Weekly political news round up – 19th January 2018

This week, the Government has confirmed that it will continue to cut the public health funding allocated to local authorities in 2018/19 and 2019/20; it has been reported that the NHS is now losing 10% of its nurses each year; and the Welsh Government has published its Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care.

Public health budget to be further reduced

The Government has confirmed that it will continue to cut the public health funding allocated to local authorities in 2018/19 and 2019/20, with a loss of £85 million in funding for each year. The reductions equate to a 5% reduction from existing allocations, and are on top of previous reductions announced for budgets up to 2020/21. Izzi Seccombe, Chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said that “The government announced an extra £2.8bn for the NHS in the autumn budget. But to then take vital money away from the services which can be used to prevent illness and the need for treatment later down the line and ease the pressure on the NHS is extremely counter-productive.”

The Government also confirmed that it will change how public health funding is distributed from 2020, by allowing local authorities to retain their own business rates which are currently collected centrally and then redistributed in a grant. The chief executive of the Association of Directors of Public Health, Nicola Close, warned that this could exacerbate health inequalities in poorer areas that do not receive as much business rate income.

NHS losing 10% of nurses each year

Statistics have emerged this week demonstrating that one in ten nurses left the NHS in each of the last three years, with 33,000 leaving last year. The figures mean that more nurses are now leaving the NHS than joining, and in 2016/17 3,000 more nurses left than joined the health service. The issues have been attributed to workload pressures within the NHS and Brexit, as more EU nurses are now leaving than coming to the UK to work for the NHS. The head of the Royal College of Nursing, Janet Davies, said “The next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.” The Department of Health said that initiatives are being implemented to tempt nurses to stay in the workforce, including transfers to different jobs, mentoring and staff awards.

Welsh Government publishes Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care

The Welsh Government has published its Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care, following a consultation on the subject last year. The report makes ten recommendations to the Welsh Government on how to improve health and social care in Wales, and how to achieve improvements to health and social care by focusing on a ‘Quadruple Aim’ of:

  • Improving population health and wellbeing by focusing on prevention;
  • Improving the experience and quality of care for people;
  • Enhancing the wellbeing, capability and engagement of the workforce; and
  • Increasing the value achieved from health and care through innovations and efficiencies.

Some of the key recommendations include working on introducing new models of “seamless care”, with the need to develop these models rapidly and reorient “specialised care”. The report also recommends harnessing innovation and accelerating technology and infrastructure developments to deliver “more effective and efficient care”; and endorses designing the system to improve incentives, regulation, planning, targets and performance management to achieve faster progress. There is also a consistent emphasis on involving patients and the public when making changes.

Responding to the report’s publication, the Chair of the Welsh NHS Confederations, Bernadine Rees, said “We are particularly pleased the report recognises the need to involve the public in the design and development of new service models. The citizen voice must be part of the solution to the challenges we face, with people being empowered to be actively involved in their own health and wellbeing.”

CQC chief executive to stand down in the summer

The chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, Sir David Behan, has announced this week he will step down from the organisation in the summer after six years. The CQC will begin its search for his replacement immediately, and the Health Secretary said of Sir David’s resignation that “he deserves great credit for overhauling healthcare regulation in this country to put quality and safety at the heart of the ratings system.” Sir David highlighted that during his tenure the CQC has “inspected every hospital, adult social care provider and GP practice in the country – over 28,000 services and providers – and in the process developed a baseline on quality that is unique to anywhere in the world.”