Stories from the Lowdown and editor’s choices from across the news media:


Both main parties call to bring NHS catering back in-house

The listeria sandwich scandal prompted Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Labour’s Jonathon Ashworth to call publicly for NHS managers to end their dependence on external private suppliers and bring cooking back in house, with hospitals once again employing their own chefs and relying on quality local food.



Why are NHS hospitals and GP surgeries crumbling?

The NHS’s infrastructure is crumbling and disintegrating – 50% of GP surgeries are not fit for their current purpose, according to the BMA, and recent data shows that £6 billion is needed to complete the backlog of maintenance needed in hospitals and clinics.



Hungry for action: the long fight to improve hospital food

In recent years celebrity chef James Martin has led the most determined attempt to get hospitals sourcing, preparing and serving fresh, locally produced food for patients, and for staff.



Mental health trust is still unsafe

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) is England’s worst performing mental health trust, and remains bogged down in ‘special measures,’ although these measures have done nothing to address the deeply flawed management regime, or prevent it receiving a  third ‘inadequate’ rating from the CQC last November, and again being branded as unsafe.



Leaky ship in choppy North West London waters

Signs of dislocation and chaos continue in North West London after the flagship “Shaping a Healthier Future” project – which had threatened to close A&E and acute services at Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals – was belatedly scrapped by Matt Hancock in April.



Privatising public involvement

While Matt Hancock claims there will be no privatisation on his watch, his own Department for Health and Social Care is proceeding to further privatise even the process of patient and public involvement.



Cambridge and Peterborough cuts home in on community services

This week Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG announced a first round of £2.8 million in spending cuts affecting a range of services including brain injury rehabilitation, ophthalmology service, and dermatology with a further £1.3m expected later in the year.



Bradford staff go for second week of strikes

UNISON members at Bradford Hospital whose lively week-long strike has failed to secure any retreat from management could be set for further action.



>> Editor’s choice from wider media

Capita admits to further cervical screening administration errors

BMA are demanding that Capita have their contracts to provide support to GP practices taken away after they have admitted to more mistakes in their cancer screening programme administration.

Full article in GP online, 18 July 2019


Child mental health unit referrals ‘up nearly 50%’

BBC News sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to NHS trusts and schools in the UK about children’s mental health, with responses from 46 NHS trusts and 155 schools. Results from the NHS trusts show that children being referred to mental health units have risen from 21,125 to 31,531 in 3 years.

Full story in BBC News, 18 July 2019


Campaign calls for Parliamentary inquiry into Oxford PET-CT scan service privatisation

Keep our NHS Public Oxfordshire (KONPOX) has written to the chair of Parliament’s Health Select Committee – Sarah Wollaston MP – requesting for Oxford University Hospitals Trust to keep the contract for the PET-CT scanning service. NHS England are showing preference for private provider INHealth as they offered mobile scanners for Milton Keynes and Swindon.

Full story in Banbury Guardian, 17 July 2019


‘One Stop Cancer Clinic’ will reduce worry and speed up diagnosis for patients 

A new clinic for patients with suspected oesophageal or gastric cancer will assess patients and give them their results on the same day. 

This new ground-breaking service at Nottingham University Hospitals is the first of its kind in the country. Prior to this clinic being set up patients would need three separate visits to the hospital before their results were presented. Currently the clinic is open just one day a week but will soon be extended to Monday-Friday opening hours, with patients able to have their first appointment within 7 days of referral from their GP. 

Full story on Nursing Notes, 16 July 2019


Coroners link eleven deaths to glitches in NHS 111 and 999 systems 

Eleven deaths, including two young children, have been linked to glitches in the algorithms in NHS 111 and 999 systems.  Coroners have issued stark warnings about the systems over fears the tragedies may be repeated. They suggest swift action to improve the service to reduce the risk of fatal errors.  The “prevention of future death” coroner reports suggest the pathway algorithms have failed to detect cases of very sick children, leading to deaths.  

Full story in The Telegraph, 15 July 2019


Serious incident declared over cancer diagnostics backup

A serious incident has been declared at King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust after hundreds of cancer patients have missed the urgent two-week referral target for endoscopy. 

Full story on HSJ, 15 July 2019


Lincolnshire health visitors stage 48-hour strike action 

58 health visitors employed by Lincolnshire County Council began a 48-hour walk out on Monday 15th July, as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions.

Unite the Union claims its members have lost the equivalent of £2,000 a year since the NHS handed their contracts over to the council in 2017. This strike action is said to be the first of several planned by the union over the next 2 weeks. It is believed to be the first action of its kind from health visitors in Lincolnshire.

Full story on Nursing Notes, 15 July 2019

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