,000 short of the £5m ceiling at which the contract could be terminated.

According to the half yearly report of Circle - the firm contracted to run the hospital - it made £4.85m in “cumulative support payments” to the trust since the contract started in February 2012.

This represents an almost 40 per cent increase on the accumulated loss for 2012-13 of £3.5m. Under its 10 year contract with Hinchingbrooke, the firm has agreed to pay any deficit at the trust - in the form of support payments - up to a cumulative total of £5m.

After this point “both parties must agree the basis for the continuation for the franchise”, the report said.

Although either Circle or the trust could then terminate the deal, this would require Circle to pay Hinchingbrooke a £2m fee.

Circle’s report admitted to “uncertainty over Hinchingbrooke’s profitability over the next year”, raising the possibility that the limit could be broken this year.

Read more in HSJ.

New NHS hospital food rules introduced

BBC Health - 29th August 2014 1:45 pm

Hospitals in England will be expected to provide a higher standard of food under new measures being announced by the health secretary.

The new standards, enforced through legally-binding NHS contracts, will focus on quality, choice and promoting a healthy diet for patients and staff.

Hospitals will also be ranked on the meals they prepare.

The Campaign for Better Hospital Food said the changes were “woefully inadequate” and hard to enforce.

NHS hospitals in Scotland and Wales have nutritional standards in place.

Under the changes, hospitals will be ranked according to quality and choice of food, whether the menu is approved by a dietitian, the availability of fresh fruit and food between meals, the variety of options at breakfast - which should include warm food, and the cost of the food provided.

The rankings will be published on the NHS Choices website.

Read more at BBC Health.

Hospital car parking guidance to reduce charges

BBC Health - 25th August 2014 9:10 am

Hospitals in England have been told to cut the cost of parking for certain groups under new government guidelines.

Ministers said relatives of people who were seriously ill or had to stay in hospital for a long time should be given free parking or reduced charges.

Concessions should also be offered to people with disabilities and NHS staff whose shift patterns meant they could not use public transport, they said.

Labour accused the coalition of dropping plans to scrap the charges.

Hospital parking policies are set by individual NHS trusts.

The Department of Health guidance made it clear trusts were responsible for the actions of private car parking contractors running facilities on their behalf.

The guidelines also recommended hospitals should use “pay-on-exit” schemes so motorists pay only for the time they use in a hospital car park.

And they say trusts should waive fines if a visitor or patient overstays through no fault of their own, for example because treatment took longer than planned, or when staff have to work beyond their scheduled shift.

Read more in BBC Health.

Ebola: British man treated in London hospital

BBC Health - 9:05 am

Doctors at a hospital in north-west London have begun treating a Briton who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The man has been named as William Pooley, a 29-year-old volunteer nurse, by a US scientist who worked with him.

Mr Pooley was flown to RAF Northolt in a specially-equipped military aircraft on Sunday and taken under police escort to Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital.

He volunteered to go to west Africa to care for victims of the Ebola outbreak which has killed almost 1,500 people.

It is the first confirmed case of a Briton contracting the virus during the current outbreak.

He will be treated in a specialist isolation unit for patients with highly infectious disease, the only one of its kind in Europe.

Read more in BBC Health.

Musgrove Park challenged over cataract operations

The Guardian - 14th August 2014 7:59 pm

Dozens of people have been left with impaired vision, pain and discomfort after undergoing operations provided by a private healthcare company at an NHS hospital.

One 84-year-old man claimed he has lost his sight and his family is calling for a full independent inquiry after it emerged that half of the 60 patients who underwent surgery suffered complications.

The routine cataract operations were carried out by the private provider in May to help to reduce a backlog at Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton.

But the hospital’s contract with Vanguard Healthcare was terminated only four days after 30 patients, most elderly and some frail, reported complications, including blurred vision, pain and swelling.

Some of those who suffered complications, including the 84-year-old man, have contacted lawyers to discuss seeking compensation, which raises the prospect of an NHS hospital picking up the bill for procedures done by a private health company.

Read more in The Guardian.