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2014 Q1 January-March

Health and Wellbeing Policy Update: January–March 2014

31st March 2014

Study suggests the target should be for 7 not 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.  The study, from University College London, was based on self-reported food consumption over one day of 65,000 people and then monitored their mortality over seven years.  Eating 7 portions reduced the risk of death (from various causes) by 42% compared to 1 portion. 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

31st March 2014

Our health and wellbeing is under threat from climate change, a report from the IPCC has confirmed.  [That means we need to do something – that’s us, the public and the Government.  We don’t need to panic, but we do need to get on and make serious changes in how we manage and live our lives.  In my view.]–climate-change-is-happening-andno-one-in-the-world-is-immune-9224777.html 

Reform report proposes new revenue sources for NHS, including a £10 ‘membership’ charge.  One of the authors of the report was Norman Warner, former Labour health minister. 

(1st April) Letters criticising the proposals: 

NHS England publishes a refreshed business plan for the next three years. 

28th March 2014

Banning smoking in public places has had a positive impact on child health, including a 10% reduction in premature births and severe childhood asthma attacks, within a year of the law being introduced, according to an international research team, reviewing 11 previous studies, covering more than 2.5 million births. 

There has been a rise in the number of deaths recorded by hospitals as following palliative care, according to a report by Dr Foster, which suggests this could hide failed treatment.  The proportion of deaths recorded as palliative was 3.3% in 2006, 9.1% in 2008 and 17.3% in 2012-13.  However it is also reported that almost half of the hospital trusts reported above average numbers needing palliative care [my stats aren’t brilliant, but about half being above average sounds about right …] 

Two thirds of trusts fail to meet the A&E target of 95% of patients seen within four hours according to an analysis by the BBC.  Includes an interactive graph of 52 trusts and a range of other figures. 

The proportion of GPs on CCG boards has fallen to 43% from 49% in 2012 according to research by False Economy 

Only 6% of those affected by the bedroom tax have moved, according to information obtained by the BBC from foi requests. A recent survey for the National Housing Federation found that 66% of housing association tenants who had suffered the cuts were in arrears, but another assessment suggests the figure is 28%, while a Government minister said an indiscernible number were in arrears. 


New NHSE CE Simon Stevens will be based in London and attend Jeremy Hunt’s Monday meetings.  There have been senior staff changes at NHSE. 

27th March 2014

Chief Medical Officer’s annual report raises challenges on alcohol, sugar, obesity and other health issues.  She expresses a concern that being overweight is being normalised. 

Councils are using Public Health budgets to prop up other services according to a report in the BMJ.  However others argue that in many cases this is simply using the money better to meet population health needs. 

(28th March)

Tracker survey of the public’s views of health and social care published by DH 

Lord Norman Warner has been appointed independent commissioner to oversee improvements to Birmingham’s children services.  Lord Warner is a former Labour minister and Director of Social Services. 

Interesting item on Jeremy Hunt’s role in managing the NHS.  Although under the new NHS arrangements there is supposed to be no day to day political interference, it appears that there is, but it’s just two days a week instead. 

More on claims of NHS concern at political interference: 

Report on ‘Accountable Care Organisations’ in the UK and England, which tackle problems of integration by taking responsibility for all the care of a particular population group over a specific period. 

Multi-media resources to share learning from the first year of Health and Wellbeing Boards are published by the NHS Confederation.

26th March 2014

250,000 people have lost eligibility for social care after four years of cuts to local government, according to a report by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation.  Another analysis by the Care and Support Alliance, a group of 70 charities, says that the Care Bill could lead to thousands more people losing eligibility for social care.

Innovation is needed in the health system to meet the challenges of the current funding arrangements, according to the Health Select Committee in its annual review of Monitor. 

(31st March) 

All NHS organisations are being invited to ‘sign up to safety’ to reduce avoidable harm. 

Consultation on the duty of candour. 

People from BME backgrounds face dual discrimination because of mental health problems, with 93% saying they had experienced discrimination in every day life, in a survey of 740 people undertaken by research agency Ethnos.  68% said they had been treated unfairly in finding a job and 49% said they had been treated unfairly by mental health staff. 

Paper on mental health services in 20 years time from the NHS Confederation. 

Views from John Middleton, England’s ‘longest-serving public health chief’ as he retires at the end of the month. 

25th March 2014

Deaths from liver disease rose by 40% between 2001 and 2012 and more needs to be done to combat it, according to the All Party Parliamentary Hepatology Group.  The main causes of liver disease – alcohol, obesity, and viral hepatitis – are preventable, and tests are available to spot problems before permanent damage is done.

Fluoridation of water supplies reduces the number of children admitted to hospital with tooth decay and does not case harm, according to a study published by PHE.

A third of adults are unsure of the signs of depression in children, according to a survey of 2,100 adults, as a new website, MindEd is set up to raise awareness.

24th March 2014

Nearly six in ten GPs are considering early retirement, according to a BMA survey which also revealed low levels of morale. 

NHS fraud could be costing £5bn, 20 times higher than official estimates, according to the former counter-fraud director.  However it appears the figure is based on averaging the estimated losses of fraud in six other countries (ranging from 0.6% to 15.4%) and assuming they apply to the UK. 

(25th March) Comment, criticising this claim: 

Activity levels of four year olds and their mothers are associated according to a study by researchers from Southampton and Cambridge universities of 554 mothers and children, using heart-rate monitors and accelerometers to measure activity over a seven day period.  This suggests greater activity amongst mothers could instil activity in children.  However, the causation is not proven (e.g. mothers could be having to run round after active children). 

Voluntary organisations have engaged well with Healthwatch but have so far had less success in influencing JSNAs or CCGs according to a survey by NAVCA. 

22nd March 2014

GP services are ‘under severe threat of extinction’ because of growing demand for care, while receiving a falling proportion of the health budget, according to Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs. 

21st March 2014

Pooling health and social care funds is no guarantee of improved health according to research from the Centre for Health Economics at York University, which pooled data from 38 previous studies from 8 countries.  Although some schemes produced benefits, none produced a sustained reduction in hospital use.  The authors say that the practical, cultural and technical difficulties mean that there should be realistic expectations for future schemes. 

A report, ‘Wellbeing and Policy’ has been launched by the Legatum Institute.  This is the result of a year long Commission chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell and including Angus Deaton of Princeton University, Martine Durand from the OECD, David Halpern from the Behavioural Insights team and Richard Layard from LSE. 

