The week: issue 225

This week’s edition includes a link to an online pension calculator for NHS Pension Scheme members. Also, find out more about today’s launch of the Health Research Authority and how to respond to a consultation on HIV-positive healthcare workers.

Download ‘the week’: issue 225, 25 November – 1 December 2011 (PDF, 62K)
Download ‘the week’: issue 225, 25 November – 1 December 2011 (RTF, 505K)

On the agenda

NHS Pension Scheme calculator launched

On 3 November 2011, ‘the week’ reported the development of online pension calculators to help NHS Pension Scheme members understand how the changes to pensions proposed by Government will affect them personally. The first calculator has been officially launched on the DH website.

Access the calculator

Policy news

1. Health Research Authority
2. Picture archiving and communication systems
3. Prescribing for multiple sclerosis (MS)

Consultations and evaluations

4. Management of HIV-infected healthcare workers
5. Palliative care funding pilots 2012/14: expressions of interest

Publications

6. Non-clinical substance misuse services in contracted adult prisons
7. Improving flu vaccine uptake

Conferences and events

i. what’s new

No news this week

ii. places still available

No news this week

Patient safety alerts

Refer to website below

Extra notes

Chief executives are reminded that all communications requiring the attention of NHS and local authority management must include a Gateway reference number. In order to streamline the number of communications issued by the Department, these will continue to be summarised in ‘the week’ every Thursday.

Policy news

1. Health Research Authority
(Gateway reference number: 16965)
The Health Research Authority (HRA) starts work today, 1 December 2011, as the new regulator of health research. Its central purpose is to protect and promote the interests of patients and the public in health research. The HRA will work with a range of stakeholders to combine and streamline the current approval process and promote proportionate standards for compliance and inspection.

Action: NHS chief executives will wish to discuss the implications with their research and development teams

Read more about the creation of the Health Research Authority and access
the Health Research Authority website

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2. Picture archiving and communication systems
(Gateway reference number: 16948)
Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) is critical to the operation of trust radiology services and all departments where x-rays and scans are accessed. Local service provider (LSP) contracts for PACS will expire shortly and the 127 trusts affected should be planning their future PACS provision now.

Action: NHS chief executives leading trusts with an LSP-supplied PACS will wish to read the briefing and ensure planning is underway to assure service continuity in their trust.

PACS beyond 2013

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3. Prescribing for multiple sclerosis (MS)
(Gateway reference number: 16971)
The Multiple Sclerosis Risk Sharing Scheme is still running and a Secretary of State’s direction requires funding of the scheme drugs: Avonex, Betaferon, Copaxone and Rebif. Eligible patients must continue with scheme drugs unless they are no longer clinically appropriate. No other MS drugs are part of the scheme.

Action: NHS chief executives are asked to ensure their organisations are complying with the Secretary of State direction.

More information about the scheme, including a letter which reminds the NHS about the scheme and the legal obligation to comply with it.

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Consultations and evaluations

4. Management of HIV-infected healthcare workers
(Gateway reference number: 16584)
The Department has launched a consultation on new expert advice, which recommends that restrictions on HIV-infected healthcare workers performing invasive clinical procedures (“exposure prone procedures”) be lifted, provided they are on effective antiretroviral drug therapy with an undetectable viral load and are regularly monitored by their treating and occupational health physicians.

Action: NHS chief executives may wish to discuss with relevant colleagues and respond to this consultation which closes on 9 March 2012.

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5. Palliative care funding pilots 2012/14: expressions of interest
(Gateway reference number: 16926)
The Department has published a call for expressions of interest in becoming a pilot site to gather the information needed to inform decisions on the creation of a new funding system for palliative care for adults and children, and to consider the proposals of the independent Palliative Care Funding Review Report.

Action: NHS chief executives will wish to consider whether their organisation might apply to be a pilot site. The deadline for submissions of interest is 31 January 2012.

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Publications

6. Non-clinical substance misuse services in contracted adult prisons
(Gateway Reference Number: 16917)
This joint letter from the Section Head of Substance Misuse Offender Health and the Deputy Director of Contracted Custodial Services, Probation and Contracted Services, explains how the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) commissioning approach will need to meet the corporate governance requirements of NOMS and the financial governance requirements of both the PCT and Drug and Alcohol Action Team partnership.

Action: PCT cluster chief executives will wish to consider the implications and discuss with their finance directors.

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7. Improving flu vaccine uptake
(Gateway reference number: 16950)
Flu vaccine uptake in clinical at risk groups is likely to fall short of the 60 percent aspiration. This will mean patients already suffering from clinical conditions will be left at increased risk of adverse reactions from catching flu this winter.

Action: PCT chief executives will wish to discuss the implications with performance leads and immunisation coordinators.

More at Weekly flu information – 24 Nov 2011 and Flu vaccine uptake in at-risk groups needs to increase

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Conferences and events

i. what’s new

No news this week

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ii. places still available

No news this week

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Patient safety alerts

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has sent the NHS the latest medical device alerts in the link below. NHS trusts are expected to take the specified action by the date given.

MHRA Medical Device Alerts

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Unless otherwise stated, guidance referred to in the bulletin has not been commissioned or endorsed by the Department of Health ? it is evidence that organisations and professionals may find helpful in improving practice. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is the Department’s provider of accredited evidence and guidance, which can be found on the Institute’s website

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