Friday, 10 February 2012

Report raises questions over equality of access to end of life care community services

Report raises questions over equality of access to end of life care community services:

‘Deprivation and death: Variation in place and cause of death’ reveals that 61% of deaths amongst people living in the most deprived quintile (the poorest 20% of areas) occurred in hospital – compared to 54% amongst the two least deprived quintiles.

The report concludes that the gap is not solely accounted for by factors such as differences in the causes of death between the social groups.

CQC publishes reports from its review of services for people with learning disabilities

CQC publishes reports from its review of services for people with learning disabilities:

The programme is looking at whether people experience safe and appropriate care, treatment and support and whether they are protected from abuse. A national report into the findings of the programme will be published in the Spring.

An area of concern to emerge from an initial analysis of the first 40 reports is that many services are failing to provide patient-centred care – that is, care that is based on the individual needs of people using the services. NHS Networks

The week, issue 234

The week, issue 234:

In this issue, read about Change4Life’s first alcohol campaign as well as the latest medical device alerts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Download ‘the week’: issue 234, 3 – 9 February 2012 (RTF, 524K) Department of Health

Fear of NHS bill damage to Tories

Fear of NHS bill damage to Tories: The influential ConservativeHome website calls the planned NHS overhaul in England "an unexploded bomb" under Tory electoral prospects. BBC News

Safeguarding and quality in commissioning care homes

Safeguarding and quality in commissioning care homes:

This guide aims to support NHS and local authority commissioners of care homes to ensure that safeguarding is central to the commissioning process and a primary concern for residential and nursing care home providers. The government have identified six guiding principles on safeguarding which seek to increase the protection for those most at risk in society. Key points for commissioners are outlined here in relation to each of the principles.

Partnership agreement: an agreement between Department of Health, NHS Employers and NHS Trade Unions

Partnership agreement: an agreement between Department of Health, NHS Employers and NHS Trade Unions:

This agreement provides a guiding set of principles for the Department of Health, employers and unions to work together at national, regional and local levels. By adopting the principles set out in the partnership agreement, all parties agree to recognise and respect each other’s roles and functions, which are distinct but complementary.

Psychologists fear US manual will widen mental illness diagnosis - The Guardian

Psychologists fear US manual will widen mental illness diagnosis - The Guardian:

Daily Mail
Psychologists fear US manual will widen mental illness diagnosis
The Guardian
Hundreds of thousands of people will be labelled mentally ill because of behaviour most people would consider normal, if a new edition of what has been termed the psychiatrists' diagnostic bible goes ahead, experts are warning.
Shyness in a child and depression after bereavement could be classed as mental ...Daily Mail
Lonely? Shy? Sad? Well now you're 'mentally ill', tooThe Independent
New mental health manual is "dangerous" say expertsReuters UK

all 45 news articles »

Government announces £2.2bn public health funding for councils

Government announces £2.2bn public health funding for councils:

Health secretary Andrew Lansley reveals first estimates for local government funding, but confusion over future responsibilities remains

The Department of Health has announced the first estimates for public health funding under the new NHS structure, promising that at least £2.2bn will be paid directly to local authorities.

The announcement, made on Tuesday by health secretary Andrew Lansley, will see £5.2bn spent on public health services in total, although it is not yet clear exactly which areas councils will take responsibility for. Lansley said: "In the future, we want money to get to where it matters most – to the front line, where it can have the greatest impact on health.

"There is more work to do, but these estimates mean that Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities can begin planning how to deliver the frontline services that matter the most," he added.

The Local Government Association (LGA) welcomed the announcement, but warned against basing funding estimates on out of date information. Councillor David Rogers, chair of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: "Local authorities are ready to pick up the mantle of public health but we must be given the right resources to do so. Only then can councils truly be at the forefront of tackling the social factors that contribute to poor health and providing services that help people to live long and healthy lives."

Michael Gosling, cabinet member for adult social care and health at Surrey county council called for more specific information about how the £2.2bn would be distributed.

"Our worry at the present time is not what the headline figure is, but how much of that will come to Surrey as a county. There is no doubt about it that there are authorities that have a greater need for public health money than ourselves, but Surrey still has issues and worries about certain social factors within public health," he said.

