Bevan Brittan provides high quality, comprehensive advice to the NHS and independent healthcare sector. This update contains brief details of recent Government publications, legislation, cases and other developments relevant to those involved in health and social care work, both in the NHS and independent sector which have been published in the last month.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it directly, please email Claire Bentley.



Care Act first-phase reforms and local government new burdens. Reports on the HC Public Accounts Committee's inquiry into the costs of the Care Act reforms and the demands they place on local authorities, and how the Government is assessing new requirements which increase local government spending. The Committee believes that carers and the people they care for may not get the services they need because of continuing reductions to local authority budgets and demand for care being so uncertain. It is concerned that the New Burdens Doctrine does not guarantee funding for significant new costs. The Committee’s recommendations to Government include measures to ensure effective implementation of the Act and, more broadly, to ensure councils have sufficient resources to meet their statutory duties.

Transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care home settings for adults with social care needs. This NICE guideline covers the transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care homes for adults with social care needs. It aims to improve people's experience of admission to, and discharge from, hospital by better coordination of health and social care services.

New care models: support for the vanguards. This revised package has been updated to reflect the needs of the Urgent & Emergency Care (UEC) and Acute Care Collaboration (ACC) vanguards and includes the learning to date from the first 29 vanguards. It is the result of extensive engagement with the vanguards including site visits, workshops and discussions. Based on the feedback, the number of areas of support has been extended from eight to 10 and now includes 'new operating models' and 'governance, accountability and provider regulation'.

If you wish to discuss any queries you may have around care please contact Stuart Marchant.

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Clinical Risk/Health and Safety

Bevan Brittan Training - If you are a client and would like to know about our free lunch time training sessions just ask Claire Bentley. You can attend in our London, Bristol or Birmingham office.

A review into the quality of NHS complaints investigations where serious or avoidable harm has been alleged. NHS trusts are often not identifying failings, or if they are, not finding out why the failings happened in the first place, according to report published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The findings of the report cast a question mark over the current ability of NHS organisations to conduct effective investigations where it is alleged that someone may have been harmed, or died, avoidably.

MBRRACE-UK 2015 perinatal confidential enquiry: term, singleton, normally-formed, antepartum stillbirth. This report reveals key steps for hospitals to improve care for pregnant mums and babies. It follows an investigation by a team of experts into 133 cases of stillbirth in 2013 - and found that national guidance was not followed by hospitals in the majority of cases and identified ‘missed opportunities’ which could have potentially saved babies lives.

“Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care - Surveillance of maternal deaths in the UK 2011-13 and lessons learned to inform maternity care from the UK and Ireland Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity 2009-13” The most recent MBRRACE-UK confidential enquiry report into maternal deaths was launched on the 8th December 2015. The report presents the findings of maternal mortality surveillance 2011 to 2013 in the UK and the lessons learned from the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths of women with mental health-related problems, substance misuse, cancer and blood clots and women who died by homicide.

How safe are NHS patients in private hospitals? Learning from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This report uses findings from the CQC's new inspection regime for private hospitals suggests that there continue to be risks to patient safety associated with the distinctive nature of private hospitals in England, compared with the NHS. It analyses the data reported for the first 15 private hospitals inspected under the CQC’s new inspections regime.

Preventing avoidable harm in maternity care: Department of Health capital fund 2015-16 - Information and criteria. Department of Health guidance sets out how NHS and foundation trusts can apply for funding for equipment to prevent avoidable harm in maternity care.

Maternity services survey 2015. The findings from the CQC national survey of more than 20,000 women suggest that the majority who gave birth in February this year had a better experience overall compared to the results from previous years, across the 133 NHS trusts in England. Access to midwives, choice of where to give birth, and the quality of information are particular areas where the NHS appears to have improved. The findings highlight women’s responses to questions across themes such as access to care, personal choices, type of birth and emotional wellbeing.

