Weekly political news round up – 27th May 2016

June 3, 2016 in News by Whitehouse

Care Quality Commission publishes five-year strategy

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its strategy for 2016-2021, explaining how it will change its inspection regime with consideration for the £32 million budget cut it will face by 2020. The PCF responded to the CQC’s consultation on the strategy in February 2016. It focuses on four priorities:

  • Encourage improvement, innovation and sustainability in care;
  • Deliver an intelligence-driven approach to regulation;
  • Promote a single shared view of quality; and
  • Improve our efficiency and effectiveness.

Under the third priority, promoting a single shared view of quality, the CQC stated that while it will work with partners, providers and the public to “agree a definition of quality”, it will also “encourage providers to develop their own quality assurance based on the five key questions and to share this with us as part of an ongoing conversation about quality.” The PCF argued that a set of central criteria should be implemented to promote a shared view of quality, following a consultation – and the strategy implies that the CQC will not be as stringent on this measure as the PCF advised.

As has already been publicised, the CQC intends to target more resources into assessing poorly-performing services than services where “care quality is good and likely to remain so.” This again does not address the PCF’s suggestion that providers with good services with poor elements should still be followed up. The strategy confirmed the CQC will analyse “how well providers deliver care for specific population groups”, but did not say how or when these population groups will be chosen.

Finally, although the strategy states that the CQC will “Co-produce our plans with people who use services, their carers and representative organisations”, as well as work with Healthwatch, advocacy organisations and the voluntary and community sectors, it was not specified how groups which may be reluctant to volunteers their experiences would be reached.

Health Education England will trial nursing associates

Health Education England (HEE) has confirmed it will start training 1,000 nursing associates in 2017, after the results of its six-week consultation showed a definite “appetite” for the role in the nursing profession. The new role will act as an intermediate role between healthcare assistants and registered nurses, and while further workshops will be needed to determine its full scope, 54% of respondents said they wanted the profession to be regulated rather than just registered.

The identified benefits of introducing the role included patient safety, public reassurance, accountability, professional credibility and the administration of medicines. The consultation’s responses suggested nurse associates should be trained to the equivalent of foundation degree level, which could be provided through an apprenticeship. Concerns were also raised that the role would be used as a substitute for recruiting more nurses, and that there would not be enough funding available to cover the role.

In a separate development, a report by NHS Clinical Commissioners has highlighted the “critical” role that nurses play on CCG governing bodies, which has changed significantly from that originally envisioned. The paper argued that nurses provide “a valuable voice for the patient while at the same time giving a critical clinical perspective”; and recommended that these nurses are able to regularly hold discussions with staff to best represent their opinions in commissioning decisions.

Community pharmacy closures would burden GPs

A group representing the English community pharmacy sector has published research indicating that government proposals that could result in one in four pharmacies closing would place a significant burden on GPs. Pharmacy Voice, which published the research conducted by YouGov, said that 29% of people who would normally obtain advice from a pharmacy for minor ailments would go to their GP instead. This figures rises to as much as 80% of people in deprived areas, such as Fleetwood in Lancashire.

The Government’s proposals, while closing many pharmacies, would redirect funding to ensure that everyone can access a community pharmacy. Approximately 80-90% of an average pharmacy’s funding comes from the NHS, and the proposals would reduce the amount spent on pharmacies by £170 million. The chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, Professor Rob Darracott, said that people are increasingly using pharmacies to access health services as well as for collecting medicine.