Weekly political news round up – 4th March 2016

March 4, 2016 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

A study by Coloplast, based on Hospital Episode Statistics, found that there were over 66,000 hospital admissions for constipation across all age groups in 2014/15, of which 48,409 were unplanned emergency admissions and 17,798 were elective patients, with a total of 15,319 day cases. An accompanying survey found that 35% of patients said that they would wait to see if their symptoms cleared up before speaking to their GP, and 45% would not seek medical help at all. The survey also found that 20% would be embarrassed to talk to their GP about issues with their bowels, with more than 10% reporting that they could not identify the symptoms of constipation.

The National Children’s Bureau, Action for Children and The Children’s Society have jointly published a report, Losing in the long run, which projects that government funding for early help services will be reduced by 71% – from £3.2 billion to less than £1 billion – between 2010 and 2020. Particularly affected will be children’s centres, short breaks for disabled children, and information and advice for young people and family support. A survey of 500 local authority councillors revealed that 59% believed that a reduction in government funding will mean a reduction in these services, even though 87% said that early intervention is a high priority for their community.

The Guardian has reported that there were 23,433 vacant nursing posts and 6,207 vacant doctors posts in December across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – the equivalent of a vacancy rate of 7% for doctors and 10% for nurses compared with an average vacancy rate of 2.7% across the economy as a whole. Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said that about half the vacant nursing posts will be filled by agency and temporary staff, as well as recruitment from overseas.

A poll by BBC Wales has suggested that health (33%) is the biggest single issue affecting the way that people will vote in the Welsh Assembly elections in May, followed by jobs (24%), immigration (14%), the economy (11%) and education (10%). Despite the priority given to health, 29% believed that the Welsh NHS is run by the UK Government.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has launched a new website where nurses are encouraged to share case studies of successful public health schemes that they have been involved with, following an RCN survey which found that commissioners wanted more input from public health nurses.

Ofsted has announced that it will directly control the selection, training and management of early years inspectors from April 2017, following the expiration of contracts issued to Tribal and Prospects. Nick Jackson, Ofsted’s director of corporate services, said that this will allow early years inspections to be brought into line with schools and further education and skills.

The Health Services Committee of the Faculty of Public Health (Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom) has published a report which found that the capacity and capability of public health specialists within local authority based public health teams is not “sufficient in quality or quantity” in some geographical areas. This assessment was based on anecdotal evidence and a 2015 survey of CCGs. The Committee found that public health specialists have value in supporting clinical-led commissioning, but these specialists require better training – with greater exposure to NHS environments – and that reported capacity issues should be “monitored” with steps taken to ensure an effective delivery of core functions.

NICE launches surveillance review on CG54 – urinary tract infections in under 16s: diagnosis and management

NICE has launched a surveillance review on clinical guideline 54 (CG54), the diagnosis and management of urinary tract infections in the under 16s. This review will assess whether or not the guideline should be updated to reflect any changes in practice since the guideline’s last surveillance review in 2013.

CG54 does not cover children with urinary catheters in situ, as well as children with neurogenic bladders, children already known to have significant pre-existing uropathies, children with underlying renal disease (for example, nephrotic syndrome), immunosuppressed children, and infants and children in intensive care units. It also does not cover preventive measures or long-term management of sexually active girls with recurrent UTI.

The surveillance review will take approximately six months to complete, with a surveillance report due to be published by NICE in June/July 2016. This report will communicate NICE’s decision on whether the guideline should be updated, and provide commentary on approximately three articles felt to be of particular interest within this topic.

Should NICE determine that no update is required, then it will be required to launch a two-week consultation with stakeholders to gauge their opinions on the decision. If NICE decides to update the guideline, then it will not consult on the changes.

Survey finds that clinical commissioning groups lack confidence in health and wellbeing boards to deliver change

NHS Clinical Commissioners, the membership organisation of clinical commissioning groups, has conducted a survey of its members assessing their perspectives of their local health and wellbeing boards (HWBs). The 350 responding members generally indicated that they did not associate their HWB with change, with many respondents raising concerns over their value.

Below is an overview of the findings from CCG chairs and chief officers:

  • 89% of respondents felt that to some extent that HWBs are a place of open discussion;
  • 94% of respondents felt to some extent that HWBs are a place of discussion but not action;
  • 34% of respondents felt that HWBs to no extent provide a joined up approach to commissioning;
  • 41% of respondents felt that HWBs completely failed to drive strategic decisions about long term population needs;
  • 53% of respondents felt that HWBs created an environment which is conducive to effective local decision making;
  • 63% of respondents felt that HWBs were not to any extent associated with delivering real change;
  • 34% of respondents did not feel that HWBs created an equal partnership of health and care commissioners; and
  • 69% of respondents felt that HWBs represented partnership working to some extent.

The findings from all CCG member respondents are broadly in line with those from chairs and chief officers, but with a greater proportion – between 10 and 20% – responding that they could not make an assessment.