Weekly political news round up – 29th August 2014

August 29, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The Children’s Society has published the findings of a poll on children’s happiness, in which England ranked ninth of 11 countries polled on how happy children were with their lives. The report, based on a survey of 16,000 children from the countries, warned that low wellbeing could impair children’s health, education and family life. The 11 countries ranked in the report are England, Romania, Spain, Israel, Brazil, USA, Algeria, South Africa, Chile, South Korea and Uganda.

Education Minister David Laws has announced that the Liberal Democrats would more than triple the pupil premium, to £1000 per child, if they form part of the Government again in 2015. The proposal, which will be included in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto, would apply to three and four year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in nursery education, who currently receive £300 in extra funding. Laws said: “This extra investment will mean a huge amount of support for the people who need it most and demonstrates our strong commitment to education”.

Department of Health launches consultation on refreshing the NHS Outcomes Framework 2015-2016

The Department of Health has published a new consultation seeking views on how the NHS Outcomes Framework could be improved.

The NHS Outcomes Framework is a set of 64 indicators which measure performance in the health and care system; it presents a national-level narrative on how the NHS in England is working. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of health indicators, but rather a set of outcomes that together form an overarching picture of the current state of health and care services in England. It was developed in December 2010, following a public consultation, and has been updated annually to ensure that it remains robust.

It asks specific questions on four main areas in each of the five Domains of the NHS Outcomes Framework, including:

  • mental health;
  • children and young people;
  • health inequalities; and
  • patient experience/safety

The Department of Health has identified several areas where the coverage and scope of the NHS Outcomes Framework could be improved, as well as the emergence of new developments and challenges facing the NHS and the wider health and care system since the first Outcomes Framework was published in 2010.

Of relevance to the PCF are the questions relating to children and young people.

Children and young people

In July 2012, the Children and Young People’s Outcomes Forum published a report highlighting that many aspects of children’s healthcare exhibited “substantial and unexplained variation” throughout the UK. It specifically recommended that the NHS Outcomes Framework should be revised to do more to identify failures of care in this area. In 2013, as a consequence of this recommendation, the Government outlined a series of indicators that would be introduced into the NHS Outcomes Framework 2014/15, to begin to tackle this issue.

Although an indicator (4.8) was introduced to measure children and young people’s experience of outpatient services, the consultation only suggests the addition of one further indicator child indicator on tooth extractions. Consequently, childhood continence (and continence in general) continues to receive no specific attention in the NHS Outcomes Framework.

In terms of future plans, the Department of Health stated that it would continue to assess the robustness of children and young people indicators in the NHS Outcomes Framework, to look to develop new and current indicators which will best assess the level of care received by children from birth. The following question is suggested:

Question 11: Do you agree with the long term direction that the Department of Health is taking regarding indicators for children and young people in the Outcomes Framework?

Department for Education publishes guidance on transferring children’s health commissioning to local authorities

The Department of Health has published guidance on transferring 0-5 year old children’s public health commissioning to local authorities. Planning and paying for public health services for 0 to 5 year olds will transfer from the NHS to local authorities in October 2015. As part of the transfer, local authorities will be obliged to provide certain universal elements of the Healthy Child Programme.

These are:

  • antenatal health promotion review;
  • new baby review, which is the first check after the birth;
  • 6-8 week assessment;
  • 1 year assessment; and
  • 2 to 2 and a half year review.

The factsheet explains how and why the commissioning and associated funding are being transferred to local authorities, saying evidence shows that these milestones are key times to ensure that parents are supported to give their baby/child the best start in life, and to identify early those families who need extra help.

One of the key reasons behind the transferring of these responsibilities is to ensure better joined up health, care and early years education support for 0-5s. Theoretically children identified with needs should more quickly receive assessments for Education, Health and Care Plans and this should lead to early intervention services, should local authorities put good identification and intervention services in place.

The transfer of responsibility will be subject to an 18 month “sunset clause” meaning that the regulations will expire in July 2017. A 12 month review will be put in place following the transfer of commissioning to local authorities and the learning from this review will be used to either retain current arrangements or encourage further change from 2017 onwards.

Study finds that bullying at school damages career prospects

A study commissioned by the Oxford Open Learning Trust and undertaken by YouGov has found that almost one in three adults who were bullied at school believe it had a negative impact on their career prospects. Of those bullied at school, 65 per cent said it had damaged their self-confidence, 36 per cent said it had affected their ability to make friends and 27 per cent said it had affected their mental health. The study also found that, at age 50, those who were bullied were less likely to have a qualification, less likely to live with a spouse or partner, and had less social support.

Similar research published in April highlighted the academic impact that bullying can have on children. Victims of bullying, the report suggests, stand a 26 per cent chance of achieving a top grade in their GCSEs, compared with 41 per cent for those who have grown up without being victimised.