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  • Boris Johnson slapped down by watchdog for false claim about Universal Credit Mirror reports on yet another lie by PM Johnson being officially exposed:
    "Boris Johnson has been slapped down by the official statistics watchdog for making a false claim about Universal Credit.
    "Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister told PMQs the six-in-one benefit "has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs."
    "But the UK Statistics Authority has now ruled his claim was inaccurate - because the figure is only predicted once the benefit is fully rolled out in 2024.
    "The public body polices politicians' use of statistics, and repeatedly lambasted Mr Johnson in 2016 for using the fake claim that the UK sends £350m a week to Brussels even after being told it was untrue."

  • Trust shuts ward suddenly after CQC visit (£) HSJ reports: "A trust has closed an escalation ward “following discussions with the Care Quality Commission”, after a visit by the regulator which HSJ understands was critical of some services.
    "Eight patients on Medway Foundation Trust’s 15-bed Dickens Ward — which is mainly used for patients who no longer require acute hospital care but might require other services — were moved to acute beds and the other seven were discharged. "

  • Government’s NHS funding pledge ‘less generous than first appears’ The Independent reports: "Legislation on health spending completed its passage through the House of Commons on Monday, but the Health Foundation think tank has warned the bill falls short of providing the NHS with the money needed to prevent services from declining.
    "It also warned the money only increased the budget of NHS England and ignored other key spending on the NHS workforce and public health as well as social care, which it said were all pivotal to the wider stability and functioning of the health service.
    "…The Conservatives’ funding bill promises a headline-grabbing amount of cash for the NHS of £33.9bn by 2023-24. But Anita Charlesworth, the Health Foundation’s director of research and economics, said this figure does not account for the effect of inflation and counts money already spent.
    "Once these are taken into account, she said the actual money the NHS will receive over the next four years will be just £16.7bn."

  • Change summary - 2020 STP, CCG and Commissioning Hub reconfiguration NHS Digital lists the mergers of CCGs and other changes that will take effect from April 2020.

  • Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2018/19 Report by the CQC highlights the poor treatment of a vulnerable group of mental health patients detained under the MHA:
    "When a person is admitted to hospital under the MHA, this should be to a location as close as possible to their normal place of residence, their families and other support systems.
    "Unfortunately, patients continue to be hospitalised out-of-area, sometimes over a hundred miles from home, usually because there are no beds in the local hospital. Worryingly, this is frequently being accepted without challenge."

  • NHS pressures in England: Waiting times, demand, and capacity Interesting figures and graphics published in December by House of Commons Library

  • Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition on “State of Emergency” Overcrowding at Ontario PPP (PFI)-financed hospital in Brampton (in the Greater Toronto area) triggers a "state of emergency" declaration by the local council. Interview with campaigner Natalie Mehra explains the issues nails the problem of chronic under-funding and "hallway medicine".

  • Review of capital expenditure in the NHS The NAO report that has lifted the lid on systematic underfunding of NHS buildings and equipment under austerity squeeze on spending since 2010. Findings include:
    "The growth in backlog maintenance indicates that there is an increased
    risk of harm to patients. In October 2019 NHS Digital reported that the backlog
    of maintenance work to restore buildings to an appropriate standard was around
    £6.5 billion.
    "An appropriate standard includes the physical condition of the estate, as
    well as compliance with fire safety and health and safety standards. High-risk backlog
    maintenance currently stands at £1.1 billion, and grew by 139% between 2014-15 and
    2018-19, indicating an increased risk of harm to patients. "

  • Somerset hospitals' minor injuries units put at risk of closure Somerset County Gazette flags up the threat to minor injury units, and more loss of local access to treatment:
    "SOME of Somerset’s minor injury units could be closed down and replaced with a smaller number of “urgent treatment centres”.
    "The NHS runs seven such units (known as MIUs) in Somerset, which provide health services for people who are unable to see a GP at short notice and don’t need to go to A&E.
    "The government is seeking to roll out urgent treatment centres across the country – larger hubs which are run and staffed by GPs, with longer opening hours and a wider range of services.
    "But Somerset cannot afford to replace all its MIUs with these centres – meaning some of them may close in the years ahead."

