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  • Plan to scrap A&E target sparks furious backlash from medics Guardian reports: "Plans to scrap the four-hour A&E target have sparked a furious backlash from doctors and nurses, with some claiming it is driven by ministers’ desire to avoid negative publicity about patients facing increasingly long delays.
    "A&E consultants led a chorus of medical opposition to the move. They pointedly urged NHS leaders and ministers to concentrate on delivering the long-established maximum waiting time for emergency care rather than finding “ways around” it.

  • Health Care Administrative Costs in the United States and Canada, 2017 research paper argues that "The gap in health administrative spending between the United States and Canada is large and widening, and it apparently reflects the inefficiencies of the U.S. private insurance–based, multipayer system. The prices that U.S. medical providers charge incorporate a hidden surcharge to cover their costly administrative burden."

  • Projected costs of single-payer healthcare financing in the United States: A systematic review of economic analyses The first ever systematic review of economic analyses of single-payer health system in the USA. Researchers analyzed 22 cost estimates over 3 decades, with 20 of the 22 predicting net savings.

  • London council cuts ties with private firm that deems sick homeless people ‘fit’ without meeting them Independent reports a glimmer of hope in a dark landscape as Islington council decides to axe its contract with a private firm exposed by the newspaper and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. NowMedical, "has been paid millions of pounds in public money by local authorities across the country to produce reports on homeless individuals, based solely on paper records.
    "Diarmaid Ward, the chief housing councillor, said the council planned to bring the medical assessments in-house by employing a specialist occupational therapist, saying this would give the council “more control” and help to deliver a better service for homeless applicants, as well as potentially saving money in the long term."

  • Matt Hancock signals A&E waiting targets likely to be scrapped Guardian reports: "Matt Hancock has signalled that four-hour waiting targets for A&E are likely to be scrapped for the NHS in England after the worst figures on record this winter.
    "The health secretary said it would be better if targets were “clinically appropriate” and the “right targets”, as he defended the NHS’s failure to meet the standard that 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.
    "The target was put under review by Theresa May’s government and the NHS unveiled plans last March to pilot changes that would prioritise patients with serious conditions while patients with minor problems could wait longer than four hours."

  • Shrewsbury maternity scandal: More than 900 cases of potential poor care identified at hospital Independent with an update on a long-running scandal:
    "About 100 new cases of poor maternity care at a beleaguered hospital trust have been identified, bringing the total to 900, the government has revealed.
    "The scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust ​- the largest maternity scandal in NHS history – is already under investigation and lawyers are preparing to act on behalf of families who say they suffered."

  • Mid Staffs scandal: 10 years on, inquiry chair worries NHS staff too scared to speak up Independent reports: "Ten years on from the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust scandal, the man who led the inquiry into one of the worst care disasters in the service’s history has said he remains worried about the safety of patients and a culture that leaves staff too frightened to speak up.

  • Single-Payer Systems Likely to Save Money in US, Analysis Finds US academic study takes overview of two dozen previous studies – and concludes "single payer" system in place of current insurance would save money from the first year of operation.

  • Matt Hancock Hints NHS A&E Waiting Times Could Be Scrapped Huffington Post reports: "Health secretary Matt Hancock has hinted that landmark NHS targets could be scrapped following the health service’s worst A&E waiting times since records began.
    "More than one in five patients were forced to wait for more than four hours for treatment in December.
    "But Hancock said there was a “problem” with the target as it failed to take into account other improvements.
    "NHS England figures published last week showed just 79.8% of A&E patients were seen within the specified time, way below the 95% target that was introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 2004."

  • NHS funding bill enters Parliament Government press release: ministers continue to boast, without justification, of the "largest cash settlement in NHS history" despite the fact it is only £20.5bn in real terms, 3.4% per year, well below the 4.1% required annually to keep pace with rising costs, and nowhere near enough to compensate for the £35 billion that NHS would have had if increases had continued at pre-2010 average. Worse, enshrining this inadequate sum in law means effectively imposing a 5-year cap on NHS spending, regardless of the scale of continued decline in services.

  • Cornwall hospital to discharge patients early despite saying it may be harmful Guardian report on Royal Cornwall Hospital, the only DGH in Cornwall:
    "A major NHS hospital is under such pressure that it has decided to discharge people early even though it admits that patients may be harmed and doctors think the policy is unwise.
    "The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS trust has told staff to help it reduce the severe overcrowding it has been facing in recent weeks by discharging patients despite the risks involved. …
    "The memo added: “One of these mitigations was to look at the level of risk that clinicians are taking when discharging patients from Treliske hospital either to home or to community services, recognising that this may be earlier than some clinicians would like and may cause a level of concern.
    “It was agreed, however, that this would be a proportionate risk that we as a health community were prepared to take on the understanding that there is a possibility that some of these patients will be readmitted or possibly come to harm.”