Practice guidelines for independent health complaints advocacy services. This guideline aims to provide a practical tool for local providers and commissioners to use in order to agree local service specifications, which are based on desired outcomes for the people who use the service.

Women in clinical commissioning leadership: a case for change This report looks at why there is a lack of gender diversity in health leadership, the efforts currently being made to improve this, and actions that need to be taken to increase female leadership in the clinical commissioning arena.

Jimmy Savile NHS investigations: update on the themes and lessons learnt from NHS investigations into matters relating to Jimmy Savile. In February 2015, the government accepted in principle 13 of the 14 recommendations in Kate Lampard’s lessons learnt report following the investigations into the activities of Jimmy Savile relating to the NHS. This report provides a summary of actions taken in response to the 13 recommendations for the NHS, DH and wider government.

NHS visitor and migrant cost recovery programme. Seeks views on proposed changes to further extend charging for overseas visitors and migrants who use the NHS.

University research report urges 21 NHS trusts to investigate baby death rates In the first time that potential issues in childbirth have been highlighted at individual trust level, an inquiry led by the University of Leicester has urged 21 of the 162 NHS trusts and health boards in the UK to investigate why they have more than 10% higher stillbirth and newborn baby death rates than their peers.

If you wish to discuss any clinical risk or health and safety issues please contact Joanna Lloyd or Stuart Marchant.

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Developing an ambulance commissioning strategy for the future. This discussion paper from NHS Clinical Commissioners’ National Ambulance Commissioners Network (NACN) sets out how ambulance services work within the current system, what the NACN believes the future could look like, and the challenges that need to be overcome for this to happen.

Women in clinical commissioning leadership: a case for change This report looks at why there is a lack of gender diversity in health leadership, the efforts currently being made to improve this, and actions that need to be taken to increase female leadership in the clinical commissioning arena.

Appointment of the Chair of the Care Quality Commission This report details a pre-appointment hearing to consider the preferred candidate for the Chair of the Care Quality Commission. Following the hearing, the committee endorsed Peter Wyman but highlighted his lack of clinical experience and made recommendations to rectify this.

Revised EU public procurement thresholds summary. The revised EU public procurement thresholds which will apply from 1 January 2016 have now been published. This Bevan Brittan summary sets out the key thresholds for public sector purchasers. You are welcome to print it out and keep it for reference.

NHS car-parking management: environment and sustainability (HTM 07-03). This Health Technical Memorandum, which helps NHS organisations identify best practice in car-park management and sustainable transport, has been updated to reflect changes to the NHS patient, visitor and staff car parking principles. The principles now include carers as an additional explicit group that are eligible for the provision of concessions.

Ethical standards for providers of public services - guidance. The Commission for Standards in Public Life has issued practical guidance for both providers of public services (whether outsourced or in-house) on building and embedding high ethical standards in an organisation, and commissioners on setting ethical expectations for the delivery of public services. The guide follows up on the Committee’s 2014 report which established the importance of common standards for all those delivering public services. The guidance includes good practice examples of mechanisms used by providers and commissioners to build high ethical standards.

Proposed reforms to top-up payments for specialised services. Monitor is considering changing the mechanism for reimbursing planned specialised care, so that it achieves better value for patients and the NHS. This document explains the reasons why it has reviewed the policy on specialised top-ups and gives options for how it may implement them. Monitor and NHS England will make a final proposal on top-ups for specialised services in the statutory consultation notice on the 2016/17 National Tariff.

Procurement Policy Note 17/15 – Standard EU forms and notices for public procurement. Announces that the new standard forms and notices for procurements under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 have been published in the Official Journal of the EU. Contracting authorities should use the new standard forms and notices for procurements under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. They should stop using the current forms and notices as soon as the new ones become available on Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) eNotices or via TED e-Senders system. Note that the commencement date of 3 December in the PPN is incorrect - the Commission Implementing Regulation 2015/1986 actually comes into force on 2 December 2015.
See our Procurement Alert: New standard form OJEU notices published.

