Weekly political news round up – 21st August 2015

August 21, 2015 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

Kezia Dugdale MSP has been elected as the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, with Alex Rowley MSP elected as deputy leader. Dugdale, who had been deputy leader under former leader Jim Murphy, who stepped down in June, announced that Jenny Marra MSP will continue as equality spokesperson (with responsibility for health), and that Iain Gray MSP will be opportunity spokesperson (covering schools and childcare).

A survey of 4,000 people by health and wellbeing provider Benenden has found that the public has very little understanding of how much common NHS procedures cost, and had little idea about how many procedures were carried out. Dr John Giles, medical director at Benenden, commented that it was “no surprise” that the public has a “staggering and destructive ignorance” regarding the costs of treatments on the NHS.

Health Service Journal has reported that NHS England will intervene to issue “direction” to Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG, as a result of significant financial problems. NHS England have drawn up an improvement plan, including a financial recovery plan, and will conduct a separate review into the CCG’s in-house commissioning support services.

An article in the Guardian has criticised the NHS Constitution, outlining that official reviews by the Department of Health have shown that public awareness of the constitution is low, with little evidence that patients or staff use it to exercise rights or expectations. The article also criticises the lack of measures within the constitution for NHS providers, as well as a general lack of enforceability for the articles in the constitution, particularly the lack of legal grounding for the pledges within the constitution.

In a letter to providers of early years services, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has outlined that Ofsted are considering bringing inspections of early-year settings in-house, amid ongoing concerns in the sector around consistency and quality.

Virgin Care shortlisted to become the interim provider of children’s community services in Bristol and South Gloucestershire

Healthcare provider Virgin Care has announced has been shortlisted for a contract to provide children’s community services in Bristol and South Gloucestershire on an interim basis between March 2016 and March 2017. The decision came after the existing provider, North Bristol NHS Trust, announced that it would not extend its contract, which expires in March 2016, as it wanted to focus its “energies and resources” on acute and hospital based care. Bristol and South Gloucestershire clinical commissioning groups subsequently contacted North Bristol NHS Trust to express “concerns over the safety of the service and handover of the service”.

The five joint commissioners responsible for the shortlisting and the final decision – Bristol and South Gloucestershire clinical commissioning groups, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Councils and NHS England – issued a statement outlining that safety was “of paramount importance” and that the service would be delivered “to the highest possible standard”, adding that there “are no plans” to change the care and support provided during the period of the interim contract. Also in the running is a partnership involving Sirona Care and Health Community Interest Company, Bristol Community Health Community Interest Company and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Sirona currently provide children’s community services in Bath and North East Somerset.