The Week, 13 May 2016

13 May 2016

The Department for Work and Pensions established a taskforce on Monday to improve access to apprenticeships for disabled people. Aligning the Government’s two major objectives — to deliver three million more apprenticeships and halve the disability employment gap by the end of the Parliament — will help them to deliver on both counts. However, Stephen Crabb announced on Wednesday that the White Paper on supporting more disabled people into work has been “put on hold”. Reform will publish a report on supporting disabled people into work.

Hannah Titley, Researcher

Reformer of the week

Prime Minister David Cameron MP, who introduced ‘open contracting’ requirements in a bid to tackle corruption.

Reactionary of the week

The Department of Health, as below under ‘NHS workforce’.

Good week for…

Employment opportunities for disabled people

On Monday, the Department for Work and Pensions set up a taskforce to help more people with learning disabilities into apprenticeships.

Healthcare access

Also on Monday, Boots pharmacy announced plans to offer in-store skin cancer checks and diabetes treatments. This follows Reform’s recent report Who cares? The future of general practice which recommended using pharmacists to issue prescriptions and deal with minor ailments, freeing GPs to provide for those with more complex needs.

Transparency

On Thursday, the Government introduced “open contracting” requirements. Conviction checks will be used to ensure that companies convicted of offences such as bribery and fraud, are prevented from winning public contracts.

Bad week for…

End of life care

On Monday, the Care Quality Commission reported that people from an ethnic minority, homeless people and travellers receive poor quality care at the end of their lives because providers and commissioners do not accommodate their needs.

Low paid workers

On Wednesday, the National Audit Office revealed that almost one fifth of cases on employers’ non-compliance with the National Minimum Wage take HM Revenue & Customs over eight months to resolve.

NHS workforce

Also on Wednesday, the Public Accounts Committee found that NHS authorities had in effect lost control of NHS staffing after the final report on the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal. NHS hospitals had responded by simply recruiting more nurses, instead of thinking about better use of staff that would also be financially sustainable.

Quotes of the week

“There are serious flaws in the Government’s approach to staffing the NHS and without urgent action the public will pay for it on multiple fronts. Frontline staff such as doctors and nurses are the lifeblood of the service, yet the supply of these staff in England is not keeping pace with demand. This poor workforce planning means patients face the possibility of longer waiting times and a greater cost to the public purse.”

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, on Wednesday

Emphasising the importance of long term investment, Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP indicated that anything proposed by a government department that ran longer than a year was “fought viciously by the Treasury”. He said “[T]he culture of the UK has been dominated by the short-term, Treasury-led idea about where Britain should be. I honestly, genuinely say one of the biggest problems has been that culture. It is not an investment culture—it is always about a savings culture.”

Extract from the Guardian including a quote from Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, Former Work and Pensions Secretary, speaking on the Treasury on Thursday

“There is nothing inevitable about countries being held back by the scourge of corruption, but it is a global problem that requires co-ordinated action.
The UK is determined to lead the fight against corruption, which is why we are today committing ourselves to increasing transparency, introducing additional criminal check, and creating a new anti-corruption hub.”

Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, commenting on the Government’s anti-corruption strategy on Thursday

Reform’s Week

Events

On Monday, Reform hosted a policy roundtable on New psychoactive substances: a case for integration between health and criminal justice services. The discussion was led by Nigel Newcomen CBE, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, and Kate Davies OBE, Head of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Public Health at NHS England.

Media

On Monday Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog for TechUK arguing that technology must go further than return small efficiency savings, and should instead fundamentally change the way public services are delivered.

The Reformer Blog

On Monday Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, recorded a video blog on what Reform has been up to over the last month, including the latest reports and events, and our work on upcoming projects.

On Friday Alasdair Riggs, Research Assistant at Reform, wrote a blog reflecting on Reform’s recent policy roundtable on The Future NHS Workforce, which was led by Danny Mortimer, CEO, NHS Employers.

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