18. July 2012 15:42
GPs fill less than half of the seats of boards of clinical commissioning groups, new research has found.
Clinical commissioning is at the heart of the Government’s NHS reforms but in some parts of the country GPs fill just a fifth of senior positions.
The study by Pulse Magazine found that on 44% of CCG boards fewer than half of members were doctors – mainly due to financial restraints.
Despite the findings, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said the statistics were “encouraging” with “twice as many GPs than managers on CCG governing bodies”.
The study of 1,325 positions across a hundred commissioning groups in England discovered that only 645 seats were occupied by practitioners. Managers and finance officers accounted for a further 267 positions, whilst there were 140 lay members and a further 65 nurses.
Surprisingly, hospital doctors were only allocated positions on 36 CCG managerial committees despite a requirement from the DH that each board should include a specialist. To date, research found, only 7 of the 36 positions have been filled.
Bob Senior, Head of Medical Services at RSM Tenon and Chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, said that management allowances had influenced the number of clinicians included on CCG boards. “The economies of scale don’t work so smaller groups are having to use that money judiciously, which means you can’t have quite as big an involvement from GPs.”
“The main driver for Andrew Lansley’s reforms was to put budgets in the hands of frontline clinicians – if GP-led commissioning is to have any chance of succeeding, it must be led by GPs,” said Steve Nowottny, acting editor of Pulse.
18. July 2012 14:31
Labour plans to scrap the Government’s controversial NHS reforms if they win the next general election, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham (pictured) has said.
Speaking in Parliament during a debate opposing the reforms, Mr Burnham insisted the changes open the door to privatisation within the NHS and undermine the health service in general.
He said that Labour will “repeal the bill” if elected claiming it to be a “defective, sub-optimal piece of legislation” that has left the NHS with a “complicated mess”.
The Shadow Health Secretary added that it would be “irresponsible” to leave the Health Act in place if Labour were elected and added that the “gap between ministers’ complacent statements and people’s real experience of the NHS gets wider every week”.
“They are in denial about the effects of their reorganisation in the real world, it is dangerous complacency and it can’t be allowed to continue.”
Health Minister Simon Burns countered Mr Burnham’s claims by reminding the Leigh MP that Labour leader Ed Miliband had previously said he would keep clinical commissioning in place if elected as prime minister.
But the former Health Secretary insisted “it’s not about the organisations, it’s about the services they provide”.
“The existing organisations can be asked to work differently, as I would ask them to work differently,” he said.
“I don’t want those NHS organisations in outright competition, hospital versus hospital. I want them working collaboratively.”
18. July 2012 13:55
The NHS Commissioning Board is planning to fund a new innovation body that can deliver a “system-wide” response to the QIPP challenges facing the NHS.
According to Jim Easton, the Board’s Director of Improvement and Efficiency, the new organisation will commence operation in April 2013.
It will replace the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and the NHS Technology Adoption Centre, as well as the National Cancer Action Team and NHS Diabetes and Kidney Care.
The Board will set priorities for the new body after consulting with providers and commissioners.
The new body will seek to generate practical tools that can be implemented across the NHS, and to help providers and commissioners access existing partnerships such as the Advancing Quality Alliance.
“The Board is trying to set this up as a system resource that responds to the needs of players,” Easton said. It will not be a “top-down change machine”, rather a “system-wide response” to the challenges facing the NHS.
“QIPP is everything,” he argued, echoing Sir David Nicholson’s recent statement that the QIPP agenda would dominate the NHS for “the foreseeable future”.
Easton emphasised the need to shift more care into the community through service redesign, which meant adopting ideas from other sectors and nations.
“This organisation needs to provide hands-on support for great models of care that you can get access to and deploy quickly,” he said.
18. July 2012 11:47
The Strategic Health Authority which controls London has transferred £2.2m from its budget for mental health services to fund its latest cancer programme.
Its Delivery Group approved the cut in mental health services to match priorities set by the board after it was decided that care could still be provided “under more streamlined” arrangements.
Minutes from the recent board meeting show the budget switch was made following a “detailed process of challenge and scrutiny”.
Cancer services in the capital were recently merged in a move the NHS hopes will save up to 1,000 lives a year.
London Cancer combines hospital specialists, GPs and scientists and allows patients to receive specialist care closer to their homes.
Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones (pictured), Chief Medical Officer, London Cancer, said the capital has “some of the best scientists and clinicians in the country” but the challenge is to get them working together “much more effectively”.
“I think this is a real opportunity to do something ground-breaking for our patients,” she said. “We’ve been given the opportunity to think really big and to plan services for a population of three and a half million people in north and east London, so this means we can now compete with the very best in the world.”
It’s estimated that around 13,600 people die from cancer each year in London, and around 27,000 people are diagnosed with the disease.
18. July 2012 11:42
All Foundation Trusts will be able to increase the private healthcare proportion of their income to 49% from 1 October, the DH has confirmed.
The rule – included in the Health and Social Care Act but still controversial – may help NHS trusts that are currently struggling to achieve FT status.
However, it has been criticised as likely to increase rationing of NHS services.
Since their creation in 2002, FTs have not been allowed to increase the proportion of income they earn from private patients.
The Health and Social Care Bill originally removed all caps on private earnings for FTs. The current rule was a key House of Lords amendment.
A DH spokeswoman said that being allowed to receive almost half of their income from private patients will enable FTs to expand their NHS services. “Services for NHS patients will be safeguarded, because foundation hospitals will still have as their core legal purpose a duty to provide services to them,” she added.
However, Ron Singer, President of the Medical Practitioners’ Union, commented: “It is inevitable that when an NHS hospital gets into financial trouble it will try to increase its income from private patients, putting NHS patients at the back of the queue.”
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham predicted “an explosion of private work in the NHS” arising from the new rule.
18. July 2012 09:05
The Department of Health’s Matthew Kershaw has been appointed as the trust special administrator at the failed South London Healthcare Trust.
The Director of Provider Delivery will combine chair and chief executive responsibilities after it made history by becoming the first trust to enter administration following debts of £65m last year.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said Mr Kershaw “must now drive the changes and shape a sustainable solution” at the trust.
As part of his new duties, Mr Kershaw will be required to produce a draft report containing recommendations for the future of the trust before Parliament by the end of October. This will then be submitted to the Health Secretary before he makes a final decision on the way forward for the trust by February 2013.
The DH said that the newly appointed trust administrator would be supported by “a dedicated expert team including an independent clinical panel as well as NHS and external strategic advice. In particular, he will bring together a clinical advisory panel”.