Weekly political news round up – Friday 31st January 2014

January 31, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The Times has reported that a coalition of children’s organisations, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Barnado’s, have warned that children are being condemned to a bleak future by politicians who are not giving the young the same attention as they give the elderly.  RCPCH president Hilary Cass said that not enough was being done to improve child health, stating that the UK has one of the worst child mortality rates in Western Europe and that the economic challenges facing the country particularly affected younger people.

Update on the Children and Families Bill

The fifth day of the Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill took place on Wednesday, where peers debated a series of amendments to the Bill. Of the amendments that were debated, there were two that were of interest to the PCF. The first amendment, 57c, related to a duty to support pupils with medical conditions. The second amendment, 57d, related to provision and support for bullied children. Both of these amendments were withdrawn following debate.

Amendment 57c, tabled by Labour Peer Lord Kennedy of Southwark, would have legally bound local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and governing bodies to work together to prepare and implement individual health care plans. This would have meant that local authorities, clinical commission groups and local health services would have had to provide expertise and training to relevant school staff in order to support children with medical conditions, including awareness training about a condition right up to full training about the condition, the administration and the use of equipment. Though these requirements were outlined in the draft SEN code of practice, there was no requirement in the Bill.

Responding on behalf of the Government, Education Minister Lord Nash said that although he fully supported the intention behind the amendment, he believed that there was no need to place a direct duty through primary legislation on clinical commissioning groups and local authorities to co-operate in this way with schools. He stated that a duty to promote co-operation already existed in Section 10 of the Children Act 2004. Lord Kennedy subsequently withdrew his amendment.

Amendment 57d, tabled by Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Brinton, would have mandated the Education Secretary to produce an anti-bullying strategy which would have, amongst other duties, cross-linked with the SEN and Anti-Bullying Codes of Practice and Statutory Guidelines to make schools aware that some bullied children and young people also have special educational needs.

Responding on behalf of the Government, Education Minister Lord Nash said that he did not believe that legislation was the right approach. He stated that such an amendment could focus schools’ attention on complying with it as a tick-box exercise at the expense of allow teachers to exercise their professional judgement, creativity and energy to tackle bullying as it presents itself in their particular school.

Other amendments were tabled and subsequently passed, particularly relating to public health issues such as smoking.

The Third Reading of the Bill is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 5th February. This stage is the final chance for members to ‘tidy-up’ the bill, raising any last minute issues and concentrating on making sure that the law is effective and workable without loopholes.

After the Third Reading the Bill will be sent back to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments, after which it is likely to receive Royal Assent.

Around the sector

Labour Peer Lord Touhig has received an answer to five written questions asking the Government:

  • What plans it has to engage with disability charities and other stakeholders on the Draft Special Education Needs Code of Practice during the redrafting period.
  • Why the definition of progress in Chapter 6 of the Draft Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, in the section on identifying needs in schools, no longer includes improvement in self-help, social skills and personal skills.
  • Whether relevant information from the Autism Act 2009 statutory guidance will be included in the final Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.
  • Whether the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on assessment and diagnosis of autism will be referenced in the final Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.
  • Whether they will work with relevant disability charities, including the National Autistic Society, to ensure that the educational needs of children and young people with specific impairments are fully reflected in the description of special educational need in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.

Responding, Education Minister Lord Nash responded that the Department recently consulted publicly on a draft Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. Revisions were being made to the Code of Practice to take account of developments during the passage of the Children and Families Bill and responses to the consultation. Lord Nash noted that these responses came from a wide range of organisations in the statutory and voluntary and community sectors, including those in the special educational needs and disability field. He added that the Government would continue to work with those who must have regard to the Code of Practice and those who support children, young people and families as this is taken forward.

PCF responds to Northern Ireland DHSSPS consultation on child healthcare services

January 29, 2014 in Consultations by Whitehouse

The Paediatric Continence Forum has responded to a consultation by the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) on Enhancing Healthcare Services for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland (From Birth to 18 Years).

To view the PCF’s submission, please click here.

Weekly political news round up – Friday 24th January 2014

January 24, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Update on the Children and Families Bill

The period of proceedings for the passage of Children and Families Bill has been extended by 46 days until 21st March 2014. The Bill was first introduced on 4th February 2013, and as set out in Standing Order No. 88, as a carry-over Bill it would have fallen had it not received Royal Assent within 12 months of its First Reading.