  • Parts of NHS 'seriously financially unstable', auditors find Guardian picks up on NAO report:
    "The National Audit Office found that NHS provider trusts reported a combined deficit of £827m and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) a £150m deficit in the financial year ending 31 March 2019.
    "It said extra money provided by the government to stabilise the finances of individual NHS bodies had not been fully effective.
    "Trusts in financial difficulty were increasingly relying on short-term loans from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the auditors said. The loans were in effect being treated as income by trusts who had built up debts totalling £10.9bn in March 2019."

  • The NAO has sounded a warning bell on the financial sustainability of the NHS Responding to the National Audit Office’s reports on NHS Financial Management and Sustainability, Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation, said:
    "The NAO has sounded a timely warning bell about the significant financial and operational challenges facing the NHS. Even with the government’s proposed investment, the health service will struggle to maintain current levels of patient care in the face of growing demand, let alone deliver the ambitious improvements to services promised by the NHS Long Term Plan. "

  • Review of troubled service still not launched after 16 months (£)HSJ report on the failure to launch the promised inquiry by the Royal College of Pathologists into the failings of the North Kent PathologyServices:
    "Failings in a merged pathology service based at Dartford and Gravesham Trust led to more than 3,000 patients being recalled in late 2018 and early 2019.
    "Errors flagged included tests which could have shown acute kidney injury not being reported to GPs promptly; running out of essential supplies; failing to secure blood samples; tests not being processed in time; and GPs being unaware of test outcomes due to the way they were sent."

  • Jeremy Hunt chairing the health select committee is a blatant conflict of interest Guardian journalist Denis Campbell tears apart the logic of former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt being allowed to chair the previously outspoken Commons Health Select Committee

  • PM urged to give NHS 100 new hospitals plus an extra £7bn a year Guardian report highlighting the latest pressure from NHS Providers for more capital (see below for link to the NHS providers report).

  • Is it time to retire the title of manager? The latest jewels unearthed from the bullshit mines of US management journal Strategy-Business:
    "I’d like to propose a list: words that we should consider retiring.
    "Not that they should be deleted entirely from the English language, of course, but just moved out of popular usage.
    "And at the top of my list is manager. The word has had a long and useful run. In the days when industry dynamics were more predictable, executives could focus their attention internally, searching for opportunities to “manage” or refine their processes, and using techniques such as lean manufacturing and Six Sigma to achieve quality improvements and cost savings.
    "The role of managers was clear: The company gave them assets, including time, money, people, and other resources, and their job was to optimize those resources to within an inch of their lives."
    "… So, if not manager, what should people in those roles be called? I vote for team leader, which sends a clear and powerful signal that your job is to lead (and all the responsibilities that go with that, including setting strategy and priorities, and helping people build new skills), rather than just making sure people are doing their assigned jobs. And I know these won’t fly as much, but I also like the idea of calling managers coaches or even talent developers."

  • Rebuilding our NHS - why it's time to invest A new NHS Providers report once again pressing for more capital to be available for repairs and new developments if the NHs Long Term Plan is to become a reality:
    "A comprehensive spending review is likely to take place in 2020. It represents the best
    opportunity that has existed or will exist for many years to address this issue. This report is NHS Providers’ contribution to the discussion ahead of this vital decision point.
    "We surveyed trusts about the nature and scale of the problem that currently exists, and the impact underinvestment is having on the frontline.
    "This publication makes the case for why capital matters and how we have campaigned to influence recent policy developments in this area.
    "Informed by trust leaders’ experiences, we have sought to identify both the opportunity that an improved capital system presents, and a set of solutions that, taken together, would put the NHS on a more sustainable footing."

