BGS Policy Update - September 2016

14 September 2016

I joined BGS as Policy Manager at the beginning of June, and I am delighted to be here. Before that I worked at the Charity Commission where I was a senior policy manager, and before that I worked in the voluntary sector, including leading the public policy and research team at the disability charity, Scope. My expertise is in policy, research and public affairs. I have an MSc in Voluntary Sector Organisation from the London School of Economics.   

In my first few weeks at BGS I attended a series of meetings and conferences which helped get me up to speed quickly. Attending the Acute Frailty Network conference, and the Nurses Fellowship conference, provided a snapshot of some of the excellent practice that exists alongside the challenges currently faced by geriatricians, nurses and other health professionals.   

Since June there have been some significant policy developments, and I am enjoying working with BGS officers and colleagues in the secretariat to ensure that we engage and respond swiftly.    

Key policy developments

BGS’s written evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee Inquiry on planning for winter pressure on A&E departments: As part of its Inquiry into pressures on A&E departments, the Health Select Committee issued a call for written evidence. BGS sent a submission from David Oliver and Eileen Burns, in which we call for recognition that there are limits to the steps that hospitals themselves can take to lessen winter pressure, and that the underlying structural issues must be addressed. The BGS submission has also been published on the Select Committee’s webpages.  The Committee will be holding a series of oral evidence sessions in the autumn, before publishing a final report of their findings and recommendations.

CQC report on integrated care: On 12 July the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its report, Building bridges, breaking barriers: integrated care for older people, which highlighted some significant shortcomings in the delivery of integrated care for older people. CQC made a number of recommendations to address some of the barriers that exist at present. 

BGS issued a media statement backing CQC’s call for integrated patient centred care, in which we recognised that while there is a clear commitment to delivering integrated care, there is still a long way to go.  We were pleased that our statement was widely shared, and was published on CQC’s website.   

National Audit Office (NAO) and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reports on delayed discharge and discharging older people from acute hospital:  On 26 May the National Audit Office published a report examining how effectively the health and social care system is managing the discharge of older people from hospital. Their conclusions highlighted that unnecessary stays in hospital result in worse health outcomes for patients. They also waste strained NHS hospital resources, creating avoidable costs for social care and community healthcare.  

The Public Accounts Committee for England then held its hearing on the findings of the NAO’s report, and their report of the hearing was published on 19 July. The report makes recommendations for overcoming boundaries between health and social care, addressing variations in local  performance, the need for better sharing of patient information and the need for financial incentives to reduce delays.  We now await Government’s response to PAC’s report.

Letter from Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health: Following the outcome of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union on 23 June, Teresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister and her re-appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Health Minister, we wrote to Jeremy Hunt calling for a national strategic direction for older people living with frailty, dementia, complex needs and multiple long-term conditions.  We were pleased to receive a reply in which the Minister recognised the ‘major role in shaping our society and the place older people have in it’ which the membership of BGS plays, and expressed his commitment to working together with us to achieve that. 

Current programme of work

Autumn conferences and meetings: I will be attending the Labour Party conference in Liverpool and Conservative Party conference in Birmingham where I will be doing all I can to raise the profile of BGS, and attending as many relevant fringe meetings as possible.  I am currently in the process of arranging for a BGS member to join me.

Joint BGS/RCGP report on integrated care: For the last few months we have been involved in a joint project with RCGP. The outcome will be a joint report by BGS/RCGP on ‘Delivering integrated care for older people with frailty: innovative approaches in practice’. The work has been overseen by a small project group which has a mix of members and staff from both RCGP and BGS. The aim of the report is to inspire both commissioners and practitioners developing innovative models of health care for older people.  The report will contain case study examples across a range of settings that are already working well in practice. We are working towards publishing the report before the end of 2016. 

Update of BGS guidance on commissioning health care in care homes: We will be publishing an updated version of our guidance on healthcare in care homes to include reference to guidance and guidelines that have been issued since the guidance was first developed in 2013. Our aim is to publish the updated guidance by the time the Autumn conference takes place.  

Engaging with BGS policy function: I have met some of our members at our annual trustee away day, and at other committee meetings, and I am looking forward to meeting many more members in the autumn, when I will be attending the Wales and Northern Ireland Councils, and the autumn meeting in Glasgow. If you have any questions, comments or ideas about ways in which the BGS delivers its policy function please don’t hesitate to contact me.  

Caroline Cooke
BGS Policy Manager