Weekly political news round up – 15th April 2016

April 15, 2016 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

NHS England has published an updated version of its framework for patient and public participation in primary care commissioning. Following a submission by the PCF, the updated framework now recognises children and young people with long-term conditions as a group that faces specific barriers to participation in primary care commission and has specific needs that must be taken into account.

Dame Julie Moore, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham and Heart of England NHS trusts has accused the NHS of “gross incompetence”, calling on many of her peers to be sacked, and suggesting that NHS managers have been allowed to advance their careers whilst avoiding responsibility. Dame Julie blamed previous governments for centralising powers, leading some staff towards inactivity as they were “waiting for a command from God on high” instead of showing initiative.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and NASUWT have criticised education ministers for failing to listen to teachers when drawing up plans for the reception baseline assessment, which was subsequently put on hold after research found that the tests were not reliable enough. These assessments are intended to measure children’s numeracy and literacy skills at ages four and five, and have been criticised for potentially leading nurseries and other early years settings to focus on academic rather than general development.

Think-tank Reform has published a report on the future of general practice calling for “integrated commissioning bodies” to replace the existing fragmented system of commissioning involving NHS England, CCGs and local authorities. It called for whole-population care contracts to be capitated, with commissioners able to attach bonus payments to incentivise improved care in specific areas. It also suggested a more diverse workforce, where pharmacists and nurses could administer meetings instead.

The Faculty of Public Health has published its good public health practice framework for 2016, which assists public health professionals to understand what good practice in public health looks like. It does not make reference to continence or any specific medical conditions.

Tabled written questions on the prevalence of childhood continence problems

Labour MP Grahame Morris tabled four written on the prevalence of childhood continence problems, asking the Health Secretary:

  • How many emergency admissions there were for bladder and bowel problems amongst children and young people aged 19 and under in each of the last five years.
  • What estimate his Department has made of the number of children and young people aged between (a) five and six, (b) seven and nine, (c) 10 and 15, and (d) 16 and 19 with nocturnal enuresis in England.
  • What estimate his Department has made of the number of children and young people aged between (a) four and seven, (b) eight and 10 and (c) 11 and 16 with faecal incontinence in England.
  • What estimate his Department has made of the number of children and young people aged between (a) five and six, (b) seven and 10, (c) 11 and 15, (d) 16 and 18 and (e) 19 and 24 with daytime urinary incontinence in England.

Public Health England publishes its four-year strategic plan

Public Health England has published its four-year strategic plan, broadly outlining its objectives to 2020 and how it hopes to work with other bodies to achieve them. PHE will focus on issues such as obesity, screening and immunisation, scientific research and workforce planning. Below is a summary of its planned activities with each of its partner organisations relevant for the PCF:

Local government

  • Supporting local government in delivering better health outcomes.
  • Supporting political leadership in local authorities.
  • Maximising the potential of devolution deals.
  • Aligning PHE’s products and services to local government’s needs.
  • Developing an economic tool to support local and national investment decisions on evidence-based interventions.
  • Supporting the commissioning of public health services for children aged 0-5, particularly reviewing mandated universal health visitor reviews by autumn 2016, and assess the benefits of the expanded and transformed health visitor service.
  • Working with the Chartered Institute of public Finance and Accountancy and HM Treasury and a range of key stakeholders to develop a model for demonstrating the return of investment in prevention.


  • Providing knowledge and analysis to support the development of local sustainability and transformation plans by the end of June 2016.
  • Leading the public health prevention work stream of the maternity transformation programme.
  • Working with local government and NHS bodies to secure a reduction in variation and the best outcomes for each locality.

The public

  • Delivering the information service for parents and the Start4Life campaign, addressing maternal and early years health.

Developing PHE as an organisation

  • Creating a national centre of expertise for public health science, to be operational between 2019 and 2024.
  • Developing the capability of PHE to support local devolution agreements.
  • Various improvements to vaccines and emergency preparedness.
  • Supporting PHE staff to develop professionally.

The strategy also outlines PHE’s strategy for global health, its plans to take forward scientific research on genomes, its plans to develop a new public health workforce strategy, and leadership programme. Actions with the national government include contributing to the Government’s childhood obesity strategy, and supporting the development of new strategies on tobacco control and so on.

Scottish Conservatives published 2016 general election manifesto

The Scottish Conservative Party has published its manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016.

