Weekly political news round up – 6th November 2015

November 6, 2015 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

A Freedom of Information request by Plaid Cymru has found that there are 1,250 nursing vacancies across Wales, with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (covering south east Wales) having 260 posts empty – the equivalent of 7% of its workforce. Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, commented that health bodies might be considering reducing nurse staffing due to financial concerns.

The Department of Health has confirmed that local authorities will receive a blanket 6.2% reduction in their public health budgets, following the decision by HM Treasury to cut the total local authority public health grant by £200 million. The Department of Health consulted on a number of options, with the eventual chosen option being their preferred option. The vast majority of local authorities responded that they preferred to see a formula devised where local authorities with the biggest surpluses received the biggest cuts.

Public Health England has published its Public Health Outcomes Framework quarterly data update for November 2015, which shows an increase in the percentage of children achieving a good level of development by the end of reception to 60.4% from the last update. A good level of development is measured according to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which includes an assessment of whether children can to the toilet independently.

The Department for Education has published a summary document linking to data sources on children and young people with special educational needs in England. The document provides information on the expected update date of for each document, and the frequency of updates. The document covers the prevelance and characteristics of SEN in England, Early Years Foundation Stage Profile data, as well as attainment at difference stages of schooling, in addition to absence rates.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence launches consultation on quality standard for promoting health and wellbeing in early years

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has launched a topic engagement exercise for the development of a quality standard on promoting health and wellbeing in early years.

Quality standards are a set of prioritised statements designed to drive measurable quality improvements within a particular area of health or care.

This topic overview outlines that the quality standard will cover supporting the health, social and emotional wellbeing of children under five years old, through home visiting, childcare and early education. It will also cover vulnerable children who have, or are at risk of, health, social and emotional problems and require additional support.

NICE is seeking comments on the key areas for quality improvement, with five areas which stakeholders consider as having the greatest potential to improve quality of care. It asks what specific aspects of care or service delivery should be addressed, and what action can be taken to improve quality.

Northern Irish Health Minister Simon Hamilton outlines changes to the Northern Irish health and social care system

Northern Irish Health Minister Simon Hamilton has outlined changes to the health and social care system in Northern Ireland, in response to the publication of the Donaldson Report in January 2015 and the subsequent consultation on its recommendations.

Hamilton said that he will abolish the Health and Social Care Board, which decides where the majority of the Northern Irish health budget is spent. Instead, he wants future financial decisions to be made by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and by the five regional health trusts. He said that this will not lead to big savings, or differences on the ground, but will improve efficiency and accountability.

Hamilton also rejected the recommendation to appoint an international panel of experts to decide on the number of hospitals, and will instead appoint Northern Irish experts for a “clinically led conversation”. He said he wants to convene a health summit involving all parties to develop a consensus approach to transforming health and social care in Northern Ireland, as well as establish a transformation fund that supports innovation, collaboration and prevention.

The report by Sir Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer for England, found that there were a number of longstanding structural elements within the Northern Irish care system which fundamentally impacted its quality and safety, such as the configuration of health facilities serving rural and semi-rural populations. Ten recommendations were made, including setting up an international panel to review and configure health and social care services in Northern Ireland (which may involve closing hospitals), redesigning commissioning, expanding the role of pharmacists and paramedics, a programme for long-term condition management, better incident reporting, metrics for benchmarking clinical performance, the establishment of a technology hub and better patient involvement.

The PCF submitted a response to the consultation on the Donaldson Report, which ran between February and May 2015. The PCF’s response called for the DHSSPS to clarify the commissioning process to make it more transparent for patient and clinician groups to feed into. The PCF also called for the DHSSPS to publish an updated version of its long-term conditions plan – Transforming Your Care – to be inclusive of continence care, with a specific child based element. The PCF also called for specialist nurses to also have their role expanded, along with the recommended changes to pharmacists and paramedics, and suggested that the DHSSPS establish a forum like the NHS England Excellence in Continence Care Programme board to look at improving continence commissioning in Northern Ireland.

Welsh Government agrees to establish a new body to plan NHS Wales workforce education and training

Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that the Welsh Government has agreed to establish a single body for NHS Wales workforce planning, development and the commissioning of education and training. A final decision on the establishment of the group is set to be made, pending a final decision by a group to look at the costs and benefits to moving to a single body. It is expected that this work will take six months to complete and will be supported by a stakeholder reference group.

Further details on the proposals will be announced once the Diamond Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance is completed in September 2016.