No discussions on the Bill have taken place since the 3rd Day of the Report Stage in the Lords on 7th January, except for the tabling of several amendments which were of no relevance for the PCF. The Report stage of the Bill is due to conclude on 29th January 2014, and then must go through Third Reading before the “ping pong” stage where the two Houses agree on the exact wording of the Bill.

Answer to written question on Special Educational Needs

Shadow Children and Families Minister Steve McCabe has received an answer to his written question asking the Education Secretary what measures his Department uses to identify best practice and value for money when collecting data.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson responded that schools and local authorities were best placed to identify good practice and value for money in making provision for children with special education needs (SEN), guided by the SEN Code of Practice and supported by Departmental initiatives such as the current pathfinder programme following the Sen and disability Green Paper.

He added that SEN data needed to be interpreted with care but indications of local authority good practice can be gained from information which the Department and others collect, such as the number of SEN appeals registered against each local authority, the percentage of SEN statements finalised within statutory time limits, the number of children identified with SEN and provided with SEN statements by local authority and the amount authorities spend on making special educational provision.

Weekly political news round up – Friday 17th January 2014

January 17, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The University of Sheffield has announced that it has received a £65,000 grant from Crohn’s and Colitis UK to develop a study analysing the impact that inflammatory bowel disease may have on young people’s relationships, employment potential and identity. The study will ask two groups of patients, aged 16 to 18, and aged 19 to 21, to share their feelings about their illness, how they have coped, and what diagnosis was like and how others perceive them since being diagnosed. The research will be one of the first to uncover young people’s attitudes to the illness and the lifelong impact it has on their lives.

Update on Children and Families Bill

The final day of the Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill has been scheduled for the 29th January, which will be followed at a later date by the Third Reading. It appears likely now that the Bill will clear all remaining hurdles, with Government concessions easing Peers’ concerns over the more contentious parts of the Bill. However, the plain tobacco packaging issue that threatened to hijack the Bill may still cause a slight wobble if the Opposition push hard on it, although Crossbenchers and Liberal Democrats will have been soothed by the Government’s commitment to consult on the policy change. As a result, it is possible that the Bill could receive Royal Assent as early as February.

NHS England’s Quality and Clinical Risk Committee calls for Patient and Public Voice representative applications

The Quality and Clinical Risk (QCR) Committee has announced that it is recruiting up to three Patient and Public Voice (PPV) representatives.

The QCR Committee, which is a formal Committee of NHS England’s Board, seeks to drive improvement in the quality of services provided to individuals, as well as manage any quality or clinical risks associated with NHS England performing statutory and non-statutory functions.

The role of the PPV is to act as the patient and public voice and inform the QCR Committee’s work, bringing views and perspectives to the group. They also have the duty to “constructively challenge, influence and help the QCR Committee to scrutinise topics from a quality and clinical risk perspective”.

The role requires a time commitment of 9 days a year for individual patient or public members who join as individuals rather than as representatives of organisations (with £150 remuneration per day). Appointments last for 18 months and there are restrictions exist on eligibility for applications: NHS employees and practising healthcare professionals cannot apply, nor can those who have been made bankrupt, or have been fired from the NHS or removed as a trustee of a charity.

PCF responds to consultation on draft quality standard for constipation in children and young people

January 13, 2014 in Consultations by Whitehouse

The Paediatric Continence Forum has responded to a consultation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on the draft quality standard for constipation in children and young people.

The draft quality standard contains five quality statements outlined below:

  1. Children and young people with constipation receive a full assessment  before a diagnosis of idiopathic constipation is made.
  2. Children and young people with idiopathic constipation (where there is no clear reason why the child is constipated) receive oral macrogols (laxatives) as first-line treatment.
  3. Children and young people with idiopathic constipation undergoing laxative treatment have their treatment reviewed by a healthcare professional.
  4. Children and young people with idiopathic constipation undergoing laxative treatment receive a written personalised management plan.
  5. Children and young people with idiopathic constipation who do not respond to initial treatment within 3 months are referred to a specialist.

The consultation is seeking feedback on the five quality statements outlined above, and is seeking responses on five questions. Of the five, there are two general questions about the statements:

  1. Does this draft quality standard accurately reflect the key areas for quality improvement?
  2. If the systems and structures were available, do you think it would be possible to collect the data for the proposed quality measures?