The core elements of the manifesto include protecting NHS spending and boosting mental health support, empowering school leaders to close the attainment gap, and making childcare more flexible. Other areas of focus include protecting family finances, closing the disability employment gap, establishing a new crisis family fund, tackling anti-social behaviour, building homes and reducing fuel poverty. There are no references to continence and little mention of child health in general.

On the health care system, the Scottish Conservatives outlined its ambitions to:

  • Secure NHS funding through a health guarantee that ensures that the health budget rises annual by whatever is the highest of out inflation, 2% or Barnett Consequentials – this would mean an additional £15 billion for the NHS by the end of the Parliament.
  • Reintroduce prescription charges for those who can afford them, with children and those with long-term conditions exempt.
  • Review input targets for the NHS to assess which help more people “survive and get better”.
  • Support the expansion of the minor ailment service, which will see community pharmacists at the heart of primary care.
  • Support a universal GP-attached health visiting service, extended to the age of seven, which will see an additional 500 health visitors hired over the next four years.
  • Introduce recovery centres to take press of emergency departments.
  • Invest £300 million in improving mental health treatment over the next Parliament.
  • Explore devolving disability benefits more locally.
  • Improve end of life care.

In education, the Scottish Conservatives outlined that they would improve the provision of flexible childcare, give school leaders more decision making powers, attract high quality teachers, tackle the engage gap, support underperforming students, and invest in further and higher education.

Plaid Cymru publish 2016 election manifesto

Plaid Cymru has published its manifesto for the Welsh Assembly elections in May 2016, outlining its three main ambitions to improve healthcare in wales, develop a better education system from “cradle to career” and develop a strong economy. There were few references to child health.

Plaid Cymru will seek to reduce the historic divide between the health and social care and create a “people-powered” health service, centred on the patient, putting prevention and healthy living at the heart of its strategy. To do this, Plaid Cymru will:

  • Replace the 7 existing local health boards with a new community NHS delivered through regional combined authorities, to be inspected by a new system independent of government
  • Create a new national network of acute and specialist hospitals, which may be run directly by the Welsh Government or by an arms-length NHS board.
  • Introduce free personal care for the elderly within the first two years of government, including abolishing all fees for non-residential care and charges with dementia diagnosis.
  • Abolish all social care charges for the elderly within a second term.
  • Develop a network of NHS-run medical care homes in communities throughout Wales, where a “plethora” of elderly services will be available from traditional residential services.
  • Introduce targeted public health interventions on smoking, soft drinks, fruit and vegetables, hearing loss, drugs and asthma.
  • Improve early diagnosis of cancer, as well as encourage quicker treatment, better vaccinations and access to new medicines and treatment.
  • Recruit 1,000 extra doctors, increase capacity in medical schools, and recruit 5,000 nurses.
  • Invest in mental health services, ambulance services, medical research and technology.
  • Reducing the number of NHS managers.

In education, Plaid Cymru will agree a national strategy for raising standards of educational attainment in Wales, create a single national centre for initial teacher training, encourage parents to become more involved in their child’s learning, and invest more in early education.

Welsh Liberal Democrats publish 2016 election manifesto

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have published its election for the Welsh Assembly elections in May 2016, with the three main priorities of increasing NHS staffing levels, reduce the size of school classes, and creating an “opportunity economy” which helps businesses grow and assist people to buy their own homes. There are no specific focus on child health.

For health more generally, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will:

  • Build a future proof health and social care system, through developing a national workforce and training strategy and investing in general practice.
  • Ensure that the NHS is available when need through improving access to medical treatments and improving cancer outcomes by establishing a national cancer awareness campaign supporting a national cancer director.
  • Improve mental health by legislating for a parity of esteem between mental and physical health, as well as improving funding for mental health services.
  • Improve care for the elderly through supporting older people through the emergency hospitalisation process, supporting investment in community care, and training clinicians for elderly people and tackling age-related illnesses.
  • Improve social care services through ensuring that staff are properly supported and that social care applications can be fast tracked.
  • Improve public health service by abolishing Public Health Wales and transferring responsibility and funding for public health to local government, ensuring that pharmacies play a full role at the heart of public health and their local communities, that schools have access to a nurse, appoint good health champions and identify a local pharmacist to oversee issues relating to medicines taken by pupils, and that physical activities are promoted to tackle obesity in Wales.
  • Empower patients by providing them with a mix of information, action plans, structured education and training, and access to specialist advice from trained health care professionals and volunteers, as well as ensuring access to health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

For education, the Welsh Liberal Democrats propose reducing infant class sizes, expanding the pupil premium and increasing access to university.