Clearly the referendum result is eclipsing everything else at the moment, but there has also been quite a lot of health and wellbeing policy news in the last two weeks, albeit rather less momentous. A lot emerged from the conferences of the NHS Confederation, BMA and Royal College of Nursing but that was mostly motions rather than anything which would necessarily lead to action.There is a great long list of items in date order here. A few of the bigger items were:
- Well, clearly the news story with the biggest impact on health and wellbeing is the referendum decision to leave the EU. It's not clear what the impact will be on health and wellbeing, but I think it's likely to be negative. There certainly won't be an extra £350m a week spent on the NHS (which Nigel Farage and Iain Duncan Smith have now admitted), if anything at all. The sorts of thing starting to emerge so far are: working hours protections are not written into the contracts of some health employees; and the future of the 5% of the NHS workforce from the EU is unclear, although if we stay in the single market there could still be freedom of movement.
- Diane Abbott replaces Heidi Alexander as shadow Health Secretary (27th), though as Jeremy Corbyn is facing rebellion from his shadow cabinet and other MPs, it is not clear how long this will last
- There has been criticism from a number of quarters about the powers to be given to the government in the Children and Social Work Bill (13th). It would allow ministers to suspend parts of the children's acts just using secondary legislation. There is also criticism of the proposal to set up a new body to regulate the social work profession relatively soon after abolishing the old one, and for it being under government control.
- There are tough times ahead, NHS England head Simon Stevens has said, talking to the NHS Confederation (17th). There is likely to be little new money in the years ahead and it will be critical this year to 'reset' the NHS's finances.
- Meanwhile 81% of people say the government should increase the amount of money available to the NHS, in a BMA survey, with less than 20% saying they trusted the government with the management of the health service and 78% saying they were worried about the future of the NHS (20th)