Weekly political news round up – 11th August 2017

Overview

It has been reported this week that UK negotiators have expressed their willingness to pay a £36 billion Brexit ‘divorce bill’, provided that the EU is willing to negotiate the settlement as part of a wider deal on trade. The payment would seemingly be presented to the public as part of a deal to access the EU market during a three-year post-Brexit transition period, but has angered Eurosceptics as it would equate to roughly three years of contributions to the EU.

BBC coverage on appropriate toilets for people with physical disabilities

The BBC has aired a feature on a lack of appropriate toilets for people with physical disabilities on the Victoria Derbyshire show. The piece was led by the Paralympian Anne Wafula-Strike, who explored whether public toilets are meeting the needs of disabled people, including providing equipment such as hoists and plinths. The coverage argued that this isn’t the case, despite the recent Changing Places campaign for more accessible and suitably-equipped toilets to be made available across the UK – it is suggested that while 250,000 people in the UK need these toilets, only 1,000 are available.

The report described how one woman with spinal muscular atrophy, who does not have any continence issues but needs to use a hoist to use a toilet, chose to have a suprapubic catheter fitted as she could rarely find suitable toilets in public and so would avoid drinking. Lorna Fillingham, a mother of a seven-year-old with severe disabilities, also explained the health risks posed by a lack of appropriate toilets, including that if someone with a feeding tube or tracheostomy is changed on a toilet floor they could contract an infection.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK launches campaign to update disabled toilet signs

Crohn’s and Colitis UK has launched a campaign calling for disabled toilet signs to be updated to highlight that not all disabilities which require use of a disabled toilet are visible. The campaign is calling for travel hubs across the UK to make these changes, with Belfast Airport, Gatwick Airport and Moto Hospitality service stations already agreeing to introduce new signs to their disabled toilets. A similar campaign to adopt this accessible signage was led by Crohn’s and Colitis last year and resulted in Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose installing “not every disability is visible” signage on accessible toilets.

The campaign was launched following a survey of people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which found that 72% of people with the condition found it limited their travel – primarily as they felt uncomfortable at the prospect of being confronted about using a disabled toilet. One respondent to this survey said “At times I’ve thought I’d rather have an accident in public than be confronted about using a disabled toilet.” Further information about Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s campaign can be found here.

Government allocates money for more medical and nursing students

The Government is attempting to mitigate the impact of leaving the EU on the NHS by providing additional funding for places at medical and nursing schools. The funding will be allocated to Health Education England to increase the number of places available, as part of a commitment to increase the number of doctors by 1,500 and the number of student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by 10,000 by 2020. Approximately a quarter of doctors working in the NHS are from outside the UK, causing concerns that it will be unable to cope if more stringent immigration rules after Brexit increase  reliance on British doctors.

The additional funding for nursing places will be a minimum of £16 million, and has allayed fears that the Government was not going to provide additional funding for more places and leave the responsibility to universities. However, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Janet Davies, claimed that the increase would not be enough, stating that “10,000 training places is a drop in the ocean when there are 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone.”

2018/19 will be “turning point” for vanguards

It has been predicted that NHS England’s vanguard sites will have saved more money than was invested in them by 2018/19, marking a “turning point” for the sites which are developing and trialling new ways of working. When investment was initially given to the sites they spent more than they saved – £41 million more in 2016/17. For 2017/18, to the sites are expected to produce net savings of £136 million compared with investment of £107 million, and by 2018/19 every vanguard site is expecting to be saving more than was invested.

However, the figures were accompanied by warnings that with national funding due to end in 2017/18, the sites will need £277 million in local funding between 2018 and 2021, echoing recent warnings from NHS Providers. Each vanguard focuses on a specific area of care, and the programme expected to return the greatest savings was the National Orthopaedic Alliance, which intends to create a national framework for orthopaedic care.