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Found 92 results
  1. News Article
    New planning guidance asks local NHS organisations to prepare for a major waiting-list catch-up by seeking “top quartile performance in productivity”, but also to “safely mobilise all… available surge capacity over the coming weeks” as the service battles rising covid levels “in almost all parts of the country”. An end-of-year planning letter was issued by NHS England to local NHS chief executives last night. It warns: “With covid-19 inpatient numbers rising in almost all parts of the country, and the new risk presented by the variant strain of the virus, you should continue to plan on the basis that we will remain in a level 4 incident for at least the rest of this financial year and NHS trusts should continue to safely mobilise all of their available surge capacity over the coming weeks. “This should include maximising use of the independent sector, providing mutual aid, making use of specialist hospitals and hubs to protect urgent cancer and elective activity and planning for use of funded additional facilities such as the Nightingale hospitals, Seacole services and other community capacity.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 24 December 2020
  2. News Article
    Staff at a teaching hospital which has struggled with emergency care pressure this winter have warned that patient safety is being compromised as crowding is becoming “normalised”. A letter sent by a group of clinical staff at Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust to the trust board calls for immediate action to tackle concerns. It says: “The normalisation of crowding, the lack of effective flow management and the lack of effective escalation policies and procedures are resulting in patient safety, dignity and comfort being repeatedly and seriously compromised.” Details of the letter were shared with HSJ but it is unclear how many and which staff it is signed by. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 23 December 2020
  3. News Article
    Think 2020 has been awful for the NHS? Next year is shaping up to be far worse – and most of the huge hole it’s in was dug long before Covid. The virus has merely finished off the job. The health service does not have the beds, staff or equipment to recover the ground it lost during the first two waves of the coronavirus pandemic, but the government is blocking desperately needed improvements, and another round of organisational upheaval is on its way. Roughly one in 11 clinical posts are vacant, and it would hardly be a surprise to see many staff rush for the retirement door once the worst of the pandemic is behind us. The NHS can’t solve the problem without long-term certainty over funding for staff. Around 140,000 patients in England have been waiting more than a year for surgeries such as a hip replacements, up a hundredfold from a year ago. With the whole system beset by delays long before we had even heard of coronavirus, the lack of spare capacity means it will take years to help many patients. Unprecedented interruptions and delays to cancer tests and treatments have been exacerbated by the pitiful state of diagnostic equipment. Access to CT and MRI scanners is far behind countries with a fraction of our wealth, such as Slovenia and Slovakia. Y In the midst of all this turmoil, the NHS in England faces another round of legislative and organisational upheaval next year, the likely arrival of a new chief executive, and a potential fight with Downing Street over the extent of political control. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 18 December 2020
  4. Content Article
    Immediate and essential actions 1) Enhanced safety Essential action - Safety in maternity units across England must be strengthened by increasing partnerships between Trusts and within local networks. Neighbouring Trusts must work collaboratively to ensure that local investigations into Serious Incidents (SIs) have regional and Local Maternity System (LMS) oversight. 2) Listening to women and families Essential action - Maternity services must ensure that women and their families are listened to with their voices heard. 3) Staff training and working together Essential action - Staff who work together must train together. 4) Managing complex pregnancy Essential action - There must be robust pathways in place for managing women with complex pregnancies Through the development of links with the tertiary level Maternal Medicine Centre there must be agreement reached on the criteria for those cases to be discussed and /or referred to a maternal medicine specialist centre. 5) Risk assessment throughout pregnancy Essential action - Staff must ensure that women undergo a risk assessment at each contact throughout the pregnancy pathway, 6) Monitoring fetal wellbeing Essential action - All maternity services must appoint a dedicated Lead Midwife and Lead Obstetrician both with demonstrated expertise to focus on and champion best practice in fetal monitoring. 7) Informed consent Essential action - All Trusts must ensure women have ready access to accurate information to enable their informed choice of intended place of birth and mode of birth, including maternal choice for caesarean delivery.
