Latest news

Fri 19 August 2016

Government publishes the Childhood Obesity Strategy

The Government has published their Childhood Obesity Strategy, with plans set out to encourage industry to cut the amount of sugar in food and drinks and ensure that primary school children are able to eat more healthily and stay active.

As part of its goal to reduce England’s rate of childhood obesity within the next ten years (public health is a fully devolved issue), the Government’s plan proposes the following:

  • Introduction of a soft drinks industry levy -  placed on producers and importers, to be legislated on in the 2017 Budget
  • Reducing sugar in products by 20 per cent by 2020 - initially focusing on nine categories that largely contribute to children’s sugar intake, this aim will then move on to cover other relevant food and drinks, including milk-based drinks that may be out of the scope of the soft drinks industry levy
  • Encouraging innovation to help businesses to make their products healthier - through the work of Innovate UK, Agri-Food technology Council and the Food Innovation Network
  • Updating the nutrient profile model - Public Health England is currently working with academics, industry, NGOs and other stakeholders to ensure the nutrient profile reflects the latest dietary guidelines
  • Make healthy options more available in the public sector - working with local authorities to ensure they adopt the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services (GBSF) and to make sure central government departments adopt them
  • Re-committing to the Healthy Start scheme - in 2015/2016, the Healthy Start scheme provided an estimated £60m worth of vouchers for fruit, vegetables and milk to low income families across England
  • Helping children enjoy an hour of physical activity every day - funding for this will be provided by the soft drinks industry levy and made available for school sports.  PHE will also be developing advice to schools for the academic year 2017/2018
  • Improving co-ordination of quality sport and physical activity programmes for schools - including through offering sport programmes to every primary school, and increasing investment in walking and cycling to school
  • Creating a new healthy rating scheme for primary schools - the criteria for the rating scheme will be developed in consultation with schools and experts
  • Making school food healthier - updating the School Food Standards (2015) to reflect refreshed Government dietary recommendations, and encourage academies and free schools to commit to the standards
  • Clearer food labeling
  • Supporting early years settings - the Children’s Food Trust are currently working on revised menus for early years settings, with the campaign set to launch in early 2017
  • Harnessing the best technology - working with PHE and Innovate UK to develop apps to enable consumers to use technology and data to inform eating decisions
  • Enabling health professionals to support families - through the launch of a resource suite called “Make Every Contact Count”

In conjunction with the above, the Government has opened a consultation on the soft drinks industry levy, which can be viewed and responded to here. The consultation closes on 13 October 2016.

Commenting on the strategy, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison MP, said that it was “an important step forward in the fight to halt our obesity crisis and create a Britain fit for the future”, while Public Health Minister, Nicola Blackwood MP, said that one of the best ways to reduce childhood obesity is to “boost sports in schools”, and encouraged schools and parents to ensure children do an extra hour of a physical activity every day.

You can read the Government's strategy online here.

Fri 12 August 2016

NHS England appoints 40 CRG chairs

NHS England has announced the appointment of 40 Clinical Reference Group (CRG) clinical leads following the changes made to CRGs earlier in the year.  Chairs have been appointed to serve for three years and, for the first time, the role of CRG Chair will be a formal, remunerated NHS England position.

Of particular note, the following appointments have been made:

  • Cancer Diagnostics – Dr Wai Lup Wong, Consultant Cancer Radiologist at East and North Herts NHS Trust
  • Children and Young Adult Cancer – Dr Rachael Hough, Consultant Haematologist and Transplant Physician at University College London Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust
  • Chemotherapy – Professor Peter Clark, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS FT
  • Specialised Cancer Surgery – Mr Vijay Sangar, Consultant Urological Surgeon at University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
  • Radiotherapy – Professor Nicholas Slevin, Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

NHS England has also announced the establishment of four cross-CRG working parties:

  • Research – building an interface with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to advise how future research strategies align with commissioning and maximising opportunities
  • Data and Resource – working with NHS Digital and NHS Improvement to provide clinical advice to these organisations in their work to improve information that guides commissioning
  • Guidance – working with NICE as a stakeholder in their guidance development and providing clinical advice as needed
  • Value – to better understand, and therefore reduce, variations in services and, where appropriate, ceasing treatments/ways of working that are no longer of clinical or patient benefit

The NHS England press release can be accessed online here.

Fri 5 August 2016

Macmillan publishes research on cancer survivorship 

Research from Macmillan Cancer Support has found that 170,000 people diagnosed with cancer more than thirty years ago are still alive today, and that people are now twice as likely to live for ten years after a cancer diagnosis that they were in the 1970s.  One in four people diagnosed at least 25 years ago are still suffering ill-effects, with 42,000 people diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s experiencing problems with poor health or disability.  The report focuses on the pressures placed on the NHS to care for patients experiencing ill health and long-term side effects from cancer treatments.