Improving the quality of orthotics services in England. This guidance issues a call for local commissioners to improve how vital ortheses are provided, alongside a suite of guidance and resources to help them do so. It finds that there are variations in the quality of services and waiting times to access them across the country and aims to help local CCGs address this variation. It has been produced in cooperation with local commissioners, providers and patient groups, and draws on the findings of a recent review of services by NHS Quality Observatory triggered by concerns raised by Healthwatch England.

Bevan Brittan Articles
Shining a light on service providers and commissioners – new guidance from the Committee on Standards in Public Life As sector distinctions between public and private spheres become ever more blurred, the Committee on Standards in Public Life has this month published useful new high level ethical guidance, which applies equally to public and private sector providers.  The role of commissioners of public services and the importance of examining the whole supply chain is also highlighted.

If you wish to discuss the issue of commissioning please contact David Owens. 

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Publications and Guidance
The socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of United Kingdom junior doctors in training across specialities This study finds that junior doctors who opt to become surgeons in the NHS are more likely to be male, white and from a better-off background. It also found that in general, junior doctors from better-off socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to go into general practice than other specialties. The research also confirmed a persistent gender gap - more surgeons are male and more GPs are female.

NHS women in leadership: Plan for action. This report by Dr Penny Newman explores the under-representation of women in the NHS and the benefits that gender equality could bring, including increased productivity, improved performance and meeting patients’ needs. Including interviews with 12 senior NHS leaders, the report’s central theme is the learning that can be gained from other systems. It presents the United Nations System Wide Action Plan (UN-SWAP) as a framework that could help redress the gender imbalance.

Rules for all agency staff working in the NHS. This collection of guidance and resources aims to provide support on the new cap on the amount of money that trusts can pay per hour for agency staff within the NHS which was implemented with effect from 23 November 2015.  

Supplying the demand for nurses: the need to end the rationing of nurse training places. This paper proposes reforming the present financing of nurse education, under which tuition fees and living bursaries are paid up front, and replacing it with a system whereby nursing undergraduates would take out student loans as with any other course. The NHS would then pay back the loan for nursing graduates if they work for the organisation after qualification. The paper argues that this reform would remove the need for a limit on nurse numbers. Nurses who work in the private sector are likely to similarly have their student debt repaid as companies compete with the NHS to recruit nurses.

The state of medical education and practice in the UK report: 2015. This report sets out what is happening in the education and practice of doctors, and considers some of the current challenges facing the profession and the systems in which it works. An online resource containing the GMC’s registration, education and fitness to practise data is published alongside the report.

Making the difference: diversity and inclusion in the NHS. This report uses data from the NHS Staff Survey to assess the scale of the problem before drawing on wider work on climates of inclusion to suggest comprehensive strategies to bring about lasting and pervasive change. It showed that discrimination within the NHS was experienced between managers and staff, between colleagues, but also from patients and members of the public.

Cap imposed on pay for agency workers in the NHS. From 23 November 2015, a cap will apply to the amount of money NHS Trusts can pay per hour for agency staff working for the NHS. New nursing agency rules will also set ceilings on the amount individual NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts can spend on nursing agency staff. The new rules have been implemented by the regulator Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA), and will apply to all NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts.

Freedom to speak up: whistleblowing policy for the NHS - Draft for consultation A joint Monitor, Trust Development Authority and NHS England consultation seeks views on a proposed single national whistleblowing policy. The policy sets out: who can raise a concern; the process for raising a concern; how the concern will be investigated; and what will be done with the findings of the investigation. Comments by 8 January 2016.

Bevan Brittan Articles
Employment law: a look ahead What are the key employment law developments on the cards for 2016 and beyond? Sarah Maddock reports.

Employment news round-up December 2015 The last employment law news in brief of the year is reported by John Moore and covers: sickness absence and disability discrimination – a decision from the Court of Appeal; new guidance on avoiding personal data slip-ups, guidance on recruitment and retention of transgender staff, disability discrimination guidance and the latest news on junior doctors' industrial action.

