Archive for Health

A fair deal for Nurses

This week the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, set out plans that will see wage increases of at least 6.5 per cent for over 1.1 million NHS workers in England.

Over recent years the difficult decision was taken for a Public sector pay cap of 1 per cent. This was effectively ended September, when the cap was lifted.  Now, using funds the Chancellor set aside at the Budget will see pay rises of at least 6.5 per cent for over 1.1 million NHS workers in England including nurses and midwives.

The most significant change will be for the lowest paid NHS staff, like porters, cleaners and hospital caterers – who will see their wages rise by 15 per cent over the next three years.

This is the right decision to take, as NHS staff work incredibly hard, day in, day out, right across the country. Prudent Conservative fiscal management has made investing in our public services like the NHS and helping families with the cost of living while at the same time getting our debt falling possible

Newly qualified nurses will receive starting pay 12.6 per cent higher in 2020-2021 than this year and starting pay for a midwife will increase by 18.1 per cent as a result of pay band reform.

The Government is ensuring also, that shared parental leave rights will be extended to all staff, the NHS will commit to reducing sickness absence by improving staff health and wellbeing, and all staff will receive better skills and development training.


New approach to mental health announced for young people

For too long there hasn’t been enough focus on mental healthcare in this country, it has been hidden injustice and surrounded by unacceptable stigma, leaving many to suffer in silence. Changing this goes right to the heart of shared values and making sure we live in a country where everyone is supported.

Today, the Prime Minister announced new plans to transform mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities.

There will be new support for every secondary school. Each school will be offered mental health first aid training to increase awareness around mental health and help to tackle the unacceptable stigma around the issue. To support this initiative, new proposals will outline how mental health services for schools, universities and families can be improved, so that everyone in the community is supported, at every stage of life.

As an anti-bullying campaigner I have seen first hand the long term mental health effects that bullying can have on young people and the charities like Red Balloon Learner Centre Group that have done so much to help. I have been highlighting this issue for some time including my article on Conservative Home. This is a welcome step forward.

These proposals are part of a wide range of measures to improve mental health and make sure no one is left behind. There will be an expert review into how we can improve mental wellbeing in the workplace so employees receive more care. There will be more support in the community so everyone in need can access the best support for their needs, more online services will be provided and the system will be made fairer for people suffering from mental health problems.

This is an opportunity to make sure we are providing attention and treatment for those deserving of compassion and help, striving to improve mental wellbeing and ensure that everyone is supported.

The plans that the Prime Minister announced includes:

New support for schools – to support children and young people and help to tackle mental illness early. Every secondary school in the country will be offered mental health first aid training and build stronger links with local NHS mental health staff. To support this, there will also be a major thematic review of children and adolescent mental health services across the country, which will be led by the Care Quality Commission, to identify priority areas. A new green paper on children and young people’s mental health to set out plans to transform services in schools, universities and for families.

New partnerships with employers – to improve mental health support in the workplace. Lord Dennis Stevenson, the long-time campaigner for greater understanding and treatment of mental illness, and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce will lead a review on how best to ensure employees with mental health problems are enabled to thrive in the workplace and perform at their best.

Further alternatives to hospital treatments – to support people in the community and recognise that seeing a GP or going to A&E will not be the right intervention for everyone. We will build on our £15 million investment to provide and promote new models of community-based care such as crisis cafes and community clinics. The initial £15 million investment led to 88 new places of safety being created and we will build on this success

Investing in and expanding digital mental health services – rapidly expanding mental health treatment. We will speed up the delivery of a £67.7 million digital mental health package so that those worried about stress, anxiety or more serious issues can go online, check their symptoms and if needed, access digital therapy immediately rather than waiting weeks for a face-to-face appointment. Further follow up face-to-face sessions will be offered as necessary.

Introducing new ways to right the injustices people with mental health problems face – making the system fairer. Despite known links between debt and mental health, currently hundreds of mental health patients are charged up to £300 by their GP for a form to prove they have mental health issues. To end this unfair practice the Department for Health will undertake a formal review of the mental health debt form, working with Money and Mental Health. We will also support NHS England’s commitment to eliminate inappropriate placements to inpatient beds for children and young people by 2021.

Spending more to help people with mental health conditions. In the last Parliament there was a record of £11.7 billion investment in mental health services. In the Spending Review we committed an additional £600 million in mental health to ensure access to talking therapies, perinatal mental health services and crisis care.

Helping millions more people get psychological treatment and recover. The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme – backed by £400 million – has treated over 2.6 million people, and over 1.5 million have completed that treatment. Over 1 million people have reached recovery. The total number of people helped in the last Parliament from talking therapies was 3 million, compared to just 226,000 people helped in the Parliament before that—a thirteenfold increase.

Supporting new and expectant mums and their babies to be happy and healthy. We are investing £290 million to ensure at least 30,000 more women each year will have access to mental healthcare. Women will have access to perinatal classes, new community perinatal teams, more beds in mother and baby units and improved mental health support.

Introducing waiting time standards so people get treatment for mental health conditions sooner. We have introduced the first ever access and waiting standards for mental health services and those standards are being met. We have introduced the first-ever waiting time for teenagers with eating disorders, from 2017/2018 they will be seen within a month of referral or within a week for urgent cases.

Increasing medical training in the NHS

nhsprofessionalThe Government has committed to making the NHS in England self-sufficient in doctors by opening up medical training to many more people in our country.

It is right that the NHS is always, free at the point of delivery, when you need it and so ensuring the NHS will always have the doctors it needs.

nhsThe plan is to increase the number of medical student training places in England by up to 25 per cent – from 6,000 to up to 7,500 – to ensure the NHS is self-sufficient. Alongside this there will be an obligation that those students who benefit from a taxpayer subsidy for  their medical studies are required to work in the NHS for at least four years after leaving university.
It cannot be correct for their to be a cap on the number of medical training places in England. Half of applicants are turned down and denied the opportunity to undertake a medical degree because the number of medical student places is artificially limited to 6,000 a year.

