Healthcare News UK

The state must cede power the right way | Observer editorial

Guardian Healthcare - Sun, 06/04/2014 - 00:04
The latest row over free schools demonstrates the pitfalls of indiscriminate decentralisation. Now it's time to focus on the needs of those who use public services

Debates about reforming public services tend to be couched in jargon such as "contestability" and "co-design" rather than the simple language of better health, education and care. But at heart, there are two basic prescriptions politicians turn to: investing more money and telling frontline services what to do with it; and giving power away. Which is in favour has less to do with ideology and more with circumstance. Only 10 years ago, there was a political consensus that extra investment in health and education was what was required. Now, with budgets being slashed, it's perhaps no surprise that giving power away is back in vogue.

For the right, it's about breaking down centralised control via market forces, with private and voluntary sectors competing to provide services. The left's favoured version is democratic devolution to the community level, enabling more people to get involved in shaping and running their local services. Everyone's seemingly a winner: politicians get to set out an agenda without saying exactly what they would do. Social innovators, freed from government bureaucracy, get to transform their communities. Members of the public get better-quality schools, hospitals and care homes.

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Categories: Healthcare News UK

Who deserves a new liver? Anyone who needs one | Barbara Ellen

Guardian Healthcare - Sat, 05/04/2014 - 20:05
Denying life-saving treatment to those who have brought illness on themselves amounts to ethical means-testing

How heartening that people with alcohol-related liver disease are to be considered for liver transplants. NHS's blood and transport service (NHSBT) associate medical director, James Neuberger, said: "We're transplanting humans, not angels." Neuberger's comment concerned the ongoing debate about whether people deserve costly treatment when they have brought their health problems on themselves.

This debate has been rattling on in the same way for so long, I'm mildly surprised that all the judgmental bigots and droning misanthropes haven't died of boredom by now. More seriously, does anyone truly believe that there should be what amounts to ethical means-testing on someone's suitability for medical help?

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The best ways to fund the NHS | @guardianletters

Guardian Healthcare - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 21:00

Michael Meacher claims (Letters, 2 April) that our proposals "kick away" free NHS care at the point of service. Quite the opposite: they reinforce this principle. As the Guardian reported on Monday, Solving the NHS Care and Cash Crisis proposes various hypothecated health taxes to tackle the £30bn black hole in the NHS budget. Introducing dedicated health taxes is not a madcap, rightwing idea the move was actively considered by a previous Labour shadow cabinet. Our proposals would include a £10 a month payment from all non-exempted adults, collected with the council tax, to support individualised health MOTs and continuing personal support for healthy living. People may not like paying more taxes for an effective NHS, but we would argue that Britain has little choice, precisely so we can preserve the principle of free at the point of use and clinical need.
Norman Warner House of Lords
Jack O'Sullivan Oxford

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Categories: Healthcare News UK

Patient care under threat as overworked doctors miss vital signs, expert warns

Guardian Healthcare - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 20:05
Sir Richard Thompson says frontline staff are looking after so many patients they can miss signs that affect chances of survival

Care of hospital patients is under threat because overworked frontline doctors are looking after so many sick people that they are missing vital signs of illness that could affect chances of survival, one of Britain's most senior doctors warns today.

Hospital doctors are running around "like a scalded cat" trying to look after up to 70 elderly patients at a time, far more than the maximum of 20 regarded as necessary to ensure they receive proper attention, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Richard Thompson, told the Guardian.

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Sir Richard Thompson makes rare and frank diagnosis of NHS

Guardian Healthcare - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 19:18
Royal College of Physicians president says A&E treatment target is crazy and overworked medics run around like scalded cats

Sir Richard Thompson is not one of the medical world's quote-happy doctors who enjoy exposure and shoot from the lip when, ever willing, they talk to journalists. He gives few interviews and his speeches rarely attract column inches.

Some of the ideas the president of the 30,000-strong Royal College of Physicians outlined when talking to the Guardian this week such as scrapping what he calls the "crazy" and "ridiculous" four-hour treatment target for A&E patients and giving £3bn of the £11.4bn foreign aid budget to the NHS are clearly never going to happen, under this or any other government.

