Call for action to avert “corridor care”

Royal College of Psychiatrists maps a way towards less overcrowded mental health wards

American firms scooping up mental health contracts

Trusts bid to gag NHS staff

Fifth time around: Election pledge recycles old promise of more GPs

Wilfully misleading: Claims of £33.9bn extra spending inflate value by 65%

Checking up on Johnson’s fake forty new hospitals

Embarrassing NHS figures postponed till after polling day

Charges and the ‘Hostile Environment’ in the NHS

Beware unrealistic cancer promises as services are overrun

Health secretary’s GP claim is misleading, but he can’t hide the crisis

‘Cost of living’ main reason why student nurses drop out

Katerina Kolyva, executive director of the Council of Deans, told HSJ that, the lack of national funding to support the living costs of registered student nurses is the main factor behind the drop out rate from courses.

The Council of Deans, which represents UK universities that are engaged in education and research for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, want the reintroduction of a maintenance grant for student nurses. 

Full story in The HSJ, 11 November 2019

Care home operators accused of extracting ‘disguised’ profits

The think tank the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) has estimated that £1.5bn a year – 10% of the care home industry’s £15bn income – “leaks” and often ends up enriching owners or other firms closely linked to them.

The £1.5 bn in profit that care home operators make each year includes fees to directors and an array of questionable financial arrangements, according to research undertaken by CHPI. Many of the firms that provide most of the UK’s 465,000 care home beds are owned or backed by hedge funds, while some of the biggest are based in overseas tax havens. 

Full story in The Guardian, 7 November 2019

Nurses in Northern Ireland have voted to strike over staffing numbers and pay disputes

Following a ballot, nurses in Northern Ireland have for the first time in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) voted to take industrial action. 

Nurse’s pay in Northern Ireland has fallen behind pay in England, Scotland and Wales, according to the RCN, with the real value of nurses’ pay down 15% over the past eight years. The shortage of nurses has led to a high use of agency nurses, which cost over £32 million last year, according to the RCN.

The union now has four weeks to inform employers how they plan to proceed. If strike action goes ahead it could coincide with the election campaign.

Full story in BBC News, 7 November 2019

Tory Cuts mean 88 year old with dementia left on A&E trolley for hours 

Jill Woolley an 88 year old with dementia taken by ambulance to A&E at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham spent more than five hours on a trolley in A&E. It took more than 90 minutes just to be transferred into the care of the hospital. 

 Her son-in-law Peter Tuck took photos that showed Jill Woolley with other frail and elderly patients waiting side-by-side on trolleys crammed into the department.

The photos were taken on Monday, days before the trust declared a “critical incident” due to pressure on A&E. 

Full story from The Mirror, 7 November 2019

BMA demands safe-staffing legislation for all sections of the NHS

The BMA has published its election manifesto, which includes a demand for legislation that covers all sections of the NHS, to ensure that individual clinicians do not get the blame when the system puts them under unmanageable pressure.

Analysis by the BMA has shown this winter could be the “worst ever”, with over a million patients waiting over four hours in A&E departments, with almost a third of these waiting for treatment on trolleys. 

The BMA also urges political leaders to increase spending by 4.1% each year; take stronger action on smoking, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity and poor diet; reform the punitive pension tax system for doctors; pay doctors fairly and address historic underpayments; and give the public the final say on any Brexit deal.

Full manifesto can be downloaded from The BMA here, 7 November 2019

Under-18s being denied urgent mental health treatment, say GPs

A survey of GPs across the UK show that they do not feel confident that a young person will receive treatment for mental health conditions. The GPs say that teenagers seeking urgent help from CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services) are being denied treatment or facing months of delays.

In the survey of 1,008 GPs, conducted by the charity YoungMinds, 76% said they did not usually feel confident a young person they referred to CAMHS would receive treatment for their illness. Only 10% were confident that treatment would follow. 

Full story in The Guardian, 7 November 2019

Hundreds of mental health beds needed to end out-of-area care

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is urging the NHS to open hundreds of extra beds for people with mental health conditions. It says that the cuts in mental health beds have gone too far, leading to the “shameful practice” of patients being sent hundreds of miles from home to be treated.

Although bed capacity should not exceed 85%, NHS data shows some mental health trusts are operating with all or almost all their beds full. Shortages of mental health beds have led to trusts sending patients out of their home area, often hundreds of miles away from home, in order to get a bed. Mental health experts agree it can harm patients by increasing their distress, separating them from their family and setting back their recovery.

