Weekly political news round up – Friday 20th December 2013

December 20, 2013 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has published a survey of newly qualified paediatric consultants which found that 10% had left the country to find work, while 22% were on temporary contracts, compared to 3% of doctors working in paediatrics as a whole. This survey follows concerns that the difficulty for consultants gaining a job in their field will lead to a negative impact on recruitment.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has announced that it has recalled 1113 urology patients as a precautionary measure following a review of a number of patient notes. The patients who were recalled attended Belfast City Hospital for a bladder camera test / cystoscopy during 2012 and 2013. Trust Medical Director Tony Stevens said that the standard of care they had received was ‘not what we would have expected’.

Update on Children and Families Bill

This week the second day of the Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill took place, which discussed the early clauses of part three relating to SEN reform. The discussions saw the “wholly or mainly” issue resolved as well as a debate over joint commissioning for children and young people without Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans. The Government has also made a series of concessions to the Bill, including tabling amendments to allow EHC Plans to function in youth detention settings, although these will not be debated until the next scheduled session of the Report Stage on 7th January when the House of Lords returns.

Debate on inclusion

An amendment tabled by Lord Low to place a legal requirement on local authorities to encourage access to an inclusive school system for disabled children was defeated by the Government after it was put to a division. Shadow Education Minister Baroness Hughes offered her support for Lord Low, describing it as a “matter of legislative housekeeping” that would “drive the major strengthening of the code of practice on inclusion which is required”.

The inclusion debate also saw concerns raised over draft regulations under Clause 34 that allow a child or young person to be placed in a special school without an EHC assessment and plan on an indefinite basis, provided that the placement is reviewed termly.

Scope of the Bill partially expanded to include disabled children and young people

Lord Nash also introduced Government amendments to expand the scope of the Bill to include disabled children and young people within the Bill’s joint commissioning arrangements, review functions, and local offer duty, acknowledging the concerns raised by the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign. The expansion did not go as far as including disabled persons within EHC Plans;

Wholly or mainly issue resolved

Following concerns that had been raised regarding the issue of “wholly or mainly”, relating to the circumstances in which provision that would otherwise be health or social care provision should be treated as special educational provision, the Government introduced amendments to further clarify their intention to maintain the current case law following the legal advice provided to them by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

National Institute of Health and Care Excellence publish topic overview for nocturnal enuresis in children and young people

Healthwatch England has announced that it is seeking responses to draft elements of its strategy for 2014-16. Included in the strategy are draft rights and responsibilities for patients, as well as Healthwatch England’s organisational vision, mission and strategic priorities.

The proposed strategic priorities include plans to promote the design and delivery of services around the needs of a person. This will involve Healthwatch England working with those who deliver services to ensure that they engage with all individuals and communities, especially those with complex needs. Furthermore, the consultation document highlights that Healthwatch England intends to aim for better identification of consumer concerns and complaints, and additional plans to promote improved handling of concerns and complaints.

The most relevant draft consumer rights include: the right to a safe; dignified and quality service; the right to choose from a range of high quality products and services; the right to be listened to; and the right to be involved in the decision making process of care.

The consultation asks a series of questions whether the respondent agrees with the rights and responsibilities outlined in the document, as well as the outlined vision, mission and strategic priorities.

Healthwatch England launches consultation to help develop its strategy for 2014-16

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has now published the topic overview for nocturnal enuresis as part of the topic engagement exercise. The topic overview describes core elements of the quality standard, including the topics covered, key source guidance used to underpin potential quality statements, any related quality standards, published current practice information and national or routine indicators and performance measures.

The topic overview states that the quality standard will cover the management of nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) in children and young people up to 19 years of age.

The primary development source will be the existing NICE clinical guideline 111 on nocturnal enuresis, published in 2010. NICE has also deemed related quality standards 36 (urinary tract infection in infants, children and young people under 16, published in 2013) and 15 (patient experience in adult NHS services, published in 2012). Furthermore, a future quality standard on child abuse and neglect has also been deemed related (the consultation on the draft scope for this quality standard is due to commence in May 2014).

NICE is interested in receiving views on what the key areas are for quality improvement that stakeholders want to see covered by this quality standard. In particular, NICE has asked for respondents to prioritise up to five areas that have the most potential to improve the quality of care, stating the specific aspects of care or service delivery that should be addressed.

NICE has said it is essential to provide evidence or information that care in the suggested key areas is poor or variable and requires improvement.

Following the close of the topic engagement exercise, the quality standards advisory committee will meet to discuss comments in February 2014. The consultation on the draft quality standard will take place between the 25th April and 27th June 2014, with the quality standard published on the 18th September 2014.

National Children’s Bureau publishes survey results on the assessment of health reforms

The National Children’s Bureau has published the results of a survey conducted in conjunction with the NHS Confederation, which asked child health care professionals for their assessment of the reforms to health services made since April 2013.

The survey found that 66% of respondents believed that acute care was still given priority over prevention, while 89% felt that schools’ potential to support good child health was not yet being fully utilised. The survey also found that 51% of respondents disagreed with the statement that there was a shared agenda for promoting children’s health and wellbeing across national government and its arms-length bodies. Furthermore, 75% believed that the reforms did not remove structural barriers to integrated commissioning of health, social care and other children’s services.

In spite of the concerns, the survey revealed that 63% of recipients were positive about their local health and wellbeing board’s ability to engage the right people to improve services for children.

Following the report, the NCB and the NHS Confederation have called for cross agency working to be supported through greater clarity of responsibilities and facilitation of joined up commissioning and delivery of services.

Care Quality Commission appoints former National Clinical Director for children to plan CQC inspection for child services

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has appointed Dr Sheila Shribman to support its plans for inspecting specialist children’s and young people’s health services. Shribman will lead a small team to design methodology for CQC’s revised inspection programme, which involves planning how the CQC inspects specialist children’s services including stand-alone hospitals, linking this with children’s services at a local level.

Dr Shribman was previously National Clinical Director for children, young people and maternity at the Department of Health until April 2013, when she was replaced by Dr Jacqueline Cornish.

Answer to written question on provisions for disabled children under the Children and Families Bill reforms

Liberal Democrat MP Mike Thornton has received an answer to his written question asking the Education Secretary what arrangements local authorities and their partner commissioning bodies in England are making to ensure adequate education, health and social care provision for disabled children who are not eligible for education, health and care plans once the Children’s and Families Bill becomes law.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson responded that the Children and Families Bill makes provision for local authorities and their partner clinical commissioning groups to make joint commissioning arrangements for the education, health and social care provision to be secured for children and young people with special educational needs, whether or not they have education, health and care plans.

He added that on Wednesday 11th December 2013, the Government tabled amendments to the Children and Families Bill, currently being considered by the House of Lords, to extend the joint commissioning provisions and other key elements of the Bill to include disabled children and young people without special educational needs. This, he said, would help to ensure improvements in the planning, commissioning and reviewing of provision for all children and young people who are disabled or have special educational needs when, subject to Parliament, the Bill becomes law.