  5. News Article
    Cancer screening programmes designed to save hundreds of lives have been delayed by up to a year as services struggle with staff and equipment shortages, HSJ can reveal. Of the 14 Lung Health Check Programme sites announced last year, four — or just under a third — have either halted programmes they had started or delayed beginning them, with some now expected not to be operational until after March. The areas chosen for the scheme activities, which often involved mobile computed tomography units in vans, have high rates of late diagnosis lung cancer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February showed CT scanning of high risk groups led to a 26% reduction in deaths in men and between a 39 and 61% reduction in women. NHS England confirmed “activity had resumed” in nine areas while one has started this month, meaning four areas remain out of action. The organisation declined to answer HSJ’s questions on which services were not running and why. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 1 December 2020
  6. News Article
    Hospitals across England could see oxygen supplies at worse levels this winter than at the peak of the first coronavirus wave – when some sites were forced to close to new admissions. An alert to NHS hospitals this week warned that because of the rise in admissions of COVID-19 patients, there is a risk of oxygen shortages. Trusts have been ordered to carry out daily checks on the amount of oxygen in the air on wards to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires or explosions. The problem is not because of a lack of oxygen but because pipes delivering the gas to wards will not be able to deliver the volume of gas needed by all patients. This can trigger a cut-off in supply and a catastrophic drop in pressure, meaning patients would be denied the oxygen they need to breathe. Read full story Source: The Independent, 20 November 2020
  7. Content Article
    Take home messages and a call for action Over the course of two days debate many issues were raised and important messages sent out. These included the following: WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufactures (a non-State Actor in Official Relationship with WHO) reassured patients that all WHO Member States and all of the pharmaceutical industry are cooperating and sharing knowledge and resources as never before. Strengthening health systems, especially primary health is a priority to lead the effort to vaccinate 8 billion people over a short time span. Patient engagement is vitally important here to address both the infodemic and vaccine hesitation, and help ensure vulnerable patients are vaccinated quickly When effective vaccines come on stream regulators such as the FDA and EMA must maintain their strong stance on patient engagement and co-creation of guidelines and the African Medicines Agency should adopt the same approach The World Health Organization’s Global Action on Patients Safety and the WHO Flagship Decade of Patient safety 20200-30 be integrated into all covid-19 control systems and the full spectrum of healthcare Patient engagement and co creation in health systems must be formalised by legal and policy means.
  8. News Article
    Hospital food standards are set to be put on a statutory footing, with trusts held to account by the Care Quality Commission, according to the chair of a government-commissioned review. Philip Shelley, who led the review into hospital food following seven patient deaths from listeria last year, told HSJ the incident was an “absolute condemnation” and that trusts must use the review to improve food standards. The review, published last month, also calls for capital investment to refurbish hospital kitchens and replace old and inefficient equipment, which is likely to cost several hundreds of millions of pounds. The government has accepted the recommendations and Mr Shelley will lead a group of experts to oversee the review’s implementation across the NHS during the next three years. Among the review’s recommendations is the “enhanced role” for the CQC when it inspects NHS trusts. The review states there is currently “very little evidence to prove that food and drink standards are being monitored closely enough” and it therefore recommends placing the standards on a statutory footing from which the CQC can hold trusts to account. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 17 November 2020
  9. News Article
    A community trust was told to urgently review prescribing of stimulant medications for children after concern that some were posted to families but never arrived. Bridgewater Community Healthcare Foundation Trust was told that sending prescriptions through the post may be a potentially unsafe practice by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The warning came in a report from the college after it was invited by the trust to review its community paediatrics service The trust was urged to work with primary care and clinical commissioning groups to establish shared care for children who needed these medications. Stimulant medicines are often used for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The review also found there was a “a very significant risk for patient care” with letters, reports and prescriptions being delayed or going missing due to “recurrent issues” with the post in the building used by the team covering St Helen’s. It highlighted issues with the safeguarding procedures at the trust, with each locality team having its own processes and handling a small number of cases, and called for urgent work to streamline services. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 11 November 2020
  10. Content Article
    As a result of the investigation, one recommendation has been made to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on assessing factors such teamwork and psychological safety in its regulation of maternity units. Based on the evidence gathered, the report also sets out a series of questions to consider in order to help staff identify strengths and opportunities for improvement within their own maternity unit. Safety recommendation It is recommended that the Care Quality Commission, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, includes assessment of relational aspects such as multidisciplinary teamwork and psychological safety in its regulation of maternity units. Questions to consider Does your unit have a role, or another means, separate from the labour ward co-ordinator, dedicated to monitoring and anticipation of activity across the maternity service and troubleshooting, such as a roving bleep holder? Do you have regular multidisciplinary ward rounds throughout the day? Do you have regular safety huddles and multidisciplinary handovers using a structured information tool? Do you hold multidisciplinary in situ simulation and facilitated debriefing that includes both technical and non-technical skills? Are scenarios and incidents encountered in your unit included in the training? Do you know what your staff’s perceptions of teamwork, psychological safety and communication are within your unit? Are actions taken in response? How are midwifery staff empowered to contact consultants directly if they have concerns? Is time and resource dedicated to regular multidisciplinary forums that provide a safe space to openly discuss scenarios where things did not go well? Do these forums also include discussion and reflection on scenarios where things went well despite unexpected events? Are senior midwifery staff assigned to triage and assessment areas? Is there adequate medical presence in these areas? In larger units, is the workload on the labour ward separated into elective and emergency work? If so, are there separate labour ward co-ordinators for each? How does the physical infrastructure support work? For example, use of DECT telephones, availability of equipment, consultant offices on/near the labour ward, proximity of antenatal ward and neonatal unit to the labour ward. How are issues with staffing and workload escalated and responded to? Are senior trust personnel aware and involved?
