In this month's bulletin: developing a retail market for telehealth and telecare services, policies to develop integrated community care alongside cuts in social care, the first G8 summit on dementia, and a government defeat on the Independent Living Fund.
A new report from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign calls for urgent improvements to wheelchair services. Based on the experiences of 600 people affected by this condition, the report finds that many are trapped in their homes by delays and lack of funding for specialised wheelchairs.
The National Wheelchair Managers Forum and the Posture and Mobility Group (PMG) have suggested that the panel which manages funding for enhanced prosthetics for veterans should have its remit extended to include complex wheelchairs. Dr Andrew Murrison, who reported on the prosthetics service for veterans (A better deal for military amputees), has now recommended this to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
The Office of Fair Trading has issued an infringement decision finding that Roma Medical Aids Limited and certain of its retailers infringed the Competition Act 1998. The decision is available on the OFT website. The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) is investigating any possible breach of its Code of Practice. New provisions on the visibility of prices have added to the BHTA Code.
BHTA has published a press release on buying mobility vehicles and a free guide, Get wise to buying a mobility vehicle.
Transport for London (TfL) has announced that every ticket office on the Tube network is to shut by 2015. Leonard Cheshire Disability has called for TfL to ‘talk to the 1 in 7 Londoners who are disabled to check if they will still be able to use the tube like anyone else’.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a survey to improve the experiences of older and disabled people travelling by air. Under European regulations, anyone facing difficulty moving around the airport or aircraft is entitled to assistance from their airline or airport. Access the survey here. If you have any difficulty completing it, please call 020 7453 6213.
Back to top
There are over 350,000 stoma and continence patients in the UK who need specialised care from healthcare professionals to allow them to live as normal a life as possible. The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) includes sections for stoma and continence manufacturers and for dispensing appliance contractors. The BHTA is also part of the Patients Industry Professionals Forum (PIPs), where user support organisations, professional groups and industry suppliers come together to produce prescribing guidelines and other support.
3. Telehealth and Telecare
NHS England took over responsibility in April for the 3millionlives programme to deliver telehealth and telecare to three million people by 2017. It has now announced a shift in strategic direction combining ‘clinical advocacy, service improvement and technology strategy’, and closer collaboration with the NHS, social care, housing, voluntary sector and industry through a new stakeholder forum. The programme has been repositioned as ‘Integrated Care for 3millionlives’ and extended to include a broader range of assistive technologies – telehealth, telecare, telemedicine and telecoaching. A delivery plan will be published by the end of March 2014.
NHS England has also scrapped plans for seven ‘pathfinder’ sites to lead the adoption of telehealth. A report in GP Online is here.
A summary paper by FAST and partners proposes how organisations providing assisted living (AL) services (telehealth, telecare, social inclusion ICT) could consider changing their supply chain relationships to support the development of a large scale retail market. The paper notes that the current market based on AL suppliers selling to bulk purchasing businesses in local authorities and the NHS has stalled.
Newcastle University Business School is holding a free afternoon workshop on ‘What will the future market for electronic assistive technology look like?’ as part of its Sustainable Business Models for Assisted Living Technologies & Services (SALT) project Aimed at retailers, manufacturers and distributors, the workshop will discuss the shift from state to individual funding.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for further information.
The Telecare eNewsletter November 2013 is here.
Back to top
4. Information and Communication Technology
AbilityNet's work in helping disabled people use digital technology has been recognised with a place in the Top Ten of the UK Digital Leaders Awards 2013 alongside the BBC, Google and Mozilla.
Based in the NHS spinal injury centres, the Aspire Assistive Technology programme aims to ensure that everyone, regardless of the level of their injury, has independent access to a computer. A report on Aspire’s fourth Assistive Technology Conference is available.
Reports from this year’s eAccess conference are available on the eAccess Bulletin website.
Go ON Gold, the national campaign to help disabled people access computers and the Internet, has ended and its assets are being transferred to two legacy partners: Lasa and the One Voice for Accessible ICT Coalition.
Ofcom announced last year that a ‘next generation’ text relay service must be made available to all landline and mobile customers by 18 April 2014. Ofcom is proposing to approve the first such service, which is from BT.
The European Commission has released a report from a stock-taking Study on Assessing and Promoting E-Accessibility.
Back to top
5. Public Services
The Public Accounts Committee has begun an inquiry into the delivery of public services by private contractors, including evidence from civil servants and leading out-sourcing companies.