TUPE & tasks of short-term duration The Employment Appeal Tribunal has provided guidance on whether post-transfer events can be taken into account when deciding whether to apply the exemption from the TUPE Regulations for tasks of "short-term duration". Anne Palmer reports on this development and its practical implications.

Bevan Brittan Events
Employment Seminar --London. 13 January 2016 : 10:00 - 13:00 (registration opens at 09:30, event will be followed by lunch). Location: Location: Bevan Brittan LLP, Fleet Place House, 2 Fleet Place, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC4M 7RF. Our popular annual review of the 'hot topics' of the year returns this December for a tour of 2015's essential employment law developments, and a preview of what is on the horizon for 2016. By the end of this session, you will be up to speed on the latest employment law changes and what they mean for your organisation. 

Breakfast Seminar - Junior doctors banding claims 19 January 2016 : 08:30 - 09:30 (registration opens at 08:00)Location: Bevan Brittan LLP, Fleet Place House, 2 Fleet Place, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC4M 7RF. At this breakfast briefing, which we are presenting in association with Allocate Software, we will look at  appeals and claims arising from non-compliant rotas, how they arise and what one can do to minimise that risk.  We will also cover; what one should do when facing a claim, as well as, what  to do when defending one. We'll look at the guidance about banding appeals and when one can refuse to hold an appeal. Finally, we will cover best practice for interpreting and presenting raw data in order to maximise one's chances of defending an appeal.

Annual Employment Leeds. 20 January 2016 : 10:00 - 13:00 (registration from 09:30, event followed by lunch). Location: Doubletree Hilton, Granary Wharf, 2 Wharf Approach, Leeds, LS1 4BR, United Kingdom. Our popular annual review of the 'hot topics' of the year returns for a tour of 2015's essential employment law developments, and a preview of what is on the horizon for 2016. By the end of this session, you will be up to speed on the latest employment law changes and what they mean for your organisation.

Practical Introduction to Immigration Law for Employers Seminar 28 January 2016 : 10:00 - 13:00 (registration from 09:30; event followed by lunch) Location: Bevan Brittan LLP, Interchange Place, Edmund Street, Birmingham , B3 2TA. All organisations regardless of size need to be prepared for managing their workforce within the ever tightening parameters of immigration control and requirements.  This session aims to provide organisations with practical guidance in recruiting and managing the employment relationship with non UK workers.   The session will be delivered by specialist immigration and employment lawyers and will focus on a number of topics that are of great importance to those working with an international workforce.

7 Day Services Employment Forum. 02 February 2016 : 18:00 - 19:30 ( registration opens at 17:30, event followed by drinks & canapes reception). Location: Location: Bevan Brittan LLP, Fleet Place House, 2 Fleet Place, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC4M 7RF.

If you wish to discuss any employment issues please contact Julian Hoskins or James Gutteridge  

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Publications and Guidance
Department of Health's settlement at the Spending Review 2015. The Government has published details of DH's budget over the course of this Parliament. The press release also summarises announcements in the Chancellor's Spending Review and Autumn Statement relating to health and social services.

Debt and health: a briefing. This briefing focuses on the relationship between debt and health including the health related consequences of debt, the impact it can have on individual mental health and recommendations for implication prevention.

Filling the gap: Tax and fiscal options for a sustainable UK health and social care system. In this report, economists at the Health Foundation and the Institute for Public Policy Research have worked together to explore: how spending pressures on health and social care might increase; the scope for public funding to match these pressures within current fiscal policy to quantify whether there is a potential funding gap for health and social care; the potential revenue that might be raised by different taxes to fill a health and social care funding gap; and the distributional impact of the different tax options and how they compare to the profile of the ‘beneficiaries’ of additional health and social care spending.  

