Weekly political news round up – 3rd June 2016

June 3, 2016 in News by Whitehouse

Extent of public toilet closures revealed

Freedom of Information requests submitted by the BBC have found that ten UK councils no longer maintain any public toilets due to ongoing financial constraints. The requests revealed that as four out of five councils have reduced spending on public toilets since 2011, areas such as Newcastle, Merthyr Tydfil and Wandsworth no longer have any public toilets, while 22 councils – including Manchester, Stockport and Tamworth – only have one public toilet still open. Tourist areas such as the Highlands and Pembrokeshire are the best served by public toilets.

Raymond Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association, has repeated his organisation’s consistent call for legislation to mandate the provision of public toilets as a human right, as it is not currently a legal requirement for councils to do so. Mr Martin also highlighted that more than 1,700 toilets have shut in the UK over the past decade. James Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, suggested that councils should not be able to close public toilets without a “well-publicised, wellmanaged community toilet scheme” urging shops and restaurants to make their toilets open to the public.


Health Select Committee hold evidence session on public health post-2013

The Health Select Committee have held an oral evidence session focusing on the structures, organisation, funding and delivery of public health following the Health and Social Care Act. The Committee took evidence from public health officials from across England; and while it primarily discussed issues around screening and immunisation, the wider themes of community health were also considered. The witnesses immediately emphasised that public health is now a “fractured and very complex system”, leaving many elements of coordination down to working relationships and goodwill, which poses risks in the long-term.

The key line of discussion for paediatric continence came from Professor Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s Director of Public Health. Professor Arden underlined public health grant reductions as an area of concern and suggested that because health protection is prioritised within budgets, more minor areas such as continence services will be more vulnerable to cuts. She further asked the Committee to consider how public health workers can be upskilled to best suit community needs, saying it “is a challenge because I do not think we are necessarily that good at workforce planning.”


CQC opens consultation on NHS Patient Survey Programme

The CQC has opened a consultation on the NHS Patient Survey Programme, seeking opinions on proposed changes to content and frequency of the surveys for the first time. Of greatest relevance to the PCF are the proposals to pilot a new community health services survey, and to make permanent the children and young people’s survey previously piloted. These areas have been chosen as information on them is currently limited, and the suggested programme would allow for more detailed comparison to be made of service experiences at the local and national level.

The document accompanying the consultation stated that there is a currently a gap in the knowledge surrounding community health services which the new survey would intend to fill.  The CQC propose reviewing suitable areas to focus on, such as district nursing. The children and young people’s survey would be completed by children themselves, and has been chosen for pursuit as the pilot provided “useful information about the quality of paediatric services that is not available from any other source.” The first survey would be completed in 2016, reporting in 2017, and would be run every two years.

The consultation document also specified that the CQC are developing a new model called ‘CQC Insight’, used to coordinate data and information used in the ongoing monitoring of quality of care. The model would identify the key information needed to indicate good performance, and trigger followup action when concerns are raised about care. The CQC is also looking to collect feedback on the accessibility and value of the current survey programme.

Energy drinks that cause bedwetting banned in schools

A headteacher in a Scottish secondary school has banned energy drinks from his school premises due to the side effects they cause, including exacerbating anti-social behaviour and bedwetting. Melvyn Lynch informed parents at his school that the energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster, would be confiscated if pupils were found with them, citing the difficulties they can cause in sleeping properly. As well as bedwetting, the drinks can cause insomnia, anxiety, headaches, nausea, heart palpitations and lead to longer-term health issues including diabetes.