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#GPnews: Leaked messages reveal BMA’s plans to ‘drag out junior doctor row’

17:05 Also today, details of the BMA’s tactics during the junior doctor contract dispute have been revealed, after thousands of phone messages were leaked, HSJ has claimed. 

The text messages show that the BMA intended to drag out the contract row for 18 months in a coup to tie up health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Health ‘in knots’ and impose the disputed contract. 

The messages also show that for months the BMA’s junior doctor committee fiercely opposed the Government’s plans, in particular the clause which meant Saturdays would become part of a junior doctor’s normal working week – revealing that weekend pay ‘was the only red line’ for junior doctors.

15:15 The number of students dying by suicide is soaring, official figures have shown.

In 2014, 130 students 18 and over died by suicide, a majority of whom (97) were young men, writes The Independent.

In 2007, when suicides by students started to be recorded by Office for National Statistics, there were 75.

Suicide prevention charity Samaritans described the situation as ‘a tragedy’.

A spokesperson said: ‘We need to reach young people who are not on the radar of the mental health services, and who slip through the net. It’s really important young people in distress and those bereaved by suicide are enabled to talk about it and get help.’

12:55 NHS spending on private ambulances for 999 calls in England has trebled in four years, BBC research has found.

Private companies and charities were paid £68.7m by ambulance trusts to attend emergency calls in 2015-6, in comparison to the £22.1m in 2011-2.

NHS England said 999 calls for ambulances rose 4.5% last year – with the ambulance service in England receiving 861,000 emergency phone calls in March 2016, equating to 27,800 a day – compared to 22,400 calls a day in March 2015, a rise of 24%.

The private ambulances which were used to respond to some of the emergency calls were from private firms and charities including St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross.

But Alan Lofthouse, Unison’s lead officer for ambulance workers, said the figures represent a movement towards ‘privatisation’. 

He added: ‘It is creeping privatisation, something we are very concerned about. In the short term people need an ambulance. But in the long term they can not be part of a fully-funded system because there is a profit being made by private companies.’

11:30 A survey by Medical Protection has revealed that 43% of the public believe £1m or less was paid out by NHS for clinical negligence last year. However, the actual amount was over £1.1bn.

When told about the reality of the cost to the NHS, 82% of respondents stated they were concerned at the increase in the cost of clinical negligence from £863m in 2011/12 to £1.1bn in 2014/15, said the medical defence organisation. 

Emma Hallinan, Director of Claims Policy and Technical at MPS said: ’This is a strong indicator of the lack of public awareness around the cost of clinical negligence to the NHS. The NHS is now seeing damages reaching well over £10 million in some cases. It is crucial that we ask ourselves whether it is appropriate and affordable to continue to pay such high costs in damages. We recognise that this is a difficult message but difficult decisions about spending in the NHS are made every day, and the cost of claims should not be considered as separate to this.

’The NHS LA received around 11,500 new clinical negligence claims last year, an increase of 73% from just five years ago. Furthermore, at last count the NHS’s ever-expanding liabilities reached £28.3bn.’

9:40 Our lead story today is an exclusive revealing that the Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating claims that patient records went missing following the privatisation of primary care support services. It also reveals that GPC has raised ‘governance issues’ to NHS England after the reports.

We also have an analysis of the whole privatisation of support services here.