  • Italian scientists isolate DNA sequence of coronavirus Euronews reports on the swift work by the (publicly-funded, NHS-style) Italian health care system: the contrast with the private sector could not be more stark:
    "A hospital in Rome announced on Sunday that it has isolated the DNA sequence of the coronavirus.
    "Visiting the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the discovery will be immediately made available to the entire international community in the interests of taking further measures against the outbreak.
    "Having isolated the virus means that we'll have many more opportunities to study it, to understand it and to better test what can be proved effective to contain its spread," Speranza told reporters. "All of our knowledge and the images of the isolated virus will be promptly shared with the international community"."

  • DWP clawed back £50million in Universal Credit loan repayments in just one month The Mirror reporting the scale of brutality of the working of the hated Universal Credit system: "Boris Johnson's government clawed back £50 million one month in loan repayments from some of the poorest households in Britain.
    "The appalling cost of the Department of Work and Pension’s five-week wait for Universal Credit payments have been exposed by a campaigning Scottish MP.
    "Chris Stephens MP said he has been staggered to discover the government is reclaiming so much money in what he said is a clear sign of a flawed policy.
    "New claimants for Universal Credit have to wait a minimum of five weeks for their first payment to be processed, forcing many to take out loans form from the Government
    "The borrowing, known as Advance Payments, to cover their basic living costs before their first entitlement arrives and is then deducted from regular payments."

  • 30,000 ambulances are forced to wait outside crammed A&E departments during December and January for over an HOUR, figures reveal Daily Heil expressing shock and concern over the consequences of 10 years of austerity-driven spending limits imposed by the Party they just helped secure reelection. Expect more of the right wing press to run critical stories on Tory health policy in the period between general elections.

  • ‘All we’re asking for is equality’: Homerton Hospital chief quizzed over cleaners’ sick pay Hackney Citizen reports on the poor terms and conditions of an NHS contractor:
    "Councillors quizzed Homerton Hospital chief executive Tracey Fletcher last night as the row over sick pay for its outsourced cleaners, porters and catering assistants rumbled on.
    "The issue hit the headlines in December, after workers employed through facility services company ISS revealed they do not receive pay for the first three days of sickness, forcing them to go to work while ill.
    "Trade unions are now putting pressure on the Homerton to resolve the issue with ISS, with the GMB calling on Fletcher to meet with the employees directly and bring the services currently on a £45m contract with the company back in-house."

  • The 'haunting' image of a man whose medical needs were deemed insufficient for free care. He died weighing 45kg. His widow has one question - 'how ill do you have to be?' Manchester Evening News reports on the appalling case of Barry Balderstone:
    "Ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, double incontinence, chronic kidney disease, unable to move or feed himself.
    "This man's medical needs were deemed insufficient for him to qualify for free, full-time social care.
    "The day after that decision was made - upheld at appeal following two applications - 75-year-old Barry Balderstone died.
    "How ill do you have to be to qualify?," widow Marilyn said.
    "The NHS won't comment on the tragic case.
    "Barry, from Bollington, passed away from advanced Parkinson's. He weighed just 45kg.
    "He lived at Mount Hall Care Home and qualified for £150 a week under the continuing healthcare scheme, CheshireLive reports. That covered a small percentage of the costs of his care.
    "The couple's savings and pension pot were hit hard.
    "East Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said Barry was not eligible for full funding, which would have paid for all of his care needs."

  • Look Up Your Hospital: Is It Being Penalized By Medicare? US Kaiser Health Networks highlights the financial penalties levied by the publicly funded Medicare system (for older Americans) for poor quality care:
    "Under programs set up by the Affordable Care Act, the federal government cuts payments to hospitals that have high rates of readmissions and those with the highest numbers of infections and patient injuries.
    "For the readmission penalties, Medicare cuts as much as 3 percent for each patient, although the average is generally much lower.
    "The patient safety penalties cost hospitals 1 percent of Medicare payments over the federal fiscal year, which runs from October through September.

