Weekly political news round up – 8th September 2017

September 8, 2017 in News by Whitehouse


In the first week following the parliamentary summer recess, the PCF has been discussed during a debate on incontinence in the House of Commons, and Select Committee memberships have been decided pending approval from MPs. A report by the National Association of Head Teachers has found that many children aren’t considered to be “school-ready”; and the Scottish Government has announced it will lift the public sector pay cap, prompting speculation that the UK Government could do the same.

PCF discussed during debate on incontinence in House of Commons

The Labour MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group, Madeleine Moon, held an adjournment debate on incontinence in Parliament this week. The impact of incontinence across all ages was discussed and followed by a response from the Public Health Minister, Steve Brine.

The debate included supportive interventions from a range of MPs, including Melanie Onn, Jim Shannon, David Drew and Rosie Cooper. Mrs Moon highlighted the number of adults with bladder and bowel dysfunction in the UK, along with the number of children and young people with continence problems, using the statistic we provided her with. The statistics from this year’s PCF FOI survey – that only 41% of CCGs and Health Boards commissioned all four paediatric continence services + product provision – were also used to highlight the variability in provision of paediatric continence services, which Mrs Moon described as “absolutely shocking”.

Statistics from Crohn’s and Colitis UK were cited to highlight the social impact of continence problems on young people. The slow implementation of the Excellence in Continence Care guidance was also mentioned, and Mrs Moon asked whether the minister would ensure that every local authority and health authority has to have a clear continence pathway, as “they should be doing it already”.

Mr Brine responded that “A group of specialist nurses for adults and another group for children are currently preparing some consensus guidelines on commissioning continence products, which in due course the Excellence in Continence Care board will consider for endorsement as a supplement to the framework.” It was unclear whether this referred to the consensus document created by Bladder and Bowel UK in 2016, or a different document. Mr Brine also discussed Madeleine Moon’s letter to the Department of Health on the loss of ChiMat, and said the following:

“Let me take the opportunity to reassure her that the ChiMat legacy website can still be accessed. Paediatric continence is a very important issue. I understand that Public Health England is grateful to the Paediatric Continence Forum for its productive collaboration over the years and that it wishes this relationship to continue. It has agreed that if PHE’s infrastructure remains the best place within the health system to enable these reports and to make these data available at a local level, it will make every effort to recreate the paediatric continence needs assessments during its 2018-19 business planning process. I am the Minister responsible for Public Health England. I see its leaders regularly and I will raise it with them next time I see them.”

Select Committee memberships decided

Elections to choose the Conservative members of Select Committees have taken place this week, after Labour members were selected prior to the summer recess. The full nominations for Committee membership are available on the Order Paper for Monday 11th September ahead of their approval by the House of Commons.

The membership of the Health and Education Committees is comprised of:


Health Education
Dr Sarah Wollaston (Chair) (Con) Robert Halfon (Chair) Con
Luciana Berger (Lab) Lucy Allan (Con)
Ben Bradshaw (Lab) Michelle Donelan (Con)
Lisa Cameron (SNP) Marion Fellows (SNP)
Rosie Cooper (Lab) James Frith (Lab)
Dr Caroline Johnson (Con) Emma Hardy (Lab)
Diana Johnson (Lab) Trudy Harrison (Con)
Johnny Mercer (Con) Ian Mearns (Lab)
Andrew Selous (Con) Lucy Powell (Lab)
Maggie Throup (Con) Thelma Walker (Lab)
Mr Paul Williams (Lab) William Wragg (Con)

Report indicates children aren’t “school-ready”

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has published a report on school-readiness, based on a survey of school leaders conducted in June and July 2017. Of 780 school leaders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the survey found that 83% believe that how ready children are to start school is an issue and most think this has worsened over the last five years. School-readiness is based on children’s abilities in five areas, namely communication and language; physical development (including coordination, control and movement, such as whether children can use the toilet independently or put on outdoor clothing); personal, social and emotional development; literacy and mathematics; and understanding the world.

78% of respondents said that physical development was of concern to them, and 13% said this was of most concern to them. This made physical development the issue of third highest concern, with speech, language and communication and personal, social and emotional development being of higher concern (listed as a concern for 97% and 94% of school leaders respectively). When asked what were the likely reasons that children are not school ready, 67% cited a failure to identify and support additional needs early enough; 63% said a reduction in local services to support families; and 57% highlighting a reduction in local health services to support families.

Responding to the survey, the Local Government Association said “Councils have worked hard to protect funding for children’s services in response to this rapidly rising demand, but ongoing cuts to local authority budgets are forcing many areas to make extremely difficult decisions about how to allocate increasingly scarce resources.”

Scottish Government lifts public sector pay cap

The Scottish Government has confirmed it will remove the 1% cap on public sector pay as it set out its legislative plans for 2017/18 this week. The decision was welcomed by Scottish Labour as a “U-turn [that] is long overdue” from the SNP, after Scottish Labour announced the policy in its election manifesto earlier this year. The decision has prompted speculation that Theresa May is also considering a phased approach to lifting the public sector pay cap in England following public discontent over the Conservative Party’s approach during the general election campaign. The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said May recognises “the sacrifice” NHS workers are making under current pay conditions, and did not rule out an end to the policy this Autumn.

