15:50 An interesting claim in the Guardian today. It quotes a BMA ‘insider’, who claims that the union is torn over the junior doctor strikes.
The Guardian claims the BMA is backing the strikes ’partly because they want to avoid junior doctors breaking away and forming their own union’.
It comes as NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens today warned they could not guarantee patient safety if junior doctors take action for weeks as a time. The BMA this week announced it was suspending this month’s action because of patient safety fears.
14:30 The GPC have criticised Jeremy Hunt’s plans to introduce a smartphone app that will act as a ’symptom checker’.
Dr Brian Balmer, GPC negotiator, said: ’Any new technology that improves patient care and access is of course to be to be welcomed, especially if it makes booking appointments easier for GPs and patients. But this should not replace direct access to a GP who patients should see if they have health concerns.
’The proposed symptom checker is not the same as a consultation with a GP and should not be considered as such. In addition, the scale of the funds being committed to this project is questionable given that GP practices across the country are struggling badly, with more than 300 telling the BMA recently they are facing closure. This is what ministers should be working to put right as a priority.’
10:50 A parliamentary debate over the ’secret’ plans for the NHS – the sustainability and transformation plans – has been postponed, thereby really countering the critics who claim a lack of transparency around the whole process.
The debate was called after a campaign by 38 Degrees to expose the plans. As a result of their campaign, Pulse was able to reveal that GP surgery numbers are to be cut as part of major plans around sustainability.
At the same time, shadow health minister Justin Madders has written a blog post for Huffington Post on the plans.
9:30 The big news this morning is the announcement later today by health secretary Jeremy Hunt on new digitial innovations, including a smartphone app that will allow patients to register with a practice and check their symptoms.
Also part of that announcement will be NHS 111 being available as a triage service online.
A DH statement said the measures to be announced will include: ’The expansion of the existing NHS 111 non-emergency phone line service to include a new online ‘triage’ service for less serious health problems – this will enable patients to enter their symptoms online and get tailored advice or a call-back from a healthcare professional according to their needs. The service is being developed with leading clinicians and then piloted to ensure the best patient outcomes.’