On 12th May 2014 Baroness Kennedy of Cradley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps are being taken to ensure adequate levels of nursing staff in the National Health Service.”
The Bishop of Oxford asked a supplementary question, drawing parallels between staffing obligations and the situation of Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, which had been warned about disregarding NICE guidelines on another case:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, given the court ruling last week against Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, saying that it was obliged to follow NICE guidelines unless a special factor could be determined that would justify departure, will Her Majesty’s Government give an assurance that the same test will apply to NHS trusts in regard to the ratio of nurses and patients?
Earl Howe: The guidance issued today by NICE on staffing ratios, to which I think the right reverend Prelate is specifically referring, is in draft, but the deputy chief executive of NICE has stressed that there are no floor or ceiling numbers on the required number of nursing staff that can be applied either across the whole of the NHS or in a particular ward setting. What the profession is seeking, and what NICE is looking to give it, is a reference tool or guideline that will enable it to judge correct staffing levels in accordance with the particular circumstances of a ward and the skill mix of the staff on that ward. It is a guideline rather than a mandatory prescription.
The Bishop of Norwich asked a written question of Government, on the number of GPs available for primary care needs in the next five years. He received an answer from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Earl Howe, on 10th March 2014. The question and reply are below.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there are adequate numbers of general practitioners (GPs) available for primary care needs in England over the next five years in the light of the age profile of current practising GPs, their increasing role as commissioners, and the impact of the introduction of revalidation for all doctors.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Department set up Health Education England (HEE) to deliver a better health and healthcare workforce for England. HEE is responsible for ensuring a secure workforce supply for the future balancing need against demand, taking into account factors such as the age profile of the existing workforce, the impact of technology, and new drugs. Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich presses Government on sustainability of GP numbers”
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked Her Majesty’s Government why they have discontinued the annual survey of mental health spending.
The Bishop of Leicester asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, between 2011 and 2012 home support services saw a decrease of some 5.5% in expenditure. Can the noble Baroness tell us what impact this is likely to have on the mental well-being of people living with dementia and their carers? How can this impact be monitored if detailed spending figures are not yet available?
Baroness Jolly: Dementia services are delivered jointly with social care. The Government will be working with NHS England through clinical commissioning groups to make sure that the joint strategic needs assessments that are set out in local plans include provision for people living with dementia. My honourable friend in the other place has set up pioneering groups that are looking at integration of services. All that is very high on the agenda.
On 10th October 2013, Baroness Knight of Collingtree askedHer Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to ensure that medical professionals offering to perform abortions on the grounds of gender are prosecuted. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, does not this case, and in particular the letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions, taken together with the overall fact that, I believe, nearly a quarter of recognised pregnancies are deliberately ended in the womb, call for a comprehensive review of the operation of the Act in its entirety?
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I am certainly cognisant of the strong views that are held about this Act and its operation. One of the clear things emerging from this case is the great need to have clearer guidance for doctors on how to carry out their functions and the tests that are set down in Section 1 of the Abortion Act. I am confident that that will now be addressed. Certainly, the Crown Prosecution Service stands ready to assist in any way to provide that clarity.