Weekly political news round up – 26th May 2017

Overview

This week, a YouGov poll conducted after the Conservatives’ social care policy was announced suggested that the party’s lead over Labour has narrowed to 5%, giving Labour its highest polling rating since October 2014. Although this is only one poll at the moment, it has attracted significant coverage – particularly as if the swing was replicated nationally, it could result in Theresa May’s majority being reduced from 17 to two. A YouGov poll on voting intentions in Wales has also indicated a 16 point swing towards Labour, putting the party on 44%, when previously the Conservatives had been 10 points ahead.

A decision by NHS Improvement to delay the publication of  figures on the NHS’s financial deficit from 25th May until after the election has been criticised by opposition figures. While NHS Improvement stated unable to published the figures without breaching Cabinet Office purdah rules, the Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth painted the decision as a “cover up to deny the public the true picture of the NHS.” Former health minister Norman Lamb also warned that “the public deserves to know the scale of the financial crisis facing the NHS before they vote.” Calculations published in HSJ suggest that the deficit could be £770 million, although it has been suggested it could actually be higher due to accountancy measures altering the figures.

A poll by the Health Foundation has indicated that a majority of people in the UK would support tax increases to fund the NHS, with 64% of 1,985 agreeing with the suggestion. 88% of people also agreed that the NHS should be protected from funding cuts, while 17% suggested spending should be reduced on other services to pay for the NHS. The Health Foundation labelled these figures “striking”, but highlighted that half of respondents also believe there is waste in the NHS, indicating that efficiencies should still be sought.

Conservatives announce cap on social care costs

Theresa May has announced at a press conference in Wales that the Conservatives’ policy on social care funding will include an “absolute limit” on the amount people will have to pay towards their care, representing a reversal on what was pledged in their manifesto last week. The manifesto had stipulated that its proposals on social care funding were “more equitable, within and across the generations, than the proposals following the Dilnot Report, which mostly benefitted a small number of wealthier people.”

While the Prime Minister defended the proposals during her speech, she said that a cap on care costs will be introduced to “make sure there’s an absolute limit of what people need to pay.” She did not state what the cap on costs would be, saying it would be included in the social care green paper. The previous government had proposed a cap of £72,000, but this was delayed indefinitely due to the inability of local authorities to afford it.

Reacting to the policy change, former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg criticised the Conservatives for failing to prove certainty to families on how much they would have to pay towards their care. Analysis conducted by the Resolution Foundation suggested that clarifying that there would be a cap on costs was the right decisions, as “protecting people from excessive financial risks that markets can’t manage to insure against is, after all, one of government’s primary functions.”

Nursing and Midwifery Council agrees to consult on draft nurse education standards

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has decided to consult on its draft future nurse standards and education framework at a meeting in Cardiff in this week, after publishing the draft standards on its website. The draft standards also include wider proposals on adopting the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s single competency framework as the NMC’s standards for proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribers. As such, the NMC will host two consultations on the draft standards, with the consultation on elements relating to continence expected in mid-June.

The elements of the document which relate to continence are outcome 4.4 (p. 24), which states that a registered nurse should “demonstrate the knowledge, skills and ability to act as a role model to meet people’s needs related to nutrition, hydration and elimination, using evidence based nursing care (Annexe B).” Annexe B then lists the following as procedures for the planning, provision and management of evidence based nursing care (p. 36):

Meeting needs for care and support with elimination

  •  observe and assess level of urinary and bowel continence to determine the need for support, intervention, level of independence and the level of independence and self-management of care that an individual can potentially have
  • assist with toileting, maintaining dignity and privacy and managing the use of appropriate aids including pans, bottles and commodes
  • select and use appropriate continence products including pads, sheaths and appliances
  • insert, manage and remove catheters for all genders and assist with self-catheterisation when required *AH,*CH
  • manage bladder drainage
  • assess elimination patterns to identify constipation, diarrhoea and urinary and faecal retention
  • administer enemas, suppositories and undertake rectal examination and manual evacuation when appropriate
  • undertake stoma care and use best practice techniques and products

Norfolk to dual train school nurses and health visitors

Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, which provides school nurses and health visitors in Norfolk, has decided to provide members of each set of the workforce with additional training to ensure demand for services is met. The trust ascertained that health visitors were addressing the needs of children aged 0-5 and school nurses were primarily working with teenagers, resulting in 5-11 year olds not having their needs met in a “robust” manner. These problems were more acute among children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Subsequently, ten public health nurses with more than two years of experience will undertake dual training over the summer, and will start to work with primary schools which are thought to have pupils with “high needs” in September. The training will focus on preventing mental health problems among teenagers by ensuring that children receive support at an earlier stage. Andrea Graves, clinical lead for Norfolk’s children and young people’s services, said the training “is about early intervention and about supporting those families before they become teenagers and get to a crisis point.”

NHS Right Care estimates £7 million savings for CCG

West Kent CCG has estimated that it could make savings of £7.2 million by making efficiencies identified by NHS Right Care, a programme to target areas of clinical variation for CCGs. The CCG has stated it could make savings by 2019 by targeting five priority areas: frailty; prescribing; musculoskeletal; urgent care; and local care, including mental health. NHS Right Care initially identified £17.6 million of “value opportunities” for the CCG, and it is unclear why the remaining £10 million are not being taken forward.

The CCG has also specified that investment in new care models will be needed for the savings to materialise, and has already consulted and piloted redesigned GP care pathways. The CCG said that addressing patients’ needs “at the right time for optimal impact of care will enable a more responsive service and should improve access”, and will focus on integrated community pathways, reducing unplanned admissions and reducing variation in primary care prescribing.

Number of EU nurses leaving NHS increases by a third

The number of EU nurses who left the NHS in 2016 increased by 38% on the previous year, prompting further concerns of a Brexit-driven workforce shortage. 3,480 EU nurses left the NHS during 2016, accounting for approximately a third of the 9,023 EU staff which left the NHS over the year. 2,396 EU doctors which left. Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, director nursing, policy and practice at the Royal College of Nursing, highlighted that “People will leave if they don’t feel welcome; they don’t know what the outcome of the negotiations will be. We are losing time and the government needs to make this a priority.”

Number of EU nurses leaving NHS increases by a third

The number of EU nurses who left the NHS in 2016 increased by 38% on the previous year, prompting further concerns of a Brexit-driven workforce shortage. 3,480 EU nurses left the NHS during 2016, accounting for approximately a third of the 9,023 EU staff which left the NHS over the year. 2,396 EU doctors which left. Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, director nursing, policy and practice at the Royal College of Nursing, highlighted that “People will leave if they don’t feel welcome; they don’t know what the outcome of the negotiations will be. We are losing time and the government needs to make this a priority.”