News in brief

    • Trust challenged over IT procurement process: One of England’s most prestigious hospital trusts has been accused of conducting a £20m IT tender having already picked the winner. NHS software supplier Cerner has written to Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust questioning their process to procure an electronic patient record system. The trust chose Epic and HP as preferred supplier for a common platform in a joint procurement with Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Now Cerner, which bid for the contract, is asking for the process to be re-run, says HSJ.
    • West Herts to invest £67m in IT: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust plans to invest more than £67m in IM&T over the next five years. E-Health Insider reports how it will be implemented via six strategic workstreams: 1. Clinical systems to include replacement EPR. 2. ePrescribing. 3. Telehealth. 4. Service management to include infrastructure. 5. Replacement data warehouse and 6. Business intelligence.
    • Hospital trust announces it is seeking merger partner to make FT status: HSJ exclusively revealed this week that Barnet and Chase Farms Hospitals NHS Trust is seeking a merger partner to become a foundation trust. In a leaked letter to trust staff seen by HSJ, it said: “The trust faces very significant financial pressures over the next few years, making it impossible to produce a credible long-term financial plan that will meet the exacting requirements of Monitor. A partnership with another organisation gives us the potential to unlock further efficiency opportunities.”
    • Western Sussex NHS Trust improves patient safety and quality of care with Patientrack: Guardian Government Computing reported on the benefits Western Sussex Hospitals NHS trust is receiving as a result of its deployment of ‘Patientrack’ which is enabling staff on 38 wards at two hospital sites to record observations at the bedside about patients, and transmit the information via a wireless connection to software which automatically calculates a patient’s condition.
    • Health Secretary’s annual report on the NHS and public health published: The Secretary of State for Health annual report has been published. From 1 April 2013, the Secretary of State will be under a new duty to produce the annual report relating to the performance of the health service in England, which will be laid before Parliament and subsequently held accountable for. The annual report covers a wide range of achievements from across the health service, including: 96 percent of patients spending less than 4 hours waiting in A&E and 212 clinical commissioning groups on their way to being authorised by January next year.
    • Plan launched to integrate health and social care data: Health and social care data sets are to be joined up for the first time to aid integrated commissioning under the NHS Commissioning Board’s final information operating model. HSJ reports that the NHS Information Centre will have a national role integrating health and social care data under the plan. The intention is to allow an unprecedented level of benchmarking on performance and cost and the model also confirms that data integration and validation services will be provided by around 10 Commissioning Support Services acting as “data management and integration centres” on behalf of the rest.
    • Southend goes with System C, McKesson: System C, a McKesson company, is to implement its patient administration system and electronic patient record at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. E-Health Insider understands that the trust has chosen the company’s Medway system and will be deploying its patient administration system, A&E and business intelligence across Southend over the coming months.
    • NHS pays out record totals of £1.2 billion claims: The NHS has paid out a record £1.2 billion in litigation claims in one year, reports The Independent. A surge in the number of claims made by NHS patients or their families led to the health service paying out £1.2 billion for its clinical negligence compensation bill between 2011 and 2012. The number of claims rose to 13,761 – indicating that the compensation payouts for next year could rise higher.
    • No new funds for telehealth, says DH: Pulse reports the Department of Health as saying that CCGs will have to use existing funds to rollout telehealth initiatives in their local area, as there will be no additional money to bankroll the government’s commitment to expanding the use of new technology in the NHS. A senior DH official said they were looking at how they could alter tariffs and introduce incentives to commission telehealth and telecare services, but this would have to come from existing funds. Doubts about the results of the £30m Whole Systems Demonstrator pilot programme were expressed after a study published earlier this month found a significant impact on mortality and hospital admissions, but not on costs.
    • NHS could start charging for services and treatments within 10 years: According to The Independent the NHS could start charging for some services and treatments within the next 10 years after new research, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), suggests a further decade of austerity will leave the status-quo unsustainable. The research report, funded by the Nuffield Trust, says that public funding for health, social care and welfare is set to be tight for at least 10 years, which means radical changes are needed to keep up with the growing demand from an aging population and rise in chronic conditions. It concludes that “serious thought” must be given to NHS spending which must include reconsidering which services should be free and increases in taxation to finance the service.
    • Mike Richards given key commissioning board post: In an exclusive, HSJ reports that Sir Mike Richards has been appointed to a key clinical leader position in the NHS Commissioning Board. Sir Mike, currently the national clinical director for cancer care, will be the lead director for “preventing people from dying prematurely” which is expected to be a critical leadership role in the board. It is “domain one” of the NHS Outcomes Framework, and involves work to improve England’s mortality rates from the major diseases.
    • Lansley: “The NHS can do a lot better”: The NHS needs to shift its focus from systems and processes to people, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said as he set out his new care objectives for the improvement of health and healthcare, reports Public Service. The new draft mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board said the aim was to make the health service more patient centred, independent, transparent and “outcomes focused”, with the main objectives to prevent premature deaths, support people with a long-term condition and ensure that people have a positive experience of care in the NHS. InPharm says: “The new approach is aimed at allowing the NHS Commissioning Board to run the health service with a minimum of political interference.”
    • NICE: “trusts must offer DVT tests within 24 hours”: Hospitals have been set “challenging” new clinical targets to provide a “seven-days-a-week” service for patients presenting with a suspected venous thromboembolism reports HSJ. Trusts should provide patients with suspected deep vein thrombosis with an ultrasound scan within four hours of presentation, if possible, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
    • DH plans to bundle diabetes QOF indicators worth over £5,000: GPs will be forced to conduct nine separate checks in each patient with diabetes under Department of Health plans to create a single diabetes QOF indicator worth over £5,000 reveals GPs’ online publication Pulse.
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When is a ‘GP led commissioning organisation’ GP led – and when is it not?

