Making the most of WhatDoTheyKnow

The Independent recently got a great story from citizen FOI website about MPs running tabs in the bars at parliament.

It just goes to show what a great resource is. If you haven’t used it yet, have a look at it ASAP.

The site allows you to:

  • Make requests to any public authority in the UK
  • Browse past requests made through the site
  • Get FOI advice from its large community of users

I’ve been using it quite a lot recently and have a couple of tips to help you make the most use of it. Continue reading

Richard Vize on CCGs – notes from #reportinghealth

Carol Miers wrote up her notes on the speech by health expert Richard Vize at Help Me Investigate Health’s #reportinghealth event – we’ve reproduced them below with permission:

“GPs tend to be self employed business people, they hate NHS bureaucracy and hate being told what to do, now they are taken away from patient contact, they have to work on committees, they have their business interests compromised, they have become a cog in the bureaucracy and are subject to control from the Department of Health.”

This, added Richard Vize, opens up health reporting because there is now oversight from the Health and Wellbeing board which – given that GPs are vocal – will bring in an area of openness and debate. Continue reading

Event – NUJ: Reporting on our health services

The NUJ is hosting an event on April 11for a practical, informative and interactive session on reporting on our health services.” Alongside myself representing Help Me Investigate, a panel of much more interesting speakers includes:

  • BBC health correspondent Branwen Jeffreys
  • Health Service Journal’s Shaun Lintern
  • Leading health journalism expert John Lister

The event takes place at 7.00pm on Thursday 11 April at Headland House, Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP. Full flier here (PDF).

Liveblog and audio from #Reportinghealth event

Yesterday Help Me Investigate Health hosted an event: ‘GPs in Control? Reporting the New Health System‘. You can catch up on the talks through a liveblog by Duarte Romero.

Audio clips of the opening talks by Richard Vize and Darren Wright can be found tagged #reportinghealth on Audioboo.

Notes from the event were made by Carol Miers and blogged here.

Video of the panels and presentations will appear on the BBC College of Journalism YouTube channel.

NHS plans for offender commissioning outlined

As part of the restructuring of the health service, the NHS Commissioning Board (CB) will have national responsibility for healthcare in secure environments.

These include:

  • 120 prisons
  • 16 Secure Children’s Homes
  • 4 Secure Training Centres
  • 12 Immigration Removal Centres
  • Police Custody Suites
  • Courts

Commissioning for Sexual Assault Services will also become the responsibility of the NHS CB.

Whilst the NHS CB has national responsibility for these institutions it will be free to commission services from local providers.

A document on the changes is available here.

NHS publishes list of commissioning support groups

The NHS Commissioning Board has published a complete list of Commissioning Support Units (CSUs).

CSUs will support medical staff running CCGs whilst they acquire the business skills necessary to work independently as commissioners.

The list is now final after the merger of West Yorkshire Commissioning Support Unit and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Commissioning Support Unit.

The final list is:

■NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Staffordshire and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS North Yorkshire and Humber Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS West and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Arden Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Central Midlands Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Norfolk and Waveney Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Hertfordshire and Essex Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS North & East London Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS North West London Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS South London Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS South West Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Kent and Medway Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Surrey & Sussex Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS South Commissioning Support Unit

■NHS Central Southern Commissioning Support Unit

The NHS has also published a list of CSU managing directors and their contact details.

Barnet, Enfield and Hillingdon refer less than 4% of depressed patients

Enfield, Barnet and Hillingdon PCT’s are the least likely primary care trusts to refer patients diagnosed with depression for therapy, a study has found.

The findings comes in a report published by the London Civic Forum who compared how many patients with depression were referred to psychological therapy in 2011-12 in London. It was based on data found on Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Website.

Enfield PCT referred just 2% of depressed patients while Barnet and Hillingdon PCT’s referred a little over 3% each.

This contrasts substantially with other PCT’s in the capital. For example, Islington PCT referred almost a quarter of patients with depression for therapy.

The findings will come as a concern to the Clinical Commissioning Groups who will be taking over from Enfield, Barnet and Hillingdon PCT’s in less than a month.

Both Ealing and Barnet PCT have around 40,000 patients each with depression – two of the highest in London.

The study also found a correlation between PCT’s that prescribed more anti-depressant drugs and referred fewer patients to therapy.

The only two PCT’s who bucked the trend were Havering and Kingston PCT’s who prescribed a high number of anti-depressant drugs and referred a relatively high number of patients for therapy.

But the study also pointed out that there was “huge variation” in the amount of anti-depressant drugs prescribed.

NHS publishes social media guidance

NHS Employers, the health service’s human resources group, has published advice to managers encouraging staff use of social media.

The publication acknowledges the pressures on human resources staff to control negative online coverage – but concludes that an “active and honest social media presence” will improve the health service.

This advice for open engagement ranges across the service, from Department of Health managers to clinicians and administrative staff with personal accounts.

However, it still recognises that many NHS contracts explicitly forbid “bringing the organisation into disrepute”.

The issue of free speech within the NHS is of particular relevance following the NHS United Lincolnshire scandal – where two whistle blowers were forced from their posts after warning of care failings to rival Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.

Both managers subsequently spoke to the media, one of them breaking a gagging order to do so.