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

Can you help investigate? Realise Health Ltd, Wivenhoe Council, and an unusual planning decision

This month it emerged that Wivenhoe Town Council had held a secret meeting with Realise Health Ltd (RHL) to discuss a change in location for a proposed new surgery.

Wivenhoe is a North Essex town with a population of just over 10,000. The current surgery is based in a converted bungalow. It also serves the nearby village of Alresford, which has a population of over 2,000 residents. A new health centre has been needed for over fifteen years.

In February Wivenhoe Town Council announced that NHS North Essex had finally signed off a £1.5m funding bid from the surgery.

A site that was relatively central in the town was stated as the location, subject to the successful purchase from the private landowner.

No further news emerged during the monthly Town Council meetings.

Realise Health Ltd (RHL) is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the aim of securing contracts to build health facilities in North Essex. The company falls under the wider structure of Mill Asset Management, a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) that provides financial management for PFI and PPP projects.

The new location, Cook’s Shipyard, that was discussed behind closed doors has raised concerns from local residents. Cook’s Shipyard is inaccessible by public transport. Access is limited via a narrow stretch of old Victorian properties. Parking is at a premium.

Although Wivenhoe Town Council has offered no minutes on the meeting with RHL, it has emerged that lawyers have already been instructed on the new land acquisition.

A pre-planning meeting has taken place with the local authority and the District Valuer has opened his file.

All of this activity has been taking place without the residents of Wivenhoe being informed. No information has been offered as to why the previous site is now unsuitable; it is unclear as to who owns the new preferred site and what the conditions of sale are that make it preferable.

The concern is that this new location is being pushed through ahead of the introduction of the new Clinical Commissioning Group. Residents fear that the hushed up deal will be offered as a Hobson’s Choice: accept the second best option now before the CCG takes control, or lose the new health centre altogether.

I am interested in working with others using Help Me Investigate and the hyperlocal Wivenhoe Forum to find out why residents weren’t informed of this new deal, and why there is such an urgency to make it happen ahead of the phasing out of the Primary Care Trust.

If you want to help or have some expertise that might be useful, please get in touch via paul@helpmeinvestigate.com, this form, or the contact details below:

Jason Cobb
Twitter: Jason_Cobb

An explanation of the forthcoming NHS ‘market’, and other presentations from SHOES10

The presentations made at the ‘Press for Health’ SHOES conference in Sandwell last week are now online.

Accompanying audio for the Dragon’s Den story pitches and the talks by Tom Watson, Wendy Savage and Dr Lucy Reynolds are available on Audioboo tagged ‘SHOES10’.

Of particular use to those wanting to follow and investigate health issues was Dr Lucy Reynolds’s economic analysis of the NHS reforms, embedded below:

The Future of the NHS

Link: “Open but full” GP lists

The BMJ reports on the announcement of plans to “remove incentives for general practices to have “open but full” patient lists”. It explains:

“Currently if a practice wants to close its patient list and stop accepting new patients it risks losing the right to provide additional and enhanced services. As a result some practices keep their list open but stop accepting new patients, declaring their list “open but full.”

“This term is not legally recognised within the contractual arrangements for GPs and is confusing to patients, the health department has said.

“… The department also plans to give practices more say over the closure period and allow practices to reopen their lists when they choose, subject to a notice period. However, practices will no longer be able to open or close their lists according to growth or contraction of their patient population, the so called “ping pong” arrangements.

GPs’ patient lists are an issue we’ve covered previously on HMI Health. In September we published data on patient lists (we now have national data covering 4 years) and in January we profiled the One GP’s Protest blog, which talked about the problems with registration policy and the move to remove boundaries to GP practices, the scheme which these announcements are intended to support.

If you want to help investigate either patient lists or boundaries, get in touch.

Link: “govt to restrict abortion counselling despite Nadine Dorries vote”

The Liberal Conspiracy blog claims that despite losing a vote on the issue last year, plans to “radically reform” abortion counselling services will result in barring “independent organisations such as BPAS from offering abortion counselling to women”. It continues:

“They won’t touch MSI [Maries Stopes International] but BPAS is on its way out. They’ve already stitched it up” [says a source]

“The changes are expected to be made through what is called secondary legislation.”

This is a relatively straightforward issue to watch if you’re interested – follow the key players and watch out for the legislation.

CHART: Referral to treatment times across treatment functions Sept 2011

Waiting times visualisation

Waiting times across the different treatment functions - visualisation by Carl Plant

Following a post on this site, HMI Health contributor Carl Plant has visualised referral to treatment times for September 2011 on his blog.

There’s a link to an interactive graphic where you “can select each treatment function separately to look at the figures”, and to the raw data.

Rather lovely. Can you add anything?