19. July 2012 16:01
Stuart Drummond, mayor of Hartlepool, insists the town will not miss out on its fair share of funding for healthcare under the NHS reforms.
Local residents raised concerns that local services would be cut after Hartlepool was grouped with Stockton-on-Tees to form a clinical commissioning group as part of the reforms.
Speaking at a meeting to discuss local priorities, Mr Drummond said the CCG is “fighting for our fair share, if not more”.
It is anticipated that NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group will be allocated a budget of around £360m. Budgets, to be confirmed in 2013-14, will be decided on the size of population and levels of local deprivation.
Alongside mayoral duties for Hartlepool, Mr Drummond is also the chair of the region’s shadow health and wellbeing board. He insists that the area’s people are “still masters of our own destiny” and said “we have a good track record of getting more funding than you would expect for an area of our size.”
Ali Wilson, Director of Commissioning and System Development at NHS Tees, said the health reforms would benefit local patients. “It is about identifying what the key priorities are,” she said.
“If in a year there is a big need to invest more in Hartlepool or a certain ward in Hartlepool, there is nothing to stop us.”
19. July 2012 14:55
Two hospitals in North Wales are predicted to close, with imaging and injury treatment facilities being lost from others.
Closure of the Flint and Blaenau Ffestiniog hospitals are among proposals drawn up by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to reduce NHS costs.
BCUHB, which predicts a £65m budget deficit, is the first of seven NHS Wales health boards to propose a solution to the health service’s financial crisis.
The two hospitals would be used to provide “enhanced community services”, with inpatient care transferred to nearby hospitals.
In addition, Llangollen Community Hospital would be turned into an extended primary care resource centre.
Minor injury and X-ray units would close at hospitals in Flint, Mold, Colwyn Bay, Ruthin and elsewhere.
Secondary care in North Wales would be refocused on ten community hospital hubs at locations including Bangor, Wrexham and Llandudno.
Neo-natal care for North Wales could be relocated to the Wirral peninsula in the form of a new neo-natal intensive care service at Arrowe Park.
Mick Antoniw, Labour AM for Pontypridd, said it would be better for people to receive higher quality care at a more distant location than to have local services where “quality and outcome is less”.
Six of the NHS Wales health boards are predicting a combined deficit of around £230m by the end of this financial year.
19. July 2012 14:23
Spending on healthcare is set to soar over the next 50 years despite NHS efficiency measures, a new report predicts.
The Office of Budget Responsibility’s Fiscal Sustainability Report forecasts increased costs will result in a 5.2% rise in public spending on healthcare – the equivalent of £80bn in today’s terms.
A hike in the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is highlighted in the report, as are additional costs required to cover social care and pensions.
Report authors say the findings should not result in “a bigger tightening” of NHS purse strings but ministers should “think carefully” about long-term consequences resulting from short-term policies.
Health spending will rise from 17% today to 26% in 2061, the report found. As a consequence, the government will need to increase tax rates to generate £17bn in funds or make major spending cuts to reverse levels of debt, the report said.
The report also forecast an improvement in the efficiency of the NHS. Spending will rise from 6.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016-17 to 9.1% over the next half century. The report bases this on NHS productivity increasing by 2.2% annually. However, if healthcare productivity grows less quickly at 0.8%, as certain experts predict, spending levels may increase to around 16.5% and see a steep rise in public sector debt.
19. July 2012 11:56
The NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) has appointed Ming Tang as Managing Director of the South Yorkshire Commissioning Support Service (CSS).
The Board’s business intelligence programme leader was ear-marked for a senior CSS position during the first round of recruitment alongside eight other managing directors.
Ming Tang, who supported commissioning in the West Midlands, has nearly two decades’ experience in programme leadership and delivery of supply chain strategy, operations and transformation projects.
The NHSCB announced in June that it was to take on the responsibility of recruiting CSS leaders to ensure a balanced selection of experienced personnel. However, the Board faced problems after a lack of interest from existing PCT bosses and was forced to add a second round of recruitment.
It now hopes to appoint a further 14 CSS MDs in August 2012.
19. July 2012 11:52
GP referral rates have risen by almost 10% in the last year, despite falling by 2.1% between March and November 2011.
The Department of Health figures indicate that the earlier fall in referral rates was a consequence of PCT rationing, which Health Secretary Andrew Lansley declared “unacceptable” in September 2011.
However, the subsequent rise contradicts Lansley’s recent claim that CCGs are reducing referral rates through better case management.
There were 11.6 million GP referrals in the year to May 2012, approximately a million more than in the previous year.
Mike Dixon, Chair of NHS Alliance, commented: “The reduction of the year before was due to a focus by CCGs and PCTs on demand management, but service redesign is what’s needed to make that sustainable.”
Similarly, Humber PCT cluster Chief Executive Christopher Long said the initial fall in GP referrals was due to referral management schemes that were not sustainable, while the subsequent rise was due to growing patient demand.
These comments point to an underlying conflict in DH policy on referrals: the Government wants to see referral rates fall, but not for the ‘wrong’ reasons.
According to the Health Service Journal, active referral management and restrictions on procedures of ‘low clinical value’ were the major tactics employed by PCTs to bring down referral rates.
These tactics were criticised by Lansley and effectively banned by the NHS Operating Framework for 2012–13.