  11. News Article
    Patients, including those with the coronavirus, are being kept “head to toe” on trolleys in accident and emergency departments in Manchester, with some forced to wait up to 40 hours for a bed. The “dangerous” situation has sparked warnings from the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine over the “potentially lethal” crowding of patients in A&Es across the country this winter. Katherine Henderson said she was “absolutely terrified” by what was happening in some departments. She said she had warned NHS England about the dangers of crowding patients in A&E but that not enough action had been taken. She told The Independent: “Crowding in A&E is unsafe, but with coronavirus it is potentially lethal. We have said this endlessly to NHS England." “Everyone agrees crowding is bad, but what they’re not doing is translating that into action.” After hearing of the situation in Manchester, she added: “Exactly what we said should not happen is happening. I am absolutely terrified by this. What more can I do? I have highlighted this risk everywhere I can over the past few months.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 11 November 2020
  12. Content Article
    The session described three things. Firstly, the importance of improving flow in hours – so when a bed is available and how quickly can we fill it. Secondly, reducing length of stay in days and, thirdly, working to safely keep more patients at home. During this event, where 70 people joined the conversation, colleagues in the Netherlands described the methodology of ‘Real Time Demand Capacity’ which they have implemented. It is Improvement Cymru's aim in 2021 to help improve the understanding of the science of flow using lean and to support implement these principles into our health and social care systems, which they think will have a significant impact on this problem. Watch the webinar and read the accompanying blog from Iain Roberts, Head of Programmes.
  13. Content Article
    Problems related to the care home and the company were known well before the Panorama expose in 2016. When the Panorama programme was aired it resulted in immediate closure of one home and all the homes which were operated by Morleigh being transferred to new operators. The Review includes reports of abuse against residents; residents being left to lie in wet urine-soaked bedsheets; concerns from relatives about their loved ones being neglected; reports of there being insufficient food for residents, no hot water and no heating; claims that dozens of residents were sharing one bathroom. Here's a summary of the report's findings: More than 100 residents had concerns raised more than once. More than 200 safeguarding alerts were made for individuals but only 16 went through to an individual adult safeguarding conference. More than 80 whistleblower or similar reports were made concerning issues that put residents at risk. 44 inspections were undertaken at Morleigh Group homes in the three-year period, the vast majority identifying breaches. There was a period of at least 12 months when four of the homes had no registered manager in place. During the three-year period reviewed the police received 130 reports relating to the care homes. A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: “We have different procedures and policies in place and have invested time, money and staffing into making sure that we can respond better when concerns are raised.'' “One of the problems was that all the partners had their own policies and procedures but they weren’t integrated. That is probably one of the key issues that we have now addressed.” “The assessment is so different now and the organisations are working much more closely that it reduces the risk dramatically.'' This is an important and long-awaited review. This situation echoes other care home scandals across the UK. I urge everyone to read the full report and reflect on the real root causes of the problem, which I believe go well beyond failings in inter-agency policies and communication. What would your action plan be? How would you monitor it?
