This blog covers the latest UK health care news, publications, policy announcements, events and information focused on the NHS, as well as the latest media stories and local news coverage of the NHS Trusts in Northamptonshire.
Kettering General Hospital says it expects disruption to be minimal during the proposed strike by junior doctors next week, but emergency services should still only be used “if they absolutely have to”.
PCC has added six new courses to its e-learning programme, which has been expanded to aid the development of leadership and strategic skills in addition to the range of practical courses offered already.
A greater number of people, however, are being diagnosed with and dying from cancer due to age and lifestyle factors
Death rates from cancer in the UK have dropped by 10% over the last decade, thanks to progress in diagnosing and treating the disease, but the number of deaths keeps rising because more people are falling ill.
The figures, released by Cancer Research UK, show the four major killers – breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer – have become less deadly relatively speaking. In 2013, the latest year for which full figures are available, 284 out of every 100,000 people in the UK died from the disease – around 162,000 people. A decade ago the death rate was 312 in every 100,000.
To coincide with the Guardian’s This is the NHS campaign, our new gallery features vintage Guardian and Observer images which offer an insight into the changing face of the NHS in its formative years. The series has been selected from original picture library files now housed in theGNM Archive.
The GMC have restructured their guidance with the aim of making it easier to apply in practice, and have expanded advice in a range of areas, including on sharing information about adults at risk of harm, and doctors’ data protection responsibilities. They have also reviewed several other pieces of explanatory guidance which tackle particular themes of confidentiality doctors commonly encounter. They are seeking views on these changes. Comments must be submitted by 19 February 2016.
This guidance suggested that local organisations involved in planning and providing health and care services in England must prepare a five year plan which sets out how they will improve quality of services, address funding challenges, and improve the health and wellbeing of people living in their area. It also says that local organisations should engage patients, service users, carers and the public in developing these plans and also engage voluntary and community groups.
Ensuring there are enough clinical staff with the right skills to meet the demand for high-quality, safe healthcare is essential to the operation of the NHS. However, the current arrangements for managing the supply of clinical staff are fragmented and do not represent value for money, according to the National Audit Office.
The arrangements for managing the supply of clinical staff involve the Department of Health, various arm’s-length bodies and healthcare commissioners and providers. Available data on vacancies are poor but, in 2014, there was a reported overall staffing shortfall of around 5.9%. This equated to a gap of around 50,000 clinical staff. The extent of the shortfall varied between different staff groups and regions.
The creation of Health Education England means that, for the first time, there is a national body specifically tasked with making strategic decisions about planning the future workforce, working collaboratively with local healthcare providers. The national workforce plan is developed from plans prepared by local providers, which means it should be based on a detailed understanding of local circumstances. According to the NAO, however, the process for developing the national long-term workforce plan could be made more robust and Health Education England should be more proactive in addressing the variations in workforce pressures in different parts of the country.
Healthcare providers are responsible for employing clinical staff to deliver healthcare. Hospital trusts’ use of temporary staff has increased significantly, putting pressure on their financial position, and the NAO concluded that there is room for trusts to reduce spending on temporary staff. Temporary staffing gives trusts the flexibility to address short-term workforce pressures, but high levels of temporary staff are an inefficient use of resources. Spending on agency staff increased from £2.2 billion in 2009-10 to £3.3 billion in 2014-15. The Secretary of State for Health announced a cap in October 2015 on how much trusts can pay per shift to help control spending on agency staff; however, the NAO notes that these measures are unlikely to address fully the underlying causes of the increased demand for temporary staff.
At the same time as the use of temporary staff has increased, the NHS has made much less use of overseas recruitment and return-to-practice initiatives to address staffing shortfalls. The number of overseas nurses has fallen, particularly from outside the EEA, where the number of entrants decreased from 11,359 in 2004-05 to just 699 in 2014-15. Some of the decline may have been due to tighter immigration rules for nurses between 2009 and 2015. The decrease was partly offset by a large rise in recruits from within the EEA. The NAO found that a more coordinated and proactive approach to managing the supply of staff could result in efficiencies for the NHS as a whole.