News From The Web


Sharp rise in NHS trusts with financial concerns

- 24th July 2014 10:44 am

The number of NHS trusts referred to the health secretary over financial concerns increased almost fourfold in a year, a report reveals.

Nineteen were flagged up to Jeremy Hunt in the financial year 2013-14, compared with five in 2012-13, according to the Audit Commission. Twenty-four clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) were also referred.

Marcine Waterman, the controller of audit, said auditors were reporting concerns about the financial resilience of a third of trusts last year, compared with a quarter for the previous 12-month period.

“This level of reporting is worrying and reflects the increasing risks to the financial sustainability of individual NHS trusts as they continue to face sizeable financial pressures due to a rising demand for services and the necessary focus on quality of care, whilst balancing the need for continued cost savings,” she said.

Read more in The Guardian.

Health unions to ballot on strikes over pay

BBC Health - 22nd July 2014 12:30 pm

Two key health unions are to ballot their members in England on industrial action, including strikes, over pay.

Unison and the Royal College of Midwives announced they would be taking the step over the pay offer made in March. It is the first time midwives have been balloted in their history.

Ministers said NHS staff would get 1%, but it would not apply to those who get automatic progression-in-the-job rises.

These cover about half of staff and are worth 3% a year on average.

They are designed to reward professional development.

But the decision by ministers went against the recommendation of the independent pay review board, which had called for an across-the-board rise.

In Scotland, the recommendation was agreed to in full.

Read more in BBC Health.

“Thatcher tried to sell off the NHS but I blocked it”

- 20th July 2014 6:56 pm

Veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke has revealed that he blocked Margaret Thatcher privatising the NHS as Health Secretary in the 1990s.

The former Cabinet minister who was sacked in last week’s reshuffle said Mrs Thatcher wanted to ‘go to the American system’ but he refused.

Mr Clarke has also lifted the lid on his rows with Number 10 under David Cameron - and how the Tory press office tried to block him going on TV by pretending that he was ill.

Mr Clarke, speaking to the Observer, said he had stand-up rows with Mrs Thatcher over her health proposals.

He said: “I had ferocious rows with her about it. She wanted compulsory insurance, with the state paying the premiums for the less well-off.

“I thought that was a disaster. The American system is hopeless, dreadful.”

Read more at the Daily Mail.

Care minister Lamb backs assisted dying bill

BBC Health - 17th July 2014 6:53 pm

Care Minister Norman Lamb has said he has “changed his mind” and would now support a new law on assisted dying.

The Liberal Democrat told BBC Newsnight an individual should be able to “make their own decision about their life”.

But a cancer specialist told the programme it could create “death squads” by putting the decision in the hands of doctors.

Former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer’s assisted dying bill will be debated by peers on Friday.

The law change proposes to allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally-ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

Mr Lamb said he was speaking as an MP, not a minister, as the issue would be decided by a free vote in Parliament.

He said he had changed his mind after talking to “an awful lot of people” whose friends and relatives had died after “going through months of pain and distress”.

Read more at BBC Health.

Migrants must pay more to use NHS, say ministers

BBC Health - 14th July 2014 12:49 pm

Patients from outside the EU are to be charged 150% of the cost of treatment in the NHS in a fresh crackdown on so-called “health tourism”.

The move by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is designed to encourage NHS trusts to recover the cost of operations from migrants.

Mr Hunt believes the plans could save the health service £500m a year.

The government also wants to charge EU patients 125% of the normal cost of treatment.

Those hospitals that fail to bill foreign patients could also face fines.

Read more at BBC Health.

Gloucester hospital worker stabbed to death at work

BBC News - 10th July 2014 9:55 am

A member of staff at a mental health hospital in Gloucester has died after being stabbed at work.

The female victim, who has not been named, was attacked at the inpatient unit of Wotton Lawn Hospital.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The events… are devastating and our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the staff member.”

A man in his 60s was arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody, police said.

A spokesman for 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, who was unable to confirm the role of the staff member, described the situation as “tragic”.

A meeting of the trust and police about the attack is expected later.

Read more at BBC Health.

Social care services “unsustainable”, survey shows

Social Care Worker - 3rd July 2014 11:23 am

Adult social care services in England will soon be unsustainable if current bedgetary pressures continue, and significant measures are not taken to inject new money into local social care economies.

This is the key message from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ annual social care funding survey.

Based on returns from 95% of adult social services departments, it shows that the cash invested in services will reduce by a further 1.9% in 2014-15: a sum equivalent to £266 million.

The survey also shows that directors feel gloomy about the future, with the pace of adult social care savings projected to continue at an accelerated trajectory for 2015/16.

This will create further significant instability at the crucial time when the Care Act reforms and the Better Care Fund plans are due to be implemented.

Read more at Social Care Worker.

PM warns of medical “dark ages” over antibiotics

- 2nd July 2014 11:11 am

The world could soon be “cast back into the dark ages of medicine” unless action is taken to tackle the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

He has announced a review into why so few anti-microbial drugs have been introduced in recent years.

Economist Jim O’Neill will lead a panel including experts from science, finance, industry, and global health.

It will set out plans for encouraging the development of new antibiotics.

The prime minister said: “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again.”

Mr Cameron said he discussed the issue at a G7 leaders meeting in Brussels earlier this month and got specific support from US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Read more at BBC Health.

Campaigners lose right to die case at supreme court

BBC Health - 25th June 2014 1:32 pm

Campaigners have lost their appeal at the UK Supreme Court over the right to die - but the judges said Parliament should now act.

Justices ruled against Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson by seven to two.

A third man, Martin, lost his attempt to have the current prosecution guidance on assisted suicide clarified.

But five justices concluded they had the power to declare the current law breaches the right to a private life.

Had the court made such a declaration, it would have forced the government to introduce legislation to amend the law on assisted suicide.

A majority of the justices said that the question they were being asked involved moral judgements rather than points of law - and the matter had to be addressed by a democratically-elected Parliament.

Read more at BBC Health.

Hunt plans disclosure drive to cut medical errors

The Guardian - 24th June 2014 9:08 am

One in five hospitals are not taking patient safety seriously enough despite the Mid Staffs scandal, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, will claim on Tuesday as he launches a drive to reduce medical errors.

In a new assessment exercise, all hospital trusts in England have been rated good, OK or poor for their openness and honesty in reporting and responding to breaches of patient safety.

While 17.7% were classed as good and 61.7% as OK, the other 20.6% received a red rating, denoting poor performance. Those ranked poor are reporting too few patient incidents or not reporting often enough, or staff feel the trust’s response to mistakes has not been good enough.

The Department of Health has published the figures before the launch on Tuesday of a website – the first of its kind in the world – that will let patients and relatives see how well a hospital is doing on patient safety.

Read more in The Guardian.