As supplied by BMA Comms
Evening and weekend GP appointments going unfilled
Today marks the deadline, set by David Cameron in 2014, for all areas to offer extended access GP appointments, yet according to an investigation by Pulse magazine, demand for the service remains low. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that around 25 per cent of evening and weekend slots are going unfilled, while in one area only 3 per cent of its Sunday slots are being used.
Commenting on the statistics, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “Because it has become a political must-do, everybody is jumping. We understand there is huge pressure from the centre on CCGs to demonstrate they are providing a full seven-day service.
“Sensible CCGs that want to use their resources in a better way are under pressure to maintain a service that really isn’t good value for money.
“That is ridiculous so I think we really do need to see much more common sense and pragmatic flexibility… if we had the luxury of resource and workforce then we could look at extending the service but until then we’ve got to focus on what is most important.”
Hundreds underpaid at hospital
More than 600 workers at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust were underpaid – some by thousands of pounds – after overtime, expenses and unsocial hours were not taken into account this month. The Daily Gazette quotes a tweet from the BMA East of England regional junior doctors committee, which stated: “Hearing of significant problems at @ESNEFT with many members of staff of all professions being paid the wrong wages, many hundreds some more than a thousand pounds short.”
Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, BMA junior doctors committee chair, said: “We know that junior doctors being paid incorrectly, or at times not at all, has become all too common for a workforce with lives, families, and financial commitments to meet. We hope the trust will work with us to swiftly resolve these issues.”
According to the paper, more than 500 staff have now been paid in full, with the rest expected in the coming days.
Pension rules now hitting middle earners
A news feature in the Daily Telegraph covered the growing protests against public sector pension tax relief cuts that have left middle earners worse off. The piece references BMA guidance which warns that NHS staff “with long service and or significant promotional pay rises” are most likely to be affected.
Missed appointments cost NHS millions
There was more regional coverage of statistics compiled by the Press Association on the prevalence of missed outpatient appointments and the subsequent cost to the NHS. Approximately 8.6 per cent of outpatient appointments in England were missed, rising to 18 per cent at some trusts. Breaking down the figures regionally, the story was covered by the Bridgnorth Journal, Hartlepool Mail, Kent Messenger, Medway Messenger, Oxford Mail, South Shropshire Journal, Sunderland Echo and the Hunts Post.
Responding to the figures, Dr Robert Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said:
“It is important that no appointments are wasted at a time when the NHS is under incredible stress. We should not stigmatise patients who may for legitimate reasons be unable to attend. However, we do need the NHS to emphasise through clear publicity to the public that given the current unprecedented pressure, patients should make every possible effort to rearrange their appointment so that another person is able to receive treatment in their place.”
Research released by the Labour Party has revealed that the NHS will suffer cuts worth £2.7bn after the government miscalculated the pension costs of public sector workers, the Mirror reports. The Labour party has said that the money lost could have paid for the salaries of over 61,900 nurses.
The Telegraph reports that an unpublished inquiry by the cabinet office reveals that police are illegally detaining more than 4,000 mentally ill people in custody a year because of a lack of NHS beds. Delays in finding a bed means that thousands of those being arrested and in need of mental health care, some as young as 15, are being held for up six days without charge.
An opinion piece by Wellcome’s director, Jeremy Farrar, in the science section of the Guardian warns that a no-deal Brexit would stall the NHS medical revolution. He argues that the NHS has thus far benefitted from being at the forefront of genomic medicine, largely because the UK has been an attractive place to “collaborate and invest in science”. A no-deal Brexit, he fears, would be hugely damaging for future research collaborations.
The Observer reports that the health secretary is expected to announce that the government is to produce the first official guidelines on the maximum amount of time young people should spend on social media in order to address mental health problems among children.