Department of Health

New care plans to link hospitals and social care

The Department of Health has announced increased funds to enable more community-based care for older people. Linking health and social care for older people, the £5.3bn Better Care Fund will create opportunities for different types of care to be commissioned for patients at home and in the community.

Care Act consultation

The Department of Health is running a consultation on the measures to implement the 2014 Care Act.

The guidance and regulations associated with the Care Act set out how the Act will work in practice. They will be implemented over the next eighteen months and this consultation is an opportunity to comment on the guidance and regulations for different parts of the Care Act. Comments will be used to clarify and improve the guidance and regulations. The consultation is open until 15 August 2014

Public health and local authorities

Conflicting reports have recently been produced examining the ways in which local authorities are adapting to overseeing public health responsibilities. While the Local Government Association has reported on the ways in which different authorities are managing budgets to have a broad impact on the health of local populations, the British Medical Journal has observed that some dedicated public health funding is being diverted.

Hospital inpatients feedback

The Care Quality Commission has published the results of its annual survey of inpatients in hospitals reflecting on their care and the experience of being in hospital. While most patients felt they were well looked after and were pleased with the care they received, 80% noted that they had not been asked about their hospital experience and were not made aware of how they could complain or provide feedback to their hospital.

Department of Health building guidance includes arts

The Department of Health has updated its guidance on best practice in the design of healthcare facilities. The new guidance includes a number of recommendations to incorporate the role of the arts in improving the experience of patients and staff. The new general design principles notes that: “There is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that appropriate art and decor reduces the physical and emotional stress of patients and staff. It can also be used to assist wayfinding and should be always integrated within the whole design.”

Department of Health Honours call

The Department of Health has issued a call for nominations for the 2015 New Year Honours. The call is particularly looking for diverse suggestions to represent the full range of ways in which individuals can contribute to health care. Nominations should be for people who work for, volunteer or have made an outstanding contribution at any level within the health and care system over a sustained period of time.

National obesity figures

New local authority excess weight data published by Public Health England (PHE) shows that 64% of adults are overweight or obese. The data also shows considerable variation in the numbers of people who are overweight or obese in different parts of England. The rate of increase in overweight and obese adults has slowed in recent years and in children, levels are stabilising but the research highlights that local authorities and the NHS face in tackling obesity in the UK. Overall health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS over £5 billion each year.

New priorities for mental health

The Department of Health has published new plans to bring about significant change in the provision of mental healthcare. Closing the Gap sets out 25 priorities for change in mental health services over the next three years. It focuses on integrating physical and mental health provision, increasing access to mental healthcare and early diagnosis. The document also details efforts to improve wellbeing and to improve the quality of life of people with mental health problems.

Learning Disability inequality

Two new publications from the Department of Health, the responses to the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities and the Six Lives Progress Report on Healthcare for People with Learning Disabilities, show that whilst some improvements have been made, people with learning disabilities are still experiencing poor care, and face unacceptable inequalities in health and social care.

New inspection process for hospitals

The Care Quality Commission’s new Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards has announced radical changes to the way hospitals in England are inspected. The changes have been likened to the introduction of OFSTED to schools inspections and will involve teams of inspectors  visiting all acute hospitals and assessing eight key services areas: A&E; maternity, paediatrics; acute medical and surgical pathways; care for the frail elderly; end of life care; and outpatients.

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