The consultation is seeking feedback on the five quality statements outlined above, and is seeking responses on five questions. Of the five, there are two general questions about the statements:

  1. Does this draft quality standard accurately reflect the key areas for quality improvement?
  2. If the systems and structures were available, do you think it would be possible to collect the data for the proposed quality measures?

The other three questions relate to specific statements:

  1. For quality statement 3: Is one review type often carried out better than the other or do both types of treatment review need equal levels of improvement?
  2. For draft quality statement 4: What is the most important piece of information that should be provided as part of a written personalised management plan?
  3. For draft quality statement 5: Is it clear what ‘respond to initial treatment’ means?

To view the PCF’s submission, please click here.

PCF responds to NICE engagement exercise for the quality standard on nocturnal enuresis

January 10, 2014 in Consultations by Whitehouse

The Paediatric Continence Forum has responded to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellent’s (NICE) engagement exercise for topic overview for nocturnal enuresis.

The topic describes core elements of the quality standard, including the topics covered, key source guidance used to underpin potential quality statements, any related quality standards, published current practice information and national or routine indicators and performance measures.

The topic overview states that the quality standard will cover the management of nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) in children and young people up to 19 years of age.

To view the PCF’s submission, please click here.

Weekly political news round up – Friday 10th January 2014

January 10, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The Department for Education has announced that it will invest £30 million to recruit and train a pool of 1,800 “independent supporters” – champions drawn from independent voluntary, community and private organisations, to provide one-to-one support and advice for families of children with special education needs to ensure they understand the new needs assessment process. The Council for Disabled Children will oversee the recruitment and training of the independent supporters in time for the implementation of the SEN reforms.

Public Health England has published the first Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Framework, which brings together and builds upon health outcome data from the Public Health Outcomes Framework and the NHS Outcomes Framework. The data provided, however, are not new and do not presently include anything continence related.

Children and Young People Now has reported that Alison O’Sullivan has been announced as the vice president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services for 2014/15. O’Sullivan is the Director of both children’s and adult services at Kirklees Council.

Update on the Children and Families Bill

The third day of the Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill took place this week, where the debates on the SEN Clauses were concluded. The fourth and final day of the Report Stage of the Bill in the Lords has yet to have been scheduled, and is likely to be followed shortly by the Third Reading. The final day of Report and the Third Reading are not likely to take place until the week commencing 20th January at the earliest, with the Bill’s road to receiving Royal Assent seemingly secure now Parts 1-3 have been through report without any changes forced on the Government.

However, during the Report Stage several concessions were made by the Government, including on the “have regard to age” concern and provision for young offenders, with a series of amendments introduced allowing young people in custody to be eligible for Education, Health and Care Plans.

Weekly political news round up – Friday 3rd January 2014

January 3, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The Department for Education has announced that parents who are trialling the Government’s new special education needs (SEN) reforms, which are going through Parliament as part of the Children and Families Bill,  are ‘happier than ever’ with the new support available and have much more control over the services they are receiving. Findings from the pilots being conducted by over 2000 families across 31 councils show that 88% of parents feel their views had been taken into consideration, and that professionals are overwhelmingly supportive of the new approaches.

Scottish Government announces consultation on draft guidance on the duties of education authorities and schools to develop Accessibility Strategies

The Scottish Government has announced a consultation on draft guidance on the duties of education authorities and schools (both independent and state run) to develop and publish Accessibility Strategies to improve access to the curriculum, school information and physical access.

The draft guidance is intended to replace earlier guidance issued by the Scottish Executive in 2002, which provided advice to education authorities and schools about how they could meet their duties to improve access to education for disabled pupils. These planning duties came into force in 2002 with the commencement of the Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils’ Education Records) (Scotland) Act 2002. The new guidance will consider the provisions of the Act in light of the legislative and policy developments since 2002.

There is only one mention of continence issues in the guidance, in the overview of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004. This highlights that not all children with additional support needs will be disabled and, conversely, not all disabled children will necessarily require additional support to enable them to benefit from education. Attached to the overview of the 2004 Act is an appendix which shows overlap between disability and additional support needs, which highlights that incontinence is a need which may meet definition under the Equality Act for the application and development of accessibility strategies, rather than automatically.

Accompanying the draft guidance is a questionnaire document asking whether the guidance is clear and whether there are any areas that are missing or require clarification.