Leaked figures reveal more patients coming to harm as NHS standards fall
 (The Guardian: 28 July 2018)

Growing numbers of critically ill patients are coming to harm as a result of inadequate care provided by NHS staff, new figures reveal.

The number of “serious incidents” involving what the NHS calls “sub-optimal care of deteriorating patients” is going up in hospitals, ambulance services and mental health settings.

The trend has emerged in previously unpublished NHS England figures provided to former Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb, who has branded them “deeply disturbing”.

They also show that the number of patients in hospital in England who are suffering harm in serious incidents because of delays in their treatment has risen significantly over the last two years from 700 for some of 2015-16 (only part-year figures were available) to 1,027 in 2016-17, and then again to 1,515 last year....read more


Private provider has third hospital placed in special measures (HSJ: 23 July 2018)

A private provider has had a third mental health hospital judged “inadequate” and placed in special measures by watchdog inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission rated the Huntercombe Hospital Roehampton as “inadequate” overall following an unannounced inspection in May.

It is the third mental health unit run by Huntercombe Group to be given the worst overall rating and placed into the special measures regime since mid 2016....read more


NHS body ‘wastes millions on flawed financial advice’ (The Guardian: 21 July 2018)

A large NHS body has spent millions of pounds on management consultants for a plan designed to save money – but which could cost more than £1bn to put into practice.

Over the past six years, the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups has spent £66m on 41 different management consulting firms – including the big four: McKinsey, EY, Deloitte and PwC – for a five-year programme to improve healthcare in the area while closing a £1.4bn budget gap forecast by 2021. However, costs have ballooned and the trust said it now needs £1.3bn to implement the programme. It declined to quantify the savings that have been made to date....read more


NHS rationing putting hernia patients' lives at risk, say surgeons (The Guardian: 17 July 2018)

Patients with hernia problems are being left in pain and at risk of needing emergency surgery, and even of death, because the NHS is increasingly rationing surgery to treat it.

The number of NHS bodies across England that are restricting access to inguinal hernia surgery has doubled since 2014 as a result of cost cutting, surgeons have warned.

Almost six in 10 (57%) NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) “are denying patients quick access to the procedure”, claimed the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and the British Hernia Society.

That is up from the 29% of CCGs – which hold the NHS budget in local areas – which were found to have imposed limits on inguinal hernia surgical repair four years ago....read more


NHS operation waiting lists reach 10-year high at 4.3m patients (The Guardian: 13 July 2018)

The number of patients waiting for an operation on the NHS has reached 4.3 million, the highest total for 10 years, official figures show.

Growing numbers are having to wait more than the supposed maximum of 18 weeks for planned non-urgent surgery such as a cataract removal or hip or knee replacement.

In May, for example, 211,434 patients had been on the waiting list for more than six months, up from the 197,067 who were in that position a month before and up by almost half compared to a year earlier, the NHS England data shows.

Hospitals managed to treat 88.1% of people on the referral to treatment (RTT) waiting list within 18 weeks, well below the 92% who are meant to have surgery within that time. The NHS has not met the 92% target since February 2016 amid fast-growing demand for care.

NHS England said 4.3 million people were on the RTT list in May, up 100,000 on the previous month....read more



Jeremy Hunt leaves health secretary role as culture secretary takes over (Pulse, 9 July)

Jeremy Hunt has been appointed foreign secretary, with digital, culture, media and sport secretary Matt Hancock named as his successor as health secretary.

Mr Hunt had recently become the longest serving health secretary, having taken the role in September 2012. He had previously said that health secretary was his last major role in politics.

However, following Boris Johnson’s resignation earlier today, Mr Hunt was appointed foreign secretary.

Mr Hancock was appointed digital, culture, media and sport secretary in January 2018 having been a junior minister in the department since July 2016. He was first elected an MP in the 2010 general election in the West Suffolk constituency.

Before entering parliament, he worked as an economist at the Bank of England and as chief of staff to then shadow chancellor George Osbourne.

The reshuffle comes as former foreign secretary Boris Johnson resigned over the Brexit agreement.

Both Mr Hunt and Mr Hancock initially supported the campaign for the UK to remain the EU, but later backed the referendum result in support of Brexit.

