Jeremy Hunt leaves health secretary role as culture secretary takes over (Pulse, 9 July)
Jeremy Hunt has been appointed foreign secretary, with digital, culture, media and sport secretary Matt Hancock named as his successor as health secretary.
Mr Hunt had recently become the longest serving health secretary, having taken the role in September 2012. He had previously said that health secretary was his last major role in politics.
However, following Boris Johnson’s resignation earlier today, Mr Hunt was appointed foreign secretary.
Mr Hancock was appointed digital, culture, media and sport secretary in January 2018 having been a junior minister in the department since July 2016. He was first elected an MP in the 2010 general election in the West Suffolk constituency.
Before entering parliament, he worked as an economist at the Bank of England and as chief of staff to then shadow chancellor George Osbourne.
The reshuffle comes as former foreign secretary Boris Johnson resigned over the Brexit agreement.
Both Mr Hunt and Mr Hancock initially supported the campaign for the UK to remain the EU, but later backed the referendum result in support of Brexit.
On leaving his position, Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter: ‘Massive wrench for me to leave health – I know some staff haven’t found me the easiest Health Sec but the NHS, and particularly patient safety, has become my passion & it really was the greatest privilege of my life to serve for so many years.’
He added: ‘Couldn’t ask for a better successor than @matthancock to take forward long term NHS plan with his brilliant understanding of the power of technology. The new NHS app will be in safe hands!’ ...read more
A million older people 'badly let down' by lack of social care funding (The Guardian, 9 July)
The number of older people in England without social care support has hit a record high, with one in seven now being left to get by on their own, figures reveal.
A record total of 1.4 million people over 65 now have some level of unmet need with tasks such as getting up, washed and dressed, according to an analysis of official statistics by AgeUK.
“Older people around the country are being very badly let down by the catastrophic lack of government funding for social care,” said Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director.
“Our new analysis echoes what we hear all around the country: it is getting ever harder to access care if you need it and increasing numbers of frail, ill, older people are being left to manage alone.
“It is profoundly shocking that 1.4 million older people, one in seven of the entire older population, now has some degree of unmet need, and the numbers are rising quite fast.”
At the same time, delayed discharges – patients trapped in hospital because social care is unavailable to allow them to be discharged – now costs the NHS in England £289.1m a year, Age UK estimates. ...read more
Fears of future strain on NHS as councils slash health programmes (The Guardian, 8 July)
Hospitals will bear the brunt of “incredibly shortsighted” cuts to public health initiatives that will lead to more people having a heart attack or getting cancer, experts are warning.
New research reveals that, by next year, spending per head in England on programmes to tackle smoking, poor diet and alcohol abuse will have fallen by 23.5% over five years.
Key services, including those to help people quit smoking, manage their sexual health or stay off drugs, are among those being subjected to the deepest cuts, according to analysis by the Health Foundation thinktank.
Public health funding will continue to be slashed despite the extra £20bn that Theresa May has pledged to give the NHS by 2023-24. The public health grant that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) gives to local councils in England, which is not covered by the cash injection, is due to fall from £2.44bn this year to £2.27bn in 2019-20. It will be the fifth year in a row it has been cut since its peak of £2.86bn in 2014-15. ...read more
A fair share for mental health has to be the NHS’s priority (The Guardian: 5 July)
The added disability from which our health system suffers is the isolation of mental health from the rest of the health services.” So said Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS, in 1946, two years before the creation of what is now the world’s largest publicly funded health service. It’s still true. Mental health services, the poor relation of the NHS, are often delivered on remote sites in dilapidated buildings. My clinic room is a windowless cupboard.
Praise has rightly been lavished on the NHS as it marks its 70th birthday. It is impossible to overstate the significance of its spectacular achievements. There should be celebration, there should be cake – and there was. It came in the form of Theresa May’s promise of a £20bn-a-year cash boost by 2023. But our country’s mental health services badly need a bigger slice. May admitted as much as she announced the funding, noting that: “As the NHS has grown, mental health was not a service that was prioritised.” To redress that, the “cradle to grave” NHS, for so long a source of national pride, must be rethought. ...read more
Who profits when private providers take over health services? (The Guardian: 4 July 2018)
Last weekend tens of thousands of NHS staff, patients and campaigners marched to Westminster in protest against the underfunding of the NHS and the privatisation of many health services in England. The government may have pledged to invest another £20bn in the NHS over the next four years, but there are concerns that much of this could find its way into the hands of private companies. Addressing the crowds, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called for an end to privatisation, the closure of the internal market and for staff to no longer be subcontracted to private companies, “the profits of which could and sometimes do, end up in tax havens around the world. I don’t pay my taxes for someone to rip off the public and squirrel the profits away,” he stated....read more
May's extra cash for NHS is not enough, says spending watchdog (The Guardian: 1 July 2018)
The NHS will require far greater financial support than the latest cash boost announced by Theresa May if it is to meet the needs of a changing population, the head of Whitehall’s spending watchdog has warned.
