Daily digest June 5 2015

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NHS staffing guidelines scrapped

The NHS has been accused of backtracking on improvements to patient safety brought in after the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, in an effort to tackle its escalating financial problems.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) watchdog has unexpectedly scrapped work to set out how many nurses are needed in different parts of hospitals to ensure safe patient care.

The move drew sharp criticism from nurses’ leaders, patient safety campaigners and Sir Robert Francis, the QC whose official report into Mid Staffs recommended that NICE draw up guidelines on NHS-wide safe staffing levels because understaffing had contributed significantly to the scandal.

NICE – which is an independent body – said it had stopped devising a raft of patient-to-staff ratios intended to help guarantee patient safety in A&E units and mental health settings at the request of NHS England, which will now take over the work.

However, the critics fear that NHS England will either introduce lower standards – in terms of the number of nurses required – that are cheaper for hospitals to meet, or that guidelines on the safe number of nurses will be abandoned altogether.

Read more on the Guardian website


'Perverse' hospital waiting time targets will be abandoned

Two key NHS waiting time targets are to be abandoned after the government said that they distorted patient care.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said yesterday that it made no sense to penalise hospitals for dealing with patients who had endured long waits for operations, as he announced the abolition of targets that focused on how long treated patients had waited. Instead, he will retain a target that looks at how many patients are still waiting to be seen.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, accused Mr Hunt of 'moving the goalposts' and said that scrapping targets would not help to bring down waiting lists, which were at a seven-year high. The targets specify that each month 90 per cent of inpatients and 95 per cent of outpatients should be seen within 18 weeks of referral from a GP. NHS England said that the measurements had created 'perverse incentives' that meant hospitals chose not to deal with patients whose waits already breached the threshold.

One former manager said that hospitals would work out how many patients in breach of the 18-week wait they could treat each month without being fined. Once that number was reached, they would call with 'any excuse' to cancel operations booked for any others.

A third measure, that 92 per cent of all patients should be treated within 18 weeks, will be kept.

Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS England national medical director, recommended the move to 'reduce tick-box bureaucracy'.

(£) Read more on the Times website


Middle-class children are being starved by parents who wrongly diagnose food allergies and impose restrictive diets

Middle-class children wrongly branded ‘allergic’ by their parents are suffering malnutrition after being put on restricted diets, it has been claimed.

Experts say they are increasingly seeing youngsters from well-off families displaying the side effects of poor diet after their parents unnecessarily cut out major food groups, such as wheat and dairy.

As a result, genuine allergy sufferers are being put at risk because dietary intolerances now seem so widespread that they are no longer viewed as serious, the experts warned.

Read more on the Daily Mail website

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