Weekly political news round up – 8th April 2016

April 8, 2016 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The Department of Health has published the NHS Outcomes Framework for 2016 to 2017, which sets out the indicators that will be used to hold NHS England to account for improvements in health outcomes over the next year. The Framework is unchanged from last year, and includes indicators on the proportion of people feeling supported to manage their long-term condition (indicator 2.1), improving people’s experience of outpatient care (indicator 4.1) and improving people’s experience of integrated care (indicator 4.9).

The Daily Mail has published an article suggesting that osteopathy, a therapy where practitioners treat and prevent health problems by moving, stretching and massing a person’s muscles and joints, could improve help improve problems such as constipation in children. The article quotes research by Dr Iona Bramati-Castellarin of 49 families that found that massages showed statistically significant improvements in their digestive issues.

An NHS England commissioned review of the December 2015 collapse of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG contract with Uniting Care Partnership has recommended that NHS England review its approach of allowing CCGs to enter into large complex novel contracts without any oversight from NHS England.

Think-tank the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has published a report which calls on the Government to establish an Office for Patient Outcomes (OPO), to act as an “independent”, authoritative and more complete” source of data about NHS patient outcomes. The SMF argues that the OPO would be low-cost and high-impact, building on many of the strengths of the present system while providing more “patient-friendly information and a sharper accountability for improving patient outcomes.

Research by influential think-tanks the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust on GP attitudes towards CCGs has found that GP leaders want to remain in their role, and view CCGs as an influential part of the local health economy. However, GPs also felt that CCG managers and NHS England are more influential than they are, with only 20% of GPs without a formal role in the CCG able to influence decisions. Moreover, 80% of GPs without a formal role in the CCG were negative or neutral about the introduction of co-commissioning, with the proportion of GPs on their CCG governing who feel highly engaged in their work falling from 83% in 2013 to 64% in 2016. The study is based on six CCGs.

An Oxford University study has found that the overall workload in general practice has increased by 16% over the past seven years, with the majority of the increase being handled by GPs rather than practice nurses. The research has led experts to call for an increased share of the primary care workload to be undertaken by nurses, including a “major shift” away from a “doctor-centric” model to one with “more and varied” clinical support staff working in collaboration with GPs.

Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, wrote in the Guardian that NHS leaders believe the financial position of the NHS to be worse than official figures suggest, which do not factor in the cost of new commitments such as seven-day working or increases in pension contributions for staff. One NHS leader asked Ham whether government ministers are “in denial” or “simply unaware of the impact of their actions on the ground”.

The Department for Education has decided that the reception baseline assessment will not be used as a starting point to measure pupil progress, in light of the findings of a comparability study that found they were not reliable enough. These assessments are intended to measure children’s numeracy and literacy skills at ages four and five, and have been criticised for potentially leading nurseries and other early years settings to focus on academic rather than general development.

Forthcoming events

The House of Commons and House of Lords will both return from recess on Monday 11th April 2016.

NHS England publishes list of new national clinical directors and associate national clinical directors

NHS England has published an updated list of its 18 national clinical directors (NCDs), as well a list of its seven newly created “associate” NCDs. The appointments follow NHS England’s decision in November 2015 to reduce the number of NCD to facilitate a move to a more “streamlined” system, with the majority of NCDs replaced.

Dr Jackie Cornish’s role has retained her position as NCD children, young people and the transition to adulthood, while Claire Lemer has been appointed as associate NCD for children and young people. Lemer is a consultant in general paediatrics at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, and has been working on a project to improve everyday healthcare (primary/secondary) for children in Southwark and London. Lemer trained in paediatrics but has a background in public health and health policy.

A direct replacement has not been appointed for Dr Martin McShane, who was NCD for long-term conditions and responsible for continence. It has not been revealed which NCD is now responsible for continence. Below is a summary of the appointments:

National Clinical Directors

Cancer Chris Harrison
Children, young people and the transition to adulthood Jacqueline Cornish
Cardiovascular disease prevention Matt Kearney
Dementia Alistair Burns
Diagnostics and imaging Erika Denton
Emergency preparedness and critical care Bob Winter
End of life care Bee Wee
Heart disease Huon Gray
Learning disability Dominic Slowie
Maternity review and women’s health Matthew Jolly
Mental health Tim Kendall
Muskuloskeletal services Peter Kay
Obesity and diabetes Jonathan Valabhji
Older people Martin Vernon
Respiratory services Mike Morgan
Stroke Tony Rudd
Trauma Chris Moran
Urgent care Jonathan Benger


Associate National Clinical Directors

Children and young people Claire Lemer
Diabetes Partha Kar
Elective care Ramani Moonesingh
Mental health (perinatal) Jo Black
Mental health (perinatal) Giles Berrisford
Mental health (secure) David Fearnley
Older People Dawn Moody