‘…in the White Paper, Liberating the NHS, the Government made clear their view that GPs would be running this system:’ Now, as the new system is being implemented, Paul Corrigan examines how this is beginning to pan out.

“One of the key roles in running any system which spends public money is that of accountable officer. This accountability for public money runs from the Treasury through the Department of Health and rests in an individual who exists in every part of a public system that spends public money. They are the accountable officer.

“On one occasion, eighteen or so months ago, when I was discussing the reform programme with clinicians I was asked what was special about being an accountable officer. I replied that the “accountable officer could go to prison for fraud” which whilst being a bit stark did make the point that this is a job where accountability is taken seriously.

“So one of the ways of determining whether the Secretary of State has succeeded in placing GPs in charge of the commissioning process is to see how many of the CCGs have accountable officers who are GPs.”

Time the public realised young doctors are leaving

Writing in Hospital Dr Online, Bob Bury a recently retired NHS consultant radiologist reflects on the state of the NHS and why young doctors are leaving.

He refers back to a letter he wrote to the Times a year ago and how he is hearing back the same comments he made then, said by junior doctors today! “… I didn’t expect readers to shed too many tears for doctors, but that they needed to understand that the UK ‘risked getting the medical profession it deserves’.

“Instead of trying to get the media to accept that we have a case over pensions (which we do, but we’re never going to convince the public) we should be trying to get across the disastrous impact of MMC and MTAS (Modernising Medical Careers and Medical Training Application Service) and the concerns over training and future careers which are alienating a whole generation of new doctors. The pensions raid then becomes one more factor threatening future medical recruitment and retention, and that might actually begin to engage public (self) interest.”

Provider reform: will anything be different this time round?

Current debates about the future of hospitals and bringing care closer to home echo those of the 1970s. So will anything be different this time round? Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund, reflects on discussions following The Fund’s first ‘After the Act’ breakfast event, which included discussions on issues around hospital reconfiguration, mergers and acquisitions and the future of primary care provision.

Sir Robert Naylor, chief executive at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, discussed the big challenges facing NHS providers and looked at whether mergers are the answer to financial and performance issues. Candace Imison, deputy director of policy at The King’s Fund, gave an overview of the QIPP challenge, looked at where we are now and the challenges for NHS providers going forward. Catherine Davies, acting director of the co-operation and competition panel, talked about how competition will shape the provider landscape and what the new regime will mean for NHS providers.

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