Weekly political news round up – 25th August 2017

Overview

This week, the Royal College of Nursing has highlighted the risks posed by children’s health by falling numbers of school nurses. HSJ has published a revision of its list of the 100 most powerful figures in health policy, while the Nuffield Trust has conducted analysis of test sites of the primary care home model. NHS England has also announced an international GP recruitment programme to expand the GP workforce.

Royal College of Nursing highlights risks from falling school nurse numbers

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have advised that falling numbers of school nurses could put children with long-term health conditions at risk and prevent them from participating fully in school life. Statistics from NHS Digital have indicated that the number of school nurses has declined by 550, or 19%, since 2010 to 2,433 full-time school nurses. More than 100 of these nurses have left the profession so far this year, and the RCN have expressed concerns that children with conditions such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes risk receiving inadequate care as a result.

The RCN’s professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, Fiona Smith, said that because these children may face medical emergencies at school, “Without the right training, guidance and support from school nursing services, teachers could be completely unprepared for this kind of situation – putting children’s lives at serious risk.”

HSJ publishes list of 100 most powerful health policy figures

HSJ has published a new version of its annual list of the 100 most powerful figures in health policy, which includes 32 new entries and a significant drop for prominent healthcare leaders such as the Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, Jim Mackey, and the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, Chris Wormald. The list is normally published at the end of each calendar year, but has been revised to reflect political changes emanating from the general election and the growing importance of Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) leaders. The accompanying analysis says that many of the revised rankings have been driven by the growing prominence of workforce representatives and officials leading efficiency programmes.

Professor Matthew Cripps, the Chief Executive of NHS RightCare, is noted to have risen the most places on the list, going from 87th to 40th. The continued dominance of Simon Stevens and Jeremy Hunt at the very top of the list is linked to the current political climate, with the minority government and weakened Prime Minister increasing the influence of both. Other notable figures include the shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth (ranked 18th); the president of the RCN Janet Davies (ranked 19th); and the chief nursing officer at NHS England Jane Cummings (ranked 66th).

Nuffield Trust publishes analysis of primary care home model

The health charity the Nuffield Trust has published analysis of 13 rapid test sites for the primary care homes (PCH) model, a new model for primary care which encourages collaboration with other local community, hospital and social care organisations. While the model has now been extended to 180 sites across England, the initial rapid test sites were allocated £40,000 in funding from NHS England to assist with their start-up costs. The analysis concluded that the sites did not have the resources to fully evaluate their progress to date, and “lacked a clear explanation of how the planned interventions would deliver expected impacts.”

The sites were established in July 2016, making it too early in the process to evaluate patient outcomes. The analysis said that despite this, “Within six months the PCH approach had stimulated partnership working and developed or improved services for at least one patient subgroup across most sites.” Progress was said to be aided by “hard-working multi-organisation operational teams who were able to think creatively, shift staff around projects, and had the ears of their respective executives.” Many of the sites evaluated expressed their concerns about receiving longer-term funding to sustain their new ways of working, and the difficulties this posed for forward planning.

NHS England announces international GP recruitment programme

NHS England has announced an international GP recruitment programme to increase the pace of GP recruitment, with the aim of recruiting at least 2,000 GPs by 2020/21. The Government’s overall target is to recruit an additional 5,000 GPs in this time period, of which 500 doctors would have been recruited from abroad. The acceleration of this programme hopes to recruit 600 GPs in 2017/18 alone, supported by the creation of a GP International Recruitment Office.

The announcement comes shortly after more medical school training places were confirmed to increase the number of GPs trained in the UK. The Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said “We welcome any GP from the EU or further afield who wants to work in UK general practice – as long as they meet the rigorous standards set by the College, General Medical Council and others to ensure safe clinical practice.”