Piece by Gus O’Donnell (1st April): 

‘Local Healthwatch Outcomes and Development Tool’ published by the LGA 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

21st March 2014

26 of 99 non-Foundation NHS trusts predict a deficit at the end of this financial year, according to figures from the NHS Trust Development Authority. The overall hospital deficit, once foundation trusts are included, will be over £100m, the first such deficit in eight years.  39 of the 147 foundation trusts expect to end the year in deficit according to Monitor.  

Parents should get more support to help them bond with their children to avoid social, emotional and behavioural problems later, especially for disadvantage children, according to a report from the Sutton Trust. 

The LGA and CIPFA are to take on Audit Commission functions still required after its abolition.  The LGA is to set up a company to take on the Audit Commission’s audit contracts until councils can appoint their own auditors from 2017.  CIPFA is to take on the Commission’s counter-fraud measures.  The cost of setting up new arrangements to perform functions which were already being delivered, is not given in the Government’s press release.

(25th March) Comment: 

NHS News: Issue 49.  

Children, Families and Maternity e-bulletin 

20th March 2014

The number of patients waiting for treatment in January was the highest figure for that month since 2007/8, and this was the first time January’s figure was higher than December’s.  Average waiting times are the highest since 2008.  DH said the number of people waiting 18, 26 and 52 weeks is lower than in May 2010. 

Health and social care complaints systems in England are too complicated and confusing according to Healthwatch England, which says that up to 75 bodies could be involved.  NHS England said it was reviewing procedures.  A review of NHS complaints in Wales has been launched.

A pilot scheme allowing people to register with a GP outside the area they live in has proved popular but with low take up.  The scheme was said to be popular with commuters.  However, the BMA said that the low patient interest in the scheme and the fact that it involved only 43 practices out of 8,100 in England, meant that the roll out due to take place in October should not go ahead.

Report on how to improve long-term care for frail elderly people, from Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions

Bulletin for CCGs: Issue 55

Includes: Case studies pinboard, a library of good practice case studies.

5 year strategic plans – guidance to support CCGs with citizen empowerment and participation  

19th March 2014

A Scottish study found that 9% of people died in hospital and a further 31% within a year of being discharged.  The study was based on 10,000 people in 25 hospitals on one day.  It is suggested that hospitals need to do more to help people near the end of life.  More research is needed, though, to identify who those people might be. 

An evaluation of the CQC’s approach to hospital inspection, by the King’s Fund and Manchester Business School is published in an initial paper, with the full report to be published in May. 

A set of slide packs and videos to share learning on Health and Wellbeing Boards is published by the NHS Confederation. 

Child Health Profiles for each local authority in England, are published by the Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network. 

Statistics on the quality of life in EU countries are published by Eurostat 

18th March 2014

The OECD says Government austerity and benefits measures may entrench poverty, hurt the poor and lead to extended dependence on benefits.  They urge action in all their member countries to tackle rising inequality and social divisions. 

Winterbourne View Concordat data published for the first time, on moving people, where appropriate, from hospital to community based support.  

Most of the feedback comments on the Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust website had to be removed when Newsnight discovered they had been posted by staff.  However, this was frequently staff helping patients to make the comments, not all of which were positive.  Nevertheless, the Trust said potential conflicts of interest should have been noted. 

‘Measuring National Wellbeing’ from ONS provides an overview of wellbeing in the UK.–2014/index.html 

Horizon scanning on the future of public health for PHE is produced by RAND Europe. 

17th March 2014

Britain’s five richest families are worth more than the poorest 20% of the population according to Oxfam. 

Three quarters of people with flu have no symptoms, according to the flu watch study by a number of leading universities. 

Almost 4,000 NHS staff were made redundant and then rehired over a three and a half year period, according to Government figures.  The Government blamed Labour for unacceptably lax rules on redundancy. 

Lessons from health and wellbeing peer challenges, from the LGA. 

People find the care system confusing, and don’t know where to go for help, according to a report from ‘Which?’ which has set up a website to provide advice. 

The Government changes the law relating to NHS England and CCGs allowing two or more CCGs to form a joint committee and CCGs and NHSE to form a joint committee to jointly exercise CCG functions. 

16th March 2014

Inequality costs Britain £39bn a year, mainly through reduced healthy life expectancy (£12.5bn) and poorer mental health (£25b) according to a statistical analysis by the Equality Trust.  The report also notes that the richest 100 people in Britain have as much as money as the poorest 30% (18 million people). 

15th March 2014

One in eight of women’s admissions to hospital is due to them being overweight or obese according to Oxford University’s ‘Million Women Study’ based on a cohort of 1.3 million women.  The study included causes of ill health beyond those usually attributed to weight finding that all but 3 of 25 categories of admission showed an association with BMI.

14th March 2014

The CQC Chair says European and American hospital chains should be brought in to help turn around failing hospitals.  The Chair, David Prior, is a former Conservative MP.  Labour said it would vigorously oppose any such moves and has asked the Government whether it is their policy that the NHS needs widespread privatisation. 

Those in wealthy areas have about 20 years more of ‘good health’ than those in disadvantaged areas according to figures from ONS.

A report recommending greater clarity in commissioning obesity services, and who should be responsible for each of the 4 tiers, is published by NHS England. 

Experience of culture leads to a 60% increase in reported good health according to an Arts Council report on the value of arts and culture to people and society.

GPs are having to spend longer on the revalidation process than originally anticipated: officially estimated at 12-15 hours, which is 6 hours more than expected.  Other estimates put the time required much higher. 

Later Life Newsletter: Issue 53 

NHS News: Issue 48 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

14th March 2014

Greater access to take-away food was linked with an increase in obesity according to a University of Cambridge study based on 5,000 adults, published in the BMJ. 

Health and social care ‘system leaders’ sign a declaration on tackling health inequalities and promoting equality. 

NHS News: Issue 48 

13th March 2014

The NAO says adult social care is under pressure and the government has no idea how long the system can cope, with spending having reduced at the same time as demand has gone up.  There was concern over whether councils will be able to implement the requirements of the Care Bill. 

This and other research suggests the social care sector needs more evidence that it is doing good:

A House of Lords committee has criticised the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act saying that in many cases measures designed to safeguard people are being used to deprive them of their liberty and force decisions on them.

PHE welcomes the recognition in planning policy that the built environment can impact health and health inequalities, in the recently published National Planning Practice Guidance. 

Briefing on local authorities’ public health responsibilities from the House of Commons Library. 

Interesting reflection from Australia that it might be easier to keep finances under control if doctors were more aware of the costs of what they were recommending:

Then a 289 page report on the unit costs of health and social care [not sure if this quite answers the question, but fascinating amount of detail nevertheless]:

Report on how to make the UK a good place to grow old in, ‘2030 Vision’ from the International Longevity Centre. 

