Friday, 2 March 2012

Our ambulance service needs cash injection

Our ambulance service needs cash injection: An operations chief at the region’s ambulance service says more money is needed to meet a surge in demand from patients requiring life-saving treatment. Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph

Funding cuts will shut ‘vital’ stroke services across Northamptonshire

Funding cuts will shut ‘vital’ stroke services across Northamptonshire:

A CHARITY relied upon by stroke survivors will be forced to close all of its patient services after Northamptonshire County Council announced it will stop its funding. Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Service reconfiguration and the health bill

Service reconfiguration and the health bill:

The briefing also covers the implications for the failure regime for providers that are financially unsustainable. NHS Networks

Over £100 million given to support groundbreaking clinical research

Over £100 million given to support groundbreaking clinical research:

Over £100m will be invested in NHS clinical research facilities to develop new treatments to benefit thousands of patients.

The money, provided by the National Institute for Health Research, will be spent on research nurses and technicians at 19 of the facilities around the country. A huge number of new treatments for conditions including cancer, diabetes, stroke, dementia and obesity will be developed by researchers at the facilities.

Some of the funding will also be used to conduct research into rare diseases. The first ever UK consultation on Rare Diseases was published yesterday which outlines how we can build on our strengths through improved co-ordination of services, stronger research and better engagement with patients and their families.

Bidding for funding

NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts with clinical research facilities submitted bids for the funding, which were judged by a panel of UK experts in both medical research and in running clinical research facilities. Winning bids were selected on the basis of the quality and volume of world-class medical research they support as well as other criteria including the strength of their partnerships with universities and industry.

Facilities receiving funding

Some of the Clinical Research Facilities that will receive funding include:

  • Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, in Liverpool – They will use their funding to support early-stage trials of drugs for children with diseases including cancer, arthritis and asthma. Children often metabolise and absorb medicines differently to adults, and research on drugs especially for children has been until recently a neglected area. The team at Alder Hey will play a vital part in finding ways that medicines can be used more safely and effectively to treat children.

  • University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital - They will use their funding to support research including into rare diseases, gene therapy, trauma, infection and ageing. The team at Birmingham will also use a Health Research Bus, which will take research into the community and allow more studies to be conducted.

  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - Their research will include looking into treatments for peanut allergies, which affect one in fifty children in the UK. People with peanut allergies can suffer severe reactions – and even die – if they come into contact with peanuts. The Cambridge team will research ways of permanently curing people who suffer from these allergies.

Top Government priority

Promoting and fostering this kind of clinical research is one of the Government’s top priorities, and through the Health and Social Care Bill the role that research plays in the health service will continue to be strengthened. Department of Health

NHS charges to increase from April 2012

NHS charges to increase from April 2012:

The NHS prescription charge will increase to £7.65 per item from 1 April 2012. The Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) prices remain unchanged.

NHS charges for wigs and fabric supports and dental charges will increase and there will be changes to NHS optical voucher values from 1 April 2012.

See more information

Prepayment certificates

People who have to pay NHS prescription charges and need them regularly or need a lot of prescription items could save money with a Prescription Prepayment Certificate. PPC holders pay no further charge at the point of dispensing and there is no limit to the number of items the holder may obtain via the certificate.

PPCs can be ordered from the NHS Business Services Authority, or by phoning 0845 850 0030

The week: issue 237

The week: issue 237:

In this week’s edition, read about the ‘Act FAST on Stroke’ campaign launch and today’s announcement of a further investment of up to £22 million over the next three years in the Children and Young People’s IAPT project. Department of Health

Download ‘the week’: issue 237, 24 February – 1 March 2012

CCGs' leaders call on Cameron to drop the Health Bill

CCGs' leaders call on Cameron to drop the Health Bill: Two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have written to the prime minister expressing their opposition to the Health Bill. GP Online

Dual diagnosis: a challenge for the reformed NHS and for Public Health England

Dual diagnosis: a challenge for the reformed NHS and for Public Health England:

This discussion paper finds that the current set of health reforms poses both threats and opportunities for people with dual diagnosis or multiple needs. It looks at the likely implications of the reforms and makes eight recommendations to integrate services and improve outcomes.

Government website made live

Government website made live: The government has launched a beta version of a new website which aims to allow specialists to take a "behind the scenes" look at what it is doing.The "Inside Government" site beta testing will run for six weeks and involve ten government departments, including the Department of Health. The DH website said: "On the site, users will be able to find example content about the Department of Health... Healthcare Today

NHS reform bill 'complex, incoherent and not fit for purpose', say doctors

NHS reform bill 'complex, incoherent and not fit for purpose', say doctors:

BMA offers scathing assessment of Andrew Lansley's plans, warning of creep towards privatisation of commissioning

Profit-driven firms may oust GPs from their key role in deciding what treatments patients need because of creeping privatisation in primary care caused by the coalition's NHS shakeup, doctors' leaders have warned.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said on Thursday that the relationship between family doctors and patients would suffer irreparable damage and that the reforms would be "irreversibly damaging to the NHS", in its most strongly worded criticism yet of Andrew Lansley's radical reorganisation of the NHS in England.