  • CQC slams private provider for leadership and care quality (£)HSJ reports; "The firm which runs a mental health hospital at the centre of an abuse scandal has been criticised by regulators for its leadership, care quality and “high use of restraint and seclusion” across its sites.
    "The Care Quality Commission is calling for “immediate action” from Cygnet Health Care — which ran Whorlton Hall before it closed last year in the wake of a BBC Panorama investigation — following an assessment of its leadership.
    "Regulators found there “was a high use of physical restraint and seclusion,” and high levels of patient-on-patient assaults and self-harm across services run by Cygnet compared to similar mental health services at other providers."

  • Government 'misleading the public' by claiming 18 hospitals built since 2010, says senior doctor i-news reports:
    "One of the UK's leading medics has accused the Government of "misleading the public" after it claimed 18 new hospitals have opened over the last 10 years.
    "In response to a Freedom of Information request from i asking how many new hospitals have been built in England since 1 January 2010, The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said there had been 18 - although this figure includes partial new builds as well as existing hospitals that have either been refurbished or redeveloped.
    "Dr Susan Crossland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, criticised the department for its answer and said it was conflating several different construction projects in the same list."

  • French Strikes: Macron calls a ‘Temporary Halt’ to his pension reforms but the people will not stand down. Labour Heartlands gives an update on the massive strikes which have barely been reported in the British press and not at all on mainstream TV -- against an increase in the pension age:
    "With clouds of tear gas and smashed store windows punctuating the urban landscape of France, the French government made their first major concession on Saturday, backing down to the unions protesting its pension reform plan. Macron has temporarily scrapped his proposal to raise the retirement age in France but the people and unions are not buying it.
    "Faced with an unrelenting protest over proposed changes in France’s pension system, officials withdrew a move to raise the full-benefit retirement age to 64 from the present 62.
    "The French government's climb down shows that ‘People Power’ is a force to be reckoned with. Alongside the organised backing from the unions and other movements, the people of France have forced the government to temporarily halt the pension reforms."

  • Mental health nurses ‘near breaking point’ due to service pressures Nursing Times reports:
    "The survey of more than 1,000 mental health professionals, carried out by the British Medical Association in collaboration with the Royal College of Nursing and Association of Clinical Psychologists, suggests workforce shortages are having a major impact on workload, staff wellbeing and morale.
    "The findings also show shortages are affecting the quality of care with 52% of respondents reporting they were too busy to provide the care they would like on the last shift they worked."

  • Safety fears as hospitals redeploy nurses to care for patients in corridors Guardian report on the latest crisis measures being taken in overstretched hospitals:
    "Hospitals are having to redeploy nurses from wards to look after queues of patients in corridors, in a growing trend that has raised concerns about patient safety
    "Many hospitals have become so overcrowded that they are being forced to tell nurses to spend part of their shift working as “corridor nurses” to look after patients who are waiting for a bed.
    "Nurses, doctors and hospital bosses have all voiced unease about the practice, which has risen sharply in recent weeks as the NHS has struggled to cope with the extra pressures of winter."
    If only ministers had some way of knowing it would be winter at this time of year.

  • Torn but determined RCN members in Northern Ireland, on strike for the very first time in the history of their union, speak about their feelings.

  • Shropshire 12-hour A&E trolley waits worst in country Shropshire Star reports on another Tory-voting area coming to grips with what they have just voted to continue over the next five years:
    "More patients faced trolley waits of more than 12 hours at Shropshire's A&Es than anywhere else in the country last month, new figures show.
    "The latest NHS England figures, published today, show 348 patients waited more than 12 hours on trolleys in December, while 2,130 patients faced a trolley wait of more than four hours.
    "The figures, which have risen significantly since November, show that 12,434 patients attended the county's A&E departments at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) last month.
    "And about two in five of them had to wait longer than the four-hour Government target."

  • Bishop Auckland stroke unit closure plan prompts patient fear BBC report addresses one of a number of areas that voted for Tory candidates in December -- only to find that their NHS is now being cut back, as they were warned.

  • LMC issues urgent call to GPs on 'viability' of practices following network proposals Pulse reports on the row over Primary Care Networks:
    "The new proposals, drafted by NHS England and NHS Improvement, state GPs will have to carry out care home visits 'at least' every fortnight and implement structured medication reviews as part of the five national services PCNs will have to phase in from April.
    "Londonwide LMCs are asking practices in a survey whether they believe that these specifications will 'increase or decrease the stability of your practice'."

  • Ministers urged to speed up review of benefits for terminally ill Guardian reports on concerns of charities that "Thousands of people have died before being able to access welfare payments."
    "Campaigners had demanded law changes after thousands of people who had just months to live were unable to access benefits, often finding their claims bogged down in bureaucracy and unnecessary health assessments.
    "Current benefit rules state that claimants can only get their benefits fast-tracked if a doctor says they have less than six months to live – campaigners argue this is too restrictive, and want the definition widened to ensure benefits can be accessed as soon as a terminal illness diagnosis is made."