Report on how to make the NHS Constitution more practical and meaningful for patients and staff in England. 

(12th March) animations explaining the values in the NHS Constitution:

Framework agreement for working between DH and CQC published 

‘Bite sized guides’ to support patient and public participation in the NHS are published by NHS England. 

12th March 2014

NHS England’s decision to cut acute services less than non-acute will have a disproportionate effect on mental health, a number of leaders in the mental health field have argued.  The cut of 1.5% for acute (compared to 1.8% for non-acute) is supposed to recognise the need for extra staff identified in the Francis report (although it didn’t say such extra staff weren’t needed in other sectors).  There have been significant cuts in a number of mental health services, such as Early Intervention in Psychosis. 

Sir David Nicholson says the NHS will need much more funding to achieve the radical reconfiguration and ‘rationalisation’ of hospital services, it needs to make.  Another source suggested to the Guardian that another £5bn a year might be required. 

Children in residential care are being sent too far from home, according to the House of Commons Education Select Committee, which suggests there should be a 20 mile limit.

Women living with a partner are more likely to live longer with heart disease then those living on their own, according to an Oxford University study based on 730,000 women, 30,000 of whom developed heart disease.  Those living in a couple are no less likely to develop heart disease and it is hypothesised that the benefit may come from support (such as reminders to take medication).

ONS publish data on smoking and deprivation.  Men in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to smoke as those in the least deprived.

Updated guidance on Better Care Fund submissions, from NHS England. 

11th March 2014

Clause 119 of the Care Bill, allowing changes to non-failing hospitals to help an ailing one, has been passed, but with some concessions that would give CCGs powers to block hospital closures.

NHS Confederation comment: 

Many children’s salt intake is above recommended levels according to a study of 340 children in South London.  Bread, breakfast cereals and other cereal based products provided over a third of the salt.  However, it is not clear how replicable these results would be to other areas, and there is no evidence of whether or not this level of salt is harmful.  The research was carried out by the University of London and was funded by the British Heart Foundation.

12% of mothers were smokers at the time of delivery according to figures from HSCIC. 

Prescription charges are to rise by 20p in April and by another 20p the following year, from the current £7.85.  Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have scrapped prescription charges.

Emerging findings for a strategy for commissioning general practice services, is published by NHS England. 

Report on the progress of the Troubled Families Programme contesting the Government’s assessment of the success of the programme. 

Paper on how to evidence good quality mental health care that leads to recovery 

Report on the abolition of the Audit Commission, ‘Dying to Improve: the demise of the Audit Commission and other improvement agencies’ published by the Institute for Government.  [And it seems like only yesterday that DCLG were saying what an achievement this was.] 

10th March 2014

CQC give indications of changes to GP inspection regime, including 2 weeks rather than 48 hours notice. 

Government trumpets savings to be made from abolition of the Audit Commission [while introducing equivalent inspection regimes to health. Oh, and just a day before an IfG report providing a slightly different perspective.] 

‘Whole system solutions for urgent and emergency care’ report published by the NHS Confederation. 

Press release: 

JRF paper reviewing theories of why poor health is associated with poverty. 

9th March 2014

A blood test accurately predicted the risk of getting Alzheimers within the next three years, with 90% accuracy.  However, this was a test on just over 100 patients and a larger scale trial is needed before it could be used in clinical practice. 

7th March 2014

Government commissioned report on effective healthcare for vulnerable groups, ‘Hidden needs: identifying key vulnerable groups in data collections: vulnerable migrants, gypsies and travellers, homeless people, and sex workers’ is published. 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

7th March 2014

The Council of Europe says that Britain is in breach of the European charter of local self-government because of the severity of cuts to Council funding.  The report says that lack of funding means councils are severely restricted in their ability to provide essential public services. 

6th March 2014

A duty of candour should give patients the right to hear about any mistakes made, even if they do not suffer serious harm, according to a Government commissioned report from President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Professor Norman Williams and Chief Executive of the Salford Royal Hospital Sir David Dalton.

The number of older people receiving social care has fallen by 16%, or 168,000 people since 2010-11, according to Age UK, analysing official figures.  The numbers have been falling since 2005-06 (by 335,000 in seven years) but has increased with the cuts.  This is in the context of an increase in the number of older people.

Summary of findings from CQC’s first 18 hospital inspections last year.  Amongst many findings the report says there was care and compassion amongst front line staff in every hospital visited but that A&E services were under pressure and ‘outpatient services were poor’. 

The Independent Living Fund will close from 30th June 2015, with funding transferred to local authorities and the devolved administrations. 

The number of cases of a gut bacteria that can destroy antibiotics has risen from 5 in 2006 to more than 600 in 2013.  PHE has launched a toolkit to help hospitals detect, manage and control the infections.

Consultation on measures of wellbeing of 16-24 year olds is published by ONS.–2014/index.html 

HSCIC agrees improvements to information sharing, including a review of previous data releases, the addition of 3 NED’s to the Board, and writing to recipients of data releases reminding them of their responsibilities. 

‘Making our health and care systems fit for an ageing population’ published by the King’s Fund. 

Bulletin for CCGs: Issue 54

Includes resource setting out the interventions which will have most impact on reducing premature mortality: 

NHS Improving Quality monthly newsletter: Issue 1.  

5th March 2014

The WHO is to recommend that sugar make up no more than 5% of the calories in a person’s diet, which on average would be about 25g; less than the sugar in a can of Coke.  The recommendation is in draft guidelines to countries and is aimed at tackling tooth decay and obesity. 

(6th March) 

About a third of women in Europe over 15 have experienced physical or sexual abuse, with the figure of 44% for the UK, according to a survey based on interviews with 42,000 women by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

A diet high in animal protein was found to double the risk of dying over an 18 year period, for people under 65.  However, for those over 65 a high protein diet cut the risk of death by 28%.  The US research was based on 6,381 people aged over 50.  However, other experts have urged caution in interpreting the results.  It is reported that the study relied on self-reports and did not take account of other relevant factors such as physical activity.  There was also criticism of the spin put on it that a high protein diet is as dangerous as smoking. 

Gene therapy has been successfully used to treat HIV, by modifying white blood cells to make them resistant to most of the common strains of HIV, multiply them and transfer them back into the patient.  This was only a small scale trial to check the safety of the procedure, but scientists are hopeful about the potential. 

4th March 2014

A health review for Labour is suggesting people be given more help to manage their own health, particularly those with long term conditions.  The review has been undertaken by Sir John Oldham. 