  14. News Article
    The NHS has been returned to the highest level of risk on its emergency preparedness framework, a move which allows national leaders tighter control over local resources and decision making. NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens announced the decision at a press conference this morning. He said: “Unfortunately, again we are facing a serious situation [due to rising coronavirus infections and hospital admissions]. That is the reason why at midnight tonight the health service in England will be returning to its highest level of emergency preparedness, EPPR level 4, which of course we had to be at from the end of January to the end of July.” Placing the NHS on level 4 of Emergency Preparedness Reslience and Response framework allows system leaders to take control of decisions over mutual aid and other local priorities. Sir Simon was joined by NHSE/I medical director Steve Powis and Alison Pittard, dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine. They used the press conference to stress the threat the NHS faced from the second covid peak, but also set out more positive news on the covid vaccine programme. Read full story Source: HSJ, 4 November 2020
  15. News Article
    An NHS hospital at the epicentre of the coronavirus second wave is facing the threat of action by the care watchdog as it struggles to keep patients safe, The Independent has learned. Senior NHS bosses in the northwest region have been accused of putting politics ahead of patient safety and not doing enough to help the hospital to cope with the surge in Covid patients in recent weeks. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust on Friday that it could face action after an inspection carried out last week in response to fears raised with the regulator. In a message to his colleagues on Friday, Liverpool University Hospitals (LUH) Trust medical director Tristan Cope warned the hospital had been overwhelmed by coronavirus and standards of care could no longer be maintained. He criticised NHS England and said the trust had been “abandoned” as coronavirus cases surged. He confirmed the CQC’s intention to take action against the trust but said the regulator had failed to appreciate the pressure staff in the hospital were under. Dr Cope, a consultant in anaesthesia and critical care, said: “LUH is now essentially overwhelmed by the demand. We cannot maintain patient flow and usual standards of care. We have put forward a proposal to further reduce elective [planned] activity, but maintaining capacity for the most urgent cases that would suffer from a two-four week delay." “It is a very sound plan that our divisional teams have worked up. However, NHS England are prevaricating and delaying with the usual request for more detail, more data, etc. It is clear to me that the politics is outweighing the patient safety issues of the acute crisis." Read full story Source: The Independent, 3 November 2020
  16. News Article
    Several hospitals in the north of England are already at full capacity and may have to start moving patients to other regions, doctors have warned. Consultants fear that if Covid infection rates do not begin to fall significantly the NHS will be overwhelmed in less than a month from now. Members of the British Medical Association have reported that Intensive Care Units (ICU) in a number of regions, including Manchester, Liverpool and Hull, are close to capacity as the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 continues to grow. Dr Vishal Sharma, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, told The Telegraph: “Capacity in the north of England is at the limits and in some places above the limit. Our next concern is ICU capacity, which is always tight at this time of year, even without Covid.” Dr Sharma said some general ward beds could be adapted to provide intensive breathing support for Covid patients, and the re-opening of Manchester’s Nightingale Hospital may also take the pressure off ICU departments. But more radical steps may have to be taken if numbers of hospitalised patients continue to rise. “We may have to move patients around the country to create extra capacity, but if the whole country starts to struggle things will get very difficult." Read full story Source: The Telegraph,
  17. Content Article
    The report concludes with short, medium and long-term measures that support both immediate and future responses as the NHS continues to tackle the virus. The measures include eight national safety recommendations, safety observations and a tool that NHS trusts can use straight away to review their approach. Safety recommendations 1: It is recommended that the Department of Health and Social Care, working with NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England, and other partners as appropriate, develops a transparent process to co-ordinate the development, dissemination and implementation of national guidance across the healthcare system to minimise the risk of nosocomial transmission of COVID-19. 2: It is recommended that NHS England and NHS Improvement supports additional capacity for testing for NHS patients and staff (Pillar 1 testing) facilitates the accessibility of rapid testing for NHS trusts, as soon as an increase in rapid testing supplies becomes available. 3: It is recommended that NHS England and NHS Improvement: develops a national intensive infection prevention and control (IPC) safety support programme for COVID-19 which focuses on leadership, IPC technical support, education, practice, guidance and assurance develops a national IPC strategy which focuses on developing IPC capacity, capability and sustainability across the NHS in England. 4: It is recommended that NHS England and NHS Improvement reviews the principles of the hierarchy of controls in its health building notes (HBN) and health technical memoranda (HTM) for the design of the built environment in existing and new hospital estate to reduce the risk of nosocomial transmission. 5: It is recommended that NHS England and NHS Improvement responds to emerging scientific evidence and shared learning when reviewing guidance for NHS trusts on the role of hospital ventilation systems in nosocomial transmission. 6: It is recommended that NHS England and NHS Improvement investigates and evaluates the risks associated with the potential impact of staff fatigue and emotional distress on nosocomial transmission of COVID-19. 7: It is recommended that the Department of Health and Social Care reviews and identifies the mechanisms which enabled regional and local organisations to adapt and respond with agility during the pandemic. This should inform the development of a strategic approach to national leadership models at times of crisis and under normal conditions. 8: It is recommended that NHSX considers how technology can assist in mitigating nosocomial transmission in the ward environment with regard to: the use of digital communication technologies in assisting with the deployment of staff and the dissemination and circulation of key information the increased use and availability of personal computing devices and electronic health record systems.
