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#GPnews: ‘We are in a quality decade for the NHS,’ says Hunt

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One in ten GP practices ‘at risk of closure’, warns BMA

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17:15 Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that he believes that in future, this would be looked back on as the ‘quality decade’ for the NHS, when difficult decisions were taken to improve the system. 

His comments, made at today’s Nuffield Trust conference, were part of his strong defence of the Government’s role in the junior doctors contract dispute, adding that he would not be ‘held to ransom’ by the health profession over plans for a seven-day NHS.

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16:05 A report into ‘personalised commissioning’ by the National Audit Office is out today. It largely looks at the use of personal health budgets in social care, but also mentions the ambitions of the Department of Health to roll them out in health too. It finds ‘widespread support’ for the use of personal health budgets, but more worryingly, also finds that the Department’s ‘monitoring regime does not enable it to understand how personal budgets improve outcomes’. 

Here is the key quote: 

‘Indicators specific to personalised commissioning in the Department’s Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework measure take-up rather than user outcomes. Other indicators in the framework do measure outcomes, but since its 2007 evaluation the Department has not analysed the relationship between the form of the personal budget and outcomes.’

14:20 The problem of hospital ‘bed blocking’ by patients who are well enough to be discharged but too ill to go home could be solved by moving them into care homes instead, a new report suggests.

Think tank Respublica said the billions spent on keeping 4,300 patients a day in hospital after they need to stay could instead be paid to care homes for providing so-called ‘step-down’ beds.

According to the report, which the BBC says was part-funded by care home providers, this would be a win-win for hospitals which could admit new patients instead of leaving them ‘waiting on trolleys in corridors’ and care homes, which would be kept financially viable. 

12:00 Elsewhere, the Mail Online has reported that nearly 400 patients are being admitted to hospital everyday with sepsis, according to new figures. 

The new figures – published by HSCIC – have revealed that there were 141,772 admissions for patients with sepsis recorded in 2014/15, a 54% increase from the 91,881 recorded in 2010/11. 

But experts say the government and NHS have been ‘too slow’ to take urgent action to improve public awareness, diagnosis and treatment, the Mail Online reports

These new figures come after Jeremy Hunt pledged earlier in the year to initiate a new drive to raise awareness of the sepsis condition, and improve patient care. 

Under new plans, announced in January, the Department of Health said all GP surgeries in England will need to carry out an audit of how well they identify and manage sepsis by March – in a bid to avoid thousands of deaths resulting from bloodborne infections each year.

Last month, a report found that NHS 111 call handlers are unable to identify potentially fatal cases of sepsis because the system is not sensitive enough to pick up red flags.

The report, which was prompted by the tragic death of a 12-month-old toddler in 2014, concluded that NHS Pathways, the system used by NHS 111 operators, was not sensitive enough to identify sepsis red flags such as a sudden drop in temperature.

10:20 Meanwhile, a new treatment for breast cancer has been branded a ‘game changer’ after an international study has found that it could slow the progression of aggressive breast cancer by nine months – that’s according to the Telegraph

The study – of 521 women over the world – found that by combining an established hormone drug called fulvestrant with a new treatment called palbociclib – doctors found they could slow the cancer growth in around two thirds of women with advanced forms of the most common type of breast cancer. 

9:30 This morning we are leading on the BMA’s warning that more than 800 GP practices in England say they are at risk of having to close due to being ’financially unsustainable’. 

The survey of 2,830 practices found that 294 practices (10%) regard themselves as financially unsustainable within the next year.

But DH claims it is increasing investment in general practice to alleviate the financial pressures some practices are facing. 

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