Labour press release: 

(7th March).  Comment, including link to the pdf: 

(5th March).  King’s Fund blog comment: 

A group to develop a degree level apprenticeship route into nursing, aimed at healthcare assistants, has been set up by the Government. 

“Almost 3,500 patients received new bodyparts recovered from 1,323 deceased people last year”, the Guardian (rather gruesomely) reports.  The number of donations increased by 13% from the previous year. 

18% of people admitted to using A&E for non urgent care outside of GP opening hours in a poll of 1,700 people by Healthwatch England.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies calls for a tax on sugar, in comments to the Health Select Committee. 

(5th March) 

The Public Accounts Committee makes proposals to increase the number of A&E consultants including allowing them to be paid more.

Framework agreement for working relationships between DH and NICE published. 

Good example of co-production in redesigning hospital services, at the Royal Berks in Reading [I heard about this work at the hospital last year and it was quite inspiring]. 

3rd March 2014

Sarah Wollaston MP queries how NHS hospital episodes statistics were shared with PA consulting.  Statements by HSCIC and PA say that measures were taken to protect the confidentiality of the data.  PA say they can use data analysis to improve patient care.  It is not clear whether they have obtained commercial benefit from access to the data. 

and investigation of data used by mapping website: 

3rd March was NHS Change day, where thousands of people working in the NHS make a pledge as to how they can improve it. 

70,000 job seekers have had their benefits withdrawn unfairly leading them to face unnecessary hardship, according to the right of centre think tank Policy Exchange. 

DH Corporate Plan is updated to show performance against milestones in Quarter 2.

Updated list of Directors of Public Health–2 

1st March 2014

Labour could consider moving to all unitary local government, according to comments made by shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie. 

28th February 2014

Jeremy Hunt is to legislate on the programme to prevent confidential information being sold for commercial insurance purposes. 

Feature article from Ben Goldacre on the latest developments in the programme and why we should be concerned. 

PHE Bulletin 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

28th February 2014

Jeremy Hunt has said people concerned about their memory will get a dementia diagnosis within six weeks.  The waiting time for a diagnosis is currently less than 6 weeks in about 75% of the country.  He wants to raise the proportion of people receiving any diagnosis at all from a half to two thirds.  £90m is being made available to improve dementia diagnosis. 

Man starved to death after his benefits were cut following an Atos fitness for work assessment.  [I don’t normally include individual cases, but this seems to be symptomatic of systemic failings, similar to the deaths of vulnerable children.] 

Briefing on preventing isolation and loneliness amongst older people. 

NHS News: Issue 45 

27th February 2014

The Government unveils their consultation on a child poverty strategy.  It is reported that the Treasury blocked the DWP’s proposals for new measures of child poverty.

The proportion of 16-24 year olds not in education, employment or training has fallen to the lowest level since 2008, according to Government figures. 

There has been poor performance in the administration of the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP), with long and uncertain delays for disabled people, according to an assessment by the National Audit Office.

Rates of kidney cancer have increased by 30% from 6,900 cases a year ten years ago to 10,000 now, according to figures from Cancer Research UK.  One reason for the increase is thought to be higher obesity levels.

Recommendations have been made to improve safety in surgery in the report of the Surgical Never Events Taskforce. 

Review of social work education by Professor David Croisdale-Appleby. 

Consultation on new criminal offence of ill treatment or wilful neglect, following recommendations in the Francis report could see up to 240 prosecutions a year. 

26th February 2014

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is to be dissolved, the Government has announced.

There were 11,000 admissions to hospital for obesity in 2012-13 which is marginally down on the previous year but still eight times higher than 10 years earlier, according to statistics released by HSCIC. 

More than twice the number of women than men were admitted: 

Public Health England is not sufficiently independent of government, and has not shown that it is able to be an effective champion of the nation’s public health interests, according to the Commons Health Select Committee.

Monitor has achieved value for money and has generally been effective, according to a review by the NAO. 

New, tougher rules on cigarettes have been agreed by the European Parliament.  They include more controls over health warnings and promotion and a ban on flavoured cigarettes.  If, as expected, Ministers endorse the rules in March they would come into force in May 2014 with two years for member states to introduce the legislation. 

(27th February) PHE welcomes the decision: 

Nurses workloads and their level of education are directly associated with death rates in hospitals, according to a study published in the Lancet using data from 300 European hospitals in 9 countries.

Many formerly homeless people are living in damp and rodent infested conditions according to a report by Shelter and Crisis, which investigated 128 families. 

22% of UK jobs require only primary education, compared to less than 5% in Germany and Sweden, leading to in work poverty [and potentially therefore poorer health]. 

NHS England launches 3 month consultation on changes to specialised services specifications.

75% of GPs would prefer an opt-in system for, (but this is based on a self-selecting sample of 427 GPs, by Pulse). 

25th February 2014

The Health Select Committee is to pursue information on a previous sale of patient information after the HSCIC told the committee it could not provide information relating to its predecessor body.  This follows the postponement of the programme. 

Atos has the contract for extracting the data: 

(26th February)

Teenage pregnancy rates are at the lowest level since records began in 1969, following concerted public health efforts [and presumably its targeting in local area agreements]. 

Back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions accounted for more prolonged absences than any other problem, at 31 million days of work last year, according to statistics from ONS. 

65% of NHS staff would recommend the care at their local trust to friends and family, according to the 2013 NHS Survey covering 203,000 staff.  There were improvements in most survey questions but a slight increase in work-related stress.

The detailed results: 

There is no value in publishing one of the key measures of death rates in hospitals, the hospital standardised mortality ratio (HSMR), according to Prof Nick Black who is reviewing such measures and is due to report next December.  The measure does not take sufficient account of a range of other factors and could be distracting in giving a misleading idea of the quality of care in a hospital. 

All CCGs should have a member with an interest in cancer, to maintain the progress which has been maintained over the last decade or so, according to a new report. 

Statistics of rough sleeping published showing an increase of 5% over the previous year. 

A guide on tackling and preventing violence for health and wellbeing boards from the NHS Confederation. 

A guide to sources of statistics on health services and public health, from the House of Commons library.

Interesting blog on what is now needed to tackle health inequalities from Dave Buck of the King’s Fund: 

24th February 2014

NHS England has issued a framework for commissioning support services worth £3-5bn over four years. 

There should be closer collaboration between CCGs and NHSE Local Area Teams, including joint committees which might decommissioning under-performing GPs, according to NHS Clinical Commissioners, the body representing CCGs. 

A Bill to regulate therapists and counsellors goes before Parliament on Friday (28th February). 