In the week of the NHS’s 70th birthday, Sir Amyas Morse said there should be enough common ground across the political spectrum to find extra funding and form a new, united vision for health and social care in the 21st century.
“As we mark the 70th birthday, political leaders should be leading a debate about where we want this national asset to go and they should aim high,” the National Audit Office comptroller told the Guardian. “This is a topic where there is a lot of consensus out there. I would like politicians to be willing to think bigger.”...read more
NHS ranked among world’s best at protecting poor despite having far fewer beds and staff than other countries, report finds (The Independent: 26 June 2018)
The UK is among the best health systems in the world at protecting those who cannot afford to get ill – despite having fewer staff, beds or equipment than virtually all other developed countries health systems.
How Good is the NHS?, a report comparing the UK and health systems of 18 other countries in the G7, western Europe and English speaking world found it performs better than many of its detractors would claim.
It has some of the lowest rates of “catastrophic costs”, where patients are required to pay more than 10 per cent of their income to cover an unexpected health problem, is relatively efficient and even appears to be keeping up with waiting times....read more
Mental health services for the young is NHS's 'silent catastrophe' (The Guardian:26 June 2018)
Failings in treatment of children and young people with mental health problems is a “silent catastrophe” within the NHS and is due to chronic underfunding and serious structural issues, a report by the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) claims.
The report, which exposes a “serious and worsening crisis” for the health service through a survey of those working in child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs), says trusts are being hollowed out and specialist services are disappearing owing to underfunding and the transformation and redesign of services in recent years.
The results are rising levels of suicide, self-referral to A&E departments and pressure on in-patient units, it says....read more
NHS trusts win legal fight over Virgin Care child health contract (Guardian: 22 June 2018)
A decision by Lancashire county council to award a £104m contract for children’s healthcare services to Virgin Care has been thrown out after a legal challenge by NHS trusts.
A high court judge found the local authority’s process was flawed and the contract for services for children aged 0-19 should not have been awarded to the private provider late last year.
The case hinged on the scoring system used by the council when it reviewed rival bids for the deal, which the trusts claimed had been applied incorrectly...read more
100 senior NHS doctors and nurses write open letter to Theresa May: 'Your funding boost is simply not enough' (The Mirror: 17 June 2018)
Doctors and nurses have insisted Theresa May’s much anticipated healthcare funding boost will NOT rebuild the struggling NHS.
After the longest financial squeeze in history NHS England will be given a 3.4% increase with the service on its knees with record debts and waiting times.
Experts say the five-year cash settlement is in reality a 3% rise in overall health spending and will barely keep the NHS standing still.
Now more than 100 senior NHS consultants, professors, GPs and junior doctors and nurses have written an open letter to the Prime Minister.
They write in the Daily Mirror that the £20 billion annual rise by 2023/24 will in no way repair the damage inflicted over the last decade....read more
Theresa May's NHS pledge decried as sticking plaster (The Guardian: 17 June 2018)
Theresa May’s plans to increase NHS funding by 3.4% is a “sticking plaster” that is insufficient to drive real improvement in the health service, one of the UK’s most influential thinktanks said on Sunday.
Reacting to the news of May’s proposed £20bn rise in funding over a decade, several organisations suggested it was less than needed to drive improvements, and would rather only stem the NHS’s decline.
The Health Foundation said the increase fell short of the 4% minimum required to roll back years of damage inflicted by eight years of austerity. “A giant sticking plaster is still just a sticking plaster,” it said....read more
Why Theresa May's £20bn isn't really a 70th birthday present for the NHS (The Independent: 18 June 2018)
Is it rude to tell lies to someone on their birthday?
It seems that the National Health Service’s 70th anniversary present from government ministers is to be a big box full of dissimulation and crass propaganda.
Theresa May’s claim today that the agreed increase in funds for the NHS over the next five years represents some sort of “Brexit dividend” is an insult to the intelligence of patients, health workers and the wider electorate.
The government’s own official forecasts, produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), show that leaving the European Union will be a drag on the growth of the UK economy, and therefore the resources available for public services, by around £15bn a year.
And, crucially, this hit to the public finances will be larger than the size of the net annual contribution from the UK taxpayer into the European Union budget....read more