Consultants' private work: The gloves are off

  • 20 September 2016
  • From the section Health
Gloves Image copyright PongsakornJun

The fight over NHS consultants' private work - and that is exactly what this is - goes back to the very start of the NHS.

Speaking about the 1948 contract Nye Bevan, the founding father of the NHS, offered consultants, he said he had "stuffed their mouths with gold".

That gold was the ability to continue private practice - something senior doctors have carefully guarded since.

Down the years, several ministers have had a look at the issue, but concluded it was simply too tricky to tackle.

One former health secretary told me they thought consultants would simply walk away en masse if the government got tough.

Read full article Consultants' private work: The gloves are off

Care: The problem no-one can fix

  • 15 September 2016
  • From the section Health
Woman Image copyright Huntstock

Gathering dust on a shelf in the Department of Health's London headquarters is a plan for reform of the care system for the over-65s in England. It is the much heralded cap on care costs, which was a key part of the 2015 Tory manifesto .

It was meant to have launched in April. But last summer ministers announced it was to be postponed until 2020 amid concerns it would not work given the pressures in the system.

Read full article Care: The problem no-one can fix

Junior doctor row: A step into the unknown

  • 1 September 2016
  • From the section Health
Thinkstock Image copyright allanswart

Make no mistake, the latest salvo in the junior doctor dispute is a step into the unknown. The week of strikes in England in a fortnight's time takes this dispute into uncharted territory. Again.

Until this year, there had never been an all-out strike. In April, there were two.

Read full article Junior doctor row: A step into the unknown

Why the NHS has the winter blues in summer

  • 23 August 2016
  • From the section Health
Winter image Image copyright Coldimages

Summer may still be in full swing, but already the NHS has its sights firmly set on winter.

The past two winters have been the worst for more than a decade with hospitals creaking under the strain. The four-hour waiting time target in A&E has been missed and record delays have been experienced in discharging patients.

Read full article Why the NHS has the winter blues in summer

HIV drug row: A very modern dilemma for the NHS

  • 2 August 2016
  • From the section Health
Truvada Image copyright Justin Sullivan

It would be easy to dismiss the row over HIV preventative drug Prep as a one-off, rather odd bout of infighting over who is responsible for what seems to be a very effective treatment.

But in many ways it goes to the heart of the dilemma facing the NHS in the 21st Century: how to meet the rising demands being placed on the health service.

Read full article HIV drug row: A very modern dilemma for the NHS

NHS consultants: Overworked or overpaid?

  • 27 July 2016
  • From the section Health
Consultant running Image copyright Thinkstock

The sums are eye-watering. Consultants in a quarter of trusts are making six-figure sums each year from overtime alone.

In one case, the total is in excess of £200,000 and in another it is £375,000. That is over and above their basic salary, which is just shy of £90,000 for the average consultant. These are amounts many people could only ever dream about.

Read full article NHS consultants: Overworked or overpaid?

Hunt's Houdini act: What next?

  • 15 July 2016
  • From the section Health
Jeremy Hunt Image copyright PA

Barring the appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, the decision to keep Jeremy Hunt in the health brief in England was perhaps the biggest surprise of Theresa May's new cabinet.

Tipped for the chop ahead of the announcement, he ended up keeping his job - but only after it was widely reported he had lost it.

Read full article Hunt's Houdini act: What next?

Why the No vote means nothing and everything

  • 6 July 2016
  • From the section Health
Rejected sign Image copyright Aquir

There is a precedent for the No vote by junior doctors and medical students over their new contract.

Back in 2002, consultants in England rejected the terms on offer and British Medical Association negotiators went back into talks with the government. A year later, a deal was agreed second time round and the contract was brought in.

Read full article Why the No vote means nothing and everything

Has Brexit ended junior doctors dispute?

  • 4 July 2016
  • From the section Health
Demonstrators at a rally and protest march for junior doctors in London Image copyright PA

Stop the press. In two days' time we will get another referendum result.

But it's not about the EU this time. It's the result of the junior doctors' vote on whether to accept their new contract in England.

Read full article Has Brexit ended junior doctors dispute?

How red bags are bringing NHS and care homes closer

  • 27 June 2016
  • From the section Health
Care home residents are sent to hospital with a red bag containing belongings and vital information Image copyright Other

Like many good ideas, the way the NHS and care sectors in the London borough of Sutton are working together more closely is a relatively simple concept.

When a care home resident needs to go into a hospital, a red bag is packed for them.

Read full article How red bags are bringing NHS and care homes closer