NHS News: Issue 44

23rd February 2014

An insurance company bought 13 years of hospital data which it used to advise on premium levels, according to the Daily Telegraph.  This comes in the light of the delay to the programme, amidst concerns about how the information might be used.  DH is quoted as saying the rules have changed and this would no longer be allowed. 

(24th February) The HSCIC says that greater scrutiny should have been given to this sale, but apparently could not explain what rules were broken:

A report says children of mixed race are at risk of mental health problems and not getting the help the need.  The research, backed by the National Children’s Bureau is based on 21 interviews. 

The Royal College of GPs warns of a ‘growing crisis in general practice’ with people not able to get appointments, due to pressure of funding for GPs.

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

22nd February 2014

The number of foundation trusts in financial trouble has doubled from 21 to 39 in the last year, according to the latest report from Monitor.

21st February 2014

Up to a hundred GP practices, many in rural areas, could be forced to close because of changes to the way they are funded, according to the BMA. 

Experts warn of the false economy of closing early years’ provision in a letter to the Guardian. 

Monitor’s review of NHS Foundation Trusts in the 9 months to 31st December 2013. 

20th February 2014

The number of children with mental health problems treated on adult wards has increased to 350 from 242 two years earlier, with many sent miles from home, according to information from a BBC foi request.

Low income, unemployment, benefit delays and rising food prices are among the causes for increased use of food banks according to a Government commissioned report from the University of Warwick. 

Two reports on NHS payments systems and how they can be reformed, are published by the Nuffield Trust 

A report from ONS on people’s attitudes to governance and their wellbeing, covering trust in government and voter turnout.–2014/art-governance.html 

Bulletin for CCGs: Issue 53 

19th February 2014

Alcohol related deaths fell in the 10 years to 2012 with particularly large falls in Scotland (by 37% for men and 34% for women).  There are still over 5,000 deaths a year directly related to alcohol.

27 Anglican bishops and 16 other clergy criticise the Government’s welfare reforms and failures in the benefits system which has left many people hungry.  There were 5,500 hospital admissions for malnutrition last year.

There was the highest number of sanctions to benefits claimants since 1996 in the year to September 2013, at 867,690, according to figures from DWP. 

Government press release:–2

The RNIB is threatening DWP with legal action for suspending the benefits of a blind man for not attending appointments he was informed about through letters he could not read. 

The King’s Fund propose new forms of GP provision including ‘family care networks’ in a new report, ‘Commissioning and Funding General Practice’. 

Statistics on hospital admissions for anxiety and stress are published by the HSCIC showing hospital admissions for anxiety were highest for women over 60. 

Later Life Newsletter: 52, February 2014

18th February 2014

The scheme is to be delayed until the autumn.  The new scheme for collecting and making available GP and hospital data is to be delayed because of lack of public understanding of the scheme. 

(21st February) feature article specifying what aspects we ought to be concerned about and what NHS England should do in the 6 month pause:

A concordat has been agreed aimed at reducing the number of people detained under the Mental Health Act being held in police stations.

Summary of the key principles and commitments, from the NHS Confederation:

The Alcohol Health Alliance is pushing the Chancellor not to scrap the ‘duty escalator’ under which the tax on wine and spirits rises by 2% more than inflation each year. 

17th February 2014

People who felt lonely had a 14% higher risk of dying than the average according to research on more than 2,000 people aged 50+ over six years.  This was twice the risk from obesity. 

BMA concern about programme. 

How GPs will be able to provide an ‘enhanced service’ to prevent hospital admissions by elderly people and those with complex needs and the role of CCGs in this. 

16th February 2014

The Government’s risk assessment says patient confidentiality could be underminded by the scheme, such as by matching the data with other information, although this would be illegal. 

14th February 2014

Sir Stuart Rose, former head of M&S, is to advise Government on developing management in the NHS.  Also, Sir David Dalton, CE of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust is to advise Jeremy Hunt on a ‘super-heads’ scheme where successful NHS managers can take over failing trusts.

There has been good progress in turning round the hospitals in special measures according to a report from Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority. 

Framework agreement for how DH and NHS England will work together is published. 

It is reported that Ed Miliband is vetoing Andy Burnham’s proposal to transfer CCG funding to HWBs, according to the Independent.  There is said to be concern that it will be seen as another top down NHS re-organisation, and that Burnham is positioning himself for a Labour leadership bid. 

Non-health and education public sector jobs will have to be cut by 30-40% to meet current deficit reduction plans, according to analysis by the IFS.

13th February 2014

Social work training is too theoretical with not enough practical instruction according to a review, based on a series of interviews, by Sir Martin Narey, and commissioned by the Government.

The Government has launched an initiative to promote physical activity, called ‘Moving More, Living More’.  [This appears to be about encouraging initiatives rather than any new central funding or activity]

Press release: 

Doctors are missing symptoms of COPD in 85% of patients who have it, despite it being the fifth biggest killer disease.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder is generally bronchitis or emphysema.  Researchers, including from Plymouth University, researched 39,000 sufferers of COPD in the UK.  Earlier diagnosis could save the NHS £1bn a year. 

Stopping smoking is associated with mental health benefits, for those with psychiatric disorders and for the general population as a whole, according to a meta-analysis published in the BMJ. 

The number employed in the NHS has stayed steady over the last four years but there are more doctors and fewer managers, according to analysis of HSCIC figures. 

The numbers waiting for consultant-led-treatment rose by 0.3m to 2.88m, in December 2013, an increase of 12% over May 2013.  The Conservatives are reported as saying that fewer people are waiting 18, 26 or 52 weeks for treatment than at any time under Labour. 

£10m of the £43.5m for local Healthwatch organisations has not been provided to them according to Healthwatch England.  Although a notional amount for Healthwatch was allocated to each authority, it is up to them how much they pass on in commissioning the service. 

The Institute for Health Equity is consulting on local actions to increase health equity through the social determinants of health.  The consultation runs from 13th-21st February. 

King’s Fund paper on transforming community health services 

Blog summarising the argument: 

ONS is to stop publishing a number of statistical outputs in order to balance its budget.  Some will stop altogether and 15 will only continue if alternative funding can be found, including deaths from MRSA and deaths from C difficile. 

12th February 2014

The Royal College of GPs is concerned at public confidence in, the scheme that will collect and collate data from GPs as well as hospital patients.  The RCGPs support the scheme but feel its benefits aren’t being well enough explained. 

Health Select Committee report on public expenditure on health and social care says that the straightforward savings have been made but there has been little progress on transformative change. 