On leaving his position, Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter: ‘Massive wrench for me to leave health – I know some staff haven’t found me the easiest Health Sec but the NHS, and particularly patient safety, has become my passion & it really was the greatest privilege of my life to serve for so many years.’

He added: ‘Couldn’t ask for a better successor than @matthancock to take forward long term NHS plan with his brilliant understanding of the power of technology. The new NHS app will be in safe hands!’ ...read more


A million older people 'badly let down' by lack of social care funding (The Guardian, 9 July)

The number of older people in England without social care support has hit a record high, with one in seven now being left to get by on their own, figures reveal.

A record total of 1.4 million people over 65 now have some level of unmet need with tasks such as getting up, washed and dressed, according to an analysis of official statistics by AgeUK.

“Older people around the country are being very badly let down by the catastrophic lack of government funding for social care,” said Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director.

“Our new analysis echoes what we hear all around the country: it is getting ever harder to access care if you need it and increasing numbers of frail, ill, older people are being left to manage alone.

“It is profoundly shocking that 1.4 million older people, one in seven of the entire older population, now has some degree of unmet need, and the numbers are rising quite fast.”

At the same time, delayed discharges – patients trapped in hospital because social care is unavailable to allow them to be discharged – now costs the NHS in England £289.1m a year, Age UK estimates. ...read more


Fears of future strain on NHS as councils slash health programmes (The Guardian, 8 July)

Hospitals will bear the brunt of “incredibly shortsighted” cuts to public health initiatives that will lead to more people having a heart attack or getting cancer, experts are warning.

New research reveals that, by next year, spending per head in England on programmes to tackle smoking, poor diet and alcohol abuse will have fallen by 23.5% over five years.

Key services, including those to help people quit smoking, manage their sexual health or stay off drugs, are among those being subjected to the deepest cuts, according to analysis by the Health Foundation thinktank.

Public health funding will continue to be slashed despite the extra £20bn that Theresa May has pledged to give the NHS by 2023-24. The public health grant that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) gives to local councils in England, which is not covered by the cash injection, is due to fall from £2.44bn this year to £2.27bn in 2019-20. It will be the fifth year in a row it has been cut since its peak of £2.86bn in 2014-15. ...read more


A fair share for mental health has to be the NHS’s priority (The Guardian: 5 July)

The added disability from which our health system suffers is the isolation of mental health from the rest of the health services.” So said Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS, in 1946, two years before the creation of what is now the world’s largest publicly funded health service. It’s still true. Mental health services, the poor relation of the NHS, are often delivered on remote sites in dilapidated buildings. My clinic room is a windowless cupboard.

Praise has rightly been lavished on the NHS as it marks its 70th birthday. It is impossible to overstate the significance of its spectacular achievements. There should be celebration, there should be cake – and there was. It came in the form of Theresa May’s promise of a £20bn-a-year cash boost by 2023. But our country’s mental health services badly need a bigger slice. May admitted as much as she announced the funding, noting that: “As the NHS has grown, mental health was not a service that was prioritised.” To redress that, the “cradle to grave” NHS, for so long a source of national pride, must be rethought. ...read more


Who profits when private providers take over health services? (The Guardian: 4 July 2018)

Last weekend tens of thousands of NHS staff, patients and campaigners marched to Westminster in protest against the underfunding of the NHS and the privatisation of many health services in England. The government may have pledged to invest another £20bn in the NHS over the next four years, but there are concerns that much of this could find its way into the hands of private companies. Addressing the crowds, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called for an end to privatisation, the closure of the internal market and for staff to no longer be subcontracted to private companies, “the profits of which could and sometimes do, end up in tax havens around the world. I don’t pay my taxes for someone to rip off the public and squirrel the profits away,” he stated....read more


May's extra cash for NHS is not enough, says spending watchdog (The Guardian: 1 July 2018)

The NHS will require far greater financial support than the latest cash boost announced by Theresa May if it is to meet the needs of a changing population, the head of Whitehall’s spending watchdog has warned.

In the week of the NHS’s 70th birthday, Sir Amyas Morse said there should be enough common ground across the political spectrum to find extra funding and form a new, united vision for health and social care in the 21st century.

“As we mark the 70th birthday, political leaders should be leading a debate about where we want this national asset to go and they should aim high,” the National Audit Office comptroller told the Guardian. “This is a topic where there is a lot of consensus out there. I would like politicians to be willing to think bigger.”...read more

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