Health and Wellbeing Policy News 16-23 May 2016

 It's been a big news week for health and wellbeing policy.  More detail can be found here, but a few of the key items are:

  • Agreement in the junior doctors' dispute was finally reached between the Government and the BMA (18th).  The deal now has to be put to a ballot of members and many are apparently unhappy with it.  Jeremy Hunt insisted that the Government had stuck to all its 'red lines', which could be argued to be a little unhelpful since they've been criticising the BMA for not being willing to negotiate on Saturday standard hours (which they now have) which could be argued to be their 'red line'.
  • NHS trusts had a record deficit of £2.45bn last year (20th) but it was argued that the underlying deficit was actually £3.5bn, with the figure kept down by some nifty accounting footwork.  In other words, even with something of a bailout this year, there is still more trouble ahead.
  • The Queen's speech set out the Government's legislative programme for the year (18th) which includes a Children and Social Work Bill (18th, 19th) which aims to increase adoption, increase professional standards in social work and set up a new specialist regulator for the profession.  It also lets government directly regulate the profession and free up some authorities from some obligations under legislation and subsequently to change that legislation.
  • Lord Jim O'Neill's final report on antimicrobial resistance has been published (19th).  Many of the ideas are, perhaps inevitably, similar to previous reports but it makes recommendations for global action in ten areas, including incentivising drug companies to develop new antibiotics and requiring doctors to only prescribe them after diagnostic tests (once those have been developed).  It is intended to take the ideas forward at various international gatherings.
  • The number of mental health patients treated out of area has been steadily increasing over the last five years (20th)
  • The high court has ruled against a number of tobacco companies which means legislation on plain packaging can now be implemented, from 20th May.
  • Over half of health financial directors think the quality of care has got worse in the last year, according to the King's Fund's latest quarterly monitoring report (19th)
  • The Government has acknowledged the potential harm to the NHS of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, in accepting an amendment from its backbenchers in effect calling for the NHS to be excluded from the deal (19th)

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