Evidence provided by tobacco companies against plain packaging was highly limited according to a study from the University of Bath published in BMJ Open, which found that of 77 pieces of evidence only 17 actually addressed plain packaging and 14 of these had been funded by the tobacco industry. 

Annual breast cancer screening of women aged 40-59 does not reduce mortality from breast cancer beyond physical examination and usual care according to Canadian research based on 25 years data on over 89,000 women. 

Jeremy Hunt welcomes move towards a single UK-US market in healthcare applications, after the signing of a memorandum of understanding on 23rd January. 

Report: ‘Many to many: how the relational state will transform public services’, from IPPR

11th February 2014

Labour would require CCGs to appoint patient representatives to committees overseeing changes to NHS services, Ed Miliband has said, amongst other things, in the Hugo Young lecture. 

The ‘Healthy Start’ voucher scheme was found to improve the diets of low income families, but there were some problems with its implementation. 

10th February 2014

Mental health issues are costing the UK £70bn a year in lost productivity, higher benefit payments and NHS costs, according to the OECD.  It also found that mental health was the cause of 40% of disability claims, the highest of any of the 34 OECD countries. 

Minimum alcohol pricing could save 860 lives a year according to a report from Sheffield University. 

Increasing the number of trips by bike from 2% to 10% could save the NHS £250m a year according to Cambridge University researchers. 

Briefing on how the VCS can engage with CCGs from Regional Voices

7th February 2014

Report on the suicide prevention strategy 

6th February 2014

Report on the impact of the Francis Report, one year on from the Nuffield Trust finds there is an added impetus to make quality of care a priority but there are barriers from financial pressures and a complex regulatory environment.

Blog by Robert Francis: 

Factsheets on wellbeing and health, providing evidence on why wellbeing matters to health throughout life and what policy makers can do about it. 

NHS News: 43 

5th February 2014

Labour accuse the conservatives of politicising the CQC after Chair David Prior wrote of the need for more private sector provision to drive competition. 

Advice for patients when being discharged from hospital. 

Report: ‘Resilience for public health: supporting transformation in people and communities’ from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health 

4th February 2014

The World Health Organisation urge a global drive to combat the lifestyle causes of cancer as the only way to deal with a looming epidemic. 

64% of adults in England are overweight according to PHE which also provides the figures for different areas. 

The Government is banning the sale of ultra-cheap alcohol, with a new minimum price of duty plus VAT effective from 6th April.  However campaigners said the impact of the ban would be negligible.  The Government said it was committed to tackling the £12bn annual cost of alcohol fuelled crime.  The Government estimates this measure will have £3.6m crime savings. 

Lessons from mental health for a move in physical health from hospital to community care in a publication from the King’s Fund. 

Publication on how Public Health has bedded in to local authorities from the LGA. 

3rd February

Public health decisions are being made on the basis of politics and PH budgets are not being ring-fenced according to a survey of public health professionals working in local authorities by the Royal Society for Public Health. 

Report on ‘Healthy Ageing in the 21st Century’ from the Birmingham Policy Commission 

31st January 2014

The safety of mothers and their babies may be at risk because of a shortage of midwives according to a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

33 of 102 NHS organisations expect to be overspent by the end of the financial year according to the Trust Development Authority. 

A report on inactivity finds that the most inactive are also the most deprived areas, a report from UKactive, which represents the leisure industry. 

Lessons from a social prescribing pilot in Rotherham, ‘From Dependence to Independence’, published by Sheffield University. 

30th January 2014

The first maternity services friends and families test results are published alongside the latest results for A&E and inpatient departments.  76% of women said it was extremely likely they would recommend their maternity unit with a further 17% saying it was likely.  However the response rate to the question was 19%. 

Hospital admissions for eating disorders rise by 8% in a year according to figures from the HSCIC. 

The Local Audit and Accountability Act, which abolishes the Audit Commission, receives Royal Assent. 

King’s Fund report on ‘Providing integrated care for older people with complex needs: Lessons from seven international case studies’

29th January 2014

Only 57% of NHS trusts have a mental wellbeing policy for their employees according to a national audit by the Royal College of Physicians. 

28th January 2014

There has been a 12% increase in the numbers detained under the Mental Health Act from 44,000 to 50,000 over five years, according to the CQC’s annual review of mental health services, which said it was of serious concern that a large number of people are admitted informally for care and treatment and then detained. 

A privacy impact assessment setting out how patients’ data will be protected under the programme has been published by NHS England. 

27th January 2014

300 staff in Commissioning Support Units are to be made redundant.  This is about 3% of the 9,400 staff (which compares with 6,000 employed by NHS England). 

Children, families and maternity e-bulletin, January 2014 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

24th January 2014

Many older cancer patients are deemed too old for cancer treatment rather than being assessed on their fitness, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

NICE rejects the Government’s suggestion that ‘societal benefit’ should be a factor in assessing the value of drugs, saying that this would inevitably mean a person’s age was a factor, which is wrong. [See articles from 9th January]. 

The number of households below the ‘minimum income standard’ has increased by a fifth in three years from 3.8m to 4.7m according to research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

Tool to identify the causes of differences in life expectancy at the local authority level is published by PHE. 

Toolkit to help CCGs with 5 year commissioning plans is published by NHS England. 

Bulletin for CCGs: Issue 51

23rd January 2014

Every hospital patient should have a named consultant responsible for their care, Jeremy Hunt says.  A system of generalist consultants has worked well in other countries.

Only 43% of hospital waiting time records were correct in an NAO sampling of 650 orthopaedic patients in seven hospital trusts, casting doubt on the accuracy of waiting time statistics.  The NAO also found that waiting times have been increasing in the last year.

Jeremy Hunt says hospitals are not deliberately falsifying figures: 

Health inequalities across Europe are costing around £1.3tn, more than the GDP of most European countries, according to an EU report. 

Government consultation on changes to CQC registration requirements.

Smaller providers may be struggling with the new public sector commissioning environment, according to ‘Beyond Big Contracts’, a report by the Institute for Government and Collaborate. 

PHE Newsletter 

22nd January 2014

More than 20% of hospitals could be in deficit by the end of the financial year according to the King’s Fund’s quarterly review of performance in health and social care.  It finds that performance generally is holding up well. 

(21st January) ‘Staff morale falls to new low’: 

Mental ill health costs London the equivalent of £26bn a year according to a report from the Greater London Authority.  The figure includes an amount for quality of life, as well as economic costs. 

The threshold for obesity should be lower for ethnic minority groups according to NICE.  Those of African, Caribbean and Asian descent are more prone to stroke, heart disease and diabetes.  They say the threshold for obesity for these groups should be reduced from a BMI of 30 to 27.5, and the healthy level from 25 to 23.5. 

