Weekly political news round up – 1st September 2017

September 8, 2017 in News by Whitehouse

Overview

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.