About Paul Bradshaw

Founder of Help Me Investigate. I'm a visiting professor at City University London's School of Journalism, and run an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University. I publish the Online Journalism Blog, and am the co-author of the Online Journalism Handbook and Magazine Editing (3rd edition). I have a particular interest in Freedom of Information and data journalism.

Follow the money: financial incentives for CCGs

If you’re curious about what incentives might be guiding the new health system, this update from the NHS Commissioning Board provides some essential context:

“Financial incentives (quality premium) will be paid to all CCGs that improve or achieve on four national measures and three locally-agreed measures, set with Health and Wellbeing Boards. National measures include: potential years of life lost from causes considered amenable to healthcare; avoidable emergency admissions; the friends and family test; and incidence of healthcare associated infections.”

The ‘friends and family test’ is about whether individuals would recommend services to friends – in other words, a form of customer satisfaction. You can read concerns about it here, and analysis here.

Continue reading

Data promised at ‘consultant level’ by summer

More from the latest briefing from the NHS Commissioning Board, on new data to be made available in 2013:

“Commissioners will be expected to make improvement against the NHS Outcomes Framework.

To improve information, providers should by summer 2013 publish consultant-level data covering survival rates and quality of care for ten specialties including cardiac, vascular and orthopaedic surgery. Publication will be a contractual obligation in 2014/15 to allow comparison across hospitals.”

Also:

“The NHS CB will collect core clinical data from GP practices to help analysis of outcomes across pathways of care and encourage the integration of services. The NHS CB will also develop a comprehensive set of data for hospital care for 2014/15.”

One to watch.

Will commissioners respond to feedback?

A date for your editorial diary in the latest briefing from the NHS Commissioning Board, on one specific pledge being made on health services:

“All NHS patients should have the opportunity to leave feedback, in real time, on any service, by 2015. This will start with roll out of a friends-and-family test to see if patients would recommend a hospital to those to whom they are closest. Clinical commissioners will need to demonstrate they have responded.”

This is a concrete marker to track in holding the new system to account. Worth making a note in your diary!

Scrutinising the new health system? Health and wellbeing boards

There’s a quick guide to health and wellbeing boards on the Department of Health website, explaining how they are intended to guide spending decisions under the new health system, where clinical commissioning groups control £60bn of spending. Some highlights for those interested in the scrutiny role: Continue reading

Hospital blunders investigated by Melanie Hall

Help Me Investigate user Melanie Hall has been using Freedom of Information requests to look at ‘hospital blunders': serious untoward incidents (SUIs) and ‘never events’. She reports:

“Surgeons operating on the wrong side of the body, swabs left inside patients after surgery and the wrong implant being used were among the blunders happening at NHS health services across England last year”

Overall, her investigation reveals at least 6,000 serious untoward incidents (SUIs) and more than 100 ‘never events’.  Continue reading

What standard to hold health service providers to? A consultation to watch

Consultations are always useful sources of information, background, and analysis of a particular sector. The NHS Commissioning Board recently launched a consultation on “service specifications and clinical policies”. These, they say, are “important in clearly defining what the NHS Commissioning Board expects to be in place for providers to offer evidence-based, safe and effective services.” Most importantly:

“Core standards are those that any reasonable provider of safe and effective services should be able to demonstrate, with developmental standards being those that really stretch services over time to provide excellence in the field.”

So this is about what standards we will hold providers of health services to.  Continue reading

Who to send an FOI request to if you want to know about your local clinical commissioning group

Following previous posts about how Freedom of Information requests are being handled during a period where responsibilities are passed from one part of the health service (primary care trusts) to another (clinical commissioning groups – CCGs), we’ve been working with the wonderful FOI Directory to compile a full list of email addresses for the PCT handling FOI requests for each CCG in England.

This table assumes that FOI requests are being handled by the PCT. In some cases the CCG may be ready to process FOI requests themselves. If so, the PCT should be able to inform you when you submit your FOI request.

Here’s the list – if you find anything that needs correcting or updating, please let us know. Continue reading

NHS Commissioning Board livestreams its board meetings

Transparency is supposed to be a key element of the new clinical commissioning NHS system – something we’ll be looking closely at. So it’s encouraging to see that the new NHS Commissioning Board has been livestreaming its board meetings, then putting the whole thing up on its own YouTube channel, too.

A useful source if you’re interested in the governance of health – and you can subscribe to that channel in your RSS reader too.

Identifying CCG websites – halfway there!

Thanks to HMI contributors Che Seymour and Duarte Varela, we are now halfway to recording websites for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

The spreadsheet can be found here. It contains details on:

  • The CCG’s website news page
  • RSS feed
  • Twitter account
  • Board details URL
  • Freedom of Information details

Many CCGs don’t yet have a website, of course, as the authorisation process is still taking place and will not be completed until next Spring.

We’re hoping that compiling and sharing this information will make it easier to send FOI requests, as well as possibly leading to a ‘news scraper’ that brings together news from all CCGs into one convenient feed.

If you want to add to or update the details, please get in touch.