'Shocking' rise in coroner warnings over NHS patient deaths, says Labour (Guardian: 27 May 2018)

The number of legal warnings issued by coroners over patient deaths in England attributed to NHS resourcing issues has risen by 40% in three years.

There were 42 prevention of future death reports (PFDs) relating to issues such as lack of beds, staff shortages and insufficiently trained agency staff in 2016 compared with 30 in 2013. 

Coroners have a statutory duty to make reports to a person, organisation, local authority or government department or agency where the coroner believes that action should be taken to prevent future deaths.

Labour, which compiled the figures, blamed the increase on the government’s austerity policies....read more


Pressures force GP practices to halt routine appointment bookings (Pulse: 24 May 2018)

One in six GPs says their practice had to resort to stopping routine bookings, limiting appointments to ‘emergency’ patients only, at some point in the last 12 months.

The Pulse survey of nearly 800 GPs found that average waiting times for GP appointments remains at two weeks, despite attempts by the NHS to relieve pressures on practices.

GPs say they have had no routine appointments available for the next four weeks, so have decided to limit them to urgent appointments.

They have had to resort to using telephone triage to identify which patients required a GP consultation for an urgent versus a routine matter.

The BMA’s GP Committee said Pulse’s data was ‘further evidence of the pressures practices are under’....read more


Health services overloaded despite support pledges, claims report (Guardian: 21 May 2018)

Hospitals have been left dangerously overloaded because NHS bosses and ministers have failed to fulfil pledges to build up health services in or near people’s homes, a new report claims.

Patients are also losing out because a long-promised revolution in how NHS care is delivered to help them stay healthy at home and avoid unnecessary stays in hospital has not happened.

The warning, by the main organisation representing NHS trusts in England, also casts grave doubt on the progress of the Five Year Forward View, the government’s plan for improving the NHS.

Community services trusts, which specialise in providing out-of-hospital care, have been left “overstretched, underfunded and understaffed” because promises to expand their key role have not led to concrete action, claims NHS Providers....read more


NHS cost-cutting Capita contract put 'patients at serious risk of harm', find auditors (Independent: 17 May 2018)

Patients have been “put at serious risk of harm” by the failure of a £330m outsourcing exercise which NHS England contracted to the private firm Capita in a bid to cut costs, the National Audit Office has warned.

Women were dropped from national cervical cancer screening programmes and medical records and supplies have gone undelivered because of NHS England’s “deeply unsatisfactory” contract, it said in a report.

In a damning review the auditors lamented the outsourcing failure of another major public contract, saying neither the NHS nor Capita understood the complexity of the service....read more


GP practice taken over by Virgin Care goes from outstanding to inadequate in under two years (iNews: 16 May 2018)

A GP practice taken over by Virgin Care has been placed in special measures after going from an official rating of “outstanding” to “inadequate” in less than two years despite increased funding.

The Sutherland Lodge practice in Chelmsford, Essex, was taken over by the private provider in July 2016 after the previous partners handed back their contracts following £400,000 funding cuts to their contract with NHS England. Prior to Virgin Care taking over, the practice was among the 4 per cent rated outstanding across England. But an inspection report published on 14 May by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) reveals that Sutherland Lodge is now rated inadequate overall....read more

NHS spending £1.5bn a year on temporary nurses as staff leave in droves, study reveals (The Independent: 14 May 2018)

The NHS is spending almost £1.5bn a year on agency nurses while its own staff are leaving in droves, a new report suggests.

The vast outlay on temp workers would be enough to pay the wages of 66,000 full-time positions for a year, according to the study by The Open University.

It claims the health of patients could be put at risk because of the constant churn of staff....read more


Patients being turned away from sexual health clinics, RCN says (The Guardian: 14 May 2018)

Nurses have reported having to turn patients away from short-staffed sexual health clinics, leading to fears over a drop in infection testing.

Overstretched resources in the field mean that the public are being left unprotected, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which launches a report on Monday as sexual health experts warn that services are at “tipping point” due to budget cuts.

It found that the number of 18- to 24-year-olds being tested for chlamydia, the most common disease, has fallen by close to half a million in the five years since the government moved public health services into local authorities. Despite a 25% fall in tests, recent figures recorded a higher level of positive diagnoses, now at 128,000 cases a year.

The past five years coincided with what the RCN described as detrimental changes to commissioning of services, funding reductions and a “dangerous” recruitment freeze....read more


'Three-quarters of public worried about nurse staffing' (BBC: 13 May 2018)

Three in four people do not think there are enough nurses to care safely for patients in the NHS, a survey suggests.

The poll of 1,600 UK adults - carried out by YouGov for the Royal College of Nursing - found 74% were concerned about staffing levels.

Latest figures for England show one in nine posts is vacant.

The RCN branded the situation dangerous, but ministers said steps were being taken to recruit more nurses....read more


Government plans to tackle mental health crisis 'will fail a generation' (The Guardian: 9 May 2018)

Government plans to tackle the mental health crisis among young people will fail a generation who desperately need help, two committees of MPs warn today.

Proposals in a green paper to “transform” NHS mental health care for young people through maximum four-week waiting times to access help and improved support in schools will take too long to effect real change, the committees say.

In a joint report, the Commons health and social care and education select committees criticise the plans as unambitious and inadequate given the fast-rising need for care and too reliant on already overworked teachers.

“This strategy does not go far enough, which raises the very real prospect of hundreds of thousands of children missing out on getting the help they so desperately need,” said Rob Halfon, the Conservative chair of the latter committee and former education minister.

Although ministers have pledged to introduce maximum waiting times is only to be made available across up to a quarter of England by 2022-23....read more


Shock figures from top thinktank reveal extent of NHS crisis (The Guardian: 5 May 2018)

The NHS has among the lowest per capita numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds in the western world, a new study of international health spending has revealed.

The stark findings come from a new King’s Fund analysis of health data from 21 countries, collected by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. They reveal that only Poland has fewer doctors and nurses than the UK, while only Canada, Denmark and Sweden have fewer hospital beds, and that Britain also falls short when it comes to scanners.

“If the 21 countries were a football league then the UK would be in the relegation zone in terms of the resources we put into our healthcare system, as measured by staff, equipment and beds in which to care for patients,” said Siva Anandaciva, the King’s Fund’s chief analyst....read more



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