The CQC now has clear objectives providing greater clarity in the regulatory landscape, according to the House of Commons Health Committee.  The committee also said safe staffing levels should be instituted for doctors and midwives in addition to that for nurses as currently planned.

(22nd January) Providers could in future pay the full costs of the CQC, replacing the part government grant:

Private hospitals could be asked to do planned operations to relieve pressure on A&E next winter, Prof Sir Bruce Keogh has told the House of Commons Health Committee. 

NHS England’s urgent care review could look at ways to integrate funding across the system: 

Patients are to be able to add to their own patient records as part of helping them manage their own condition and transact with the NHS online according to a ‘Patient and Public Voice’ report to NHS England. 

The opening of a walk-in centre was associated with a 26% fall in daytime A&E attendance, according to a University of Sheffield study based on a survey of 500 people.

Government response to consultation on developing new standards for social care. 

21st January 2014

Hospitals are to be paid more for providing emergency care.  Previously they have received only 30% of the cost above a certain threshold, designed to encourage alternatives to A&E. 

HSCIC is to take on some of NHS Direct’s services including the online symptom checker, the 111 repeat caller service and the telephony managed service, from April. 

A statement of intent on helping people pay for their long term care, by developing the market for financial products, has been issued by the Government and the financial services industry. 

Analysis of the use of NICE recommended medicines published by HSCIC. 

The fundamentals of NHS finance, for Foundation Trust Governors, but may also be useful for others.

NHS News: Issue 40 

20th January 2014

Launch of the Government’s new mental health action plan by Nick Clegg.

Comment: good rhetoric but it also needs binding, time-bound action plans: 

Psychological wellbeing at work advice from RAND Europe published by DWP. 

Unequal pay at work can lead to discontent and sickness according to a report by the High Pay Centre. 

Bullying, pornography and stress are creating a mental health timebomb for young people according to a survey of 11-14 year olds by YoungMinds. 

More on which from March will make GP and hospital data available to private companies via the HSCIC.  There is a theoretical possibility that they will be able to identify patients from the data. 

NHS England response: 

(22nd January) Labour MP tables early day motion to stop the roll out of 

(23rd January) 41% of GPs intend to opt out of the scheme for their own personal data, according to a survey of 400 GPs:

(23rd January) Animated video explaining the new system:

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

19th January 2014

Benefit claimants are not receiving £5bn a year to which they are due, according to a report from Demos, ‘The Ties that Bind’.

18th January 2014

A £3m advertising campaign to persuade people to get medical help early, is being launched by the NHS.  It suggests they should see a chemist, call NHS111 or then see a GP before approaching A&E.

Two million people could be eligible for bariatric surgery, according to researchers from Imperial College, London.  Currently only 8,000 a year have the operation. 

Report on the role of the community pharmacy in public health from PHE.

17th January 2014

A poll of GPs found 83% agreeing that ‘Jeremy Hunt is seeking to undermine public trust in GPs’, and 4% agreeing that the 2004 change in the 2004 GP contract were a key contributor to the current load on emergency departments.  There were 1,008 GPs surveyed, chosen to be representative by age, gender, region and seniority.  DH said the poll was not reliable as leading questions had been asked. 

Suicide prevention progress report recommends better recording and sharing of information.

Benefits statistics published detailing reasons for record over and under payment. £3.5bn was overpaid and £1.6bn underpaid, representing about 2% and 1% respectively of the total.  The figures show breakdowns by type of benefit, recipient and whether the cause was fraud, official error or claimant error. 

Report updating figures of NHS productivity growth from York University’s Centre for Health Economics.

16th January 2014

The Government is effectively abolishing the council tax equalisation process, which adjusts government grants to councils to take account of need, according to the Association of North East Councils, which argues that the latest local government funding settlement drastically favours the South over the North East. 

The NHS and Council in Oldham are jointly spending £200k on boilers and energy conservation to save £300k in health costs. This is one of a number of initiatives by CCGS highlighted in a new report by NHS Commissioners. 

Income inequality, extreme weather and unemployment are the biggest threats to the global community, according to the World Economic Forum, whose annual Davos meeting takes place soon. 

“‘If you could do one thing…’ Nine local actions to reduce health inequalities” published by the British Academy 

15th January 2014

Two thirds of the 762,000 people referred for counselling or therapy last year were women according to figures from HSCIC in the first annual report on access to talking therapies. 

(19th January)

More than two thirds of English NHS contracts awarded since April 2013 have gone to external suppliers (39 of 57 contracts) according to the NHS Support Federation. 

Survey on obesity by PHE and ADPH of Directors of Public Health. 

Blog on the privacy safeguards in the scheme. 

Changes to EU procurement rules for public bodies are welcomed by the NHS Confederation.  Contracts under 750k euros will be exempt, there is to be a light touch regime above that level and there are outline proposals to allow national governments to reserve health, social and educational contracts for mutuals or social enterprises under certain circumstances.  Public bodies are also to be allowed to pool resources without going out to tender.

Interesting article on how the Care Bill will make more transparent how people funding their own care pay much more than local authorities do for care, and how this could reduce money in the system and lead to a reduction in the number of care providers. 

Making best use of the Better Care Fund; guidance from the King’s Fund.

Later Life Newsletter 51

14th January 2014

The number of elderly and disabled people receiving care in their home has fallen by 31% in five years from 652k to 418k according to a study by the Personal Social Services Research Unit.  The fall is thought to be because of council budget cuts leading to tightening of eligibility criteria. 

Spending on A&E locum doctors has risen by 60% in three years from £52m to £83m according to figures obtained through foi by Labour.

More people are being diagnosed with cancer but survival rates have improved, according to figures released by Cancer Research UK.  The rate of diagnosis has increased by 35%, from 295 per 100k in 1975 to 400 per 100k in 2011, (or by ‘50,000 in a decade’).  However, survival rates have increased from 23% in the 19702 to 46% in 2007. 

Delivering integrated care and support, a review of the evidence, from the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS).

13th January 2014

Previous estimates of 50% obesity by 2050 could be an under-estimate according to the National Obesity Forum.

Obesity amongst 12-17 years olds has been falling for better off children since 2002 but not for less well-off children, according to research from Harvard University.

PHE supports standardised cigarette packaging in a submission to the Chantler review on the issue.

NHS News: Issue 39

Funding formula for CCGs, House of Commons Library note.

12th January 2014

More than half of young gay people have had mental health issues and 40% have considered suicide, according to a survey of 7,000 16-25 year olds in project led by charity Metro. 