Unprecedented investment in the NHS. Gives details of additional £10bn p.a. funding for the NHS announced in the Chancellor's Spending Review and Autumn Statement. It states that the additional investment will deliver a truly 7-day health service, with the services people need being offered in hospitals at the weekend and people able to access a GP at evenings and weekends. The DH will receive £4.8bn in capital funding in every year of the Spending Review, improving services so they are delivered nearer to patients’ homes, while the continued rollout of the 50 vanguards sites will enhance services in local areas bringing home care, mental health, community nursing, GP and hospital services together.
The DH has also published details of its budget over the next four years.

National Audit Office Sustainability and financial performance of acute hospital trusts According to this report, the financial performance of acute hospital trusts has significantly declined in the last year and their financial position looks set to worsen in 2015-16. It found that the deterioration in the financial position of NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts has been severe and worse than expected, with their £843 million deficit in 2014-15 representing a sharp decline from the £91 million deficit reported in 2013-14. Overall, the financial position of NHS bodies worsened in 2014-15, as NHS commissioners, NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts together moved from a surplus of £722 million in 2013-14, to a deficit of £471 million. 

The A&E winter crisis: lessons from last year. New analysis by the Nuffield Trust of pressures on the NHS last winter has found that just 3.6 per cent of patients took up over a third of all bed capacity in acute hospitals in England last year. The authors say that this new figure for bed occupancy helps to explain why the Health Service still suffered a winter ‘crisis’ last year, despite receiving record extra funding from NHS England of almost £700m specifically to deal with pressures caused by winter. They argue that the position will be even worse in the coming months as no extra funding for winter is being allocated this year. The research shows the breadth of measures adopted by Trusts last winter to try to deal with additional demand, and the amount spent on each from the £652 million 'pot'. 

£300m boost for the Welsh NHS in Budget. Announces funding for the Welsh NHS set out in the Welsh Government's 'Fairer, Better Wales – Investing for the future' Draft Budget which aims to protect the public services that matter most to the people of Wales. It states that this investment means spending per head on health in Wales is on track to remain higher than in England for 2016-17. This will be boosted by an additional £21m for social services, through the local government Revenue Support Grant. 

If you wish to discuss any issues raised in this section please contact Claire Bentley.  

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Information Sharing

How to disclose information safely: Removing personal data from information requests and datasets. Following a number of high profile data breaches by public authorities inadvertently disclosing sensitive personal data in response to FoI Requests, the ICO has issued a technical guidance note setting out helpful tips to avoid accidental disclosure. This publication provides guidance to organisations responding to subject access request and public organisations responding to Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations, to ensure data subjects cannot be identified from the disclosed information. Examples are provided on previous disclosures that have failed to satisfactorily protect such data, as well as an overview of the statutory requirements for removing personal data.

GMC reviews of its confidentiality guidance for doctors. A review of the General Medical Council’s confidentiality guidance for doctors aims to ensure it is clear, helpful, relevant to doctors’ needs and compatible with UK law. The GMC will also review explanatory statements which give more detailed advice on how to apply the principles in the confidentiality guidance to certain situations a doctor may face. The GMC is seeking comments on the reviews from individuals and organisations through a consultation which runs until 10 February 2016.

The ICO have issued a clarification of fees for Subject Access Requests in the health sector. All organisations that process personal data have a duty to comply with subject access requests and provide people with information that is held about them. Charges for patients’ health records differ from other types of records and the ICO has recently noticed some confusion around health records’ fees and what they cover. For health records there are two levels of fees. When records are held electronically a maximum of £10 can be charged but when health records are not held electronically, for instance some are paper records, an individual can be charged up to £50. There are some exemptions for charging and if you are in any doubt you can find more information, including the fee regime for health records in response to a subject access request on the ICO website.

If you wish to discuss any of the items raised in the above section please contact Jane Bennett.

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Mental Health

Bevan Brittan Training - If you are a client and would like to know about our free lunch time training sessions just ask Claire Bentley. You can attend in our London, Bristol or Birmingham office.

