Health and Wellbeing Policy News 4th-11th September 2016

Here are a few of the more significant health and wellbeing policy news items from the last week.  A fuller list is available here.

 

05 September 2016
The junior doctors' strike planned for September has been called off,  but those for October, November and December are still scheduled to go ahead.  The BMA called off the strike because of concern that the service might not be able to cope and ensure patient safety with the short period of notice.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37279712
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/05/bma-calls-off-september-junior-doctors-strike-after-scores-of-protests
http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/hot-topics/junior-doctor-contract/bma-suspends-this-months-industrial-action-over-safety-fears/20032732.article
Jeremy Hunt's statement to Parliament: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/update-on-the-junior-doctors-contract

10 September 2016
The NHS is at a tipping point and needs more funding or else something else will have to give, Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers has warned in an Observer article.  Detailing increasingly declining performance he says that this rarely 'goes off the edge of a cliff', but that there is a long slow decline only visible in retrospect, which means it is difficult to know when to sound a warning bell, but that NHS trust bosses are ringing that bell now.  The solution, he says, is either more funding in the autumn spending review or options such as: rationing access to care; relaxing performance targets; shutting services; extending and increasing charges; cutting priorities delivered; or controlling the size of the NHS workforce.
News item: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/10/hospitals-on-brink-of-collapse-say-health-chiefs
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37331350
The article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/10/impossible-for-nhs-to-provide-quality-service-something-has-to-give

08 September 2016
The monthly performance figures from NHS England show many targets continuing to be missed. The number of days of delayed discharge from hospital were a quarter higher in July than the previous year, at 185,000, according to figures from NHS England.  Other targets missed included referral to treatment within 18 weeks (91.3% against a 92% target), A&E, ambulance response times, diagnostic tests and rapid first treatment of psychosis.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/08/nhs-perpetual-winter-waiting-list-record-bed-blocking
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37307853
https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/2016/09/08/combined-performance-summary-july-2016/

08 September 2016
Demand in the NHS has reached record levels with 5.8m patients attending A&E in April-June, the largest number in a single quarter, according to the King's Fund's quarterly monitoring report.  Just over 1m of those attending A&E were then admitted to hospital.  The report also found that hospitals had 90% bed occupancy, when the level considered safe is 85%.  Delayed discharges were also at their highest levels since records began.  Nearly a quarter of CCGs (out of a sample of 44) and 47% of NHS trusts were forecasting end of year deficits.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/08/demand-for-nhs-care-is-dangerously-high-says-thinktank
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3778845/Hospitals-cusp-fully-overwhelmed-health-experts-warn.html
http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/commissioning/commissioning-topics/ccgs/twice-as-many-ccgs-predicting-end-of-year-deficits-as-last-year/20032753.article
http://qmr.kingsfund.org.uk/2016/20/

05 September 2016
The GMC says the junior doctors should call off their strike and warns that it would 'take action' if a doctor's actions led to patient harm.  That could lead to doctors being struck off.  It says that if patients are at risk because of inadequate medical cover they would expect doctors to return to work if asked to, in good faith, by employers.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37272676
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/05/junior-doctors-could-be-struck-off-over-industrial-action-warns-gmc
http://www.gmc-uk.org/news/28659.asp

06 September 2016
A strategy to 'solve poverty' has been published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, based on four years of research and evidence reviews. It sets out a five point plan to ensure that by 2030: no-one is ever destitute; less than a tenth of the population are in poverty at any one time; and nobody is in poverty for more than two years.  The five areas for action are: (1) boost incomes and reduce costs; (2) deliver an effective benefits system; (3) improve education standards and raise skills; (4) strengthen families and communities; and (5) promote long-term economic growth benefitting everyone.  The programme would cost £14bn - £15bn a year which could be met by taxing some universal benefits, cutting tax allowances and increasing the national insurance upper earnings limit.  They say that poverty currently costs the UK £78bn a year, made up of £69bn on public services to deal with the problems it creates and £9bn in lost taxes and increased benefits.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/06/raise-taxes-by-15bn-a-year-to-end-uk-poverty-joseph-rowntree-foundation
Feature article and comment: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/06/eradicate-poverty-britain-choose-practical-solution
Press release: https://www.jrf.org.uk/press/jrf-sets-out-new-long-term-deal-solve-poverty
The report: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/we-can-solve-poverty-uk

