Weekly political news round up – 25th March 2016

March 25, 2016 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

Former Cabinet Office Minister David Law has claimed that ahead of the publication of the Five Year Forward View, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens was pressured by the Treasury to reduce his demand for additional NHS funding from £16 billion to £8 billion. After initially asking for an additional £16 billion, Stevens was allegedly told that “there was no way that the Prime Minister and Chancellor would sign up to an impossible and excessive commitment” and that he needed to “get it down to a more deliverable sum”.

The Department of Health has sent accountancy firms to 20 NHS organisations, including provider trusts and CCGs, to “support the health group accounts”. A senior unnamed figure in an NHS consultancy said that the move was “an act of desperation” by the Department, and that directors of finance are under “loads of pressure” from central government to do “accountancy stuff” that they are “not comfortable with”.

The University of York Centre for Health Economics has published an analysis of medical spending and hospital inpatient care in England over the last 15 years, which found that inpatient care has been “substantially driven” by the underlying morbidity and age of the population in conjunction with improving health care technology. More specifically, it found that: expenditure for elective and emergency inpatient care broadly follows activity rather than unit costs, expenditure is concentrated in individuals with multiple diseases, and health care activity rises substantially in the period before death.

Welsh Chief Medical Officer Dr Ruth Hussey has retired after almost four years of providing independent professional advice to the First Minister and the Welsh Government about healthcare. An announcement on Dr Hussey’s successor will be made shortly.

Adam Roberts, head of economics at the Health Foundation has written in the Guardian that the NHS is in the midst of a “financial hurricane” due to three reasons. The first is disappointing poor economic growth that has led to a continued fall in public spending; the second is changes to public sector pensions, which will increase pressure on NHS providers; and the third is that there have been no further announcements of additional funds to help the NHS realise financial stability this year.

The Department for Education has published letters to local authorities, academy trusts and maintained schools about the Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper. The letters outline the motivations behind the Government’s push to reform education – to provide a world-class education and give greater power to school leaders – whilst outlining the key elements of the proposals. These include, replacing Qualified Teacher Status with more challenging accreditation, requiring all schools to become academies, and recruiting and training the best school leaders.

A report by the government commissioned Migration Advisory Committee has criticised the Department of Health, Health Education England and NHS trusts for ignoring obvious warning signs indicating that a nationwide shortage of nurses was being driven by a desire from central government to save money. Committee chair Professor Sir David Metcalfe said that the Department of Health “needs to get its act together”, and that there is “no good reason why the supply of nurses cannot be sourced domestically”.

Forthcoming events

Both Houses of Parliament are now in recess and will return on 11th April 2016.

Answer to written question on an awards scheme for schools supporting children with SEND

Conservative MP Tim Loughton has received an answer to a written question asking the Education Secretary if she will establish an awards scheme for schools that have excelled in supporting children with special educational needs and disability, similar to the scheme for pupil premium awards.

Children’s Minister Ed Timpson responded that the Department for Education will be exploring options for how to identify and promote excellent SEND practice in schools, as part plans for reviewing its strategy for improving SEND provision announced in the Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper. Timpson added that he would be “happy to receive” any specific proposals from Loughton.