Handsworth GPs praised for helping bus crash victims

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London NHS trusts bought £36m of cancer care from privateer HCA in 2021

GPs at Handsworth Medical Practice have been praised for their efforts helping victims of a bus crash at Highams Park in North East London on Tuesday.

The bus crashed into a shop on Selwyn Avenue in Highams Park, Chingford, on Tuesday 25th January at around 8.20am.
A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: ‘We were called at 8.19am this morning (Tuesday 25th January) to reports of an incident involving a bus on The Broadway, Higham Park.
‘We sent a number of resources to the scene including ambulance crews, advanced paramedics, clinical team managers, paramedics in fast response cars, incident response officers and members of our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART). We also dispatched a trauma team from London’s Air Ambulance.
‘Working with our emergency service colleagues we treated and assessed 19 people at the scene.
‘Of those 19, we took five people to hospital, including three children and two adults.’
Handsworth Medical Practice confirmed that it had helped some of the victims of the accident.
Meanwhile, GP practices should tell patients that wearing a face mask on the premises is a ‘legal requirement’ if a risk assessment suggests masks should be worn, according to BMA advice.
Last week, NHS England confirmed that patients and staff should continue to wear face masks in GP practices, despite the government’s announcement that they would no longer be mandatory in public places.
It said practices should ‘encourage patients to wear a face covering to keep staff and other patients safe’.
But the BMA’s latest GP Committee bulletin went further, saying that practices should carry out risk assessments and, if the practices deem it necessary, patients would have a legal ‘duty’ to wear a mask.
It said: ‘Practices should carry out risk assessments of their environments and assess what level of respiratory protective equipment should be worn by different groups in various settings.
‘Health and safety law makes it your responsibility to protect staff and other patients based upon these risk assessments, thus making mask wearing a legal requirement if your risk assessment suggests masks should be worn.’
‘If challenged by patients not wanting to wear a mask you can mention the infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance and your risk assessments and inform the patient that “the law imposes on me the duty to expect you to wear a mask and on you the duty to wear one in these premises”.’
The legal requirement for mandatory face coverings in many public places came to an end in England from Thursday.
The BMA has criticised the ending of the restrictions, saying it risked ‘a false sense of security’ when the NHS was ‘still under crippling pressure’.
Updated IPC guidance suggests that GPs treating patients with a ‘suspected or confirmed’ Covid infection must wear an FFP3 mask.
The GMB Union has responded to the lifting of Plan B restrictions in England, which means it is no longer legally compulsory to wear face masks in indoor venues.
Andy Prendergast, GMB National Secretary, said: ‘Ending the requirement to wear face masks in busy indoor settings is premature and a change that is likely to hamper efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.
‘GMB members working in retail and on public transport have the right to feel safe, it’s good many businesses still insist on face coverings.’

  • London NHS hospitals struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic bought £36 million of cancer care, cardiology and other services directly from the UK’s largest private healthcare group, HCA in 2021.

Analysis of monthly public data from NHS trusts, published by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI), reveals the extent to which London hospitals have become reliant on private providers, prompting concerns about creeping backdoor privatisation of the health service.
Allyson Pollock, a clinical professor of public health at Newcastle University and an honourary professor at University College London said: ‘Covid has been very much used as a cover for shrinking NHS care and expanding private healthcare provision.’
CHPI said: ‘This level of spending by individual NHS trusts was unprecedented for cancer care and cardiology.
‘The spending is over and above the £2 billion so far handed over from central NHS budgets to private hospitals during the pandemic. In recent years NHS hospitals have bought extra capacity from private providers for simple procedures such as hip and knee operations, but they have not previously spent large sums outsourcing more complex treatments.’
HCA said its support had allowed 14,000 complex cardiac and cancer NHS patients to receive the care they needed.
Prior to the pandemic, HCA carried out virtually no work for the NHS.
The biggest spender was Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust, which bought more than £20 million of services from HCA. Barts was the second largest spender, with £10 million. University College London hospital (UCLH), Imperial College, Chelsea and Westminster, and the Royal Free also paid for HCA services.
HCA said it had chosen not to take part in a deal struck between NHS England and private hospitals this month for up to £525 million for reserve beds and staff in case of an Omicron admissions surge.
The fees the London NHS trusts paid to HCA were covered either by NHS England, which has agreed to pay private hospitals £10 billion over four years to help tackle its backlog, or from the Treasury-funded elective recovery fund, created last summer to help hospitals recover their levels of activity post pandemic.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ said the money had been mainly spent on oncology and cardiology, as waiting lists had risen during the pandemic.
A record 6 million people are on NHS waiting lists for routine hospital care in England.
A trust spokesperson said: ‘We have worked with HCA to provide complex elective care from admission to discharge, including surgery and supporting diagnostic services, such as scans, while continuing to maintain urgent and emergency care to Covid and non-Covid patients on our NHS sites.’
Barts Health NHS trust mainly bought cardiology and breast cancer surgery services from HCA.
A Barts spokesperson said: ‘The trust has used HCA to enable staff to continue to provide planned care in a separate Covid-free environment while hospitals prioritised urgent and emergency care and Covid-19 patients.’
He added that as the pandemic eased, it was likely that Barts would continue to use the private sector to assist with reducing waiting times.