Schmoozers' delight: Nuffield Trust Health Policy Summit March 2017

From a Spinwatch article dated 1st April 2015

The influence of the private sector on the agenda of the NHS is powerful, as the following details of the forthcoming Health Policy Summit organised by the Nuffield Trust on 2nd and 3rd March 2017 make clear.

The two days conference at Wotton House, Dorking includes two highest NHS directors (CEO Simon Stevens and Chief Clinical Information Officer Prof Keith McNeil) as well as current Government committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston, two Heads of Royal Colleges, professors from Oxbridge, reps of sponsors, etc... It is sponsored by Optum (about 50% of UnitedHealth Group - sic ), the Health Foundation (spun out of PPP Healthcare insurers on demutualisation), MSD (Merk Sharp and Dohme) the US drugs company, Boston Consulting Group, the British Medical Journal and Guardian Healthcare Professionals network. The NHS is not a sponsor but senior NHS directors, including Simon Stevens "in conversation" at 10.20 on the 2nd day, will be participating or, more realistically, being schmoozed by the sponsors.


Day 1 programme and speakers:

Day 2 programme and speakers:

The days are being live-streamed on the Nuffield Trust website. Unfortunately the conversations around the conference and on the first evening 6-7pm will not be live-streamed.

I notice that Dr Tracey Batten, CEO of Imperial NHS Trust, is taking part in a panel discussion: "Learning from international health systems" at 5.10 on the first day. She is going back to Australia in 6 months.


Private Eye Medicine Balls "Bed Hunting" 27th Jan 2017



Boss of London hospital trust featured in BBC2 ‘cancelled operations’ documentary to quit

Ross Lydall  


The boss of the London hospital trust seen in a groundbreaking TV documentary battling against crisis levels of patient demand and cash shortages is to quit, the Standard can reveal. 

The revelation that highly respected Dr Tracey Batten is to leave Imperial College Healthcare, which runs five west London hospitals including St Mary’s and Charing Cross, will send shockwaves across the NHS. Many will see her departure as evidence of the impossible task that hospitals face contending with rising demands and diminishing resources. 

The trust has been openly criticised by its own consultants in the BBC2 documentary Hospital, which has given the public unprecedented insight into the scale of the NHS crisis. 

Patients have been seen having critical operations cancelled on numerous occasions — as entire surgical teams sit waiting in their scrubs and operating theatres go unused — because of a shortage of intensive care beds. 

The latest episode saw Imperial’s chief neurosurgeon, Kevin O’Neill, question if Imperial was right to send patients stuck on waiting lists to private hospitals for operations rather than keep the money within the NHS. 

Ms Batten, who was the highest-earning London chief executive in the NHS, earning £340,000, was recruited to Imperial in 2014. A trust spokeswoman confirmed she would return home to Australia later this year. 

Her decision comes after campaigners revealed that health chiefs in north- west London are secretly planning to axe 8,000 healthcare jobs in a bid to save cash as part of the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) that plans to downgrade Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals.

Campaigners confronted Ms Batten with the figures this week, only for her to indicate she welcomed their success in making them public. The figures were obtained after a long freedom of information battle. The job cuts were unseen even by some of the councils involved. The plans include:

The loss of 3,658 NHS jobs in north-west London next year (2017/18) —  rising to 7,753 job losses by 2020/21. Almost 50,000 planned admissions and 222,370 outpatient appointments cut by 2020/21. 

The loss of 500 to 600 hospital beds with the closure of Charing Cross and Ealing as major acute hospitals A reduction in A&E attendances by 64,175 in the next five years.

GP superpractice tries to buy hospital and recruit GP trainees from China

Neil Roberts on the 2 December 2016  - Superpractice in talks to buy hospital and recruit GP trainees from China -

A 100,000-patient GP 'superpractice' in an NHS vanguard area plans to buy a hospital from a struggling foundation trust, and is in discussions with China about bringing medical students to train in England.

Robert Harris, chief executive of the Lakeside Healthcare group of practices - one of the biggest GP partnerships in England - is due to meet Chinese officials next week with a view to bringing students to train in its practices. The organisation is also planning a similar scheme for India and plans to buy a hospital from a foundation trust which is in financial difficulties, Mr Harris revealed.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event in central London on Thursday Mr Harris said the superpractice, which is developing a vanguard multi-specialty community provider (MCP) around its five Northamptonshire practices, wanted to become a teaching and training practice of repute.


GP training

The Lakeside chief executive was visiting China this week, he revealed, 'talking to Chinese institutions and ministers about bringing Chinese students to come and train with us'. 'We are doing the same with India,' he added. Mr Harris, a former director of strategy at NHS England and investment banker, said he was looking to Asia for trainees partly because many of those recruited at home 'don't particularly want to stick around in general practice'. After going through training at the practice, he said, around 40% do want to remain in general practice. 'We convert people on the way to Damascus,' he said. Mr Harris said his group's commercial approach allowed it to pay staff well with a year-on-year uplift, capital value growth and more patients being seen. The 100,000-patient super-practice wants to expand through its MCP plans to 300,000 patients next year.

The MCP is expanding the role of practices to take on services traditionally provided in hospitals.

Mr Harris revealed that the group was buying a hospital from a foundation trust which he said was in 'serious financial difficulty'. 'On that site we plan to bring a number of practices into a new polyclinic, but also have a number of beds, about 35 to 40.' Beds could be used for a range of services including minor surgery and dentistry, he said. 'But we need to bring consultants out of hospitals around us to work in that setting. Supported with, working with my GP colleagues.' The CEO said he was 'delighted' to be surrounded by 'failing hospitals', because 'in hospital failure, there exists opportunity'. 'We can take them solutions... and opportunities for us.'


NHS funding

Lakeside has also asked commissioners to be able to take control of the full risk of a capitated budget for all its patients' care. 'The guarantee to commissioners is this: you give us the capitated sum of money, we don't come back asking for more, [which is]  the way the system has worked for the last 25 years.' However, the group was turned down.

Worcestershire LMC secretary Dr Simon Parkinson asked why GPs should be expected to take on 'personal financial liability' to expand and secure services to 'deal with the financial problems of the NHS'.

Former RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada warned that the Lakeside model was 'inventing [US-style] HMOs' [Health Management Organisations], and could [will] lead to providers cherry-picking profitable services 'or, you go bankrupt'.

In the United States, she said, 'the vast majority of these organisations go bankrupt'. She added: 'You only need a family of four to have a catastrophic car accident with lifelong care.