Commenting on the findings, Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, states that “More and more people are being diagnosed with cancer and, in general, having a more sophisticated life with their cancer than perhaps they would have done. What we are now seeing is that lot of people are coming in and out of treatment, so all of that does put pressure on the NHS.”

The report can be accessed here and has been covered in the GuardianDaily Telegraph and on BBC News

Fri 29 July 2016

NHS England Board meeting July 2016

NHS England held its Board Meeting this week in London.  A summary of the key points arising from the meeting papers and discussion is captured below.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, emphasised that the approach taken by NHS England was shifting from one of strategic planning towards the implementation of the Five-Year Forward View.  In his report, Simon Stevens outlined that the Department of Health has “balanced” its annual budget for the third year running.  Mr Stevens stated that there was an “all guns blazing” approach to implementing the strategies established in the previous year, and that this would be done against a wider backdrop of complexity and increased scrutiny.

Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director of NHS England, emphasised that more than ever there was a need to recruit GPs and to look after existing ones, as GPs and wider general practice is functioning in a very different environment from previously

The Board was provided with an update on the progress made in implementing the GP Forward View, published in April 2016.  Since its publication, the following progress has been made:

  • A new scheme to help recruit doctors back into general practice – specifically into practices with long-standing problems with recruitment.  This scheme offers £8,000 relocation allowance, a £2,000 educational bursary, and £2,000 financial support for the practices concerned
  • Procurement has begun for the provider(s) of a new service to enable GPs to access mental health treatment services, to help with stress and burnout

Matthew Swindells, National Director: Operations and Information, and Karen Wheeler, National Director: Transformation and Corporate Operations, updated the Board on NHS England’s progress against its corporate objectives, including:

  • Financial sustainability – Significant savings are required in 2017/18 compared with 2016/17, and metrics are being agreed through which programmes will monitor progress against delivery of savings until they can be seen in reported financial figures
  • 100,000 Genomes – An options appraisal to identify strategies for increasing sample collection (particularly within the cancer cohort) has been undertaken and a plan for immediate, short-and medium-term solutions is to be initiated, with sample collection likely to be backdated

The papers from this week's meeting can be read here.

Fri 22 July 2016

Department of Health confirms ministerial portfolios

The Department of Health has confirmed the portfolios assigned to its new ministerial team.  Of particular note, David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, has responsibility for cancer; and Lord Prior, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, has drugs spending within his portfolio.

The portfolios are as follows:

Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Health, will be responsible for:

  • hospital care
  • NHS performance and operations
  • NHS workforce
  • patient safety
  • maternity care

David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, will be responsible for:

  • adult social care, carers
  • community services
  • cancer
  • dementia
  • learning disabilities
  • all elements of primary care – including dentistry and pharmacy

Nicola Blackwood MP, Minister of State for Public Health and Innovation, will be responsible for:

  • public health
  • health protection
  • technology
  • innovation
  • data

Lord Prior, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, will be responsible for:

  • drugs spending
  • life sciences
  • NHS and EU issues
  • NHS commercial issues
  • blood and transplants

It was also confirmed this week that James Morris MP is to become Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to Jeremy Hunt MP.

In a tweet confirming his acceptance of the position, Mr Morris stated he will continue to “champion mental health issues”.

Fri 15 July 2016

Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, announces new government

After succeeding Rt Hon David Cameron MP on Wednesday, the new Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, has appointed the following positions in her new government:

  • Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary
  • Phillip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Replaced George Osborne MP)
  • Boris Johnson MP, Foreign Secretary (Replaced Phillip Hammond MP)
  • Michael Fallon MP, Defence Secretary
  • David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Brexit
  • Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade
  • Liz Truss MP, Justice Secretary (Replaced Michael Gove MP)
  • Justine Greening MP, Education Secretary (Replaced Nicky Morgan MP) and Minister for Women and Equalities (Replaced Nicky Morgan MP)
  • Jeremy Hunt MP, Health Secretary
  • Patrick McLoughlin MP, Party Chairman (Replaced Lord Andrew Feldman) and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Replaced Oliver Letwin MP)
  • Baroness Natalie Evans, Leader of the House of Lords (Replaced Tina Stowell)
  • Damian Green MP, Work and Pensions Secretary (Replaced Stephen Crabb MP)
  • Chris Grayling MP, Transport Secretary (Replaced Patrick McLoughlin MP)
  • Andrea Leadsom MP, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary (Replaced Liz Truss MP)
  • Sajid Javid MP, Communities and Local Government Secretary (Replaced Greg Clark MP)
  • James Brokenshire MP, Northern Ireland Secretary (Replaced Theresa Villiers MP)
  • Priti Patel MP, International Development Secretary (Replaced Justine Greening MP)
  • Karen Bradley MP, Culture Secretary (Replaced John Whittingdale MP)
  • Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Action (new department)
  • Alun Cairns MP, Welsh Secretary
  • David Mundell MP, Scottish Secretary
  • Ben Gummer MP, Cabinet Minister

Following a statement from Downing Street, The Guardian originally reported that Jeremy Hunt MP was leaving his post as Secretary of State for Health, however it was later confirmed that he will in fact be staying at his post.

