Here are a few of the 'bigger' (not necessarily more newsworthy) health and wellbeing policy items from the last week. There are more at www.equwell.org.uk.
28 June 2016
The UK is in breach of its international human rights obligations, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has said. It said that austerity measures are having a disproportionate effect on the most disadvantaged citizens, including women, children, people with disabilities and low-income families. It was concerned about the high number of low-paid jobs and said more should be done to reduce homelessness and reliance on food banks. It also noted that the poor are now paying relatively more and the rich relatively less tax.
29 June 2016
A new regulatory body for social workers is to be accountable to the Education Secretary and set up by 2018, according to government plans. The new regulator, replacing the Health and Care Professions Council, is to be an executive agency based in the Department for Education and supported by the DfE and Department of Health. The report says that social work regulation urgently needs reform. Ministers decided not to have an independent regulator but to bring regulation closer to government to 'effect change quickly'. Five social work bodies and unions have urged the Government to drop plans for direct regulation. The two chief social workers are backing direct regulation.
Statement by social work bodies objecting to direct regulation: http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2016/06/29/bill-address-real-problems-affecting-social-work/
The chief social workers support direct regulation: http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2016/06/30/chief-social-workers-closer-link-government-will-benefit-profession/
28 June 2016
Three quarters (74%) of children's services are rated 'inadaequate' or 'requires' improvement' as reported in Ofsted's third Social Care Annual Report. Of the 87 (57%) of authorities inspected so far, 21 (24%) are rated as 'inadequate', 43 (49%) 'requires improvement, 22 (25%) good and 1 (1%) outstanding. Child protection is said to be the greatest challenge. The report says that an 'inadequate' judgement is not related to size, levels of deprivation or funding, rather that the quality of leadership is the single most important factor. Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said there was a problem of poor managers moving round the system. Once in the care system, children are well looked after, with nearly 80% of children's homes now rated good or better. There was a wide variation in caseloads, from 7 to 34 children per social worker.
Press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/strong-leadership-vital-for-childrens-services-improvement
The report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ofsted-social-care-annual-report-2016
28 June 2016
Leaving the EU may make staff shortages in health and social care worse, it is being warned. Existing plans to recruit GPs from Europe will face more hurdles according to those involved and the NHS Confederation says doctors and nurses from Europe may be put off from accepting jobs in this country. Leaders in both health and social care have been reassuring workers from the EU how much they are valued.
(29/06/16) (Rgn) http://www.nursingtimes.net/7005990.article
A useful summary of a range of issues for health from leaving the EU: http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/articles/brexit-and-nhs
30 June 2016
The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England increased by 3% in the year to 2014-15, up from 1.03m to 1.06m, and was nearly double the level of 2004-5, according to figures from the HSCIC. Men accounted for 65% of the admissions and women 35%. The number of prescriptions dispensed for the treatment of alcohol dependence has nearly doubled in ten years. There were 6,830 deaths related to the consumption of alcohol in 2014, up by 4% from 2013 and up by 13% from 2004. The report, 'Statistics on Alcohol - England 2016', brings together statistics from a number of sources, some already published.
29 June 2016 NHS Improvement is proposing a three pronged approach to savings,
set out in a letter to NHS Trusts.
It said it will work with providers which had high pay cost growth out of step with the sector, to see how much of the growth could be eliminated.
It also said plans for merging of back office and pathology services on a regional basis should be produced by the end of July.
Regional managers have also been asked to identify planned care services heavily dependent on locum staff that could be merged or transferred to other providers.
The aim is to reduce a forecast deficit amongst providers this year from £550m to £250m.