  • Practices 'face £105,000 loss' for taking part in network DES in current form GP Online flags up the growing disquiet among GPs over the implications of the new Primary Care Networks which were supposed to be giving them additional support:
    "In a move that raises serious questions over the future of the £1.8bn primary care network (PCN) programme, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (BBO) LMCs has demanded that NHS England cancel or freeze the proposed specifications - calling them 'completely unrealistic'.
    "The LMC said it 'cannot in any way endorse these specifications, nor do we have any confidence that national negotiations will result in NHS England agreeing to sufficient positive changes'.
    "Its analysis warns that the specifications are 'impossible to deliver' with the available workforce and that that in a best-case scenario practices will face costs 'at least in excess of £100,000 per annum'."

  • $170 Billion and Counting: The Cost of Brexit for the U.K. Figures to remember next time ministers argue they can't put more money into the NHS. Bloomberg reports that the total cost of Brexit to the economy is now greater than the total of payments into the EU in four decades and more since Britain joined!

  • The health and social care workforce gap Report in the House of Commons Library begins:
    "Around 1.2 million full-time equivalent (FTE) staff work in the NHS, and 1.1 million work in adult social care. Around 78% of social care jobs are in the independent sector. Providers across NHS England are reporting a shortage of over 100,000 FTE staff. Adult social care is facing even starker recruitment and retention challenges, with an estimated 122,000 FTE vacancies. This equates to a vacancy rate of around 8% for both the NHS and adult social care, compared with a vacancy rate of under 3% for jobs across the UK economy.
    "Analysis by the King’s Fund suggests the NHS workforce gap could reach almost 250,000 by 2030. Nursing is facing one of the greatest problems with one in eight posts vacant. "

  • U.S. health system costs four times more to run than Canada’s single-payer system Los Angeles Times reminds readers that:
    "In the United States, a legion of administrative healthcare workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.
    "Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering healthcare is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much."

  • Combined Performance Summary: November–December 2019 Nuffield Trust crunches the latest numbers on NHS performance:
    "NHS England published its Combined Performance Summary, which provides data on key performance measures for November and December of last year. SitRep data for the first week of 2020 was also released, giving a more up-to-date analysis of how the NHS is coping this winter. Here we show some of these statistics and how they compare with previous years."

  • £1.8bn PCN programme on brink as senior GPs threaten to withdraw GP Online on the developing crisis in Primary Care Networks:
    "the document has been met with widespread dissatisfaction from doctors, who say that the draft specifications create workload ‘vastly in excess of what is credible’ for GPs. They have also criticised a lack of separate funding to carry out additional duties, such as fortnightly care home visits.
    "This had led to a number of senior GPs and leaders of mature networks, including the 2018 winners of the NAPC Primary Care Home of the Year, threatening to pull out of the PCN DES unless it is altered ‘radically’."

  • Long waiting times for GP appointments are unacceptable, says College, as it calls on Government to prioritise general practice which has been 'running on empty for too long' Royal College of General Practitioners steps up the pressure on government to deliver on some of its promises:
    "Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "It is totally unacceptable to expect patients to wait weeks for a GP appointment. Patients -and GPs - deserve better.
    "However, the situation in which we find ourselves has not happened overnight, and the College has been sounding the alarm bells for many years.
    "Whilst workload in general practice has escalated in terms of volume and complexity, successive governments have failed to invest sufficiently in the family doctor service in order to keep pace with demand, and one consequence is that we now have a worrying shortage of GPs."

  • 'Misery' for A&E patients facing record-long waits BBC report underlines the parlous state of the NHS after a decade of budgets effectively frozen in real terms while demand has increased:
    "Huge pressures at hospitals across the NHS over the last month have led to long delays for patients seeking emergency care, figures suggest.
    "The NHS England December data showed record delays in A&E with one in five patients waiting more than four hours.
    "A key problem seems to have been a shortage of beds on wards.
    "The figures show nearly 100,000 of the sickest patients faced hours stuck on trolleys and waiting in corridors while beds were found for them.
    "Some hospitals were even forced to introduce emergency protocols and turn away walk-in patients deemed not to need immediate help, while many have postponed routine operations to fee up space."

  • Glaucoma patients going blind due to treatment delays, watchdog finds Guardian reports that in one of the richest countries in the world "People with glaucoma are going blind because NHS eyesight services have “inadequate capacity” to follow up such patients properly after diagnosis, an investigation has revealed.
    "An estimated 22 patients a month are suffering severe or permanent loss of sight because of long delays in getting follow-up appointments, the patient safety watchdog found."

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