Health and wellbeing news round-up: April 2019

Since our last health and wellbeing news round-up, a lot has happened in health and care including the launch of the new NHS long-term plan. Here’s a quick round-up of news that’s relevant to voluntary sector organisations, as well as an update on the work of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

NHS long-term plan

In January, NHS England launched their new long-term plan for the next five to ten years of the health service. I blogged about the key issues for charities at the time, and the Kings Fund has also produced a brilliantly useful explainer on the plan.

From its publication in January until the summer, local health bodies will be developing local implementation plans. More on how the commitments in the long-term plan will be delivered will be then set out in an implementation framework which is due soon. A workforce implementation plan, developed by the chair of NHS Improvement Baroness Dido Harding, is also due later this year.

A consultation is currently open about possible legislative changes to enable the implementation of the long-term plan. The changes focus on allowing a more flexible approach to competitive procurement, as well as putting mechanisms in place for the development of new ‘integrated care trusts’. These would be single bodies taking control of the budget for a local health system. NCVO is keen to make sure that these changes don’t result in an increase of aggregated contracts that are difficult for voluntary organisations to access, or a loss of funding for organisations.

Social prescribing

NHS England are planning an expansion of social prescribing services within primary care. The GP contract includes details of how this will work in practice. Funding is being made available to primary care networks (groups of GP practices) to pay for new roles, including social prescribing link workers. Networks can decide which provider organisation employs the staff. The number of roles covered by the scheme correlates to the number of people served by the network. The Kings Fund have also developed a great explainer on primary care networks.

The GP contract includes further information about introductory arrangements, and also includes a guide job specification. In this description, link workers are described as having a role in enabling local voluntary organisations to receive referrals, in ensuring organisations have proper safeguarding processes in place, and making sure local groups are sustainable. We want to ensure that this expansion builds on great work that is already happening in our sector, and also doesn’t duplicate the work of local infrastructure organisations.

Relationship with the voluntary sector

Between October 2018 and February 2019 Public Health England conducted a review of the wider public health workforce. The review found that the VCSE sector is a central component of the public health workforce and a strong driver of the social movement for better health. They are now running a webinar on ‘VCSE in the wider public health workforce’ to open a discussion to allow a better understanding of how the voluntary sector is working in public health, and how Public Health England can be useful in supporting and enabling this workforce. The webinar is on Thursday 11 April, you can register here.

NCVO is supporting voluntary sector colleagues around the country to be more involved in shaping health and social care reform. At the moment, we’re supporting NHS England to disseminate learning from eight STP areas that are actively building partnerships with the voluntary sector. To be on our mailing list for updates on the learning, sharing of case studies and so on, please email us.

The Empowered People and Communities Taskforce (in which there are representatives from the Health and Wellbeing Alliance) has also developed draft principles to support NHS England to meet their ambitions of better partnership working with the VCSE sector, you can see this work here.

Other NHS England news

  • NHS England have launched a new transformation bulletin, for anyone with an interest in data, digital technology and services within health and care.
  • NHS England launched its ‘celebrating patient and public involvement in healthcare’ community grants, which NCVO was involved in the judging for. The programme has funded ten projects that have demonstrated excellence and innovation in involving local communities, especially some of the most vulnerable community groups.
  • New website Transforming Healthcare Together will equip NHS, social care and voluntary sector leaders to build relationships that will transform our healthcare system, with a practical focus on working together to achieve joint action. The free support offer includes workshops, webinars, coaching delivered by The King’s Fund and access to a practice development network.
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Rosie Walworth Rosie joined NCVO in 2018 as a trainee external relations officer after working as a programme manager for a literacy charity. Rosie supports both NCVO’s parliamentary work and media relations, including Constructive Voices, and is responsible for organising our annual Campaigning Conference.

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