"We now need to understand which of the public health roles are fully with Public Health England and which are devolved to the local authority. I would like to see an end to uncertainly so we can get on and do what we need to do."

The Guardian Professional.

Failure to deal with long-term health issues 'costs NHS £13bn'

Failure to deal with long-term health issues 'costs NHS £13bn':

King's Fund report states that people with conditions such as diabetes or heart disease are more likely to have mental health problems, with each costing up to 45% more to treat

The NHS is failing to address the problem of people suffering both long-term physical conditions and mental health problems, and could be costing the organisation as much as £13bn a year, according to a new report.

The report, published by the King's Fund on Thursday, says that people suffering long-term conditions such as diabetes or heart disease are two to three times more likely to suffer mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and dementia, with each costing up to 45% more to treat.

However, despite accounting for between 12% and 18% of the estimated £77bn spent on people with long-term conditions, the King's Fund says there has been a systemic failure in identifying problems and providing support. It says better integration between services for physical and mental health problems will be key to improving outcomes.

Chris Naylor, King's Fund fellow and lead author of the report, said: "The prevailing approach towards improving care for people with long-term conditions is at risk of failing unless we look at patients' needs as a whole, including their mental health needs. To achieve this, mental health provision cannot simply be tacked on to physical care but needs to be an integral part of it."

Around a third of people in England have a long-term condition, rising to half in those over 60, and are the most frequent users of healthcare services, according to the Department of Health.

But the report suggests that some figures may be higher. While 11% of the NHS's secondary healthcare budget is spent on mental health services, it says the figure doesn't include costs to primary care "or increased costs elsewhere caused by poor mental health exacerbating other health problems and hindering their treatment. Nor does it take account of the wider economic impact of mental health problems through their effect on employment and workplace productivity."

While the number of people in England with long-term conditions is likely to remain relatively consistent over the next decade, the number of people with co-morbid long-term physical and mental health problems is expected to rise by a third. They are more likely to live in deprived areas and have less access to resources which the report says contributes to – and perpetuates – health inequalities.

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health said "failing to support the mental health of people with long-term physical conditions is costing the NHS billions of pounds at a time it can ill afford to spend money unwisely. Untreated or poorly managed mental ill-health among this group is cutting lives short, reducing quality of life and increasing health inequalities."

The King's Fund said better integration between mental health support, primary care services and chronic disease management was an opportunity to improve outcomes. It also recommends closer working between mental health specialists and other professionals, which is says is often neglected.

While integration has been moving up the healthcare agenda, the report says health and social care services in England are not currently organised in the best way to support those suffering physical and mental health problems.

It calls on clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to make joint mental and physical care a top 10 priority. Mental health trusts that have received £2bn to fund more responsibilities for community services can also contribute, the report says, while other organisations such as the new NHS Commissioning Board and the regulator, Monitor, also have a duty to promote integration.

On a practical level, collaborative care arrangements between primary care providers and mental health specialists can improve the problem "with no or limited additional net costs", while redesigning payment mechanisms will remove some of the policy barriers to integration.

The report also suggests that "innovative forms of liaison psychiatry" show that better support can reduce physical care costs in acute hospitals.

Making changes will also help deliver on the government's Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) agenda, the King's Fund says, which aims to develop innovation in health services and better outcomes with less money.

The Guardian Professional.

Health bill in fresh trouble as first signs of cabinet dissent emerge

Health bill in fresh trouble as first signs of cabinet dissent emerge:

Plans being laid for call at Liberal Democrat spring conference for bill to be scrapped

The government's beleaguered health bill has run into fresh trouble after it emerged that plans are being laid for a call for it to be scrapped at the Liberal Democrat spring conference.

It is also expected that the influential Conservative Home website, seen as the voice of the party grassroots, will publish an editorial on Friday calling for the bill to be dropped altogether. It is understood that Conservative Home has been urged to make the call by three cabinet members who believe David Cameron is not listening on the issue. One source said: "We have almost been instructed to write this." It is extraordinary that cabinet members feel so frustrated at the political deadlock that they have resorted to urging Conservative Home to raise the flag of rebellion.