Jeremy Hunt has said that doctors and nurses should apologise when things go wrong rather than being defensive, in new guidance. 

Moving to greener urban areas improves mental health for three years according to a study which followed 1,000 people for five years. 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

11th January 2014

The number of people with atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of a stroke, has risen by 21% in 6 years according to the British Heart Foundation.

10th January 2014

NHS England sets out a plan for tackling diabetes in 2014 to include prevention, earlier diagnosis and self-management. 

Pickles is considering reducing the level at which a referendum is required to increase council tax, from 2% to 1.5% and punishing councils that have consistently increased council tax by just below 2%. 

Councils are to have a legal duty to support the social care needs of learning disabled children from September 2014, following an amendment to the Children and Families Bill. 

9th January 2014

A new campaign, ‘Action on Sugar’ has been launched to persuade Government and industry to reduce sugar levels in food.  The campaign includes high profile scientists and obesity experts. The Food and Drink Federation is reported as saying, “Sugars, or any other nutrient for that matter, consumed as part of a varied and balanced diet are not a cause of obesity, to which there is no simple or single solution”.  Yes, really. 

Five foods with surprisingly large amounts of sugar:

Comment piece with an opposing argument: 

(12th January) comment piece by one of the founders of the campaign: 

Assessment of new drugs by NICE could take account of ‘wider societal benefits’ which could therefore potentially discriminate against the elderly, according to a draft policy due to be published for consultation in the next few weeks.  A DH spokesman is reported as saying this is scaremongering and speculation.

Only 22% of GPs thought telehealth would enhance patient care in a survey of 316 GPs by GP Magazine. 

Bulletin for CCGs: Issue 50 

8th January 2014

Ministers and civil servants had 130 meetings with the drinks industry since 2010 before putting off a decision on minimum pricing according to senior doctors who have accused them of dancing to the tune of the drinks industry.  The Government rejected any allegations of anything untoward. 

The resistance of disease to antibiotics is gradually increasing and could be at a tipping point according to the Director of the Wellcome Trust, Prof. Jeremy Farrar. 

Higher breast cancer rates among white women are almost entirely due to lifestyle differences according to an Oxford University study on over a million women published in the British Journal of Cancer. 

Calls on cyberbullying to Childline have increased by 87% the charity reports.   

Picker Institute report on how to get feedback on integrated care from patients and carers. 

Some prostate cancer sufferers should have surveillance rather than intervention according to NICE.

GP premises need £250m invested in them if care is to be moved more to family doctors according to the GP’s Committee (GPC) of the BMA.

The Government has launched a fund to support local authorities develop new models of service delivery such as mutual and voluntary organisations with £100k for up to 10 pilot areas. 

Public views on co-payment for health services published by the Patients’ Association 

7th January 2014

Nearly 12,000 patients made more than 10 visits to A&E last year according to figures obtained by the BBC under foi.  However this should be seen in the context of 21 million people visiting A&E last year. 

Helpful analysis from the Nuffield Trust. Their figure is of 14m people visiting A&E last year.  Although there may be better ways of caring for them, those attending frequently are not using A&E any more needlessly than the general population:

NHS England is consulting on specialised commissioning as part of developing a five year vision and strategy. 

(10th January) 

PHE publishes a first version of the Children and Young People’s Outcome Framework 

Patient feedback could be a part of the ‘revalidation’ of nurses and midwives as fit to continue to practice, under proposals out to consultation from the Nursing and Midwifery Council. 

The average age of death for a rough sleeper is 39 according to figures from Streetwork, a Scottish homelessness charity, which worked with around 4,000 people in 2012/13. 

6th January 2014

The UK is estimated to have the 10th highest level of women with cancer, linked to a lack of exercise according to figures published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

DWP is to cut the £180m welfare assistance fund which was transferred to local authorities in April as part of the Welfare Reform Act.  The fund provides emergency support for such things as food, clothes and beds. 

(7th January) Comment: 

Anonymised patient data is to be collected from GPs for the first time.  This sort of information has been collected from hospitals for some time.  The information is to be collated by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).  Leaflets are to be sent to 26m households explaining the change and how people can opt out if they wish. 

NICE is consulting on QOF (Quality and Outcome Framework) indicators for 2015-16.  QOF is the annual incentive scheme that rewards GP practices for quality improvements. 

5th January 2014

Almost 18,500 patients had to stay in hospital over the Christmas period because of a lack of social care which would have enabled them to be allowed home.  This is thought to be the highest level ever. 

(8th January)

Around 20,000 additional staff will be needed for 7 day GP practice opening according to Maureen Baker, head of the Royal College of GPs.  This would include 10,000 more GPs and 10,000 nursing and other support staff. 

The number of under 16s diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases has doubled in a decade and was over 5,000 last year, with 87% of them girls.

4th January 2014

A  scheme to base mental health nurses in police stations is to be piloted in 10 areas.  If it is successful it could be rolled out nationwide by 2017. 

Information on the number of children’s centres in England has been removed from the Government’s website as part of ‘data cleansing’ exercise. 

[Weekly update sent out ————————————————————–]

3rd January 2014

The Government is to end funding for local welfare assistance schemes from April 2015.  The funding, which provides emergency support for low income families, was passed to councils in April 2013. 

The Public Accounts Committee has called for all clinical trials to be made available.  Currently about half of trial results are not published, hindering the ability to make properly evidence based decisions. 

There are growing numbers of overweight and obese people throughout the world, with increasing numbers in developing countries, according to a report from the Overseas Development Institute, with the proportion growing from 23% to 34% between 1980 and 2008.  The biggest increase was in south east Asia, from 7% to 22%, still far below the highest region, North America at 70%. 

A minority, 32%, of GPs favour charging for access to A&E according to a survey of 800 of them by  Such charges are opposed by the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association.

A number of CCGs are planning to put ‘locally enhanced services’ currently provided by GPs, out to tender, with 9 of the 23 that responded to a request by Pulse, planning to do so. 

2nd January 2014

40% of jobless young people have suffered symptoms of mental illness attributed to their unemployment, according to a YouGov poll for the Princes Trust based on 2,161 online interviews with 16-25 year olds.  A third of those unemployed for six months or more had contemplated suicide. 

The cost of retendering NHS111 services could cost £500m in just one of the 11 regions affected. 

Britain is dangerously underprepared for a flu pandemic according to a report by the Centre for Health and Public Interest think tank. 

A new campaign to persuade people to choose more healthy food and drink, the ‘Smart Swaps’ campaign, has been launched by PHE.  Research by Cancer UK says tripling tax on cigarettes could cut smoking by a third.

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