The BMA denounced the health and social care bill as "complex, incoherent and not fit for purpose, and almost impossible to implement successfully, given widespread opposition across the NHS workforce".

The doctors' union's views are its widest-ranging and most scathing intervention yet in the controversy around the bill, which ministers hope will become law within weeks.

The criticisms come in a letter to 22,000 family doctors from Dr Laurence Buckman, the chairman of the BMA's GPs committee. They reflect both the hardening opposition to the bill among medical organisations and, especially, the growing view among GPs that Lansley and David Cameron's repeated promise that GPs will be the key decisionmakers in healthcare as a result of the changes are a sham.

The letter hints at the possibility of GPs pulling out of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – the groups of doctors which will replace NHS primary care trusts from April 2013 – by urging them to take "an active stand" to thwart reforms that, in the BMA's view, would prove ruinous.

Buckman's key criticism centres on the future role of the organisations which will provide commissioning support services (CSSs) to CCGs in the reformed NHS. "These bodies will initially do some or all of the 'back office' functions, but we fear that, in time, they could become the de facto CCG management. CSSs will be required to be outside the NHS as 'freestanding enterprises' and in a market of commissioning support for CCGs as 'customers', by 2016 at the latest," he writes.

"We believe that this will lead to the privatisation of commissioning, destroy the public health dimension to commissioning, with a loss of local accountability to local populations, and is likely to exacerbate health inequalities."

In a fresh appeal for the government to abandon the unpopular bill, Buckman said the BMA would co-operate with efforts to advance the introduction of clinically led commissioning in a non-legislative "alternative way forward" that would build on and spread good commissioning practice.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, called the letter "a devastating critique of the government's plans. It takes them apart, piece by piece. This illustrates the government's irresponsibility in ploughing on, if they don't listen to this. Dr Buckman is saying that as the profession is overwhelmingly against [the bill], when so much of the reforms depend on the profession, [continuing with the bill] is dangerous," he said.

Doctors were realising that Lansley had made empty promises when he pledged to put them in charge from April 2013, added Burnham. "What we are hearing from GPs, and Laurence Buckman articulates it very well, is that they have been given a false prospectus by the government. At the very beginning the idea was that it would be doctors in control and the more they have seen about how the government is implementing its reforms, the more doctors have felt uneasy and seen that they have been set up to fail."

Buckman's letter also raises another concern – that CCGs would not have the freedom GPs were initially promised. Smaller medical groups supportive of the reforms, such as the National Association of Primary Care and the NHS Alliance, have voiced the same fear recently. Some CCG leaders fear the planned new NHS Commissioning Board, which will oversee the newly-ordered health service from next year, is doing too much to proscribe what they can and cannot do.

Buckman's letter says: "The NHS Commissioning Board, through a new network of bureaucracy, is directing operations from the centre. CCGs do not have the freedom to do much, as their personnel are being proscribed along with their commissioning support services, their structures defined, and their budgets are too small for them to function without uniting into very large and remote units. The ability for ordinary GPs to change things will diminish."

The Department of Health dismissed the BMA's move. "The BMA's GPC seems to ignore the fact that thousands of GPs covering 95% of the country are already getting on with commissioning and improving care for their patients. Patients are being treated in more convenient places, pressure on hospitals is reducing, and we are safeguarding the NHS for future generations," said Lord Howe, the health minister.

"Without the bill we couldn't remove layers of bureaucracy and reinvest £4.5bn into frontline patient care. And the independent NHS Future Forum [launched last year as part of the government's NHS 'listening' exercise] found broad support for the principles of handing power to doctors and putting patients at the heart of the health system," Howe added.

But the Royal College of Nursing, which like the BMA wants the bill abandoned, said: "Today's letter is yet further evidence of the sincere and honestly held concerns that so many health professionals now have about the future of the NHS. Like the BMA, we fear that increased competition could lead to patient care becoming fragmented and that the bill is a huge distraction from the real issue of protecting and improving services at a time when the NHS in England needs to save £20bn," said Dr Peter Carter, the RCN's chief executive.

"We remain convinced that these reforms could damage the very system they were designed to improve and that the outcome will be increased health inequalities. The government needs to act on these concerns and introduce some stability into the NHS as a matter of urgency." The Guardian

Elderly care must be given status in society and proper regulation

Elderly care must be given status in society and proper regulation: Health workers should lose their jobs for not meeting standards on dignity for elderly patients, a new report has said. The Daily Telegraph

'Early' babies have more health problems

'Early' babies have more health problems: Parents and doctors should keep a closer eye on babies simply born early, rather than actually premature, because they too are at increased risk of health problems, say academics. The Daily Telegraph

Motherhood: I don't think you're ready for this dummy

Motherhood: I don't think you're ready for this dummy:

Beyoncé has breastfed her baby in public... and the world is still turning. Do you, like us, find the ongoing "debate" about the rights and wrongs of mothers nursing their children in restaurants/on buses/anywhere that isn't at home, alone, with the curtains drawn, unfathomable? The Independent

Your chance to shape future of England's biggest mental health dataset

Your chance to shape future of England's biggest mental health dataset: Commissioners, data users and the public have the chance to help define how the biggest mental health dataset in England is best packaged and presente... NHS Information Centre