  18. News Article
    Ambulance chiefs have warned coronavirus precautions in hospital emergency departments are putting patients’ lives at risk because of long delays before patients are being treated. West Midlands Ambulance Service has written a formal warning to three hospitals in the region over the delays to handing over patients from ambulance to hospital staff. In one case, a patient was left waiting with ambulance crews for up to three and a half hours. According to the letter, obtained by the Health Service Journal, the delays are being caused because of tougher infection control measures with ambulance bosses warning the situation is “dangerous”. Director of nursing Mark Docherty said the delays meant ambulances could not be sent to “life threatening emergencies”, and warned: “Lives will be put at risk and patients will come to harm as a result”. He added: “I alerted you to a serious concern about patients being kept on ambulances outside your hospital. Of great concern is the fact that a hospital risk assessment identifies this process as a mitigation to reduce risk in your hospital…" Read full story Source: The Independent, 29 October 2020
  19. News Article
    Mass cancellations of routine operations in England are inevitable this autumn and winter despite an NHS edict that hospitals must not again disrupt normal care, doctors’ leaders have said. Organisations representing frontline doctors, including the British Medical Association (BMA), also criticised NHS England for ordering hospitals to provide “near normal” levels of non-Covid care in the second wave of the pandemic, and demanded that fines for failing to meet targets be scrapped. "Things are very, very difficult at the moment, very challenging at the moment. It feels like a juggling act every day,” said one official in the South Yorkshire NHS. “The problem is both the growing numbers of patients coming into hospital with Covid and the numbers of staff we have off sick due to Covid, either because they are ill themselves or because someone in their household has symptoms, so they are isolating.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 October 2020
  20. News Article
    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has called for ‘ministerial ownership’ to end the ‘inhumane’ care of patients with learning difficulties and autism in hospital – after finding some cases where people had been held in long-term segregation for more than 10 years. Following its second review into the uses of restraint and segregation on people with a learning difficulty, autism and mental health problems, the CQC has warned it “cannot be confident that their human rights are upheld, let alone be confident that they are supported to live fulfilling lives”. The review was ordered by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock in late 2018 in response to mounting concerns about the quality of care in these areas. According to the report, published today, inspectors found examples people being in long-term segregation for at least 13 years, and in hospital for up to 25 years. It also found evidence showing the proportion of children from a black or black British background subjected to prolonged seclusion on child and adolescent mental health wards was almost four times that of other ethnicities. Looking at care received in hospital the CQC found many care plans were “generic” and “meaningless” and patients did not have access to any therapeutic care. Reviewers also found people’s physical healthcare needs were overlooked. One women was left in pain for several months due to her provider failing to get medical treatment. The regulator also reviewed the use of restrictive practices within community settings. While it found higher quality care, and the use of restrictive practices was less common, it said there was no national reporting system for this sector. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 22 October 2020
  21. News Article
    ‘Systemic’ problems within mental health services in Birmingham have caused the number of people waiting for an inpatient bed to reach ‘extremely concerning’ levels, according to documents leaked to HSJ. There are currently 41 people waiting to be admitted to a bed by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) , according to internal documents, while 36 people have already had to be sent to private sector facilities up to 150 miles away. The NHS in the area has indicated to HSJ that it is due to need for “intensive levels of care” now growing because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email thread, sent to 60 people in the trust including senior executives, one senior clinician wrote in response to the bed figures: “The number of patients with Mental Health Act assessments completed is extremely concerning. This needs to be escalated to commissioners. The problem is systemic.” It comes after an HSJ investigation earlier this year into the deaths of 12 patients under BSMHFT’s services. It revealed senior medics had repeatedly warned the trust about severe bed shortages and a lack of capacity within home treatment services. The trust said it was addressing the issues raised, but senior clinicians told HSJ this week the trust is still short of at least 80 adult mental health beds. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 15 October 2020