Wednesday, 3 June 2015

An easier difficult choice – reducing agency staff spend in the NHS

An easier difficult choice – reducing agency staff spend in the NHS As a leadership signal to a system facing five tough years (and more to come beyond that), tackling agency spend should be totemic not just because it saves money, but because it points to a choice about how the NHS should face austerity, says Gavin Larner. The Health Foundation

Time to Act: Urgent Care and A&E - the patient perspective

Time to Act: Urgent Care and A&E - the patient perspective The Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Patients Association today release their joint report, Time to Act – Urgent Care and A&E: the Patient Perspective.

The report is released following a survey of patients between September 2014 and February 2015 in relation to the choices, decisions and experiences of patients who accessed A&E services for urgent healthcare needs.

Findings of the survey include:
  • Patients are aware of alternatives to A&E, but many still attend A&E because they are unable to access help elsewhere
  • Substantial numbers of patients attend A&E because they are advised to do so by other healthcare providers 
These findings demonstrate that the NHS not only needs to ensure that patients are fully informed of services such as out-of-hours GPs, walk-in centres and the NHS 111 service, but must also ensure that these services have sufficient capacity and are available when required. Unless this issue is addressed, we will continue to see more pressure on an already overstretched A&E system.
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Improving England’s mental health

Improving England’s mental health  The 100 day plan sets out five priority areas for action. Actions include:

1. Ensure fair funding for mental health - A commitment in the July emergency budget, and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) later in the year, to increase levels of investment in mental health services in real terms, over the lifetime of the Parliament. The Government should also restate the commitment made in the March 2015 budget to increase investment in mental health services for children and new mothers by £1.25 billion over the Parliament.

2. Give children a good start in life - Commit to take forward the recommendations of the recently published Children and Young People Mental Health Taskforce report, Future in Mind.

3. Improve physical health care for people with mental health problems - Develop tailored public health programmes for people with mental health problems, with a particular focus on Public Health England’s priorities of obesity, smoking, and harmful drinking

4. Improve the lives of people with mental health problems – Commit to extending Time to Change funding over the five years of this Parliament. Put in place better employment support nationwide for people who are out of work and seeking employment, plus urgently review the effectiveness of the use of benefit conditions and sanctions among people with mental health problems.

5. Enable better access to mental health services – Commit to consult on proposals to introduce new national waiting time guarantees for mental health services in the first year of the Parliament.

It has been produced jointly by Centre for Mental Health, the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Network, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

New measures to help NHS foundation trusts adopt best financial practice

New measures to help NHS foundation trusts adopt best financial practice The regulator proposes to increase its scrutiny of financial performance so it can take action sooner against providers that are not providing value for money for their patients.

This enhanced challenge to the track record of foundation trusts will be supplemented by a significant upgrade in the practical support Monitor offers to improve operational performance, through turnaround advice, leadership training and buddying arrangements.

Monitor will also shortly consult the sector on changes to its Risk Assessment Framework (RAF), which sets out the principles by which the regulator decides when to investigate foundation trusts, and what action to take to ensure they comply with the conditions of their licence.

This package of measures will enable Monitor to ensure that foundation trusts play their part in addressing the efficiency challenge set out by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, to make substantial savings to NHS budgets in 2015/16.

Office workers of England - stand up for your health!

Office workers of England - stand up for your health! Workers have been warned to "stand up for at least two hours a day in [the] office," according to The Daily Telegraph. It says these are the first official health guidelines on the issue.

The guidance comes from a panel of experts, commissioned by Public Health England, which provides recommendations aimed at helping employers know what to aim for when trying to make workplaces less sedentary and more active. They say that this could potentially improve productivity and profitability, for example by reducing sickness.

This guidance has been prompted by a growing body of evidence that sedentary behaviour can increase the risk of a range of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Some experts have gone as far as saying that "sitting is the new smoking".

Dr Ann Hoskins, Deputy Director for Health and Wellbeing, Healthy People, Public Health England said: "This research supports the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations to minimise how much we sit still. Being active is good for your physical and mental health. Simple behaviour changes to break up long periods of sitting can make a huge difference."

Staff burnout could derail the NHS’s drive for efficiency

Staff burnout could derail the NHS’s drive for efficiency Think tank says health service must reconnect with staff. OnMedica

NHS cannot take more cuts to social care, say healthcare leaders

NHS cannot take more cuts to social care, say healthcare leaders Poll of senior NHS professionals finds 99% believe cuts to social care funding are putting pressure on the health service

Health service chiefs are to tell the government it must guarantee spending on social care as well as on hospitals if the NHS is to ride out five more years of austerity.

In a poll of more than 300 top managers and directors of NHS care bodies, 99% have warned that cuts to social care funding are loading extra pressure on the health service and 92% say such cuts are hitting their own organisations. Continue reading... The Guardian

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Is NHS being overcharged by agencies - or are staff shortages the real issue?

Is NHS being overcharged by agencies - or are staff shortages the real issue? Jeremy Hunt is trying to cut the NHS’s bill for temporary staff by introducing curbs on employment agencies, but is he missing the point?

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced he is to introduce curbs on the use of employment agencies in the National Health Service as bills for temporary staff soar. But are the high rates charged by agencies the problem – or is the demand for temporary staff caused by staff shortages the real issue?

What has Jeremy Hunt said?

We're cracking down on rip-off agency fees & use of management consultants in the NHS: every £ possible must go on direct patient care.

A round up of the quarterly performance of foundation trusts for year ending March 2015: #NHS

We need to address the root causes of the recruitment and retention problem in many parts of the NHS, especially emergency medicine.

A lack of investment in nurse training and cuts to nurse numbers mean that trusts now have no choice but to pay over the odds for agency staff and recruiting overseas.

The NHS is not getting good press. There’s a culture of blame and it is putting a lot of pressure on staff.

If the government is serious about breaking the hold staffing agencies have over the NHS, then ministers need to recruit more nurses and increase training places immediately. Continue reading... The Guardian

‘GP recruitment is what keeps me awake at night’ | Denis Campbell

‘GP recruitment is what keeps me awake at night’ | Denis Campbell Health Education England’s head Ian Cumming says there’s no quick fix for NHS staffing problems.

Less than a month after the election, staffing has already shot to the top of reappointed health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s daunting in-tray of NHS problems. The worsening shortage of GPs has become a key political issue, as was the lack of A&E doctors recently. Many other health professionals – nurses, paramedics and radiologists – are also in short supply. Employment agencies helping to fill this void prompted public frustration last weekend from the NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and impelled Hunt to announce on Tuesday a series of moves to try and rein in the £3.3bn-a-year cost of temporary staffing, including a maximum hourly rate for agency doctors and nurses that NHS trusts are allowed to pay.

We need to significantly increase the number of people working in community settings Continue reading... The Guardian

Mers virus: What is it, what are the symptoms and where is it affected?

Mers virus: What is it, what are the symptoms and where is it affected? Last week, South Korea confirmed that the country had experienced two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) after tests on a 58-year-old woman who died of acute respiratory failure showed she had been infected with the disease before her death. The Independent