What is in the news this week….6th September

111 number to replace NHS Direct.

The Government has said it will close down the controversial NHS Direct telephone service in England, replacing it with a new 111 number to be rolled out across the country. The move, which follows years of doubts among GPs over the cost effectiveness and expertise of the NHS Direct service, was announced by health secretary Andrew Lansley, with the service the latest in a string of flagship Labour projects to face the scrapheap under the coalition. While the BMA and many GPs have called for NHS Direct to be culled, the intention to replace the service with the new three digit number, which has only just begun trials in England, has sparked fears that it could reduce even further the number of medically trained staff on hand to answer calls from the public, after a Pulse investigation revealed cost-cutting plans are set to slash the number of trained staff. http://tinyurl.com/2utnr52
http://www.hsj.co.uk/5018782.article?referrer=e2

Lansley: PCTs to blame for out-of-hours failings.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has blamed PCTs for a series of high-profile failings in GP out-of-hours services – after being challenged directly on the future of commissioning by a PCT manager. Responding to a question posed during a live online question-and-answer session on the Government’s health White Paper at number10.gov.uk, the health secretary said many trusts had failed to understand the services they were commissioning, and had neglected their duty to robustly monitor the performance of providers.
Mr Lansley said the Care Quality Commission’s recent report into the death of patient David Gray at the hands of German locum GP Dr Daniel Ubani, who had been employed by out-of-hours provider Take Care Now, demonstrated the pressing need for reform to the system. http://tinyurl.com/39bh47v

The Coalition Government’s NHS reforms: an assessment of the White Paper.

This briefing concludes that the reforms are substantial and will result in fundamental changes to the organisation and delivery of care to patients in the NHS in England. While the briefing supports the overall direction of travel, it warns that the reforms will require significant management expertise to implement smoothly. http://tinyurl.com/3x6887q
The Nuffield Trust. Briefing: The Coalition Government’s NHS reforms: an assessment of the White Paper. August 2010.

http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/members/download.aspx?f=%2fecomm%2ffiles%2fThe_Coalition_Governments_NHS_Reforms.pdf&a=skip

Integration of NHS Direct and NHS Choices raised by web review. The DH’s digital communications review describes the future of NHS Direct and NHS Choices as “unfinished business” – but stops short of recommending the two services should be merged. The review responds to a report undertaken for the DH last year by Dr Foster Intelligence and KPMG, which HSJ has also seen. The report was based on interviews with senior NHS managers and DH officials and supported the creation of an “integrated national information and advice service”. It concludes that NHS Direct and NHS Choices should be combined into one organisation, while retaining both brands. Their role would change to be part of a single “multi-channel national front door” to the NHS and social care services. http://www.hsj.co.uk/5017885.article?referrer=e22

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