Emergency general surgery: challenges and opportunities. The Nuffield Trust was commissioned by the Royal College of Surgeons of England to explore the challenges facing emergency general surgery and identify opportunities to overcome them. The report found that the most significant challenges faced by emergency general surgery (EGS) include variation in outcomes, workforce, organisational and operational issues and underlying demographic and epidemiological trends. The report argues that the quickest gains could be achieved through the systematic use of protocols and pathways. The most comprehensive means to address the challenges faced by EGS would be the development of managed clinical networks. 

NHS England Enhanced Service Specifications 2016/17. NHS England has published enhanced service specifications for vaccination programmes and avoiding unplanned admissions. The service specifications have been updated to reflect the 2016/17 contract changes.

Privatisation and independent sector provision of NHS healthcare. The BMA's first report on privatisation in the health service argues that the independent sector should be subject to the same robust standards as NHS providers and managers must be wary of the health service becoming fragmented. The report calls for Government and health bosses to implement a series of recommendations aimed at protecting the NHS from being destabilised. It also urges commissioners and health chiefs to consider the possible negative effects of privatisation on training and recruitment and says the taxpayer must not be saddled with the costly legacy of private firms leaving contracts, as was the case at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

Summary of changes made to the way the NHS charges overseas visitors for NHS hospital care. Updated guide that now notes changes to the health surcharge which came into force on 6 April 2016.

Tackling the growing crisis in the NHS: an agenda for action. The King's Fund has identified three big challenges for the NHS in England: sustaining existing services and standards of care; developing new and better models of care; and tackling these challenges by reforming the NHS 'from within'. Drawing on its work and a lecture given by Chris Ham to the Cambridge Whitehall Group in December, this briefing offers some practical solutions to help the NHS address one of the biggest crises in its history. They represent the essential actions needed to ensure that the NHS and social care can be both sustained and transformed. 

NHS Outcomes Framework 2016 to 2017 at-a-glance. Sets out the framework and indicators that will be used to hold NHS England to account for improvements in health outcomes. 

Multi-agency statutory guidance on female genital mutilation (FGM). These multi-agency guidelines on FGM are aimed at those with statutory duties to safeguard children and vulnerable adults. It supersedes the previous guidance issued in 2014, 'Female genital mutilation: guidelines to protect women and children'.

NHS England Business Plan 2016-2017. Sets out NHS England's 10 business priorities for the coming year, reflecting the main themes of the government mandate. It details how they will improve health and secure high quality healthcare for the people of England, now and for future generations. The priorities are grouped under three themes that embody the agenda of the Five Year Forward View: improving health, transforming care and controlling costs. 

Final report of the Mutuals in Health Pathfinder programme. The objectives of the Mutuals in Health programme were to support interested organisations to explore how a mutual model might increase staff engagement. This report summarises the findings from the programme and draws out lessons for the future of mutuals in health and care. In so doing, it highlights significant barriers that need to be removed if mutualisation in health is to be extended beyond the community health and social care providers who have already gone down this route.

The Hospital Food Standards Panel’s report on standards for food and drink in NHS hospitals. This report recommends a set of food standards that should become routine practice across NHS Hospitals. The report looks at standards relating to patient nutrition and hydration, healthier eating across hospitals and sustainable food and catering services. NHS adoption of the recommended standards will be required through the NHS contract meaning that hospitals will have a legal duty to comply with the recommendations. There is also a toolkit that can be used to help NHS organisations develop and maintain a hospital food and drink strategy as recommended in the Panel's report.

A guide to property costs. From 1 April 2016, NHS Property Services is changing the way it charges tenants, CCGs and NHS Trusts for property costs and the way it invoices them. The main change is a move to market-based rental charging on all freehold properties. This guide sets out changes that take effect from the beginning of the 2016/17 financial year and what customers can expect to see when they receive their invoices. There is also a letter from Pat Mills, Commercial Director at the DH, that sets out the background on the move to market rentals along with the reimbursement arrangements. 

Catalyst or distraction? The evolution of devolution in the English NHS. While recent interest in devolution within England has not specifically focused on health care, eight local Devolution Deals that include aspects of health care have been agreed or announced in 2015 and the first part of 2016 alone. Focusing primarily on devolution in the NHS, the report considers the potential implications for health and care outcomes in England and how policy could best evolve. It draws on analysis of the Devolution Deals agreed to date, relevant literature, and international experience with a focus on four European decentralised health systems.


Consultation on the draft statutory multi-agency practice guidance on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). A Home Office publication summarises responses to the consultation on the draft statutory multi-agency practice guidance on female genital mutilation (FGM), and states that the Government has taken the responses into account in developing the final version of the guidance. It adds that the Government is clear that placing the guidelines on a statutory footing will support a more effective front-line response to FGM.  


HSCIC changing its name to NHS Digital. Announces that from July 2016, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) will change its name to NHS Digital, building on the role it plays in directly supporting the NHS and social care services. Noel Gordon has been appointed as the new Chair for NHS Digital by the Secretary of State.