07 September 2016
A single NHS website where people can book appointments, order prescriptions and get advice is to be available by the end of next year, the Government has said.  The new site, NHS.uk, an update of NHS Choices, will also allow people to register with a GP, download their medical records and compare how well their local health service compares with other areas.  It will also offer an online triage system with patients able to input symptoms online and receive tailored advice or a call-back from a healthcare professional.  Data from approved apps will feed directly into personal health records.  A review of IT in the NHS has also been published, led by Prof Robert Wachter.  Jeremy Hunt has said 12 NHS trusts are to be made exemplars with others able to learn from their experience.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/07/nhs-one-website-appointments-prescriptions-advice
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37290126
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3777064/Patients-using-111-diagnose-iPhone.html
(Rgn) https://www.nursingtimes.net/7010388.article
http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/your-practice/practice-topics/it/hunt-patients-to-register-with-gps-and-receive-health-advice-through-app/20032746.article
Press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plans-to-expand-the-use-of-digital-technology-across-the-nhs
The Wachter report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/using-information-technology-to-improve-the-nhs
https://www.england.nhs.uk/2016/09/digital-revolution/

06 September 2016
Prosecutions for violence against women and girls reached record levels last year, with a rise of 10% to 117,568 in 2015-16, according to the annual report from the Crown Prosecution Service.  This was thought to be partly fuelled by an increase in online abuse such as revenge porn.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/05/violent-crimes-against-women-in-england-and-wales-reach-record-high

08 September 2016
The number of young people with suicidal thoughts calling Childline has doubled in five years, from 8,800 to 19,500 according to the annual report of the NSPCC.  Six times more girls than boys reported feeling suicidal.  The report said it was concerned that a lack of support was leading children to crisis point.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37296326
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3778868/Girls-six-times-likely-feel-suicidal-20-000-teenagers-contacted-Childline-12-months-saying-thought-taking-life.html

05 September 2016
Two thirds (67%) of women's refuges may be forced to close because of benefit cuts, as housing benefit in the social sector is brought down to the same level as for private landlords, according to a survey by Women's Aid of its affiliated refuges.  The effects would vary depending how much the refuge relies on housing benefit for income, but in one case it would reduce income from about £300 to £60 a week.  The changes have been deferred until 2018 to allow for a review of the effect on such institutions, but the uncertainty makes long term planning difficult.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/05/womens-refuges-housing-benefit-cap-domestic-violence

09 September 2016
The national diet and nutrition survey has been published showing that children's sugar intake is double the recommended level, while for teenagers it is three times as much.  The recommended amount is 5% of children's daily calorie intake, but the actual figures were 13% for 4-10 year olds and 15% for 11-18 year olds.  The survey covers a random sample of 1,288 adults and 1,258 children between 2012-14.  There had been a reduction in the volume of sugary drinks consumed by 4-10 year olds.  Only 8% of 11-18 year olds ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37318193
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/09/sugar-warnings-not-reduced-consumption-public-health-england
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3781470/Children-guzzling-nearly-THREE-times-daily-sugar-limit-despite-warnings-fizzy-drinks.html
Press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/young-children-still-exceeding-sugar-recommendation
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey

09 September 2016
The DfE appears to have been trying to silence Natasha Devon as the government's schools' mental health champion, despite claiming to be wanting to work with her, according to internal DfE emails that she has obtained.  Ms Devon has now compiled a report on children and young people's mental health which says the government's response to the problem is inadequate as well as raising concerns about underfunding of services and the impact of austerity.
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/09/dfe-emails-reveal-officials-wanted-silence-mental-health-tsar-natasha-devon

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