Tag Archives: Department of Health

Voice For Justice UK’s Campaign About Gender Reassignment

The Department of Health and Social Care’s response to the Voice for Justice UK's campaign

Department of Health

Department of Health

The Department of Health and Social Care notes the petition’s call for the banning of medical intervention to change gender, whether surgical or by the administration of sex-changing hormones, for people below the age of 18.

With regard to young people’s consent to these procedures and treatment, the department’s position is that patients have a fundamental legal and ethical right to determine what happens to their own bodies. Valid consent to treatment is therefore central to all forms of healthcare, from providing personal care to undertaking major surgery.

If children have the capacity to give consent for themselves, then consent should be sought direct from them. Once young people reach the age of 16, they are presumed in law to be competent to give consent for themselves for their own surgical, medical or dental treatment, and any associated procedures, such as investigations, anaesthesia or nursing care.

Those under 16 are not automatically presumed to be legally competent to make decisions about their healthcare. However, the courts have stated that a person under 16 will be competent to give valid consent to a particular intervention if they have “sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable him or her to understand fully what is proposed”.

If a child is not competent to give consent for themselves, consent should be sought from a person with parental responsibility. This will often, but not always, be the child’s parent. Legally, consent is only needed from one person with parental responsibility.

As is the case where patients are giving consent for themselves, those giving consent on behalf of child patients must have the capacity to consent to the intervention in question, be acting voluntarily and be appropriately informed. The power to consent must be exercised according to the welfare principle, namely, that the child’s welfare or best interests must be paramount. Even where a child lacks capacity to consent on their own behalf, it is good practice to involve the child as much as possible in the decision-making process.

Where necessary, the courts can overrule a refusal by a person with parental responsibility. It is recommended that certain important decisions, such as sterilisation for contraceptive purposes, should be referred to the courts for guidance, even if those with parental responsibility consent to the operation going ahead.

The NHS has strict guidelines regarding the prescription of puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones for young people. These drugs may only be prescribed with the agreement of a specialist multidisciplinary team and after a careful assessment of the individual, and generally once the patient is around 15 years old for hormone blockers and 16 years old for cross-sex hormones.

For further information on transgender matters, please see the NHS Choices website.

Independent Doctors To Be Rated By The Care Quality Commission

Healthcare inspections in England will be ‘future-proofed’ to cover new apps and digital healthcare

Department of Health

Department of Health

New changes mean that, for the first time, all healthcare organisations in England that offer regulated care will be rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Organisations will have to display their inspection ratings so patients can clearly see safety standards.

The CQC’s current ratings programme – which covers hospital care, social care and GPs – will be extended to include more than 800 additional providers. This includes independent doctors that offer primary care online.

The CQC will require providers affected by these changes to publicly display their rating, for instance on their website or business premises. This will allow patients to make an informed choice when deciding which care service they want to use.

The ratings scheme has been ‘future-proofed’ to cover services that may develop in the future. It will ensure that new services are also given a rating.

The changes will bring the services in line with the rest of the NHS. It will reassure patients who use digital GP apps provided by independent doctors about the quality and safety of the service they are choosing.

The CQC will now develop an approach for how it will rate the additional services. The CQC will continue to inspect these services and publish its findings in the meantime.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

With our NHS now in its 70th year, we are planning ahead to guarantee safer and better care for patients in the years to come. These changes are a world first for patient safety, modernising our tough Ofsted-style inspection scheme so we keep pace with the changing landscape of healthcare, as well as helping tech-savvy patients to make informed decisions about their care.

Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said:

CQC’s ratings of health and care services are helping people to make informed choices about their care as well as supporting providers to improve. Never before has the public had such clear information about the quality and safety of their health and care services.

CQC already inspects and publishes reports for these additional services. The ability to award ratings to them will bring increased transparency for the public about the quality and safety of their healthcare.

We look forward to taking this work forward in the new year.

UK And China Agree £70 Million Of Business In Health Sectors

The agreements will share knowledge and resources to improve healthcare in both countries

Department of Health

Department of Health

The UK government has facilitated more than £70 million of business between the health sectors in Britain and China at the annual UK–China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue event.

The event, hosted by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, brought together delegations from the business, academic, science and policy sectors to collaborate on health issues.

