News in brief

  • NHS trusts tender for £300m clinical systems: ComputerWeekly has reported that some 29 NHS trusts across London and south England have issued a framework tender worth £300m for clinical information systems. Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust will lead the four-year framework, valued from £50m to £300m.
    The tender has been divided into three lots:
    Lot 1. Application software, data migration and deployment for community, child and mental health services.
    Lot 2. Service management hosting to provide a robust, secure and flexible infrastructure to support the current and future needs of the participating trusts.
    Lot 3. Reporting, integration and interoperability functions.
  • NHS ‘heading for iceberg’: The NHS will be “like a supertanker heading for an iceberg” unless major reforms in the health service are implemented, the head of the NHS Confederation Mike Farrar has warned. In the run up to the NHS Confederation Annual Conference this week, Farrar warned politicians that they must tackle the “chronic failure” to make a case for changes to the health service. His comments come on the back of a survey showing that NHS leaders are concerned that financial pressures will harm patient care. Farrar said: “It would be better to reconfigure services and close down some departments in hospitals.”
  • DH to create content and advisory board to oversee development of electronic emergency care summary: A new board is being set up by The Department of Health to oversee the expansion of the NHS Summary Care Record (SCR). It will be known as the summary care record content and advisory board and is intended to consider proposals by the SCR programme board to change the scope of the SCR. A recruitment process for a person to chair the board is currently underway, however a launch date has yet to be set.
  • ‘Innovations Directory’ will allow swifter take up of the best innovations from the NHS: This week at the NHS Confederation Conference, Mike Farrar also announced the launch of new initiative that will enable a group of the UK’s leading teaching hospitals to work together with investors and industry in order to enhance the development and uptake of ideas for the benefit of patients and the NHS. Each trust involved in the initiative will be able to submit their innovative ideas to the database – known as ‘The Innovations Directory’. The fund is expected to rise to £250m and will be used to turn the innovative ideas into a commercial reality.
  • Guy’s board passes IT business cases: The first business cases in Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust’s ambitious IT strategy have been passed by the board. The strategy, passed by the board in December, says the trust plans to invest £213m in IT over the next five years. Group IT director, Scott Sommerville told EHI: “A lot of people didn’t think we would get the money we got approved. A few eyebrows were raised about the big investment, but we are looking for big change and it’s still only 4% of [total trust] turnover. I see a level of engagement with the senior clinicians that I haven’t seen before, there’s a desire to use technology effectively.”
  • Lansley urges doctors to shun ‘pointless’ strike: Andrew Lansley, health secretary urged doctors to shun Thursday’s strike. Hospital consultants and family doctors said they will only undertake urgent care in protest at plans to raise their pension contributions. But Lansley told the NHS Confederation Conference that the BMA had failed to recognise “economic and political realities”. The strike was the medical profession’s first industrial action in almost 40 years.
  • Monitor probes barriers to NHS competition: Health sector regulator Monitor has launched a review of possible barriers to “a fair playing field” among current and potential NHS providers, reports Pharma Times Online. The regulator says the move is “an independent review of matters that may be affecting the ability of current and future providers of NHS services to participate fully in improving patient care.” The aim is “to identify barriers to a fair playing field, and possible solutions which would protect and promote the interests of patients,” it adds.
  • IMS MAXIMS works on da Vinci code: IMS MAXIMS has announced its development of a cloud-based electronic health record for patients that will be supplemented by a number of mobile apps. Interviewing Shane Tickell CEO IMS MAXIMS, EHI has reported that Project da Vinci, which is at the “advanced conceptual stage”, will aim to give patients ownership and responsibility for their health record, potentially removing the need for hospitals to store such information on their own systems. “The concept revolves around increasing patient involvement in their own care record. Patients will go through different periods of their life with different needs and requirements for care. We want to ensure this data is available to the patient for life and to, whoever they decide they would like to share their record with, be it the doctor, carer or family,” said Tickell.
  • Andrew Lansley looks to telehealth and 111 to support NHS change: Health secretary Andrew Lansley has told an audience of health service executives at the NHS Confederation Conference that telehealth in particular will support the redesign of health services, from providing specific episodes of care to continuous services, reported the Guardian. “Through telehealth, it’s not just the technology, it’s the ability to redesign the service,” said Lansley. The health secretary said that 111 telephone and web patient support services could also play a similarly transformative role, although he added that the technology was less important than the redesigning of health services it would support.
  • Belfast Trust fined over failure to secure patient documents: UKAuthority reports that Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is the first public sector organisation in Northern Ireland to be served with a civil monetary penalty following a serious breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA). The trust has been fined £225,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for the breach of sensitive personal data of thousands of patients and staff, including medical records, X-rays, scans, lab results and staff records including unopened payslips.
  • Gold-standard for the fight against C-dif hits the UK: For the first time in 50 years healthcare professionals have access to a new weapon in the fight against Clostridium difficile, following the roll-out of Astellas’ Dificlir across the UK reports the Pharma Times Online. Clinical trials of the drug have shown that it has a similar efficacy and safety profile to that of the current gold standard of treatment, vancomycin, however, it almost halved the rate of recurrence of the disease.
  • Department of Health comms jobs slashed: PRWeek has reported the Department of Health is planning to cut its comms department by a third in the coming year (133 to 89) as it prepares for fundamental changes to the health service. The cutbacks come as the department prepares to move comms and marketing responsibilities to the NHS Commissioning Board, Public Health England and local government in April 2013, under reforms in the Health and Social Care Act.
  • My Health portal to be created: Healthcare Today has reported that a new portal called ‘My Health’ will be created and built by the NHS Commissioning Board in order to let patients look at their records, make appointments and get prescriptions. According to the HSJ, the Board has posted a job advertisement for a director of customer experience and will include responsibility for “digital multi-channel business development to allow patients to access their own health records and link these to functional transactions, including booking appointments and ordering prescriptions.”
  • National director or quality, Ian Cumming confirmed as first chief executive of Health Education England: From its establishment on 28 June, HEE will provide national leadership to the new system of education and training in healthcare. The DH website reports that “this new system will give employers greater responsibility and accountability for planning and developing the workforce, within a national framework that is professionally informed and underpinned by strong academic links.”
  • London chief executive regrets ‘compromise’ that created biggest deficit trust: Ruth Carnall, chief executive of NHS London has told HSJ that she regrets the “compromise” that created South London Healthcare Trust in its current form. The multi-site hospital which was created from a merger of three South East London organisations in 2009 is predicted to deliver a £65m deficit for 2011-12. During her speech to the NHS Confederation Dame Ruth told delegates: “You can be placed under very, very intensive political pressure to change [your plans] and in some cases we have done that because we thought it was better to get something [than nothing].”
  • Nine in ten health authorities rationing operations: The Telegraph has reported that according to a study conducted by GP magazine almost two-thirds (59 percent) of health trusts in England are rationing joint replacement operations, with a similar proportion restricting access to cataracts surgery (66 percent) after being referred. The proportion limiting access for at least one type of operation was 91 percent, according to 101 primary care trusts which responded to freedom of information requests.
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Opinion

