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  1. Hospital threatens lawyers as relatives refuse to take elderly

    A troubled hospital is threatening to evict elderly patients whose families refuse to take them out of hospital, it has been revealed.

    One family, allegedly, asked staff at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital to hang on to a relative for two weeks while they went on holiday to Turkey.

    The hospital, which serves an area with a large elderly population, says it will give family's a week's notice to remove patients - and could take legal action if this was not done.

    Critics said the actions reflected the growing pressure on the NHS.

    The hospital says its bed are increasingly taken up by patients it cannot discharge. On Wednesday it had 70 beds in this situation - and believed at least half the patients had suitable accommodation to which they could return.

    The hospital's clinical manager for discharge services Katie Whiteside told a BBC local radio station: “At the moment, we have relatives coming back telling us they don’t like the decor of care homes, or they don’t like the member of staff who met them at the door.

    "Sometimes they are decorating the house or having a ‘granny annexe’ built and they know that, while the patients are here, they are being fed, watered and looked after.

    She added: “We would be in a position to commence legal proceedings and formally evict a patient if that was necessary. It would be an absolute last resort but it’s something we are in a position to do with the solicitors here at the trust."

    Earlier this week the hospital was praised by inspectors for providing "safe, effective and caring" services.

    It had been on notice to improve from the Care Quality Commission after failing an inspection last year.

  2. Few beds to spare through summer pressures

    New figures highlight the growing pressure on NHS hospitals, it was reported today.

    During the summer holiday months, the figures show that on average hospitals had just 2.4% of their beds free.

    The figures for bed occupancy were reported to be the highest over the three months from July to September in five years.

    Senior doctors said the figures highlighted how hospitals were "full to bursting."

    According to the NHS England figures, hospitals experienced a minimal relaxation of pressure from the previous, spring, quarter of the year.

    The government has pumped extra cash into the service for the winter - but critics say it may be too late to fill staff to fill nursing and medical posts.

    Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the president of the College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Cliff Mann, said: “The signs do not bode well, I cannot see how we can turn this round in a matter of weeks; we need more staff and more beds to cope with the pressures winter will bring."

    The paper reported that five trusts passed 97% occupancy rates during this period, including Barts Health in London and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire trust. Hertfordshire Community trust, George Eliot Hospital trust and Mid Essex Hospital services trust faced similar levels of occupancy.

    The NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said part of the problem lay in discharging patients.

    “If you can’t get patients out of hospital and back into their own homes – where they’re safe and want to be – then the whole system backs up, you can’t treat people effectively in A&E, ambulances start to form queues at the front door.”

    The chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, Chris Hopson said hospitals were running at "hotter and hotter capacity levels" than other European countries would accept.

    But speaking as network members gathered in Liverpool for their annual conference, Mr Hopson said polling evidence showed most NHS providers and members of the public expected high quality services would continue throughout the winter.

    Mr Hopson said: "If we truly want a resilient urgent and emergency care system that continues to deliver world class access and care we need adequate funding to support these essential services for current and future patients.”

  3. 2015 to be "tough" - Stevens

    2015 is going to be "incredibly tough" for the NHS, its senior manager has warned.

    NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens gave his warning speaking to MPs on the House of Commons public accounts committee.

    He said there would be little relief for places with "deep problems".

    And he told MPs there would be no "bungs" for hospitals that ended the financial year in deficit.

    The committee heard that more than half of foundation trusts would end the year in deficit.

    Reported by the Health Service Journal, David Bennett, chief executive of Monitor, said 81 out of 147 foundation trusts were expected to end the year in deficit.

  4. Thousands to be offered vouchers for breast-feeding

    Thousands of new mothers are to get a chance to earn vouchers by breast-feeding their babies, it was announced yesterday.

    Some 4,000 women in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire are to take part in a major trial of the idea following the "success" of a trial.

    Some 108 women took part in the trial, reported in The Lancet yesterday.

    Out of the 108 women, some 48 were able to claim vouchers for successful breast-feeding - and 37 claimed up to £120 worth of vouchers for maintaining it for up to two months.

    The trial took part in an area where fewer than 30% of women usually breastfeed babies.

    Researcher Dr Clare Relton, from Sheffield University, said the scheme had proved controversial from the outset.

    She said: "For several decades now the majority of babies in the UK have not been getting enough breast milk, and despite many efforts, this situation has not improved. Now we need to conduct the full trial to find out if offering vouchers for breastfeeding can significantly increase our stubbornly low breastfeeding rates and be a cost effective use of UK public funds."

    The Royal College of Midwives called for alternative ways of improving breast-feeding to be studied.

    Chief executive Cathy Warwick said: "For example an increase in the numbers of midwives specialising in infant feeding will have a positive impact. There are also many innovative projects across the country that are improving breastfeeding rates such as using peer support groups.

    "We need to learn from these and implement them on a much bigger scale."

    Are financial incentives for breastfeeding feasible in the UK? A mixed methods field study Lancet 19 November 2014; doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62131-0 [abstract]


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