Two reports from the National Audit Office (NAO) challenge government and private sector contractors to work together more effectively in the taxpayers’ interest: ‘Contracting with private sector providers is a fast-growing and important part of delivering public services. But there is a crisis of confidence at present, caused by some worrying examples of contractors not appearing to treat the public sector fairly, and of departments themselves not being on top of things’. The NAO is concerned about the dominant position of a few major companies, lack of transparency about profits, and poor contract management by government.
The Care Quality Commission has published its annual report on the state of health and social care services in England in 2012/13, as it moves into a new inspection regime. Key findings include:
The government’s NHS Mandate 2014/15 for NHS England reflects its key priorities:
For long-term conditions particular progress is required in four areas: involving people in their own care; the use of technology; integration of services; the diagnosis, treatment and care of those with dementia. Significant progress should be made towards three million people with long-term conditions being able to benefit from telehealth and telecare by 2017.
The NHS Outcomes Framework 2014/15 reflects the priorities in the NHS Mandate, including measures on the quality of life for people with long-term conditions and on reablement and rehabilitation.
A report from Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of NHS England, proposes a shift in urgent care, with more extensive and responsive services outside hospital, and a two-tier approach to emergency care, with patients with more serious conditions receiving treatment in specialist A & E centres. He will now consult on implementing the proposals.
A press release about the review is here.
The government has accepted most of the recommendations made by Robert Francis in his inquiry into the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Plans include a statutory duty of candour on NHS organisations (not individuals) when things go wrong, monthly reporting from next April of ward-by-ward staffing levels (while rejecting a standardised staffing level), and quarterly reporting of complaints and lessons learned by trusts.
NHS England is consulting on its five-year strategy for commissioning specialised services. Submissions should focus on over-arching themes rather than on individual specialised services such as complex disability equipment, as engagement will be carried out separately on individual services.
The Commons Health Committee has begun an inquiry into public expenditure on health and social care, including the requirement for health services to achieve 4% year-on-year efficiency gains (the ‘Nicholson Challenge’). Sir David Nicholson admitted in oral evidence that shifting funds from acute to community care would be difficult and that competition law was getting in the way of integrating and reconfiguring services.
A written submission by the Nuffield Trust suggested concerns about the sustainability of many hospital trusts, particularly smaller and non-foundation trusts, and that the unprecedented savings required will be difficult to achieve.
Health Minister Lord Howe has launched the first UK Rare Diseases Strategy, covering support, treatment and research, with a personal care plan for every patient to bring together health and care services.
Back to top
7. Integrated Care
Under the new GP contract for 2014/15, four million patients aged 75 or over will have a dedicated GP personally accountable for coordinating their care and there will be new incentives to identify patients most at risk of admission to hospital.
Health and wellbeing boards bring together the NHS and local councils to plan how to meet local health and care needs. A report by the King’s Fund finds that they are mainly focused on public health and have not begun to grapple with urgent strategic challenges or develop their full role in joint commissioning.
According to the latest national audit of intermediate care, the level of provision seems to be stuck at half of that required to avoid inappropriate admissions and provide adequate post-acute care for older people.
An integrated care pathway to help older people with long-term multiple conditions has won a Health Service Journal award. The Newquay Pathfinder, piloted by the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group with Age UK, provides joined up care across the NHS, social services and voluntary sector, helping older people live a more independent life and stay out of hospital. An Age UK staff member or volunteer acts as the key link by helping draw up a care plan.
Back to top
8. Social Care
According to a report by the Audit Commission, councils are losing their ability to protect adult social care from significant cuts and staff cuts have been the biggest source of savings.
The Press Association reports that cuts in social care are leading to an increase in delayed discharges from hospital.
The Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework for 2014 to 2015 reflects government policies on supporting people to maintain independence and give them control over the care they receive.
The government has launched an interactive map based on outcomes data to help people compare adult social care services.
The All-Party Groups on Disability and Local Government have launched an inquiry into social care for adults of working age (18-65), supported by Scope. More information and a questionnaire on the Scope website.
Back to top
9. Services for Older People
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there were 31,100 excess winter deaths last year from cold-related illness – up more than a quarter on the previous year.
Information to help people ‘Keep Warm Keep Well’ is available from Public Health England.
Age UK and the Energy Bill Revolution campaign are urging the government to address the ‘scandal of cold homes’, caused by poor insulation and high energy costs.
Esther Rantzen has launched Silver Line, a free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
10. Services for People with Dementia
The Alzheimer's Society has called on providers, academics, leaders and users of assistive technology to take joint action on creating a dementia-friendly technology charter. A new group will develop the charter, drawing on findings from the joint report Dementia-friendly technology: Delivering the National Dementia Challenge, developed by Alzheimer’s Society and Tunstall Healthcare.
