The National Health Service is carrying out planning for a “no deal” Brexit scenario, according to NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, as Civil Servants have warned of shortages of food, fuel and medicine within weeks if the UK leaves the European Union without a customs arrangement in place.

The UK imports 37 million patient packs per year from the EU, and products are developed in large-scale supply chains which span the continent. The duplication time for the manufacture and quality control testing of drugs and resources should the UK leave the EU without a deal has been estimated at over 42 months and would inevitably cause serious delays to patients in need of urgent treatment. Simon Stevens’ openness that the NHS is now preparing for all scenarios will be news to many in the health industry, after he told MPs last October that the NHS had not been asked to prepare any contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this year the Health and Social Care select committee raised concerns about implications for the future of medical research and development should Britain leave the EU without any customs arrangement in place.

Baroness Warnock strikes out at “contradictory” Ofsted

Baroness Warnock, a prominent peer who chaired the 1978 inquiry into the education of handicapped children and young people, which paved the way for statementing, has attacked Ofsted for its lack of focus on the needs of SEND children.

Speaking to the Lamb Inquiry in to children with special needs, Warnock slated the education regulator for failing to acknowledge the roles schools play in supporting SEND children. Warnock told the inquiry that “Schools are described as failing or needing improvement, when actually they are doing very well by those children. So I think Ofsted needs to take a look at itself, to see what is being inspected”. Ofsted, she added, was becoming too obsessed with academic rigour and not with the overall inclusiveness and support offered to pupils.

Warnock’s 1978 report created a vision for schools whereby they would adapt to the requirements of children with special needs, integrating them in to learning. The law was amended in 1981 and included the first duty to include pupils with SEND in mainstream schools. Warnock now claims that the intention of the report has been betrayed, with underfunded local authorities seen as the enemies of parents.

Warnock has called for smaller secondary schools in order to create more personable environments for pupils, as well as improved teacher training to ensure that SEND priorities are at the centre of teachers’ minds. Whilst Baroness Warnock’s comments were received positively by the charity sector, Stephen Kingdom, Campaign Manager at the Disabled Children’s Partnership, said that schools shouldn’t be incentivised to “lower expectations of a pupil because they have special education needs”.

NHS turns 70

There were widespread celebrations yesterday across the country to mark the 70th birthday of the National Health Service. To mark the occasion, NHS England has launched its largest ever marketing campaign, ‘We are the NHS’, to highlight the amazing work the organisation does and recruit more staff. As it stands, there are over 30,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England.

Theresa May announced last month that the NHS would receive an additional £20 billion in funding to coincide with its landmark birthday. Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, has outlined to MPs that the money will be focused on meeting the goals set out in the ‘Five Years Forward’ review. This includes the option of shared budgets combining health and social care, as well as allowing different local health communities to choose from amongst a small number of new radical care delivery options.

To mark the birthday a series of events are taking place in hospitals across the country, and the BBC has a series of programmes going behind the scenes at some of Britain’s biggest NHS institutions.

NHS England stops providing more treatments

NHS England is considering proposals to stop offering or reduce the amount they offer 17 “ineffective or risky” routine treatments. If the proposals go ahead, treatments such as tonsils removal, breast reductions and snoring surgery will only be offered if evidence of need is “compelling” and there are no alternatives, in a plan that is estimated to save the NHS £200m. NHS England said that for most of the treatments under consideration, there are alternative more efficient treatments available and the money can be better spent elsewhere. Patient leaders have warned that this could result in patients being wrongly denied treatment by overzealous staff.

This is part of NHS England’s aim to make cost savings and builds on its decision last year to stop offering prescriptions for infrequent and non-serious ailments, of which laxatives were included. As you’ll remember, the PCF responded to the consultation on the matter highlighting the detrimental impact this would have on children. The guidance that subsequently came out is ambiguous but states that children should not have laxatives unless prescribed by a GP.

The PCF will look to engage with GPs to raise awareness of this and ensure that they continue to prescribe laxatives to children when appropriate.