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A good week for new execs in the NHS, but not for junior doctors working overtime – this week&

Extra meals cut elderly deaths in half

NHS hospitals cut the number of deaths among elderly patients with a fractured hip by half simply by appointing a staff member to give them extra food.

A pilot scheme at five NHS trusts in England and one in Scotland involved an extra junior member of staff for each ward who was given the job of keeping patients well fed. They were given a target of boosting intake of food by 500 calories a day, equivalent to about one meal.

Since the trial began two years ago the proportion of elderly patients who died within 30 days of a hip fracture fell from 11% to 5.5.%.

Read more in The Times (£).


Junior doctors’ contracts breached

Junior doctors have worked beyond their contracted terms and conditions more than 63,000 times since 2015, resulting in fines worth more than £250,000, it was revealed this week.

According to data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests from more than 200 NHS trusts, there have been 63,309 exception reports from almost 36,000 trainee medics since the introduction of the controversial new junior doctors’ contract in August 2016. Under the terms of the contract, hospitals should give trainees lieu time for overworking, pay them additional money or review their working patterns. A guardian of safe working can also levy fines against a trust, with the money then held in a pot to be spent on doctors’ educational needs.

According to the data, the highest number of exception reports was 2,569 at London North West Healthcare Trust, which employs 440 junior doctors. The second highest was 1,935 from over 590 junior doctors working at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.

An anonymous doctor told HSJ people are “fearful of reporting” and said colleagues worry they will be seen as inefficient if they report.

Read more in the HSJ (£).


NHS director to lead no-deal Brexit team

NHS England director of acute care Keith Willett has been seconded to jointly lead a 200 strong team preparing the NHS for a no-deal Brexit.

Professor Willett will head the team from across NHSE and NHS Improvement’s national and regional staff, alongside NHSE’s national operations director Matthew Swindells. Willett is widely understood to be supportive of reforming the emergency care standards, although the review itself is being led by NHS England medical director Stephen Powis.

His move comes at a critical period for his core policy area, with the NHS clinical review of standards, which is due to publish recommendations in the spring, considering reforming the four hour target.

Read more in the HSJ (£).


Breast cancer test ‘game changing’

Experts at the University of Cambridge have developed a potentially “game-changing” test to predict a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It combines information on family history and hundreds of genetic markers with other factors, such as weight, to give the most comprehensive assessment possible, says Cancer Research UK.

It is part of a push to spot cancers earlier through tailored screening, featured in the Long Term Plan. Women at high risk could be given preventative treatments or offered more checks, say the researchers, although the test is not yet routinely available on the NHS.

Read more on BBC.


Two new directors for NHS Improvement and NHS England

Two NHS chief executives have taken up national director roles at NHS Improvement and NHS England, it has been announced. Hugh McCaughey will take on the role of national director of improvement in the new NHS Executive Group from April, while Julian Hartley will lead the development of the new workforce implementation plan for the NHS.

Mr McCaughey, currently chief executive of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, will oversee the delivery of support to help the NHS “reduce clinical variation, improve quality and access and ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources,” the regulator said. Mr Hartley, currently chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, will lead the workforce implementation team on a full-time basis until the end of March 2019, when he will return to his trust.

The workforce implementation plan will involve experts working together on “the most important workforce challenges facing the NHS,” the regulator said.

Read more in the HSJ (£).


Quote of the week

“I think I can make a relatively confident prediction here today that everything in this plan is not going to be delivered” – Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers.

Our quote of the week comes from Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, who warned ministers at the Commons health and social care select committee on Tuesday 15 January, that the NHS long-term plan cannot be delivered without a huge increase in staff. This was in response to the figures released by HSJ, suggesting that 36,000 trainee doctors in England have worked beyond their contracted hours more than 63,000 times since 2015.

Read more in The Guardian

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