The UK is hosting the first G8 dementia summit on 11th of December 2013. More about the Prime Minister’s ‘Dementia Challenge’ here.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has published Dementia: A state of the nation report on dementia care and support in England and an interactive map where people can see data about dementia care in their area.
11. Rights for Disabled People
The United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities takes place on the 3rd of December 2013. The theme is: ‘Break barriers and open doors to realise an inclusive society for all’.
The Disability Action Alliance has created a page on its website for events in the UK.
UK Disability History Month runs from 22nd of November to 22nd of December 2013 with the theme: Celebrating our Struggle for Independent Living.
The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a series of conferences across the country aimed at showcasing the talents of the 6.9 million disabled people of working age in Great Britain. These are part of the Disability Confident campaign launched by the Prime Minister in July. For more information see
Action on Hearing Loss has launched ‘Sound Advice’, a new information pack providing employers with best practice guidance on how to ensure recruitment processes are accessible for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
A report from the House of Lords Committee on the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy has found that, while the Paralympic Games provided genuine inspiration for disabled people to take up sport, there are barriers in the quality of the facilities available. While extensive media coverage had a powerful effect on public perceptions of disabled sport, there was less clear evidence of a similar impact on the broader perceptions of disabled people.
A new guide to link local sport provision with wider disability networks has been published by the English Federation of Disability Sport. The Engagement Guide aims to support County Sports Partnerships and other local sports providers, so they can build relationships in the disability sector and get more disabled people active together.
NHS England has begun a programme of work to develop and implement an information standard for accessible information.
12. Welfare Reform
BBC News reports that disabled people have won a challenge to the government's decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2015 and transfer its responsibilities to local authorities. The £320 million ILF currently provides support enabling nearly 19,000 severely disabled people in the UK to live independent lives in the community. The Court of Appeal ruled that the government had not adequately considered whether ‘independent living might well be put seriously in peril for a large number of people’, finding insufficient evidence of compliance with the public sector equality duty.
Ministers are taking further advice on the future of the ILF and all closure related activity has ceased.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has welcomed the ruling.
The Disability Benefits Consortium, a coalition of over 50 charities, is calling on the government to exempt disabled people from the ‘bedroom tax’.
Leading deaf organisations are calling on the government to reassess changes to communication support provided by the Access to Work scheme.
Around 3,000 disabled people in the work-related activity group for employment and support allowance (ie those assessed as being able to work at some point in the future) will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them address barriers to work, or face losing their benefits. The two-year pilot scheme will compare support from healthcare professionals provided by the private company Ingeus UK to two other pilot schemes offering enhanced employment-focussed support from Jobcentre Plus or from private sector Work Programme providers.
Jobcentre Plus is advertising partnership opportunities for public and voluntary organisations to help move people off benefits and into employment.
The Department of Health is advertising for a strategic partner from the voluntary sector with expertise on the impact of work and worklessness on health and wellbeing.
The government has published guidance on What Personal Independence Payment means for the health sector.
A report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee on the early stages of universal credit has called its implementation ‘extraordinarily poor’. Ministers have insisted that improvements are being made under a new management team and universal credit will be rolled out to all claimants as planned by 2017.
Universal credit will be paid monthly and administered online. According to the Guardian, research shows that one in ten claimants might need support costing hundreds of millions of pounds to equip them with the necessary digital and financial skills.
Back to top
13. Services for Children and Young People
The Council for Disabled Children has developed new training for parents of disabled children on engaging with health services.
According to the Carers Trust, 160,000 young carers in England will benefit from a government amendment to the Children and Families Bill, giving them stronger rights to assessment and support.
Back to top
Naidex National takes place at NEC Birmingham from 29 April to 1 May 2014 and over 10,000 visitors are expected at the show’s 40th anniversary. Naidex is the UK’s largest disability, homecare and rehabilitation event and showcases the latest AT products and services. The programme includes a partnership with the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) to provide a new dedicated COT Zone.
15. News in Brief
The Disabled Living Foundation has a library of simple electronic aids which can be borrowed for two weeks to see if they meet the user’s needs.
The Homecare Industry Information Service (THIIS) website has news about AT products and services. The THIIS monthly trade magazine has the latest news and views from the marketplace and is available online.
AT Today is a joint publication produced by the British Healthcare Trades Association and THIIS to update professionals on the latest AT products, research and developments and can be freely downloaded.
NHS England and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are consulting on improvements to the reporting of medical device and medication errors.
The draft quality standard for infection control from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is available for consultation.
Back to top