Here are a few of the more significant health and wellbeing policy news items from the last week. A fuller list is available here.
28 July 2016
More details of the new voluntary GP contracts have been revealed in NHS England board papers. The contracts were announced by David Cameron last year (4th October 2015) in connection with seven day working, but that is not mentioned in these papers. The contracts will be for 10-15 years and will allow GPs to keep existing GMS contracts alongside the new ones or to become fully integrated in new 'multispeciality community providers', which will also provide secondary services. The contracts will include a gain/risk share agreement meaning that some funding could depend on reducing acute admissions.
28 July 2016
Deaths from the misuse of drugs were at their highest level in 2014 since records began in 1993, at 2,250, an increase of 15% since 2013 and 44% since 2004, according to a report from HSCIC, 'Statistics on Drug Misuse, England 2016'. The number of hospital admissions where 'poisoning by illicit drugs' was the main diagnosis rose by 57% between 2004-05 and 2014-15, to 14,279. However, the number of people aged 16-59 who reported taking an illicit drug has been falling slightly, from 10.5% in 2005-06, to 8.6% in 2014-15 and 8.4% the following year.
21 July 2016
Twenty six CCGs have been rated 'inadequate', with nine placed into special measures by NHS England. Of the others, 91 scored 'requires improvement', 82 were 'good' and 10 were 'outstanding'.
27 July 2016
Spending on premium rate overtime for hospital consultants increased from £125m in 2013-14 to £168m last year according to information obtained by the BBC from 140 foi responses out of 186 trusts and health boards approached. Rates are determined locally, and while many consultants work extra for nothing or at standard pay rates, others receive double or triple pay. The highest amount received was £375k in the year on top of the consultant's salary. The research suggests that up to half of consultants may have received higher overtime payments. It was suggested that rising demand and a shortage of consultants was causing the increased use of overtime payments.
24 July 2016
Dr Kate Granger has died. Dr Granger, a consultant geriatrician, was diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2011 at the age of 29. On the basis of her experience as a patient, and the importance of the doctor's personal approach, she started the hellomynameis campaign, to encourage doctors to introduce themselves, which has spread widely. With her husband, she has raised £250,000 for cancer. The Kate Granger Compassionate Care Awards were started in her name and will be presented for the third time this September.
(25/07/16) (Rgn) http://www.nursingtimes.net/7009502.article
25 July 2016
Only 20% of patients with suspected inflammatory arthritis are seen within the target three days, according to an audit of 5,000 patients in England and Wales by the British Society for Rheumatology. About one million people suffer from inflammatory arthritis in the U.K. Fewer than half of patients saw a specialist within NICE's target of three weeks.
26 July 2016
Unaccompanied migrant children are being failed by the UK and other European countries, in their responsibility to look after them, according to a report from a House of Lords committee. This has led to thousands of them living in squalid conditions and being preyed on by traffickers and people smugglers, it says. In 2015, 3,045 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the U.K. At least 137 children have drowned in the Mediterranean since the start of the year. The Home Office said that 20 children had been accepted for transfer to the U.K. since an Act committing to this received Royal Assent (the Immigration Act received Royal Assent on 12th May).
(27/07/16) Alf Dubs' dismay at the delay: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/27/peer-condemns-shocking-delays-over-help-for-unaccompanied-child-refugees
27 July 2016
An hour's brisk exercise a day could offset the effect of being sedentary on premature mortality, according to research re-analysing the data from 16 previous studies covering more than a million people, published in the Lancet. People who sat for eight hours a day but were physically active had a lower risk of early death than those sitting for fewer hours but being inactive. Watching t.v. was found to be more harmful than sitting at a desk, possibly because of other habits associated with it such as snacking. Inactivity is said to be responsible for 90,000 deaths a year, one in six, and to cost the UK economy £1.7bn a year.
(28/07/16) (Rgn) http://www.nursingtimes.net/7009607.article
29 July 2016
The Scottish Government is starting a 13 week consultation on a new social security system. Scotland will be responsible for about £2.7bn of benefits spending or 15% of the Scottish benefits bill, with the rest still under the control of the UK government, under the terms of the Scotland Act. The Scottish Government has already made a number of commitments to increasing particular benefits. They are also considering whether to change the language from one of 'welfare' and 'benefits' to 'social security' and 'payments' to reflect the fact that it is 'an investment we make collectively in ourselves' rather than a payment from some people to others.