Weekly political news round up – 23rd October 2015

October 23, 2015 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The Institute for Health Visiting has published advice for local authorities on the role of health visitors and opportunities for them to contribute to the prevention of ill health. It outlines that health visitors are the most common avenue for parents to turn to for support, stressing that health visitors are available for everyone rather than those ‘at risk’. The briefing also highlights the value that health visitors play in the early identification of additional needs and extra support.

Children’s charity 4Children, which is the Department for Education’s strategic partner, has published research showing that 64% of 1,000 children’s centres questioned have had their budgets cut this financial year. The research also found that 130 children’s centres are at risk of closure.

Tabled written questions on continence

Conservative MP Glyn Davies has tabled four written questions on continence, asking the Health Secretary:

  • What estimate his Department has made of the number of people with (a) urinary incontinence and (b) faecal incontinence in England.
  • What steps his Department is taking to improve the quality of care provided for people with incontinence in the UK.
  • What progress his Department has made on raising awareness and promoting understanding of incontinence amongst (a) health and social care staff and (b) the general public; and if he will make a statement.
  • What estimate his Department has made of the number of people living with (a) urinary incontinence and (b) faecal incontinence in (i) Northern Ireland, (ii) Scotland and (iii) Wales.

Westminster Hall debate on accessible toilet availability

A Westminster Hall debate was held this week on accessible toilet availability for disabled or incontinent adults and older children. The debate, which was secured by Labour MP Toby Perkins, focused largely on the provision of Changing Places toilets; which are larger than standard accessible toilets and have extra features such as large bins, changing benches and non-slip floors.

Perkins’ speech highlighted that families of children with continence problems have to organise family outings based on whether there are sufficient toileting facilities in the vicinity of where they are travelling. He added that 900,000 children have continence problems – many of whom are not considered disabled, but still require appropriate space for changing.

Perkins said that providing good toilet access is a “moral obligation that we have as a civilised society to disabled people and their families”, and that poor general access to Changing Places toilets had health-related cost implications, and also impacted on tourism. Perkins subsequently asked the minister whether the Government has any plans to amend building relations to make changing places toilets mandatory in large public buildings, and whether it would investigate setting up a fund to subsidise the construction of these toilets.

SNP Health Spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford commented that a high number of people will be affected by poor access to high-quality toilets in the future, given that the UK is facing ageing population with a rising number of people with stomas and “other problems of urinary and faecal support”.

Communities Minister Marcus Jones responded that the Government recognised the importance of accessible toilets for disabled people, and that most people take their availability for granted. He stressed that any new Changing Places toilets must be placed strategically rather than widely, as building a Changing Places toilet in the wrong location would be a “missed opportunity”. However, he said that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has commissioned research into how well toilet provision in building regulations is working, which includes specific reference to the need for Changing Places Toilets. He said that the Government will consider reviewing current guidance in light of the research.

King’s Fund survey finds that NHS trust finance directors and CCG leads agree local authority cuts impacting on their local health economy

A survey by influential health think-tank the King’s Fund of 90 NHS trust finance directors, and 50 CCG finance leads has found that 88% and 80% respectively agreed that cuts to local authorities have adversely affected their local health economy. One CCG which responded complained of disinvestment in public health and increased pressure on NHS-funded continuing care. The CCG also said that there is “no real partnership working in evidence”, with local authorities free to close services with no threat of scrutiny; however there is intense scrutiny from local authorities of disinvestment plans made by CCGs. A second CCG said that cuts are leading to some “very concerning financial driven decision-making, which is against the strategic direction of the health and social care system”.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens discusses NHS finances and the autumn spending review

At the NHS England 2015 annual general meeting this week, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens outlined five tests to assess whether the autumn spending review on 25th November has delivered for the NHS.

The first test will be whether the £8 billion a year by 2020 promised by the Government as part of the NHS Five Year Forward View will be front loaded. This links in with the second test, which is whether the Government’s “new asks” – such as 7 day GP services – are “consistent with the phasing of the new investment”. Stevens warned that failure to front load the additional funds will lead to the Government delaying the implementation of these “new asks”.

The third test will be whether the NHS receives “continuing political support” for the “realistic but broad set” of the £22 billion of efficiencies due to be made in the next few years. The fourth relates to social care funding, and the fifth relates to tackling obesity.

NHS clinical commissioning group membership organisation calls for more support to deliver the Five Year Forward View

NHS Clinical Commissioners, a membership organisation of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), has developed a series of five key asks for policymakers to help give CCGs the freedoms and flexibilities they need to transform local healthcare and focus on the big issues: sickness prevention, health inequality and healthcare targeted to the needs of the patient.

The document, Local solutions to national challenges, outlines that CCGs should be freed from centralised reporting in order to work to prioritise local population health, and that there should be recognition that diverse geographies need diverse local solutions such as developing health and wellbeing boards and developing co-commissioning. It criticises the “top-down” approach of NHS England, stating that CCGs need a more collaborative partnership with national bodies, and that some CCGs need practical support for area such as IT. The document also calls for better financial stability for CCGs.

Lord Carter of Coles contacts 137 hospital trusts to outline individual savings targets

Labour peer Lord Carter of Coles, who is chair of the NHS Procurement and Efficiency Board, has contacted 137 hospital trusts to provide them with individual savings targets as part of his review into NHS operational productivity and efficiency. Carter will spend the next six weeks visiting key figures in hospital trusts to discuss the targets, before they are made public.

Lord Carter has also broken down savings by speciality, enabling a benchmark for what each hospital should be doing in each department. The breakdown can be found below:

  • General medicine £381m
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology £362m
  • Trauma and orthopaedics £286m
  • Pathology £256m
  • Cancer services £255m
  • Emergency medicine £254m
  • General surgery £235m
  • Community nursing £217m
  • High cost drugs £213m
  • Paediatrics £209m

Lord Carter’s interim report, published in June, found that £5 billion a year could be saved by 2019/20. It found wide variation in spending across medicines, items such as dressings and syringes, facilities and utilisation of staff.