Health and Social Care – Parliamentary Round Up – December 2011

Column by Rukayah Sarumi which appeared in the December edition of the English Community Care Association (ECCA) member's newsletter.

With the Health and Social Care Bill still bogged down in the Lords, the Government’s response to the Equality and Human Right’s Commission’s (EHCR) ‘Home Care Inquiry’ took centre stage this month.

In the wake of the inquiry, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s announcement of additional support for the training of healthcare assistants could not have been better timed.

In a speech delivered to the NHS Employers conference, Lansley set out plans for the collaborative project, which will be developed by Skills for Health and Skills for Care together with union employers, regulators and others.

The Health Secretary stated that the new measures will be advantageous to both employers and patients, saying: “These measures will help employers to better consider the skills profile of potential employees and ensure that patients and service users get the support and care they need.”

Gail Adams, Unison’s Head of Nursing, also welcomed the move, saying: “This new right to training and support for healthcare assistants is a welcome step in the right direction for staff and patients.”

Elsewhere, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow welcomed the Care Quality Commission’s announcement that it would conduct inspections of 250 providers of home care services. Paul Burstow said: “I am determined that everyone should get the best possible care, whether they are in a hospital, a care home or in their own home.”

With the winter finally beginning to bite the Government has launched a collaborative initiative with Age UK and the Met Office to help keep people healthy throughout the season.

The scheme will provide an extra £10 million to support existing Government schemes for those at risk of fuel poverty. The scheme also includes a new £20 million fund, which local authorities and charities can bid for to help vulnerable older people and those with disabilities as well as others.

The Government’s commitment to ‘modernising’ the NHS continues with the Health Secretary welcoming the agreement between the Government and British Medical Association (BMA) which include changes to GP contracts. As of next year, the changes will mean patients will have greater choice over the GP practice they are able to register with.

The Government also welcomed the interim advice on integrated health, which was published by the NHS Future Forum. The advice put forward stressed that information about health and social care services must be both transparent and useable. The advice being gathered by the NHS Future Forum will be used to inform the 2012/13 NHS Operating Framework.

Funding announcements may have been thin on the ground in recent weeks but the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced £32 million of investment for psychological therapies, including talking therapies, for children and young people with mental health problems.

Speaking at the launch the Deputy Prime Minister said: “This investment in children’s mental health is vital and so we are expanding the services to treat children and young people with the tailored care they need.”

While Andrew Lansley and his colleagues continue to wait for their controversial NHS reforms to become law, the past month has seen the EHCR Home Care inquiry dominate the headlines. The CQC was quick to act and its investigation could have wide ranging repercussions for the sector.

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