A number of junior ministerial appointments are expected throughout today.

Fri 8 July 2016

Local data from the 2015 Cancer Patient Experience Survey published

Hospital Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level data from the Cancer Patient Experience Survey (CPES) has been published, following the national findings which were published on 7 June 2016. 

Nationally, the CPES reported positively on areas including involvement in decisions about care and treatment, and patient's feeling that were being treated with dignity and respect.  However, the survey also indicates areas for improvement, with many respondents indicating that they would like more support from GPs and nurses at their practice during their course of treatments.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 78 per cent of respondents said they were involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care and treatment
  • 90 per cent of respondents said they were given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist who would support them through their treatment
  • 87 per cent of respondents said that, overall, they were always treated with dignity and respect while they were in hospital
  • 94 per cent of respondents said that hospital staff told them who to contact if they were worried about their condition or treatment after they left hospital
  • 63 per cent of respondents said they thought the GPs and nurses at their general practice did everything they could to support them while they were having cancer treatment

However, against a number of measures there was a significant variation in patient experience across CCGs and Trusts.  For example, the number of patients who, during their cancer treatment, felt they were given enough care and support from health or social services, varied by 45.1 per cent between the best and worst performing CCG.

The full national, CCG and Trust reports of the 2015 Cancer Patient Survey can be accessed online here.

Fri 1 July 2016

Political developments following the EU referendum

Following the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, David Cameron MP announced that he is to resign as Prime Minister.  Mr Cameron indicated that he would continue in post for a short time, and that there should be a new Prime Minister in post by the time of the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016.

Since David Cameron’s resignation, the following politicians have confirmed they will be standing for the leadership of the Conservative Party:

  • Liam Fox MP, Former Defence Secretary
  • Stephen Crabb MP, Work and Pensions Secretary
  • Theresa May MP, Home Secretary
  • Michael Gove MP, Justice Secretary
  • Andrea Leadsom MP, Energy Minister

The Conservative Parliamentary Party will now vote in successive rounds of ballots until there are only two candidates left.  The final two candidates will then be voted on by the entire Conservative Party membership.

This week, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) voted on a motion of no confidence in Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, which passed by 176-40.  The vote came following concerns of Mr Corbyn’s ability to lead and his performance in the EU referendum campaign.

The result is not binding in any way but signals dissatisfaction with Mr Corbyn’s leadership at a Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) level and follows a series of resignations from the Shadow Cabinet team.  Heidi Alexander MP resigned from her position as Shadow Secretary of State for Health and has been replaced by Diane Abbott MP.

The former Shadow Business Secretary, Angela Eagle MP, is reportedly intending to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership and it has been claimed that she has the support of the 51 MPs needed to mount a challenge.

Fri 24 June 2016

EU referendum result and Prime Minister's resignation

As you will be aware, the UK has voted to leave the European Union (EU) with 52 per cent of the public having voted to leave the EU, and 48 to remain.  The turnout for the referendum was 72.2 per cent.

Following the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, David Cameron MP has announced that he is to resign as Prime Minister.  Mr Cameron indicated that he would continue in post for a short time, and that there should be a new Prime Minister in post by the time of the Conservative Party conference in October 2016.

A recent poll, from ConservativeHome, suggests that the following are contenders to replace David Cameron MP as the next leader of the Conservative Party:

  • Michael Gove (30 per cent)
  • Boris Johnson (22 per cent)
  • Theresa May (16 per cent)
  • Liam Fox (11 per cent)
  • George Osborne (8 per cent)
  • Priti Patel (6 per cent)
  • Sajid Javid (4 per cent)

It is still unclear which politicians are intending to stand for the leadership and what this impact will have on the composition of the Government.

You can find a summary briefing of the result here and the Cancer Campaigning Group (CCG) will keep member's updated in line with any future developments that may impact on health.

Fri 17 June 2016

New imaging technique for ovarian cancer

A new study in the journal Clinical Cancer Researchhas found that a new imaging technique could help identify ovarian cancer during surgery that is not visible to the “naked eye”.

The technique, which uses a fluorescent dye, could help surgeons spot and remove additional invisible tumours, or those that can’t be felt when examining the tissue.

“This new imaging technology holds promise for improving the amount of a tumour that a surgeon can see, potentially making surgery more precise," said  Dr David Phelps, a Cancer Research UK (CRUK) expert in ovarian cancer surgery. "The next step will be to test this exciting approach in larger trials to see if this can help more women survive ovarian cancer.”

The CRUK press release can be read here.  The original study can be read in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

It is supported by 8 companies:

  • Amgen
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Lilly
  • Novartis
  • Pfizer
  • Roche
  • Shire