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RCN hailed for leading on Positive and Safe programme

Royal College of Nursing - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 15:53
Following yesterday’s launch of the Department of Health’s Positive and Safe programme, the RCN has been widely praised for bringing about this new approach.
Categories: Healthcare News UK

There's no financial, ethical or clinical justification for NHS charges | Jacky Davis

Guardian Healthcare - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 14:29
The health industrial complex has been eyeing up the NHS budget for years. Building the myth that it is 'outdated and unaffordable' is just the first step

Simon Stevens, until recently a vice-president of the US health giant United Health and ersthwhile Blairite health adviser to New Labour took over this week as the NHS chief executive. It can hardly have been by chance that his arrival coincided with two new reports recommending the introduction of up-front charges for NHS care one from the King's Fund, the other from an unholy alliance between the former Labour health minister Lord Warner and the rightwing thinktank Reform.

Both reports start from the unchallenged but erroneous assertion that the NHS is "unsustainable", and are padded out with a plethora of platitudes about more care in the community and the merging of health and social care services. But at their heart are radical recommendations for the introduction of upfront charges for the NHS. In the case of Reform, this would be a "suggested" £10 "membership fee" a month.

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Nursing workforce morale at all-time low

Royal College of Nursing - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:22
Following the Government’s recent decision on NHS staff pay, which has shocked and angered nursing staff across the UK, the RCN has written to MPs across the political spectrum asking them to support its efforts in contesting the decision.
Categories: Healthcare News UK

Rationing NHS care: why we need a serious debate | David Lock

Guardian Healthcare - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:21
Healthcare reform is urgently needed but politicians unwilling to make unpopular changes are wasting money, says David Lock

The NHS is not spending our tax money effectively. There is a wide professional consensus that too much is being spent on hospital buildings it cannot afford, and it is failing to reduce spending on drug treatments that do not work. But many local NHS leaders are too frightened to try and persuade the public of the case for change. Reforms are delayed for fear of upsetting politicians who seek re-election.

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NICE consults again on updated guidance for two lung cancer drugs

NICE, the healthcare guidance body, is consulting again on its review of existing guidance on the use of erlotinib (Tarceva, Roche Products) and gefitinib (Iressa, AstraZeneca) for treating non-small-cell lung cancer that has progressed after prior chemotherapy (review of NICE technology appraisal guidance 162 and 175).
Categories: Healthcare News UK

GP-led local NHS bodies forced to put health services out to tender

Guardian Healthcare - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:01
Research shows almost 30% of clinical commissioning groups had opened up, or were opening up, services to competition

Many GP-led local NHS bodies are being forced to put health services out to tender despite government assurances that that would not happen.

New research by Health Service Journal shows that 29.1% of the leaders of 93 clinical commissioning groups (CCG) which responded to a survey said had opened up, or were opening up, services to competition which they would not have done if they were not concerned about the impact of new rules contained in the controversial Health and Social Care Act.

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Heavy drinkers to be considered for NHS liver transplants

Guardian Healthcare - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 20:14
Patients with severe alcohol-related liver disease will receive transplants for first time under pilot scheme

People with a severe drink-related liver disease are to be considered for transplant for the first time, reopening the debate over whether people who are thought to bring ill health on themselves deserve expensive treatment.

The decision by the NHS's blood and transplant service (NHSBT) comes at a time when there is a national shortage of suitable organs, and amid concerns that donors would be reluctant to support schemes of this nature.

Categories: Healthcare News UK

Plain packaging announcement 'a positive step'

Royal College of Nursing - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 16:14
The RCN has called the Government’s announcement of the publication of draft guidelines on standardized packaging of tobacco products a ‘positive step in the right direction’, and called for immediate action to save lives.
Categories: Healthcare News UK

RCN hails 'major step forward' in care of vulnerable people

Royal College of Nursing - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 14:06
The Department of Health today launched a major new project at the Royal College of Nursing today, following the concerns of RCN members about physicals interventions in health care settings.
Categories: Healthcare News UK

It is time for a new settlement for health and social care | Kate Barker

Guardian Healthcare - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 12:22
The current funding system does not work well for patients and their carers, says Kate Barker

As a newcomer to the topic of health and social care, I have found the past nine months as the chair of the Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England surprising, moving and very challenging.

Categories: Healthcare News UK

Simon Stevens sets out vision for radical NHS change and innovation

Guardian Healthcare - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 10:00
The new NHS England chief executive's first speech reveals his priorities for the health service, starting with pay and training

In his first speech as NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens prepared the ground for radical change in the way health service staff think and work.

Speaking at Shotley Bridge hospital in County Durham, where he began his NHS career as a trainee manager 26 years ago, Stevens encouraged staff to "think like a patient, act like a taxpayer" as he gave the first indications of what he would and would not be doing.

Categories: Healthcare News UK