The Coffee Break No. 68

News updates this fortnight cover the future of the NHS, mental health, innovation and leadership. The coffee break is split into sections so you can easily scroll through each area of interest.

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Future of the NHS

Firstly this fortnight, we have a news article by NHS Networks summarizing a parliamentary report which looks at changes to the structure of NHS commissioning organisations. The report explains how the NHS Long-term plan intends for integrated care systems to cover the whole of England by 2021 with a total reduction in the number of clinical commissioning groups. The report finds that many CCGS are underperforming and concludes that CCGs must improve as they take on the responsibility for commissioning services across larger populations.

A long read by the Kings Fund explains Primary Care Networks, a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan. To take advantage of the new GP contract and additional funding all GP practices are expected to come together in geographic networks covering populations of approximately 30-50,000 patients. The article explains, in depth, how they will be formed, what they will do and how funding will work as well as how primary care networks will make a difference for patients.

Mental Health

Moving on, an article in the Guardian by author Mark Britnall, looks at healthcare staff worldwide who are leaving their jobs due to stress and suggests changes that can make a difference. In his book, Human: Solving the Global Workforce Crisis in Healthcare he argues that “if the NHS and other health systems want to retain people throughout their working lives, they must support them through life events – parenthood, deaths, older age.” He also opinions that healthcare staff have a legitimate expectation of a healthy, happy relationship with work and that they need to find joy in their roles.

Still looking at stress within healthcare, research has recently been published of a staff wellbeing programme in Brisbane, Australia. The programme was developed to improve the well-being and resilience of oncology staff and included education, on-site counsellors, mindfulness sessions, debriefing, well-being resources and improved engagement, support and communication. Approximately 76% of staff attended the Introduction to Well-being workshops and 98% of responses to survey questions were positive. The report concluded that the programme had made a positive impact however sustainability still needed to be considered.


A news article by NHS England looks at a number of clinical improvements aimed at delivering rapid assessment and treatment. “People who arrive at A&E experiencing a mental health crisis will receive emergency care within one hour under NHS pilot schemes aimed at improving care and saving more lives.” Other new standards include those patients experiencing a mental health crisis and who are in urgent need should receive help in less than 24 hours and patients with suspected cancer will receive a diagnosis within 24 days of urgent referral by their GP or a screening service.


Finally, BMC Health Services Research have published research entitled “Interventions to develop collectivistic leadership in healthcare settings: a systematic review”. Traditionally, the concept of a leader has focused on individuals, with leadership research focusing on vertical leadership where one focal leader interacts with subordinates using clear lines of authority and a hierarchy of power. The review looks at a collective leadership approach, leadership through the approach of shared roles and responsibilities across more than one member of a team, over time, through formal and informal mechanisms.