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#GPnews: DH takes ‘step backwards’ on GP indemnity cost curbing

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Revealed: NHS England stops issuing lifelong GP contracts

Patient died after being diverted to GP ‘streaming’ service in A&E

16:45 The Department of Health has said there’s a delay to its consultation into fixing the amounts lawyers can charge in NHS negligence claims.

Although the consultation closed 2 May, the DH published a small update today which said: ‘Following the formation of a new government on 9 June 2017, decisions on the development of this policy have not yet been finalised. We will publish the results in due course.’

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny said this was ‘another step backwards’ in the fight to bring down GP indemnity costs.

He said: ‘Almost three years have passed since the Government said they were going to take urgent steps to halt the runaway increase in claimant costs in medical negligence cases. But words have not been matched by deeds and today’s non-announcement is another step backwards.

‘Patients, professionals and taxpayers alike are paying – and will continue to pay – the price for this wholly avoidable planning blight.

‘If Government is really serious about reducing the cost and stress burdens of unjustified litigation on the NHS, then it needs a joined-up approach on tort reform, the discount rate and the consequent need for GP reimbursement to account for increased indemnity costs. A robust cap in cases of up to £250,000 in value is an essential part of that programme. There is no case for further delay.’

It comes as Pulse revealed last week that the DH is reviewing a rise in GP indemnity reimbursement amid warnings that fees for GPs are becoming ‘unaffordable’.

But MDOs and GP leaders alike say this is all taking much too long.

14:45 Outgoing chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards has sparked confusion (well, we’re confused) by saying that the NHS doesn’t need more money.

However, he did add that the NHS definitely does need more money. Just to be clear.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘There is no doubt the NHS needs more money, because of increasing demand on it and the need to transform services.

‘But it’s also true, as we have seen, that things can be done better without more money, and that’s what we are encouraging alongside saying, “Yes, we will need more money”.’

Clear as a Bank Holiday Monday.

14:15 Also commenting on the NHS workforce statistics, BMA treasurer Dr Andrew Dearden said: ‘Across many parts of the NHS, recruitment and retention problems are leaving staff and services thinly stretched and affecting patients’ access to care.

‘Doctors are telling us they are struggling with unsustainable workloads to try to fill the gaps. This has a huge impact on morale, often leading to stress and burnout. If we cannot find a solution, it is inevitable that these doctors may consider looking elsewhere for a job that provides them with greater career satisfaction and a better work life balance.

‘These issues need to be urgently addressed to ensure the NHS can continue to attract and retain frontline staff and to ensure that it has the necessary resources to meet rising demand on services. Failure to do so will only compound existing recruitment problems, adding to pressure on existing staff and affect access to, and quality of, patient care.’

12:00 NHS vacancy statistics reveal a major shortfall of staff in the health service.

NHS Vacancy Statistics England (February 2015 – March 2017) showed that in March 2017 there were 30,613 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents published in England and this compares to 26,424 in 2016 and 26,406 in 2015.

Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: ‘The NHS is faced with a perfect storm over recruitment, which is disclosed in the sharp and very disturbing rise in advertised vacancies in England.

‘The three main factors that need to be urgently addressed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt are the harsh pay austerity regime; the impact of Brexit on the estimated 55,000 EU nationals working for the NHS; and the obsession with constant reorganisation, the latest being the 44 controversial Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) in England.’

10:50 An NHS trust has begun recruiting doctors directly from India rather than competing with other trusts on salaries in a competitive market, reports Sky News.

Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow has already hired 10 middle-ranking doctors trained in India, which has a similar medical qualification as the UK.

Miriam Harris, the clinical lead in the Northwick Park emergency medicine department, said: ‘Rather than offering large salaries, which is what we tried to do before and got caught up in a bidding war with all other hospitals in London, we were offering to train people and invest in them and their future.’

Lajeesh Vettikat, a specialist A&E registrar from New Delhi, was surprised at how busy NHS work is, the report adds.

He said; ‘I had read about the A&E sector – now I know how real the shortage is in terms of doctors and nursing staff.

‘This is the biggest A&E department in London and we have about 30 doctors a day here, but the number of patients in A&E is so huge we end up seeing patients in the corridors, in the back of ambulances, in the waiting rooms, in the relatives’ rooms.

‘It is really worrying but we are working really hard to make sure the patients are safe and the department is safe.’

10:10 Pulse reveals this morning that NHS England has all but stopped issuing lifelong GP contracts. Since 2013, just one PMS contract was issued to a new GP practice and – shockingly – not a single GMS contract.

Former NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair Dr Steve Kell responded to the finding saying it’s a ‘disastrous’ development.

09:30 Older people should have dog walking ‘on prescription’, according to a report in the Express.

University of East Anglia (UEA) and University of Cambridge researchers found that owning or walking a dog was among the most effective ways to avoid a decline in physical activity in later life.

Amid over 3,000 people studied, with an average age just under 70, some 18% had a dog. And out of these, two thirds took it for a walk at least once every day.

Study lead Professor Andy Jones, from UEA) said: ‘We were amazed to find that dog walkers were on average more physically active and spent less time sitting on the coldest, wettest and darkest days than non-dog owners were on long, sunny, and warm summer days.

‘The size of the difference we observed between these groups was much larger than we typically find for interventions such as group physical activity sessions that are often used to help people remain active.’