Psychological Therapies, Annual Report on the use of IAPT services - England, 2014-15. Data on recovery rates for patients with mental health disorders has been published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, highlighting markedly different outcomes across the country. The report looks at referrals and outcomes from psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, couples’ therapy and other treatments. It covers 1,267,193 referrals made in 2014/15. The percentage of patients recorded as having recovered from a mental health disorder after completing a course of treatment under the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) programme ranged from 18.8% to 69.4% across CCGs in England.

Safeguarding Policy. An Office of the Public Guardian's document sets out its policy on protecting adults at risk of abuse or neglect.

Deprivation of liberty safeguards 2014/2015. The CQC have published their sixth annual monitoring report on how hospitals and care homes in England are using the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. The  Monitoring the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards report shows the need for greater efforts to protect vulnerable adults. The key findings are:
 There has been a tenfold rise in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards applications in 2014/15;
 Providers’ use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards is variable;
 Improvement is needed across the health and social care sector.

Dementia in the family: the impact on carers This report highlights the the realities of daily life for carers who are looking after their loved ones and reveal how dementia changes family relationships, leaving people feeling socially isolated, and affects both the health and finances of family carers. The findings underline the importance of research to provide new treatments capable of reducing care needs for people with the condition.

Mazars – independent review – Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust NHS England has published an independent report into the deaths of people with a learning disability or mental health problem at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, and highlighted a system-wide response.

Department of Health Guidance: Response to the Supreme Court judgment / Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. Updated guidance as a result of the Supreme Court judgment of 19 March 2014 in P v Cheshire West and Chester Council that clarified an "acid test" for what constitutes a "deprivation of liberty", and subsequent judgments which have significant implications for the use of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). It includes examples of actions taken by local partners in responding to increased numbers of DoLS applications.

Department of Health response to the Law Commission's consultation on mental capacity and deprivation of liberty. Sets out the Government's response to the Law Commission’s consultation on how the law should regulate deprivations of liberty (DoLS) for people who lack capacity to consent to their care and treatment arrangements. The consultation proposes that DoLS should be replaced by a new system called ‘protective care’; it also proposes that there should be a new code of practice. The Law Commission will publish its final recommendations by the end of 2016.

Hundreds of schools to benefit from £3 million investment in mental health in schools. NHS England and DfE have announced a multi-million pound joint mental health pilot scheme for hundreds of schools. The Mental Health Services and Schools Link Pilots will test a named single point of contact in 255 schools and in 22 pilot areas, meaning more joined up working between schools and health services.

PM announces funding for UK’s first Dementia Research Institute. The UK’s first Dementia Research Institute is set to receive up to £150m to deliver a step change in research and development to tackle the disease. Led by the Medical Research Council, the institute will have a central UK hub, with links to universities across the country and will build on the centres of excellence in dementia already operating across the UK. The Medical Research Council will open a competitive process in the new year asking universities to come forward to host the institute itself and will lead the search for a director to head it.

Court of Protection to begin pilot scheme for greater access. The Court of Protection, which makes decisions on issues affecting vulnerable people and those lacking mental capacity, is to trial a new 'open-door' policy for the public and the media. The new pilot scheme will start in January and give journalists and the public greater access to court hearings.

If you wish to discuss any of the items raised in the above section please contact Simon Lindsay or Stuart Marchant 

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Primary Care


Stocktake of access to general practice in England. This report from the NAO finds that people’s experience of accessing general practice remains positive, with almost 9 in 10 patients reporting in 2014-15 that they could get an appointment. Patient satisfaction with access is, however, gradually and consistently declining, and a fifth of patients report opening hours are not convenient. Among the NAO’s recommendations are that NHS England should improve the data it collects on demand and supply in general practice, and research how different practices’ appointment-booking and other working arrangements drive variations in access. While making changes designed to improve access, NHS England should analyse the impact on different patient groups.

