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Nick Triggle

Nick Triggle Health correspondent

This is my take on the issues affecting the NHS and social care, from the way we live our lives to the impact of government policies

Failing hospitals: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Jug of water

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's glass was certainly half-full when he gave an update on Wednesday on how the special measures regime for failing hospitals has worked out.

A year to the day since the first 11 were placed in the failure regime, he said he was encouraged hospitals were on the "road to recovery".

Five of the 11 have come out of special measures or are in the process of doing so. But is that really a story of success?

After all, three of those - East Lancashire, Buckinghamshire and North Lincolnshire / Goole - are continuing to get support from the wider system and are being kept under a watchful eye by inspectors.

And if you look at Basildon and Thurrock Trust - one of the two that is fully out - the picture is still not straight-forward. It actually escaped special measures after an inspection in March led to it being given a good rating, with its maternity services becoming the first in the country to be rated as outstanding. That is just eight months after it was placed into the failure regime. A remarkable turnaround you may think? Not quite.

Early days

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How many nurses short is the NHS?

Nurses

Publication of the new guidelines for safe nurse staffing levels on wards marks a key moment for the way hospitals are run.

While the recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence do not set an absolute minimum, wards in England are being encouraged not to go above a ratio of one nurse to eight patients.

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The NHS budget: Five things we've learned

The NHS budget is under the microscope like never before. The coalition may have protected it, but that has not stopped problems mounting.

Earlier this week a host of medical organisations wrote a letter to The Times warning the NHS was "creaking at the seams".

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Should the NHS be more like the phone industry?

Mobile phones

The pace of change in the telecommunications industry has been phenomenal.

From telephone exchanges to landlines in every home and - in the past 20 years or so - the advent of mobile phones and now smartphones, the way we communicate with each other has come a long way.

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Why the NHS must heed the lessons of Savile

Jimmy Savile on Jim'll Fix It
Savile used his celebrity to gain access to NHS hospitals

Since the allegations about Jimmy Savile came to light, the police have looked into how many victims there may have been. An inquiry into why he was never prosecuted has also been carried out.

But the reviews into his conduct in NHS hospitals which have now been published are the most comprehensive account of how he was able to offend - and get away with it for so long.

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GP access: A story that is here to stay

Stethoscope
Demand on GP is rising, says the British Medical Association

Access to GPs is one of those touchstone issues in the NHS. About 90% of patient contacts take place in general practice.

That equates to about 1m people a day - or, to put that another way, 16 times the number that visit A&E units. So warnings from doctors that patients across the UK are facing longer waits for appointments will send a chill down the spines of ministers.

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Nursing: Are we facing a trade-off?

Nurses

Nurses are not happy. In fact, Royal College of Nursing general secretary Peter Carter says he has "never seen them so angry".

This much was plain before their annual conference even got under way in Liverpool this week.

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The hidden army of carers

Support
Some 6.5m people described themselves as carers in the last Census

The state of the NHS and social care system is never far from the headlines.

There are 1.4m people working for the health service and a similar number staffing care homes and providing vital home help. But these figures are dwarfed by a hidden workforce - the UK's army of carers.

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Dropping the 'N' in NHS

NHS logo

The NHS does what is says on the tin. It provides a national health service. That is to say one where equal and consistent services are available across the country.

That has only been achieved by a command-and-control approach to running the service. Ever since the health service was formed in 1948, national plans have been issued and national plans have been followed.

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About Nick

Nick started working for the BBC in 2003. His first two years were spent in general news, after which he started covering the health beat.

As health correspondent, he has reported extensively on the NHS and social care as well as how the UK is dealing with challenges such as obesity, the ageing population and health inequalities. Nick has also worked on the Gerry Robinson TV documentaries on the NHS.

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