Agreements were signed between universities, hospitals, companies and academic councils. The ties will help share knowledge, expertise and resources to improve healthcare outcomes and practices in both countries.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

Health is a key pillar in our relationship with China, and we must continue to work together to fight disease and improve health outcomes for all.

It is incredibly exciting to exchange ideas and knowledge with such an important partner. Our relationship is built on mutual trust and respect and this year’s dialogue has only strengthened our bond.

The agreements include:

  • UK–China joint declaration on health collaboration
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, the China Scholarships Council, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences/Peking Union Medical College
  • expansion of collaboration between Nottingham University and Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This includes further joint education and research in addition to their existing joint clinical pharmacy programme
  • a deal between International Hospitals Group (IHG) and Hui Ci Health Management Group
  • Beijing Huatong Guokang Foundation has completed deals with China UK Medical Exchange Limited and UK Medu Ltd to provide UK healthcare training services to Chinese doctors and hospitals

Government Launches Independent National Inquiry Into Convicted Surgeon Ian Paterson

An independent non-statutory inquiry will examine the circumstances and practices surrounding the malpractice of breast surgeon Ian Paterson

Department of Health

Department of Health

The inquiry will look at lessons that can be learned from the case, and how these can improve care by the independent healthcare sector across the country. It will be chaired by the Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich.

Paterson was a consultant breast surgeon employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) and had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston.

He was found guilty in April this year of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent. He was sentenced to jail for 20 years.

The scope of the investigation has been widened to include the independent sector, including any further action needed to strengthen CQC’s inspection regime.

Philip Dunne, Health Minister, said:

Ian Paterson’s malpractice sent shockwaves across the health system due to the seriousness and extent of his crimes, and I am determined to make sure lessons are learnt from this so that it never happens again in the independent sector or the NHS.

I believe an independent, non-statutory inquiry, overseen by Bishop Graham James, is the right way forward to ensure that all aspects of this case are brought to light and lessons learned so we can better protect patients in the future.

The inquiry will also draw on issues raised in previous reviews about Ian Paterson’s conduct, particularly Sir Ian Kennedy’s review on behalf of HEFTand Verita’s investigation into the governance arrangements at two Spire Healthcare hospitals.

The Right Revd Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich, said:

The actions of Ian Paterson and the grievous harm he inflicted on patients are deeply concerning, and they have given rise to some serious questions which remain unanswered.

It is vital that the inquiry be informed by the concerns of former patients of Ian Paterson and their representatives. The interests of all patients, whether they seek treatment in the NHS or the private sector, should be at the heart of this inquiry and I will do my very best in the interest of those affected and the public.

The inquiry will be informed by the victims of Paterson and their families, and is likely to consider:

  • the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector
  • appraisal and ensuring validation of staff in the independent sector
  • the safety of multi-disciplinary working
  • information sharing, reporting of activity and raising concerns between the independent sector and the NHS
  • the role of insurers of independent sector healthcare providers (including how data it holds about the scope and volume of work carried out by doctors is shared with the sector)
  • arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector

The Inquiry will be formally established from January 2018 and is expected to report in summer 2019. The terms of reference and other arrangements relating to how the Inquiry will be conducted – including the exact scope it will cover and how it will work within the system – will be announced at a future date.

More Cancer Specialists To Be Employed By The NHS

New specialists will speed up cancer diagnoses and improve access to treatment

Cancer Care

Cancer Care

The NHS is to employ more cancer specialists, to speed up cancer diagnoses and get more people into treatment more quickly. The specialists will be trained in areas where there are shortages. It is part of Health Education England’s new Cancer Workforce Plan.

Announcements of extra provision include:

  • 200 clinical endoscopists – to investigate suspected cancers internally
  • 300 reporting radiographers – to identify cancers using x-rays and ultrasound
  • support for clinical nurse specialists – to lead services and provide quality care

The plan is part of a campaign to make sure patients are diagnosed quickly and get better access to innovative treatments that can improve survival rates.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

The NHS has made amazing progress in diagnosing and treating cancer – it’s incredible that 7,000 people are alive today who would not have been had mortality rates stayed the same as in 2010.

We want to save more lives and to do that we need more specialists who can investigate and diagnose cancer quickly. These extra specialists will go a long way to help the NHS save an extra 30,000 lives by 2020.