Friday, 29 June 2012

Radical changes are needed – my reflections on themes from the NHS Confederation conference

Radical changes are needed – my reflections on themes from the NHS Confederation conference: Reflecting back on the conference, Anna Dixon considers outstanding reform issues, including the difficult decisions that must be made around hospital reconfiguration. (Blog, 28 Jun 2012) Kings Fund

Healthcare across the UK: A comparison of the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Healthcare across the UK: A comparison of the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: The report finds variations in health outcomes across the four nations, and will help health departments examine how better value for money could be achieved. The National Audit Office

NHS walk-in centres being closed

NHS walk-in centres being closed: Walk-in centres are rapidly becoming a casualty of the tougher financial climate in the NHS in England. BBC News

US healthcare reform law upheld

US healthcare reform law upheld: A key component of US President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare reform act, called the "individual mandate", is upheld, the Supreme Court rules. BBC News

Cancer awareness campaign fails to improve diagnosis rates

Cancer awareness campaign fails to improve diagnosis rates: A DH-backed cancer awareness campaign failed to detect more cases or improve recognition of symptoms, casting doubt over whether a recent £8.5m bowel cancer campaign was worthwhile. GP Online

CCGs will disappear like fundholding, top manager warns

CCGs will disappear like fundholding, top manager warns: The new system of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) is unlikely to last longer than the GP fundholding scheme of the 1990s, according to one of the most senior hospital managers in the NHS. GP Online

Guidance and information on supporting revalidation

Guidance and information on supporting revalidation:
This guidance has been devised to simplify the appraisal process and the supporting information doctors need in order to revalidate. Following extensive work and consultation coordinated by the AoMRC, the specialty guidance frameworks have been produced based on AoMRC’s core framework (agreed by all member colleges and faculties) to ensure commonality in appraisal for revalidation regardless of a doctor’s specialty.

NHS IT directors: Spending cuts will be detrimental to patient care - Computing

NHS IT directors: Spending cuts will be detrimental to patient care - Computing:

NHS IT directors: Spending cuts will be detrimental to patient care
The survey, commissioned by IT services company 2e2, found that 87 per cent of the respondents said they were under pressure to cut costs to achieve the government's aim to save £20bn from the NHS budget by 2014-15. According to 2e2, this translates to ...

Doctors vote to strike again as pension row escalates

Doctors vote to strike again as pension row escalates:
NHS faces bank holiday-style service after BMA conference calls for further industrial action
Doctors voted on Thursday to ramp up their pensions dispute with more industrial action that threatens to reduce the NHS to a bank holiday-style service, dealong only with emergency cases.
Most of the 500 delegates at the British Medical Association's annual conference backed a motion calling for doctors across the UK to escalate the industrial action, a week after protests that deprived tens of thousands of patients of a planned operation or appointment with specialists or GPs.
However, there is some tentative optimism among BMA leaders that a resolution to the year-long dispute could soon emerge from behind-the-scenes talks.
Delegates agreed that more industrial action was necessary to try to force ministers to backtrack on pension arrangements that have infuriated the profession because they will force doctors to work until they are 68, pay more to pension contributions and forfeit their final salary scheme.
The BMA motion said any future action "should be in conjunction with other public sector unions" and that the ruling council of the medical union "should consider a range of options in defence of our pensions".
The options included a withdrawal from the establishment of clinical commissioning groups, bodies that will become key in the NHS in England under the coalition's controversial health reforms.
In secondary hospital care, the option is for "withdrawal of labour with emergency cover only". Such a move would mean the NHS being able to offer only a minimal service, similar to that given on Christmas Day or bank holidays when staff deal only with emergency cases.
The move does not bind the BMA's council, which will discuss what steps the union should take on Friday afternoon.
The motion was passed despite warnings from delegates, including Ivan Camphor, a GP who said doctors would risk losing patients' goodwill by taking further action.
Kevin O'Kane, a London hospital consultant, who proposed the motion with Anna Athow, a council member, said the move would show the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, that doctors would fight – by taking several further days of action, if necessary – until they received fair treatment over their pensions.
O'Kane, who chairs the BMA's 32,000-strong London region, told the gathering in Bournemouth: "We need to send out a very strong message to the government that we are serious about this, and get another day of action on the books. Let's get more days of action announced and get some momentum around this. Mr Lansley, we are very serious about this and you had better believe it."
But the conference rejected a part of the motion calling on the BMA council to name a date for a second day of action. That rejection could have heeded the advice of the BMA's outgoing chairman, Hamish Meldrum, who just before the vote advised against support.
Meldrum, who this week warned doctors that further action would damage patients' trust in them, indicated to delegates that there might be an announcement soon about progress on breaking the deadlock. A lot of discussions had been held since last week's day of action and there could be some news soon, he said.
Making his final address to the BMA after leading the 140,000-strong organisation for five years, Meldrum said it might "not be wonderful that things go back to 2008 [when the BMA agreed a pensions deal with the Labour government]", but that there might be developments.
On Monday, Meldrum hinted thatdoctors might be persuaded to call off the dispute if ministers agreed to concessions over two key concerns:
• Doctors having to carry on in their jobs until they are 68, which, some say, will be impractical for A&E doctors and certain categories of surgeons. .
• The planned increases in doctors' pension contributions that are due to happen in 2013 and 2014.
However, Department of Health sources confirmed that while the detail of those two issues was still to be agreed, doctors would receive no concessions in response to taking, or threatening to take, industrial action.
A letter sent by Lansley on Wednesday to Christina McAnea, Unison's head of health, who is co-ordinating the opposition of 15 health unions to the pension plans, indicated there could be scope for agreement on the two issues identified by Meldrum.
Lansley wrote: "We also need to discuss contribution rate increases in years two and three and how this will feed through in tiered contribution rates. This work needs to be taken forward in a spirit of partnership focussed on achieving pension arrangements that will best meet the needs of staff and employers."
In another seemingly emollient passage, he said: "I recognise that trade unions are particularly concerned about the increase in normal pension age. The implications of this will be considered in the Review of Working Longer, and the government has also committed to keep the link under review as recommended by Lord Hutton."
Sources involved in the dispute suggested that, as part of a potential resolution to the dispute, certain sorts of doctors might be able to do less onerous tasks than usual when they reached their mid-60s.
Lansley's letter also made clear that he would be pressing ahead with implementing the shake-up of the NHS pensions scheme, partly because "the majority of NHS staff" had not rejected the proposals in a series of votes – that often had low turnouts – which had been held by unions including Unison, Unite, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Royal College of Midwives The Guardian

NHS facing 'colossal' care bill unless system is overhauled urgently

NHS facing 'colossal' care bill unless system is overhauled urgently: The Coalition is failing to live up to its pledge to find an urgent solution to the funding crisis over care for the elderly, the leaders of the Royal College of Nursing and Age UK claim today. The Daily Telegraph

Warning over shortage of midwives

Warning over shortage of midwives:
The Government must address the "serious shortage" of midwives, the Royal College of Midwives said, as an independent report found that numbers of staff are one of the main challenges facing maternity services. The Independent