Currently the NHS is spending growing amounts of money on agency staff – when this money could be going on patient care.  Last year hospitals spent £3.3 billion on agency staff, including £1.2 billion on medical locums.

Only the NHS is safe with the Conservatives:
• Increasing funding for the NHS by £10 billion a year by 2020, of which £6 billion will be delivered by the end of 2016-17. The NHS budget will rise from £101 billion today to £120 billion by 2020-21.
• Delivered almost 8,800 more doctors and almost 5,600 more nurses and midwives in our NHS compared to 2010.
• The NHS performed 4,400 more operations a day and treated on average 21,000 more out-patients a day last year compared to 2010.

Junior Doctors’ Contracts

nhsThis week a new contract was agreed subject to the support of BMA junior doctors in a referendum.

The Government has now reached an agreement with the BMA on a new junior doctors’ contract – an important step forward in the delivery of a 7-day NHS.

The new contract is better for patients, doctors and NHSDavidCameronthe NHS. It will introduce better training, safety and working conditions for junior doctors. It is better for the NHS because it supports hospitals to deliver truly 7-day services and crucially, Saturdays and Sundays will be treated as regular working days. And most importantly, it is better for patients as they know that they will have nhsprofessionalaccess to a great and improving service every day of the week.

The new contract is:

Better for patients – With access to an improved service 7-days a week. These changes are the most significant change to the contract in seventeen years. The changes ensure the NHS is shaped around the needs of patients who can’t choose what day of the week they fall unwell.

Better for junior doctors – Guaranteeing better training, safety and working conditions. Junior doctors working legal hours will receive a basic pay rise of around 10-11%. In addition to new limits on hours worked, consecutive nights and long days will also be introduced. A new family support plan will help balance home and work, offering catch-up programmes for those who take time out of training for family reasons.

Better for the NHS – Linking pay progression to attainment, tackles locum costs and scraps unsafe incentives for long hours. There will be a fundamental shift in the way doctors are paid for weekend work so it is a third less expensive for hospitals to roster doctors over the weekend. By introducing Saturday and Sundays plain time rates and a sliding scale replacing unsocial hour payments high standards of care will be enabled at an affordable rate.

It is deeply regrettable that patients had to endure eight days of industrial action which saw 125,000 operations cancelled. 

The Government commitment to a 7-day NHS which ensures patients can access great care every day of the week.  Backed by our investment of £10 billion real terms increase in the NHS’s annual budget. No other party committed to such a level of funding for the NHS.

Investment in mental health

DCfebThis month the Prime Minister announced that an extra £1 billion will be invested in mental healthcare by 2021.

For too long there hasn’t been enough focus on mental health care in this country meaning too many have had to suffer in silence.

MH2The extra £1 billion a year for mental health care, will mean that a million more people will benefit from mental health support by 2020. Mental health must get the attention in the NHS it needs.

The vision of a 7-day mental health service is a bold, but right one. It will mean people will get the care they need, when they need it, and will help us do much more to prevent mental illness in the first place. For the first time we will truly deliver equality between mental and physical health.

Improvements will include;

(1) Investing £1.5 million in helping to train young people to spot the signs of mental healthMH1 issues. This funding is the latest of £1.4 billion investment to improve young people’s life chances and will be used to help develop ‘Peer to Peer’ support networks, encouraging people to talk openly about mental health.

(2) Improving access to ‘Talking Therapies’ that help those with conditions like anxiety or depression. Investment of £308 million will mean 800,000 people will get the support they need through talking therapies.

MH4(3) Investing £50 million in programmes to find work for with people with mental illnesses. Individual Placement and Support Programmes and doubling the number of employment advisers will help to place people with mental illness in work, these programme can save £6,000 per person on reduced inpatient costs.

(4) Placing mental health services in hospital emergency departments. So people receive support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year we will ensure that psychiatric services are available in A&E.

(5) Introducing the first waiting time standards for mental health treatments. Most patients needing talking therapies will be guaranteed treatment in six weeks.


Protecting and improving the NHS

nhsOur NHS is to be valued and protected. Many of us have seen first hand the professionalism and dedication of our doctors, nurses and midwives. So we must ensure the resources and improvements take place.

More funding and health professionals

nhsprofessionalAlready during this parliament we have seen increased funding meaning more doctors, nurses and midwives. There are now more than 8,000 more doctors, 6000 more nurses and 1,500 more midwives. The Conservative Party plan is to remain committed to increasing funding in real terms each year. In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor committed an additional £2 billion on top of this.

This funds new treatments like the £1.16 billion Cancer Drugs Fund. This is has already helped more than 60,000 people get the most pioneering, life enhancing medicine there is. 

Tackling failureNHSDavidCameron 

The public inquiry into the Mid Staffs tragedy exposed systemic failings in the NHS. The
goverment ensured that the CQC is now independent, putting in new ratings system and appointed a chief inspector for hospitals, GPs and social care. All 11 hospitals put into Special Measures after the Keogh Review are making progress and five are out of special measures. 

Dignity in wards 

It is also important we are respect patients’ dignity by nearly eradicating mixed sex wards. The number of patients facing the indignity of mixed-sex wards has fallen from 11,802 in November 2010 to 170 in July 2014.

Reducing infection rates

Hospital infections have been halved since 2010 – so people have much more confidence that they are going to cleaner hospitals where they are less likely to get more ill. Both MRSA and C. Difficile are down by more than 50 per cent since since 2010. 

Clearly there are many challenges ahead of us, so it is crucial we ensure a Conservative government to continue the investment in the NHS.