Weekly political news round up – 25th July 2014

July 25, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The House of Commons has now risen for its summer recess, and will return on 1st September 2014. The House of Lords is still sitting, and will rise after business on 30th July 2014.

The Early Intervention Foundation has published its Guidebook – an online resource designed to provide advice for professionals developing early intervention programmes. It seeks to support commissioners of services, policy-makers and practitioners to base their choices on the best available evidence, as well as more tacit considerations of circumstance and implementation. New programmes are added through an identification of effective programmes, or through an online submission process that allows individual programme developers to contact the Early Intervention Foundation directly.

NurseryWorld has reported that members of the National Day Nurseries Association and the Pre-school Learning Alliance have told s House of Lord’s Committee on Affordable Childcare that the childcare sector was “being led down a path dictated by economics”. In terms of workforce, the Committee also heard that early year’s teachers were not on equal terms with qualified teachers, and that more needed to be done to ensure there is a career path and structure for those coming into childcare.

The Government has announced that Conservative MP Sam Gyimah has been appointed as the minister responsible for childcare and early years.

The Department of Health has published a factsheet for parents outlining the role and support offered by health visitors and school nurses.

Healthwatch England issues warning on impact of ‘Super CCGs’ on local involvement in health services

Healthwatch England has issued a warning that the healthcare professionals who run Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are forming new bodies called ‘Super CCGs’, that will result in more limited involvement of local people in making decisions about their health services.

Local Healthwatch organisations have found that the healthcare professionals responsible for running CCGs, including GPs, are forming joint decision making bodies with those running neighbouring CCGs in order to make decisions on health services at a regional level. Unlike normal CCGs, Super CCGs are not subject to local scrutiny and accountability measures, and are being accused of failing to engage with the public.

Although setting up Super CCGs is difficult, the Draft Legislative Reform CCG Order 2014, which is currently going through parliament, will make the process easier.

Local Healthwatch organisations have informed Healthwatch England that the establishment of Super CCGs is symptomatic of a wider cultural issue within CCGs of a reluctance to engage with their local population on major decisions about redesigning services.

As such, Healthwatch England will be contacting the Health Secretary to outline the following concerns:

  • Disengagement with local accountability mechanisms such as Health and Wellbeing Boards
  • Poor current public engagement by CCGs and the emerging committees in common
  • Major decisions, such as models for service reconfiguration, being taken in closed sessions of the committees
  • Insufficient planning for future public engagement and the vital conversations around service reconfiguration that will directly result from decisions made by the committees in common.

Healthwatch England is also calling on the Health Secretary to consider the following before agreeing to the new legislation:

  • Introduce a mandatory seat for local Healthwatch on any joint committee
  • Place a duty on all lead CCGs to have due regard for existing local priorities and plans
  • Ensure all CCGs sign up to act within existing local accountability mechanisms, even if it means being held to account by a Health and Wellbeing Board outside of their jurisdiction.

Office for the Children’s Commissioner launches consultation on the promotion and protection of children’s rights in schools

The Office for the Children’s Commissioner (OOC) has launched a consultation which seeks to look at how schools, as well as other organisations who deliver education services, can best promote and protect children’s rights in what they do. It also seeks to identify how the education system can achieve this, as well as identify examples of best practice in schools and see how these could be spread more widely.

The OOC has listed a set of proposals for the characteristics of a rights-promoting educating system, stating what schools should do. Of interest for the PCF are the following:

Schools are at the heart of the education system and so:

  • Should be orderly and calm places, where all children are safe, able to learn, and where there are high expectations of respect and behaviour from all members of the school community.

When things go wrong:

  • If, for any reason, children are unable to attend school, they should receive an alternative form of education which allows them to achieve and develop in the same way as if they were in a mainstream school. This should cover all those unable to attend school, including, but not limited to:
    • those who have long-term medical or mental health needs
  • Where a child or group of children is let down by the system, children and parents should have a meaningful system of redress. This redress will only be meaningful if it:
    • is run in the interests of the child and enables them to have their voice heard and given due weight
    • possesses the powers to put right the harm caused by unlawful unreasonable activity
    • enables the system to learn from cases to make it less likely that they will be repeated.

The consultation asks seven questions, including whether stakeholders agree with these proposals, and whether there are any that should be added or removed.

NHS England publishes first Annual Report and Accounts for 2013/14

NHS England has published its first Annual Report and Accounts for 2013/14, which sets out its achievements in the last year and aspirations for 2014/15. The report features key milestones since its inception in April 2013, the annual accounts and a Directors’ report.

Although the report does not specifically mention continence, it does outline what has been done to improve health outcomes in each of the five domains of the NHS Outcomes Framework. There are three domains relevant for the PCF:

Domain 2: Enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions.

The report highlighted that NHS England has been working with local systems to develop five-year strategic plans to implement the Better Care Fund. It also highlighted that NHS England has made progress on the roll-out of personal health budgets, which seek to give people more control over the health care and services they require.

Domain 4: Ensuring people have a positive experience of care.

The report stated that had been “rapid progress” in measuring and understanding the experiences of patients, specifically noting the introduction of the Friends and Family Test.

Domain 5: Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

The report stated that NHS England had been working with local and national partners to improve the quality of clinical care. It notes the launch of the Patient Safety Alerting system and an increase in data submitted to the NHS Safety Thermometer, which found a reduction in the incidence of ‘harms’ recorded – the number of patients free from harm is now 93.6%, up from 92% last year.

In response to the report, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the NHS Outcomes Framework would be reviewed during summer 2014. He said that the review would update the framework for 2015-16 by improving, adding and removing existing indicators, and also indicate a direction of travel for future indicator development.

Answer to written question on support for young children with disabilities

Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds has received an answer to his written question asking the Education Secretary what steps she is taking to provide more effective support to children with disabilities in their formative years.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson responded that a fully integrated early years and health review, due to be implemented from 2015, would help to pick up potential difficulties early and ensure that support plans are in place for tackling disabilities.

He added that the reforms set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the new 0-25 Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice would support the integrated review. These reforms, Timpson said, would provide streamlined and transparent support for children with SEND and their families from birth to adulthood.

Timpson also said that that all maintained nurseries, schools and colleges must work with the local authorities to develop a ‘local offer’. This will outline support across health, education and care, to children and young people with SEND and what to do if things go wrong or parents and young people are unhappy with the support they are receiving.