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of primary care
NAPC News 28 May 2012
Private Healthcare Firm Probed Over Unsafe GP Services
Serco, a leading private health company, poised to win much of the new wave of NHS outsourcing contracts, is under investigation for allegedly providing an unsafe out of hours GP service, and over claims that it manipulated results where it failed to meet targets.
PCTS Must Pay GPs £1.1m To Correct Error
The Department of Health has told primary care trusts to make an additional £1.1m of payments to GPs by the end of June, to correct an error dating back to 2004.
In February 2011, the Department reported that an error in its system for calculating payments to GPs under the quality and outcomes framework had led to average underpayments of £3,400 per practice, over seven years and issued instructions to PCTs to make extra payments of £27.9m in 2010/11, providing them with additional resources to do os.
However, at the time, data on GPs’ performance against the bonus scheme in 2010/11 was not available, meaning a part of the additional payments was based on DH estimates.
The Department has now calculated its final figures for the 2010/11 underpayments and issued pCTs with directions to make another £1.1m of payments.
No additional funds will be provided to commissioners to make these payments. However, the Department said there had been a separate overpayment to GPs under the framework.
Reclaiming these would more than recoup the costs of the underpayments leaving PCTs a net £1.1 better off.
Over 60s Take Up Half Of PbR Tariff Income
Patients aged 60 and over account for more than half of the income hospitals receive under the payment by results tariff, the Health and Social Care Information Centre has reported.
Analysis by the Centre found the age group accounted for 43 per cent of the 13.3 million hospital admissions in 2010/11 with a mandatory tariff price.
Hospitals received tariff payments for those admissions totalling £10.9bn, or 51 per cent of their £21.2bn PbR income for that year.
The Centre announced that it would include a breakdown of admissions and spending by age group, as a ‘special topic’ in forthcoming monthly publications of hospital episode statistics, for the months April 2011 to January 2012.
Its analyisis of the 2010/11 figures also showed that hospital received 10 per cent of their PbR income for treating 1 per cent of patients paid for at tariff. Around 10 per cent of patients accounted for 40 per cent of PbR income.
Hospitals’ average income per patient under PbR was £2,708. Average income for the most expensive 10 per cent was £11,150. Average income for the most expensive 1 per cent was £26,180.
People in their seventies accounted for more of the money paid out under PbR than any other age group – 17 per cent, or £3.7bn..
New Information Strategy Concentrates On Vision And Standards
The government’s newly launched information strategy for health and social care is an early example of how major policy will be made under its reformed system, according to the Department of Health.
Details of the long awaited strategy were published last week. It includes some objectives, for example, that all patients should be able to access their GP record online by 2015, but little about implementation.
National Director for Efficiency and Improvement, Jim Easton, said it was right not to include implementation detail in the strategy. Strategy was one of the first things which showed how the Department was going to see big, serious, important things transacted in the new world. It showed the Centre would concentrate on vision and standards and acknowledged it did not cover ‘how over time, the levers and incentives will be used to make it happen.’
Mr Easton confirmed that a subsequent NHS Commissioning Board implementation plan, probably to be published next year, would fill in the detail. But he said, it was likely the levers would initially include ‘encouragement, support, identification of great practice’ and then, when the requirement was quite clear, performance standards and contracts.
In relation to technology, the strategy said national bodies would set standards for health records and systems and gradually enforce them locally. Mr Easton said, that move, in contrast to the national programme for IT, which tried to specify computer systems, responded to what the service wanted.
The strategy said little on the implications for staff number. The Department of Health’s impact assessment for the policy estimated that access to GP records would save nearly £2.5bn by 2020, mainly by reducing GPs’ time talking to patients.
Mark Dunman, Chair of the Patient Information Forum, which develops and campaigns for better information for patients, welcomed the strategy. However, he called for ‘more emphasis on training of professionals to fully support patients in shared decision making’. He added that without dedicated funding from commissioners for information services, there would continue to be patchy and inequitable provision.
Hospitals Still Missing Easier Targets For Patient Waiting Time In A&E
Hospitals have missed the new easier target for waiting times in casualty wards in six months over the past year.
Under Labour, 98 per cent of patients had to be discharged within four hours, but this was relaxed to 95 per cent. However, data from the NHS Information Centre suggests that the lower target has still been missed for six months in the past year.
Sporty Forty Somethings Put Pressure On NHS
A tidal wave of middle class sportsmen and women, who want to continue playing tennis and running into their 60s is putting pressure on the NHS, with a twenty per cent rise in knee replacement surgery expected within ten years.
Teenagers Have Seventh Abortion
NHS figures released under the Freedom of Information Acts show that hundreds of teenage girls were given more than two abortions on the NHS< including three who had had seven terminations.
Addict’s Sabotage Led To £2.4m Nurofen Recall
A court heard last Friday that a Nurofen addict who sabotaged boxes of Nurofen on chemists’ shelves set off a panic that cost a drugs company £2.4 million.
Christopher McGuire, 31, filled empty packs of Nurofen with his prescription antipsychotic medicine before going into three Boots stores and an independent chemist to surreptitiously swap them for real packets.
He carried out the scam to feed his addiction to codeine, which is found in some Nurofen products.
You May No Longer Feel A Slight Prick
Scientists at the weekend unveiled a painless, hi-tech injection that does not involve a needle. The breakthrough is a device that uses a magnet and tiny pistons to deliver a powerful jet of medicine through the skin, at a variety of depths, and with a wide range of doses.
Providers Urged To Collaborate To Speed Clinical Trial Approvals
Providers need to work together to speed up the approval process for clinical trials if the NHS is to realise its potential as a research resource, a senior pharmaceutical industry figures has said.
The comments follow the publication last year of the government’s strategy for growth, and NHS chief executive, Sir David Nicholson’s innovation review.
Increasing clinical research in the NHS was a key tenet of both. However, between 2000 and 2010, the UK’s global share of clinical trials fell from 6 to 1.4 per cent.
St George’s Healthcare Trust, chief executive, Miles Scott, said at a recent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence annual conference that some organisations were keen to take part in research but found it difficult because pharmaceutical companies usually went to trusts which hosted major research centres with which they had worked previously. There was a tendency, he said, for companies to focus very much on relationships they knew well and trusted.
However, Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said that companies went to the same places because they provided the fastest approval for trials.
He called for more providers to work more closely in clusters in which only one decision was required to pursue a trial. He said academic health science centres, were ‘very helpful’ improving access.
Mr Whitehead said companies were keen to work in the UK, despite it being more costly than some other countries. And the NHS was a competitive advantage which the UK should be utilising.