It has been widely canvassed within the government that non-contentious parts of the bill covering public health, social care and GP commissioning could be retained, while controversial parts dealing with an extension of the private sector could be abandoned altogether, something that would be a humiliation for the health secretary, Andrew Lansley.

Stephen Dorrell, Conservative chairman of the health select committee, has been one of many Tory MPs pointing out that many of the changes could have been implemented without the need for legislation or such controversy.

The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, has offered to strike a deal to bring in wider GP commissioning. Labour tabled a vote on Thursday to force the government to publish a report assessing the threats posed by proposed changes to NHS finances and patient care.

Senior Lib Dems have acknowledged that they are in a terrible place over the bill, but in discussions at the beginning of the week with Cameron, Nick Clegg agreed to let the bill continue in the Lords.

There is frustration in Downing Street that the support of health professionals has been lost after they were laboriously courted and consulted during the pause last year, agreed after the Lib Dems' spring conference voted to oppose large tracts of the bill. The current move is being organised by the same group of party activists.

The Lib Dem leadership managed to keep a second health rebellion off the agenda of the autumn conference, but will face intense grassroots pressure if it tries to prevent debate again.

An emergency motion can be kept off the floor of the conference if it is not deemed an emergency by the federal conference committee, or it is not selected for debate in a ballot of delegates.

It is being argued by diehards in the cabinet that the struggle to get the legislation on the statute book will last only a few more months and after that it will be shown that the warnings of the protesters were ridiculously overblown. Cameron is trying to resell the package as a way of reducing bureaucracy in the NHS.

In an effort to keep up the pressure, the shadow cabinet agreed to hold an opposition day debate later this month on making the risk assessment public, in what Burnham said would be a defining moment in the campaign to get the bill axed.

Critics believe the risk register, which Lansley has repeatedly refused to publish, contains damning warnings about rising costs and confusion. Concern has been heightened after it emerged on Wednesday that a risk assessment by the London NHS warned some organisations could fail financially and care, including maternity and children's services and public health, could suffer. Such is the anger about the register that nine Liberal Democrats are already among 50 MPs who have signed an early day motion also calling for it to be published – and Labour believes more Lib Dems will support its move.

To put further pressure on the coalition, Burnham will urge Labour MPs to visit hospitals and surgeries during next week's half-term break, so they can recount their stories from the NHS front-line in the debate on 22 February. "The defining question in this debate now is, by pressing on and not listening, to what extent are they putting patient safety and quality of services at risk, and that's why the risk register becomes absolutely central to this," said Burnham.

Labour's move follows another torrid week for the government over the bill, with former supporters of the plans coming out against the current version – which has had more than 1,000 amendments – and the coalition's first defeat on the bill in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

Reflecting growing frustration inside the government at Lansley's handling of the bill, a Downing Street insider was quoted earlier this week saying the health secretary should be "taken out and shot". In response, the prime minister's spokesman said the Tory minister had David Cameron's "full support".

Lansley will face fresh embarrassment on Friday when a report by the right-of-centre thinktank Reform says the government's entire reform of public services is being undermined by the Department of Health's management of NHS changes.

The Scorecard report on 10 government departments with responsibility for different areas of public sector reform also singles out the prime minister for criticism for personally intervening with detailed promises on issues such as waiting times and nurses visiting patients' beds every hour. The criticisms by Reform will be particularly damaging because they accuse the health bill of causing exactly the opposite of what it is intended to achieve – holding back reform of the NHS and damaging services for patients.

Burnham has offered the government a compromise, that in return for dropping the bill Labour would enter talks about how to introduce GP-led commissioning of healthcare, without the wider reform of the NHS structure proposed by the bill. The Guardian

Pensioner forces NHS to reconsider £80m private deal

Pensioner forces NHS to reconsider £80m private deal: A pensioner who lives in a care home has succeeded in forcing his local health authority to reconsider automatically handing an £80million annual contract to a private organisation. The Daily Telegraph

Bishops fight to save NHS chaplains

Bishops fight to save NHS chaplains: Leading bishops led calls to defend hospital chaplains in the face of a campaign to exclude religious influence from the National Health Service. The Daily Telegraph