Who will shape the new NHS?

With health services experiencing a period of unprecedented change, Richard Vize of Guardian Professional asks “how are managers, clinicians and regulatory bodies going to make the reforms work?”

“As the reforms enshrined in the Health and Social Care Act take shape, no one knows where the power lies, who will lead the system or whether the weakest trusts will be left to the predations of the market. From next April responsibility for buying around £60bn of healthcare services, mainly from hospitals, will move from primary care trusts to local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) led by GPs. Nationally, the new NHS Commissioning Board will set standards, hold the commissioning groups to account and implement policy priorities laid down by the government.”

What did NPfIT ever do for GPs?

“Basically they haven’t achieved what they wanted to do and that’s great. I believe NPfIT has been a complete failure; but GPs are “absolutely overjoyed” about that. The original national programme completely ignored GPs and that was initially because they thought they didn’t need to concentrate on GPs.”

These are the views of Dr Paul Cundy, the joint chairman of the BMA and RCGP’s joint IT committee, as he sums up the impact of the National Programme for IT in the NHS on primary care.

In this article, for eHealth Insider, Rebecca Todd investigates the fate and the future of many of the national projects developed by NPfIT, which relied on the buy-in and support of GPs. As well as Dr Cundy, she also talks to representatives from the Department of Health and explores where things are now and what is next.

NHS chiefs gloomy about care prospects

“The health service had reached a watershed moment. If it is unable to change the way health and social care were delivered we face very, very difficult decisions.”

This is what Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation told the Financial Times after the release of the results of a survey of more than 250 NHS chairmen and chief executives, asking them “how they were coping with restricted finances and the need to prepare for big structural changes due to take effect in 2013.” More than eight out of ten of the health leaders surveyed believed that finances would worsen in the next year.

The article reports on a “stark picture of an NHS under unprecedented financial pressure, many of whom warn that funding cuts are damaging patient care.” It includes a more detailed overview of the findings and further comments from Mr Farrar and Andrew Lansley.

Highland Marketing blog

After his trip to the NHS Confederation Conference, our CEO Mark Venables provides us with his insight into the event. He gives an overview of some of the key highlights, speeches made and reflects on whether IT is once again slipping down the NHS agenda!

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