ESPAUR report reveals continued rise in antibiotic resistant infections. Overall antibiotic-resistant infections increased during 2014, with rates of bloodstream infections caused by Escherichia coli rising by 15.6%, Public Health England has revealed. The prescription of antibiotics has, however, decreased for the second year in a row.

If you wish to discuss any queries you may have around primary care please contact David Owens.   

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Public Health

Sexual health promotion for young people delivered via digital media: a scoping review. This study aimed to summarise evidence on effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and mechanism of action of interactive digital interventions (IDIs) for sexual health; optimal practice for intervention development; contexts for successful implementation; research methods for digital intervention evaluation; and the future potential of sexual health promotion via digital media.

Weight management services: national mapping. PHE has published a report on the provision of tier 2 and tier 3 weight management services for children, young people and adults that are locally commissioned through local authorities and clinical commissioning groups. It provides insights into how these services are delivered across England including: referral routes and entry criteria; service details; costs; exit routes; and barriers to commissioning services.

NHS England annual accountability statement for NHS public health: The NHS Public Health Functions Agreement requires NHS England to produce an annual report on its achievement against the outcomes set out in the agreement. This accountability statement assesses NHS England’s performance against the agreement for 2014 to 2015.

Health promotion for sexual and reproductive health and HIV: strategic action plan, 2016 to 2019. This strategic action plan sets out PHE’s approach to improving the public’s sexual and reproductive health and reversing the HIV epidemic. It identifies the key areas for PHE action, and describes how PHE can work with partners at a national and regional level to improve health and reduce inequalities.

If you wish to discuss any queries you may have around public health please contact Olwen Dutton  

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Supporting the role of the chief operating officer (COO). Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority surveyed COOs in the NHS to find out more about what the role entails. This report provides a summary of the survey findings. The main aim of the survey was to gain insight into: characteristics of today’s COOs, including their motivations for taking on the role; challenges they face; and support they have and additional support they would find helpful.

GMC calls for greater powers to regulate European doctors' skills. The General Medical Council (GMC) has called for greater powers to check the competence and skills of European doctors in the same way as it already does for medics from the rest of the world. The medical regulator also criticised plans to introduce digital passports to practice for EU doctors saying that language checks would serve as the last line of defence.

If you wish to discuss any queries you may have around care please contact Stuart Marchant.

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Diagnosis: overrated - an analysis of the structural flaws in the NHS This report looks at NHS performance and discusses the funding structure, patient choice and how health outcomes compare with other countries.

The depths of dishonour: Hidden voices and shameful crimes: An inspection of the police response to honour - based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary concludes that the police must better understand honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation in order to provide victims with the best possible service and encourage those affected to come forward. Inspectors found that the police are not sufficiently prepared to protect effectively victims of honour-based violence, whilst forces must improve engagement with community.

National Information Board prospectus: September 2015. This report is an interim review of progress for the National Information Board, in advance of its annual report, which is due to be published in March 2016. It describes the impact of Personalised Health and Care 2020 (PHC2020) for patients, citizens and professionals.

Marmot indicators for health inequalities 2015. These indicators aim to measure social determinants of health, health outcomes and social inequality in every local authority in England. It finds that increasing numbers of people are falling into poverty and ill health despite more people finding work.

Consequences of cancer toolkit The toolkit, produced in conjunction with Macmillan Cancer Care, provides resources and information for primary care professionals to identify and manage the consequences of cancer treatment, and support patients to live well after a cancer diagnosis. It is designed to be used by any general practice in the UK, and is appropriate for everyone who provides or commissions services for people living with and beyond cancer. 

Reform of support for healthcare students in England - Briefing Paper. A House of Commons Library Briefing Paper explains the proposed changes to funding for students on NHS-funded courses in England that lead to professional registration as nurses, midwives, or other allied health professionals, as announced in the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015.

Care of dying adults in the last days of life.NICE has launched the first guidelines for the NHS on improving care for people who are in their last days of life. The guidelines aim to put the dying person at the heart of decisions about their care, so that they can be supported in their final days according to their wishes.

Transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care home settings for adults with social care needs. Hospitals can avoid delays in discharge by making a single health or social care practitioner responsible for discharging patients, NICE says. The guidance recommends that a single health or social care practitioner should be made responsible for coordinating a person's discharge.

Annual report of the Chief Medical Officer, 2014: the health of the 51%: women. This report examines women’s health in England and makes a range of recommendations to improve it. It identifies several missed opportunities for intervention in women’s health, and brings attention to ‘embarrassment’ as a needless barrier to health. It makes recommendations on a wide range of health issues, most notably obesity, ovarian cancer and ‘taboo problems’ such as incontinence and the menopause.

London health devolution agreement. The Chancellor and the Health Secretary have signed a health devolution agreement with the capital’s health and civic leaders which will allow it to begin the process of taking control of its own affairs. The agreement will begin with five devolution pilots to be launched across London focused on different topics. The signatories are the "London Partners" that include all of London’s CCGs, local authorities, the GLA and national bodies including NHS England, Health Education England, NHS Improvement and PHE.

Cancer Drugs Fund consultation. The aim of the new Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) is to help patients receive new treatments with genuine promise, while real world evidence is collected for up to two years on how well they work in practice. The original CDF was established in 2011 to fund cancer drugs in England that are not currently approved by NICE and will run until April 2016. The proposal for a new CDF has been issued for public consultation which outlines a new system, fully integrated into the NICE appraisal process, where the CDF becomes a transitional fund - with clear criteria for entry and exit. This is in line with the recommendation of the recently published independent Cancer Taskforce report, which proposed that the new CDF should operate with NHS England and NICE. The closing date for comments is 11 February 2016. 

Consultation on cremation following recent inquiries into infant cremations A Ministry of Justice consultation seeks views on proposals for a number of changes to the Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008, and for improving other aspects of cremation practice. It follows the Government's consideration of the recommendations of two inquiries into infant cremations. Comments by 9 March 2016.

Making a fair contribution: consultation on the extension of charging overseas visitors and migrants using the NHS in England. The DH is seeking views on proposed changes to further extend charging for overseas visitors and migrants who use the NHS. The consultation closes on 7 March 2016.

Guidance says GPs should report elderly unsafe drivers. New guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC) says GPs should put the protection of the public ahead of patient confidentiality and report elderly unsafe drivers. The watchdog has expressed concerns about an ageing population meaning rising numbers of drivers with poor eyesight or confusion.

Women in clinical commissioning leadership: a case for change This report looks at why there is a lack of gender diversity in health leadership, the efforts currently being made to improve this, and actions that need to be taken to increase female leadership in the clinical commissioning arena.

Landmark challenge allowed to sue doctors for hiding man's brain disease from family. In a landmark challenge, Ms M, who is protected by an anonymity order, has won the right to sue her father's clinicians at three NHS trusts for negligence after they failed to warn her that her father had the gene for Huntington's disease before she gave birth to her own child. The woman later discovered that she also had the same hereditary gene, and that her daughter, who is now five, has a 50 per cent chance of also being affected.

Martha Lane Fox sets out her digital proposals for the NHS. The former UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox was asked by the Health Secretary to look at ways in which there can be more digital inclusion across the NHS. She has now made her recommendations to the National Information Board. These include: making sure those with the most health and social care needs, who are often the least likely to be online, are included first in any new digital tools being used across the NHS; free wi-fi in every NHS building; building the basic digital skills of the NHS workforce to ensure that everyone has the digital skills needed to support people’s health needs; and at least 10% of registered patients in each GP practice should be using a digital service such as online appointment booking, repeat prescriptions and access to records by 2017.

Supporting victims of modern slavery through healthcare services. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 gives law enforcement the tools to fight modern slavery, ensures perpetrators receive suitably severe punishments for these appalling crimes, and enhances support and protection for victims. This news item highlights how health and care professionals can help tackle modern slavery and support victims.

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