Reality Check: More mental health staff for the NHS?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said there will be 21,000 more nurses, therapists and consultants working in mental health services in England by 2021 | BBC News

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But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has questioned whether there is enough money and how these posts are going to filled. BBC Reality Check looked at who’s likely to be right. We’re talking about England because the running of health services is devolved to the other nations.

The government has pledged to spend an extra £1bn already promised for mental health services in England on the new staff. This is not new money from the Treasury but comes from existing NHS budgets.

Experts from the Nuffield Trust, a think-tank specialising in health policy, say £1bn would be more than enough to fund 21,000 nurses. Although we don’t know how many of the new jobs will be for nurses and how many will be for consultants – and of course their salaries vary widely – it seems the plan is roughly affordable, albeit with money that has to be found from elsewhere in NHS budgets.

But that still leaves the question of whether staff can be recruited to fill the posts in such a short timeframe.

Read the full news story here

Public health interventions may offer society a return on investment of £14 for each £1 spent

Each £1 invested in public health interventions could offer an average return on investment to the wider health and social care economy of £14 | NIHR Signal

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This systematic review looked at 52 studies where the return on each £1 ranged from -£21.3 to £221. Legislative interventions such as sugar taxes, and health protection interventions such as vaccination programmes, gave the highest returns on investment. Interventions such as anti-stigma campaigns, blood pressure monitoring and early education programmes, provided smaller (but still favourable) returns. National campaigns offered greater returns than local campaigns. Falls prevention provided the quickest return, within 18 months.

These findings apply to high-income countries. There are some limitations to the data, as a variety of calculation techniques were used and the quality of the included studies varied. However, these are unlikely to alter the direction or approximate size of these effects. The study shows how cost-effective public health interventions can be and should inspire future research into how to better implement what is already known.

 

Big cuts planned to public health budgets

Plans to cut public health budgets by £85m this year ‘self-defeating’ | story via Kings Fund

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Public health services such as sexual health clinics and services reducing harm from smoking, alcohol and drugs are to be cut by £85m this year by local authorities, despite having their budgets severely reduced in recent times, new research has found.

In findings released by the King’s Fund which analysed Department of Communities and Local Government data, it was revealed that councils in England were planning to spend £3.4bn on public health services in 2017-18.

However, on a like-for-like basis excluding the impact of changes to how budgets are calculated over different years, councils will only spend £2.52bn on public health in 2017-18 compared to £2.60bn last year.

Once inflation is factored in, the King’s Fund experts also discovered that public health spending is more than 5% less in 2017-18 than it was four years ago, in 2013-14.

Full story at The Kings Fund

Related: Kings Fund blog: Chickens coming home to roost: local government public health budgets for 2017/18

 

Financial challenges facing the NHS

The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) has published NHS financial temperature check: finance directors’ views on financial challenges facing the NHS in England. 

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This briefing draws on the responses of finance directors of trusts and foundation trusts and chief finance officers of CCGs.  It finds the financial performance of the NHS remains under significant financial pressure.

Trusts reported a combined deficit of £791m in 2016/17, after receiving additional funds of £1.8bn from the sustainability and transformation fund (STF).

The performance of CCGs, based on month 11 forecasts, looks better than that of trusts with a forecast in-year underspend of £250m, but this is after the release of the £800m risk reserve to CCGs’ bottom line.

Full document: NHS financial temperature check – briefing July 2017

Additional link: NHS Providers

NHS continuing healthcare funding

The National Audit Office has published Investigation into NHS continuing healthcare funding. This investigation sets out the facts relating to NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) funding and, in particular, access to CHC funding. It covers

  • Who is eligible for CHC funding and what the assessment process is
  • How long the assessment and decision-making process takes
  • Access to CHC funding
  • The cost of CHC to the NHS
  • Variation in access to CHC funding
  • Arrangements for reviewing access to CHC funding.

Government ‘reneging on promise to fund 10,000 extra nursing places’ | via @guardiannews

Scrapping nursing bursaries was supposed to expand training places – but that pledge has been quietly dropped, universities say | The Guardian

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Universities are warning that the government is quietly reneging on its promise to provide 10,000 new nursing degree places, intended to relieve pressure on the NHS.

Student nurses must spend 50% of their degree working under supervision, usually in a hospital. But universities have told Education Guardian that not a single extra nursing training place has been funded or allocated for the future. It would cost £15m over five years to fund training placements for 10,000 new nurses, according to the Council of Deans of Health, the body that represents university faculties of nursing.

Applications to study nursing in the new 2017-18 academic year have slumped by 23% compared with last year, after the abolition of bursaries. The government said last year it would free up £800m and pay for an extra 10,000 places by ending bursaries and shifting student nurses to the standard system of £9,000-a-year tuition fees supported by loans. Angry academics now say this was a hollow promise.

Read the full news story here

£1bn bedblocking fund not being spent properly, say 40% of hospitals

Hospital bosses say local councils are failing to properly boost social care provision so that more patients can be discharged | The Guardian

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More than 40% of British hospitals say they cannot guarantee patients will receive safe care next winter because a sum of £1bn earmarked to reduce “bedblocking” is not being spent properly. Hospital bosses claim that many local councils are failing to put the emergency funding into schemes to help patients get home quicker by improving social care support for them. As a result, the NHS is likely to come even closer to falling over than it did in 2016-17, according to a new report from NHS Providers, the trade association that represents most NHS trusts in England.

Government plans that the £1bn will free up 2,000-3,000 hospital beds are not being realised, it claims. Serious problems last winter saw record numbers of hospitals temporarily unable to cope with the sheer number of patients needing treatment and unprecedented numbers of patients forced to wait – in ambulances outside A&E units and on trolleys in corridors – for a bed before they could be admitted.

Read the full news story here