The Health Service Journal has reported that Professor Sir Mike Richards, formerly National Cancer Director at the Department of Health and currently Director of Domain 1 at NHS England, has been appointed as Chief Inspector of Hospitals.
The role was announced as part of the Government’s response to Francis Inquiry into the events at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and includes powers to put hospitals into special administration if they fail to meet minimum care standards. The Chief Inspector of Hospitals will sit within the Care Quality Commission and work closely with its Chief Executive, David Behan. The article can be found online here (paywall).
The Department of Health has announced that £4 million of funding is to be provided to research ways to improve the diagnosis of a variety of conditions including cancer. In its announcement, the Department of Health notes that there are over 16 million diagnostics carried out in the UK every year and the research will examine the ways in which certain conditions are diagnosed. The funding has been allocated across four sites by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR):
- Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will be exploring liver, musculoskeletal and renal diseases
- Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will be looking at cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases, and metabolic medicine
- Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust will be testing the effectiveness of new diagnostics tests for cancer, cardiovascular, liver, musculoskeletal and respiratory diseases, stroke, genetics, infections, and transplantation
- Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will be identifying and evaluating diagnostic tests which will bring the newest medical technology across a range of common diseases into primary care, including GP services
Further information is available online here.
NHS England has announced that Sir David Nicholson will retire from the NHS, and as Chief Executive of NHS England, in March 2014. In a letter to Professor Malcolm Grant, chair of NHS England, Sir David said: "I have only ever had one ambition and that is to improve the quality of care for patients. I still passionately believe in what NHS England intends to do. My hope is that by being clear about my intentions now will give the organisation the opportunity to attract candidates of the very highest calibre so they can appoint someone who will be able to see this essential work through to its completion.” Read the exchange of letters between Sir David Nicholson and Professor Malcolm Grant.
The Department of Health has confirmed that Ed Jones will replace Sam Talbot-Rice as Jeremy Hunt’s new special adviser. Mr Jones previously worked as a consultant for Deloitte. Sue Beeby is continuing in her post as Mr Hunt’s other special advisor.
A research programme that will lay the foundations for anyone with cancer to have access to genetic testing has been launched with £2.7 million funding from the Wellcome Trust. The programme, led by a team at The Institute of Cancer Research, will implement a new patient pathway for cancer gene testing so that more genes can be tested in more people. Mutations in some genes, known as cancer predisposition genes, greatly increase the likelihood that a person will get cancer. There are nearly 100 known cancer predisposition genes, but testing for them in the UK is currently very restricted. Recent advances in methods for reading the genetic code, known as sequencing, mean that looking for gene mutations is now faster and more affordable than ever before. More information on the programme can be found here.
The Department of Health has announced its commitment to delivering integration of health and social care services by 2018. The plans, unveiled this week by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb MP, hope to see better care and support, fewer people falling through the cracks and a drop in patients needlessly stuck in hospitals. The announcement also sees the publication of the first ever system-wide "Shared Commitment", which demonstrates how the national leaders of the health and care system have come together to help local areas make integration happen. More information on the announcement is available here.
Monitor and NHS England have announced they are working together to reform the way NHS services are paid for. As a result of feedback that Payment by Results is not sufficiently patient focused and can be a barrier to delivering integrated care, Monitor and NHS England have published a joint discussion paper asking for views on the future of the payment system. This paper has a call for evidence on the way hospitals are reimbursed for some emergency admissions and will set out possible improvements for the system. The full press release from Monitor and NHS England can be accessed here.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced that it is developing a quality standard on children and young people with cancer. NICE quality standards are a concise set of statements designed to drive and measure priority quality improvements within a particular area of care. The focus of this quality standard is referral to, and delivery of, peripheral arterial disease services provided or commissioned by the NHS. The topic overview for the quality standard is published on the NICE website and describes core elements of the quality standard.
NICE would like to receive suggestions from registered stakeholders about areas for quality improvement. More information on registering and how to make a suggestion can be found here.
NHS England has published the Interim CCG Assurance Framework for 2013/14 which aims to help NHS England, patients and the public identify how well clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are performing in their role as commissioners of local health services. The framework is designed to give assurance that CCGs are delivering quality and outcomes for patients, both locally and as part of the national standards, as well as being the basis for assessing that they are continuously improving from the start point of authorisation. The publication of the Interim CCG Assurance Framework kicks off an engagement process with CCG staff, patient groups and other key stakeholders which will inform a final Framework to be published in the autumn. There is no formal consultation however views on the proposed Framework are welcome on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Queen’s Speech was this week delivered to Parliament, setting out the Government’s legislative programme for 2013/14. Key areas of focus included economic growth, immigration and social care. In health and social care, the Queen announced that the Government plans to introduce legislation to change the way long term social care is paid for, introducing a cap on how much people will contribute towards their care costs. This Care Bill follows recommendations from the Dilnot Commission and the Francis Inquiry. The Bill would:
- Modernise the previously fragmented law so that it prioritises the wellbeing of individuals and enables all those needing health and social care to get good care
- Enshrine a right for the millions of carers in England to receive support from their local council
- Introduce Ofsted-style ratings for hospitals and care homes that would allow patients and the public to compare organisations or services in a fair and balanced way
- Make it a criminal offence for providers to provide false and misleading information about their performance
Other legislation that the Government plans to bring forward includes the following:
- Immigration Bill; to curb access to certain public services for recent immigrants
- Pensions Bill; this will introduce a new flat rate state pension system set above the basic means test
- Draft Consumer Rights Bill; will make consumer rights clearer
- Energy Bill; this will help to ensure fairer prices for consumers and encourage private investment in the electricity sector
As anticipated, there was no mention of minimum alcohol pricing or standardised tobacco packaging. A briefing note from the Cabinet Office on all of the legislation announced is available here.