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#GPnews: Jeremy Hunt wants more GPs to become NHS chief executives

16:00 Speaking of the House of Commons Health Committee, its chair Dr Sarah Wollaston has signed an open letter to the Government today calling for mandatory sexual education in schools.

Dr Wollaston, a former GP, co-signed the letter with the chairs of four other select committees who jointly called on education secretary Justine Greening to ‘give serious thought’ to the proposal to make personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) ‘statutory’ subjects.

The MPs said their calls come as a recent parliamentary report found that sexual harrassment and violence in schools affect the health of pupils both physically and emotionally.

15:15 Mr Hunt has been busy this week. Yesterday he was in front of the House of Commons Health Committee providing evidence of the Department of Health’s work to prevent suicide.

According to the Guardian’s report on the hearing, Mr Hunt thinks a crackdown on cyber bullying by the technology industry could improve the mental health of young people.

He said this could include banning so called ‘sexting’ between teenagers.

He said: ‘There is a lot of evidence that the technology industry, if they put their mind to it, can do really smart things.

‘For example, I just ask myself the simple question as to why it is that you can’t prevent the texting of sexually explicit images by people under the age of 18, if that’s a lock that parents choose to put on a mobile phone contract. Because there is technology that can identify sexually explicit pictures and prevent it being transmitted.’

But Barbara Keeley MP, the Labout shadow cabinet member for mental health and social care, said it was the Government which was ‘failing young people on issues of suicide and self-harm by overseeing cuts to vital mental health services’.

She said: ‘Jeremy Hunt has refused to ring-fence mental health spending for young people, meaning commissioners don’t prioritise it and vital frontline services suffer. In some areas, commissioners are spending as little as £2 per child per year on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.”

‘This variation in young people’s funding has been called a “national scandal” and it is a scandal that Jeremy Hunt ought to be dealing with.’

Click here to read Pulse’s recent investigation into the NHS’s failure to treat child mental health

15:05 In the same speech today in Birmingham (as referred to in previous post), Mr Hunt announced a £1m GP retention pilot for over-55s thinking of leaving the profession, offering them flexible working models.

But reactions on Twitter included questioning whether this does not just translate to ‘becoming a locum’.

Mr Hunt also annouinced a new route into nursing, including GP practice nursing, which will allow existing NHS staff to learn while they work and receive a degree at the end.

14:11 Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that he wants more doctors and nurses to occupy senior positions within the NHS.

The Government will develop a new NHS-approved masters of business administration (MBA) degree at top UK universities, as well as a fast-track programme for doctors and nurses to become future NHS leaders.

GPs and nurses are capable of taking on senior roles of the ‘same standard as the best in the NHS and the private sector’, Mr Hunt said in a speech.

He argued building better leadership ‘is the only way’ to deal with the high frontline pressures which GPs and nurses are currently facing.

Speaking at the NHS Providers annual conference, the Mr Hunt said he wants to develop health professionals into chief executives.

This comes as currently only a third of NHS chief executives have a clinical background.

In response, the health service will recruit the UK’s ‘brightest graduates’ to train in leadership roles by expanding the NHS graduate scheme, Hunt said.

Available places on the graduate scheme will be doubled in number next year from 100 to 200, with plans for up to 1,000 places by 2020.

11:20 Also on the BBC News website, a major investigation into ambulance trust response times have found these are too slow.

Only one of 13 ambulance trusts in the UK is currently meeting the target of reaching cardiac arrests within eight minutes.

The BBC’s FOI requests also revealed that more than 500,000 hours of crew time was lost to queuing at A&E departments in 2015/16 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (a 52% rise in two years).

The news comes a week after Pulse published a dossier of GP experiences of waiting for emergency responses to 999 calls – including being forced to drive patients to hospital themselves.

It also comes as GPs will be waiting up to 40 minutes amid an ambulance trial to downgrade a wide range of serious conditions including heart attacks, strokes, sepsis, meningitis and acute exacerbation of COPD/asthma.

09:30 Sleep deprivation is having a ruinous effect on the health of people in the UK, researchers have warned.

The Rand Europe study of 62,000 people found those sleeping less than six hours per night had a 13% higher mortality rate than those sleeping between seven and nine hours.

The study further concluded that sleep deprivation is costing the UK economy £40bn a year in lost productivity, and an 1.86% loss in economic growth.

Recommendations included workplaces investing in ‘nap rooms’ to allow workers to catch up on missed sleep, reports the BBC.

‘The effects from a lack of sleep are massive. Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and wellbeing but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy,’ said lead author Marco Hafner.