PCF Chair Penny Dobson has been published in the Nursing Times (detailed below) in which she raises awareness of the children and young people with continence difficulties and the work the PCF does to address it.

This week, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the Government’s flagship piece of Brexit legislation, returned to the House of Commons from the House of Lords. In a relative success for the Government, the Commons rejected 14 of the 15 amendments that peers added to the Bill.

Theresa May will be relieved that the Commons rejected an amendment that would give MPs a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal; however, to achieve this, the Prime Minister is reported to have promised backbench MPs plans that would give Parliament more power to block a no-deal Brexit. To assure the support of some 17 pro-remain Conservative MPs to reject the amendment after hours of negotiation, May, agreed to submit her own Government amendment to ensure that MPs are given greater powers to prevent a no-deal Brexit. In the end, all Conservative MPs with the exception of Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry voted with the Government.

PCF Chair published in Nursing Times

The Chair of the PCF, Dr Penny Dobson MBE, has written an article for the Nursing Times highlighting the plight of the 900,000 children and young people experiencing continence difficulties in the UK, and the work of the PCF in addressing it. The article outlines the findings from the PCF’ FOI audit carried out in 2017 compared with previous years, showing that only 41 percent of CCGs and health boards provided comprehensive and integrated community-based paediatric continence treatment services, and only 15 percent of local authorities provided a continence service following the transfer of school nurses and health visitors to local authority control.

Penny highlights that an unintended consequence of this poor provision is more children going to A&E and being admitted to hospital for advanced constipation and urinary tract infections, undermining the Government’s pledge to bring more healthcare into the community, which is cheaper for the NHS and less disruptive for the patient.

The article highlights the NICE-accredited Paediatric Continence Commissioning Guide which was published by the PCF in 2015 and is being updated this year, which provides advice for setting up “community-based, integrated and cost-efficient paediatric continence services.” It notes that it is encouraging that 64 percent of CCGs have heard of the Guide and 50 percent are using it. The article also brings the reader’s attention to NHS England’s Excellence in Continence Care guide, an updated version of which is due to be published soon.

This is an articulate and informative piece by Penny and is very positive and wide-reaching coverage promoting the PCF and its asks. Many health providers read the Nursing Times regularly and so will. The article includes contact details for anyone wanting more information; we will keep members updated with any interest expressed. Now that this has been published, we can also seek to published the results of the FOI audit on the PCF website and will continue to campaign to have them published on Public Health England’s Fingertips tool.

Welsh Government launches action plan for health and social care

The Welsh Government has published its action plan for “A Healthier Wales: health and social care” in which it outlines how the Welsh Government intends to promote healthy living and provide for those who need health and social care. It aims to support people to “stay well, not just treat them when they become ill;” improve the technology used in healthcare to improve the patient and staff experience; provide support to patients’ loved ones as part of a “person-centred” approach; and deliver more care in the community, supporting the NHS’s aims more broadly to take pressure of hospitals, save money and be less disruptive to the patient.

The plan outlines five main objectives: integrating health and social care services; shift services out of hospitals and into communities; improve how it measures “what really matters” such as early detection; making health and social care in Wales a “great place to work;” and encourage collaborative working. This will be funded in part by the UK government and the Welsh Government will consult on how to generate the extra revenue required. It outlines children and young people as a key demographic to improve provisions for.

This action plan is consistent with the policy aims of the NHS broadly. The PCF will engage with key stakeholders in the Welsh Assembly to highlight the extent to which continence services in the community save the NHS money and young people the distress of experiencing continence issues unsupported.

May poised to boost NHS budget by billions

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce that she will increase NHS funding by between three and four percent, the equivalent of £20bn over four years, as part of plans to implement a long-term NHS funding plan and to coincide with the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations. This comes after eight years of a one percent annual funding increase limit, the longest period of constrained funding growth in its history. In that time conditions in the NHS have been deteriorating as increases in demand have been outpacing increases in funding.

Those working in the health space have mounted intense pressure on the Government to increase funding by four percent to keep the NHS going, including NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens, health think tanks the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust, and the Health Foundation, economics bodies such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Office for Budgetary Responsibility, and even Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt and other Cabinet members.

This is a bold move by the Prime Minister considering the pressure mounting for increased funding from other departments while HM Treasury is trying to keep costs down in the wider context of a low value for the pound. The funding is expected to come from a combination of increased un-hypothecated tax, increased government borrowing and a “Brexit dividend,” going some way to meeting Vote Leave’s campaign pledge to increase NHS funding by £350 million a week with the money no longer being sent to the EU and NHS calls for a four percent increase against HM Treasury’s reluctance to increase funding above 2.5 percent.

This comes after polling by the NHS Confederation found that 77 percent of people support a four percent increase in health spending over the next 15 years, and 82 percent supported a 3.9 percent increase in social care funding. This would increase the NHS budget from its current £128bn to £234bn by 2033.