The RCN has continued to campaign for the removal of the pay cap for nurses, holding a ‘Scrap the Cap’ rally outside Parliament on Wednesday. The Chief Executive of the RCN, Janet Davies, said: “Experienced nursing staff are leaving in droves – not because they don’t like the job, but because they can’t afford to stay, while the next generation do not see their future in an under-valued profession. If the Government fails to announce a change of direction in the Budget, then industrial action by nursing staff immediately goes on the table.”

Weekly political news round up – 1st September 2017

September 8, 2017 in News by Whitehouse


This week, the issue of accessible toilets has been addressed by Disability Wales and Crohn’s and Colitis UK. The Department of Health has published a tender for an NHS logistics contract, which will include the delivery of continence products to a variety of settings; and NHS England is asking STPs to nominate clinical representatives to increase their engagement with clinicians. The third round of Brexit negotiations has also resulted in “no decisive progress” on key issues, delaying the point at which the UK and EU can start talking about future trade arrangements.

People with disabilities “excluded from tourist sites”

Disability Wales has called for tourist locations, local authorities and businesses to ensure that accessible toilets, facilities and services are provided for disabled visitors. Chief Executive Rhian Davies said current provision businesses is “not good enough” and has called on the Welsh Local Government Association to address the issue. Ms Davies emphasised that “One of the basic principles of independent living is for disabled people to have choice and control over how they go about their day-to-day lives. This includes having access to cultural opportunities such as visiting tourist attractions.”

The parent of a 22-year-old woman with severe cerebral palsy discussed the difficulties experienced in finding accessible toilets with specialist equipment like hoists and changing tables in public places. Arthur Lewis highlighted that while provision in areas such as Telford enables him to take his daughter out and change her, areas of Wales like Aberystwyth and Borth do not have suitable provision.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK campaign secures changes to train toilet signage

The train operator London Midland has agreed to change signage on its disabled toilets in 43 stations to reflect hidden disabilities, following a campaign by Crohn’s and Colitis UK. The campaign calls for travel hubs across the UK to update disabled toilet signs, and has previously secured agreement from Belfast Airport, Gatwick Airport and Moto Hospitality service stations to make the changes. So far 42,000 emails have been generated to airports, rail stations and service stations calling for appropriate toilet signage.

London Midland’s commercial director, Richard Brooks, said “This small change to the signage on our accessible toilets can make a big difference to some of our customers.” Crohn’s and Colitis UK welcomed the change, with the director of marketing, communications and membership, Dan McLean, saying “The experience or fear of unpredictable incontinence is very undermining to a person’s confidence and self-esteem and can lead in some cases to the person affected becoming too anxious to leave their home.”

Department of Health publishes NHS logistics contract

The Department of Health has published a tender for a provider for a logistics service for the NHS, as part of the new procurement model replacing NHS Supply Chain held by DHL. The document specifically mentions that the winning bidder will have to provide delivery services for continence products for residential homes, care homes, domestic premises and any NHS funded providers of community healthcare services.

The tender was released as part of the introduction of the NHS Future Operating Model to improve procurement in the NHS, with previous tenders seeking providers for the delivering of 11 procurement category ‘towers’, which cover medical, non-medical and ICT services. The reforms emerged from the Carter Review, and are aimed at saving more than £600 million each year.

NHS England asks STPs to nominate clinical reps

NHS England has confirmed in discussions with HSJ that it is looking to recruit two clinical representatives from each STP to be part of a new national network of STP clinical leaders. The network is being established to address the limited amount of engagement with clinicians that the plans and their local teams have undertaken to date, which has been the subject of much criticism. Clinical representatives from a wide range of professions, including consultants, nurses and allied health professionals are encouraged to apply.

The leaders will be asked to attend a conference in late September with existing STP and system leaders, to develop a clinical engagement programme. However, each local area will be left to determine what the clinical leaders will do, with no formal job description being provided by NHS England in an attempt to take a “bottom up” approach. The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Jane Dacre, criticised this approach, saying that “A framework outlining the scope, the time needed for the role, and how the advice and work of clinicians can be of benefit locally, would be a useful start.” She did praise the additional clinical input.

Third round of Brexit negotiations make “no decisive progress”

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said that “no decisive progress” has been made on key issues in the third round of Brexit negotiations, leaving the UK and the EU “quite far” from commencing talks on future trade arrangements. Although some progress has been made on Ireland, the issue of the UK’s “divorce bill” remains a difficult issue.

The Brexit Secretary David Davis said “some concrete progress” had been made, but he urged the EU negotiators to be “more imaginative and flexible” in their offering. Davis also said he was “impatient and determined” to progress negotiations further, reflecting his desire to begin trade negotiations as soon as possible. An EU summit will take place in October, where other member states will decide whether enough progress has been made on the three key issues – the divorce bill, the Irish border and citizen’s rights – to begin talks on a future trading relationship.