  • UNISON-brokered deal ends outsourcing at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust UNISON press release states
    "A thousand low-paid porters, cleaners and catering staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London are today (Thursday) celebrating after winning the right to be directly managed by the NHS, says UNISON.
    "From 1 April the staff – who work in the trust’s five hospitals across the capital – will no longer be employed by private contractor Sodexo. The company has held the contract since 2015.
    "As part of the transfer back to the NHS, staff from Sodexo will see their pay, overtime, pensions and sickness allowances brought in line with other health service workers, ending years of unfair treatment, says the union."

  • End-of-life care is vital. Why is it so neglected? Guardian's Owen Jones throws the spotlight on the shockingly inadequate funding system for hospices:
    "Imagine if the quality of your local maternity services depended on how much money had been raised by cake sales and marathons. We would regard this as an intolerable state of affairs.
    "Then why, as Marie Curie’s softly spoken chief executive, Matthew Reed, puts it to me, do we accept this funding model for the care we receive at the very end of our lives?
    "What sort of society allows a patient to take their last breath in a lift as they are rushed from A&E to a ward, “treated like a FedEx parcel as they as die because bed pressures are so great,” as palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke put it to me?"

  • NHS England pledges to change network proposals after 'significant' GP concerns Pulse report on the climbdown by NHS England on primary Care Networks:
    "The network proposals, revealed in a draft document on 23 December, caused anger among the profession when it was announced that GPs would have to carry out 'at least' fortnightly care home visits from September.
    "GP leaders warned the plans were not achievable, due to the increase in workload and lack of additional funding, during a time of a staffing crisis in general practice - and in some regions practices were advised to reject the network DES contract altogether.
    "This was followed by GPs stepping down from their roles as clinical directors of networks."

  • Late diagnosis of lung cancer hitting survival rate, study says Guardian highlighting a report from the UK Lung Cancer Coalition:
    "People with lung cancer are dying after being diagnosed late in A&E because their GP missed signs of the disease despite often repeated visits, experts have revealed.
    "As many as 56% of people in some parts of England who get lung cancer are only diagnosed when they visit A&E ….
    "They are five times more likely to die within a year than those whose condition has been identified either by their GP or through the NHS cancer screening programme."

  • Quality pays. Why Luton & Dunstable University Hospital Foundation Trust should invest in quality services Link to UNISON Eastern Region report opposing Luton & Dunstable FT's plans to contract out cleaning and catering on a 10-year tender (after a wretched 5-year contract with Engie). The report is written by (HCT editor) John Lister.

  • NHS England will 'significantly rework' draft PCN plans, officials confirm GP Online reports that the widespread outrage of GPs at proposals for Primary Care Networks put out to consultation just before Christmas seems to have forced NHS England into a sharp retreat:
    "NHS England is drawing up ‘a significantly reworked set of service specifications’ for primary care networks (PCNs), officials have confirmed, just weeks after controversial draft plans left the future of networks in doubt."

  • Universal Credit case finds government discriminated against thousands of disabled people Liverpool Echo story:
    "The government has suffered a humiliating court defeat and been found to have unlawfully discriminated against thousands of severely disabled benefit claimants.
    "The Court of Appeal has today dismissed the government's appeals against two previous court judgements which found that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had unlawfully discriminated against thousands of severely disabled people who were moved onto Universal Credit.
    "The ruling upholds two successful High Court challenges brought by two men (known as TP and AR) which found that people who were previously on disability benefits should be protected against a drop in their income when they move into the controversial Universal Credit system."

  • NHS England asked ‘inadequate’ hospital to admit patient despite ban More shocking evidence from the (£) HSJ on the poor levels of service and low priority attached to learning disabilities:
    "NHS England asked an “inadequate” hospital for people with learning disabilities and autism to admit a patient, despite the service having a “voluntary” ban on admissions in place — and shortly before inspectors decided to impose a legal restriction.
    "The provider said it was an “exceptional case”, where the individual “had several failed placements”, and had stayed at the hospital — Jeesal Cawston Park in Norfolk — “in the past”.
    "However, it appears to highlight the shortage of good quality accommodation and placements available and pressure on commissioners to make use of “inadequate” facilities."

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