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.
It is only in numbers that the ignored can hope to make an impression. When the first few women began to speak up about Savile's behaviour, his nephew, Roger Foster, was brutally dismissive, describing himself as "disgusted and disappointed" that such claims were being made. With a further 300 people now stepping forward, his tone has changed markedly.
The charity, Rethink Mental Illness, has launched an e-campaign to persuade the government to reintroduce the mental health inpatient survey. It can be accessed via its website rethink.org, and I would urge you to sign it.
new measures to improve care for patients with long term conditions and help prevent unnecessary emergency admissions to hospital
ensuring that quality rewards for GPs reflect expert advice, from NICE, so that patients receive the very best care in line with the most up to date evidence
stopping additional rewards for organisational tasks like good record keeping, which should be part of any good health organisation. This money will instead go into rewarding the quality of services that GPs offer patients.
ensuring that more patients benefit from best practice in areas such as keeping blood pressure low and reducing cholesterol levels, especially those in most need or hardest to reach.
HSJ Briefing: general practice services and policy – The DH also last week set out to make significant changes to the quality and outcomes framework. If they are enforced, practices would have to provide a new set of enhanced services, directed by the DH and NHS Commissioning Board, to continue earning the same income. They would also be required to step up performance on QOF measures, many of which are focused on population health and prevention.
The department has not said what the new enhanced services would be but it is expected they would include:
A requirement to risk-stratify their population for likelihood of illness and deterioration, and provide support/attention to them
Improving services for those with chronic conditions and for older people
Promotion of patients’ self care, including through access to their own records.
If you’re interested in information relating to either Norwich CCG (clinical commissioning group), South Norfolk CCG, North Norfolk CCG, West Norfolk CCG or HealthEast CCG, and cannot get information directly, you’ll need to send a Freedom of Information request to the local Primary Care Trust – Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT.
If you’re reporting on health issues here are two useful resources for health journalists:
European Health Journalism (register for free to gain access) includes a range of resources on reporting health policy, healthcare quality and performance, conflicts of interest and health industry economics.
The related Health Reporting Training Project (HeaRT) includes a database of courses, a discussion forum, and resources on medical research, global health, multimedia reporting, statistics, and the politics and business of healthcare, among others. Registration is also free.
Here are the health-related links that have caught our eyes between October 5th and October 29th:
The Green Benches: Virgin Care represent the greatest conflict of interest in the history of the NHS – The GP Practices in Virgin Care’s network get to keep 50% of the profits they make. The total budgets over a 5 year period that these 21 CCGs are responsible for is £27.5 bn and this places an extraordinary amount of power in the hands of doctors linked to Virgin Care. See a full list of the committees and details below. I include a 5 year figure because many of the contracts they will award will be of that length. The spreadsheet I have created below lists the 21 CCGs on which doctors, who work in Virgin Care medical practices, have been mentioned in the CCG board minutes as connected with that CCG. For substantiation, click on any links you seen in green or writing that appears between brackets. Continue reading →
A parliamentary written answer from Anna Soubry MP provides some useful information for those interested in the lines of accountability of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
In short, this involves consulting with the local authority’s health and wellbeing board, which in turn can report to the NHS Commissioning Board if it is not happy (which can in turn take action). The health and wellbeing board is also accountable itself to the local authority’s scrutiny committee, for which you can find details by adapting this search for your own local council site.
With over 200 of these groups and very few health journalists in the UK there’s an opportunity for student journalists and concerned citizens to play a key role in understanding what CCGs do – and scrutinising their activities.
There are a number of potential avenues to explore, from concerns about potential conflicts of interest in the new arrangements, to issues of accountability, whistleblowing, and efficiency.
In partnership with a number of news organisations and universities, we’re building a network of journalists, students and citizens to start pulling together information, exchanging tips and leads, and pursuing questions in the public interest.