Full story in The Guardian, 6 November 2019

‘Critical incident’ over A&E pressures declared by hospital trust

HSJ reported that Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has declared a “critical incident” due to pressures on its emergency services. The publication has seen a document that said the trust and wider system was experiencing “exceptional pressure”, with patient flow and discharges described as the biggest issue.

Mark Simmonds, NUH’s clinical director of urgent and emergency care, posted on Twitter that there were 160 patients in the emergency department and, at one point, 14 ambulances arrived within 15 minutes. A critical incident is a step up from a “black alert”. The trust reported black alerts over the summer. 

Full story in The HSJ, 6 November 2019

Nurse sacked because of past whistleblowing activity

A judge of an employment tribunal ruled that St Andrew’s Healthcare, a large mental health provider, unfairly dismissed a nurse with a record of whistleblowing because it feared he was seeking to highlight care failures.

A judge decided Noel Finn was wrongly dismissed largely because of his roles in exposing scandals at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre and in the government’s Personal Independence Payments assessment centre.

Full story in The HSJ, 5 November 2019

Cuts to public health services hit the poorest the hardest 

Research by the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research), reported in The Guardian, shows that England’s poorest communities have borne the brunt of almost £900m of cuts to public health spending, despite them having higher rates of disease.

One pound in every £7 of the £871.6m that has been cut from Whitehall’s public health grant to local councils in England over the last five years has been taken from budgets in the 10 poorest areas of the country. In contrast the 10 wealthiest places have lost public health funding equivalent to just £1 in every £46.

Overall the most deprived areas have lost £120m while the least deprived have seen their budgets contract by just £20m.

The report warns that such inequality good increase still further the difference in life expectancy between poor areas and well-off areas.

Full story in The Guardian, 5 November 2019

No ‘sunlit uplands’ from Tory NHS promises

Chris Hopson, the head of the organisation representing NHS trusts has called for parties to avoid “cheap political slogans” during the general election campaign. An example of a potentially misleading campaign, notes Hopson, is the Conservative promise of funding as the level of NHS funding increases promised by the Conservatives would do no more than maintain current provision, rather than take the NHS to “sunlit uplands”.

Full story in The Guardian, 4 November 2019

Labour promises to remove all traces of privatisation from NHS

The Guardian reported that the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has warned the public not to trust Donald Trump’s assurance that the NHS will not form part of post-Brexit trade deals. Labour, he said, is committed to eradicating all traces of privatisation from the service.

In the same article, the Guardian reports that Labour has uncovered new figures showing that thousands of operations have been cancelled due to staff shortages and equipment failures, according to data received in FoI requests. The number of operations cancelled because of staffing issues and equipment failures have each increased by a third in the last two years. In 2018-19, 10,900 were cancelled because of staffing issues, while 4,800 were cancelled because of equipment failures.

Full story in The Guardian, 3 November 2019

Midwife shortage at Yorkshire hospital shuts birth centre

The Friarwood Birth Centre at Pontefract General Infirmary, in west Yorkshire, will shut until October next year. A statement from Martin Barkley, chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Despite having been delighted to recruit 15 midwives from the cohort of newly qualified midwives that join the NHS at this time every year, it has not been enough to ensure we have an adequate number of midwives across three midwife-led units and our obstetric service based at Pinderfields Hospital.

Full story in the Evening Standard, 30 October 2019 

US officials discussed the NHS with US officials at secret meetings

Channel 4’s Dispatches programme has revealed that senior British civil servants have met with representatives from a US companies to discuss the NHS in post-Brexit trade negotiations. US drug company representative were also reportedly given direct access to British officials in five meetings – two of which took place in Washington.

Full story in The Independent, 28 October 2019

Patients went blind after appointment delays

The Times has reported on an internal report into the treatment of glaucoma patients at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust that found that fifteen patients were left blind or with severe sight loss after staff shortages led to delays in their treatment.

The report follows an investigation at the Trust after a patient with glaucoma had to wait ten months for an appointment when they should have been seen in three months. The investigation found that 4,500 glaucoma patients had suffered delays. Of those, 34 were contacted for review and 15 were found to have been left blind or with severe sight loss. 

Full story in The Times, 26 October 2019


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