This site is intended for health professionals only

Papers preview likely Government response to Francis Inquiry: Duty of candour for GPs, changes to nurse’s training and new criminal offence for managers

Student nurses will have to spend a year working as a healthcare assistants in a bid to improve compassion in the NHS, Jeremy Hunt will announce today.

The health secretary will insist ‘hands-on caring experience’ is just as important as academic training, and so student nurses seeking NHS funding for their training will have to work for up to a year as a healthcare assistant or support worker or have their funding removed. The Daily Mail reports that the scheme could be extended beyond nursing in the future, meaning doctors would also have to spend time learning hands on care.

The announcement will come with a raft of changes as part of Government’s response to the Francis enquiry, which looked into the avoidable deaths of up to 1,200 patients at Stafford hospital. These include other measures such as a new chief inspector of hospitals to oversee an inspection system modelled on schools regulator Ofsted, a statutory ‘duty of candour’ meaning hospitals and GP surgeries must be honest about mistakes and a ban on gagging clauses which silence whistleblowers.

According to the newspapers, the Government will also propose a new criminal offence to prevent managers manipulating hospital data to improve figures such as waiting times and death rates and an ‘elderly care tsar’ to protect the interest of elderly people in care homes.

Check for the latest on the Government response to the Francis Inquiry as the report is released this afternoon.

The Telegraph reports that elderly people who are lonely as they do not see friends or familiarly regularly are almost 50% likely to die before those who have regular social contact. For the first time a study has established a link between isolation and early death, even after underlying health problems are taken into account.

Researchers at University College London concluded that enabling older people to get out an about more would not only make them feel less lonely but add years to their life.

They followed 6,500 people aged 52 and over for seven years up until March last year. When the researchers compared two groups- one judged to be very isolated and another more integrated group who saw friends and family more regularly - those in the first group were up to 48% more likely to have died even when figures were adjusted to take pre-existing health conditions into account.

And good news for cartoon-loving kids, as the BBC reports that spending hours watching television or playing computer games each day does not breed badly behaved children.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) team studied more than 11,000 primary school children and said it is wrong to link bad behaviour to television time. Although there was a small correlation between the two, they said other influences such as parenting styles probably explain the link.

They advised limiting screen time, because this might reduce how much time a child spends doing activities like homework or playing with friends.