It has been a busy start to 2019 with CMA issues and the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the existing Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice regularly in the news. However, the key issues for the sector are Brexit—the topic eclipsing all others—and the (still) imminent publication of the Social Care Green Paper.

Read the below summaries of the top stories to keep one step ahead.

Brexit operational readiness guidance for the health and care system in England

Department of Health and Social Care, 21 December

The guidance covers seven areas including workforce and medicines and includes:

  • The current expectation is that there will not be a significant degree of health and care staff leaving around exit day.
  • Through the EU Settlement Scheme, EU citizens will be able to register for settled status in the UK if they have been here for five years, or pre-settled status if they have been here for less than five years. The scheme will be fully open by March 2019 and remain open until 31 December 2020 in a ‘no deal’ scenario.
  • Health and care professionals (including UK citizens), whose qualification has been recognised and who are registered in the UK before 23:00 on 29 March 2019, will continue to be registered after this point.
  • In terms of medicines, UK health providers should not stockpile additional medicines beyond their business as usual stock levels. There is also no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions and the public should be discouraged from stockpiling. The responsible person is charged with ensuring compliance with this guidance; over-ordering of medicines or unnecessary export of medicines will be investigated. Other areas covered by the guidance are: supply of medical devices and clinical consumables supply of non-clinical consumables, goods and services reciprocal healthcare research and clinical trials data sharing, processing and access.

Other areas covered by the guidance are:

  • supply of medical devices and clinical consumables
  • supply of non-clinical consumables, goods and services
  • reciprocal healthcare
  • research and clinical trials
  • data sharing, processing and access.

What does Brexit means for the sector? UK in no position to do without EU care workers

Care Industry news, 25 January

    Age UK has written to the Home Secretary about these concerns, urging the Government to exempt care workers from the new rules that will otherwise exclude EU nationals from coming here to work. The Charity notes that the Government has already made a partial exemption from the same rules for fruit pickers. Age UK is arguing that care workers should not be covered by the new rule recommended by the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee that ‘low skilled EU workers’ should no longer have preferential access to the UK labour market after a UK withdrawal from the EU. The Charity says that care workers are low paid, not low skilled.

    Three leading care home providers revise after death fees policies

    Care Home Professional, 28 January

    Care UK, Hallmark Care Homes and The Fremantle Trust have made changes to their after death fees. The changes follow the CMA’s investigation and publication of consumer law advice to care home providers which sets a three-day limit for the charging of after-death fees.

    DHSC pledges social care green paper by April

    Care Home Management, 16 January

    The social care Green Paper should be published within weeks and certainly by April, insists Ed Moses, the Department of Health and Social Care director, speaking at the Westminster Health Forum. He said that the Green Paper will add to the seven key principles already outlined by the Government around quality, support and integrating care to help those who are receiving and providing care. Moses also called for more investment in health technology to support carers and residents in care homes. This would include more use of smart home technology and wearables.

    Read more:

    OPINION: Another big year for social care

    Care Home Professional, 3 January

    Investment activity in the sector is set to remain at record levels with investors attracted by the compelling fundamentals of rising demand due to the ageing demographic and an undersupply of fit for purpose homes. With four of the top five providers looking for buyers, the sector is set to see some blockbuster deals with providers already positioning themselves to capitalise on potential acquisition opportunities.

    Meanwhile, while the industry has been historically slow to take up technology, its efficiency and care enhancement benefits are becoming increasingly compelling. Digital care planning adoption has finally begun penetrating through to the big providers and this process looks set to accelerate in the year ahead. The controversial area of robotics is another area to keep an eye out for. Advinia Healthcare began trials in this area late last year and the conclusions from its trials is sure to cause some heated debate.

    Christie & Co Business Outlook 2019: Navigate, Innovate, Accelerate 

    January 2019

    Key challenges facing care operators will continue to be staffing, funding and tougher regulations. Smaller, nonviable assets are closing and being replaced with larger, new build developments which provide greater economies of scale. Despite fragmentation of the market, competition for prime sites had increased. Quality will remain the key driver, with regulatory pressure on all operators to improve services. It also believes there will be ‘further consolidation of quality providers’.

    Care homes to benefit from increased NHS support, NHS email and data access

    Care Home Management, 8 January

    Ramped-up NHS support for people living in care homes, through the use of expanded multidisciplinary teams, are among the measures outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan and designed to support social care. Specifically, the NHS Long Term Plan pledges:

    • To roll out the Enhanced Health in Care Homes (EHCH) programme “over the coming decades”. This aims to support care homes through a consistent team of healthcare professionals, including named general practice support.
    • An increased number of pharmacists will ensure residents receive regular clinical pharmacist-led medicine reviews.
    • Care home staff are also have access to NHSmail, and potentially, access to a patient’s medical records held in the Clinical Assessment Service (CAS). The Long Term Plan also promises new roles and inter-disciplinary credentialing for staff which could improve staff flows between NHS and social care.

    Funding details of the plans for social care mentioned in the NHS Long Term Plan are expected to be published in the long-overdue Green Paper for Social Care.

    LaingBuisson launches real-time care home benchmarking and performance database

    Care Home Professional, 25 January

    LaingBuisson, has launched Care Monitor, its new real-time benchmarking database of fundamental quality and safety standards for care homes and care home groups. CareMonitor offers real-time access to the CQC’s Fundamental Standards of Quality and Safety data in all registered care homes and care home groups. Comprising over 17,000 care home records, CareMonitor allows users to run league tables of providers, benchmark provider portfolios against specific providers as well as the whole market and look at rating trends.

    MoJ consults on revising Mental capacity Act code of practice

    Local Government Lawyer, 29 January

    The Ministry of Justice has issued a call for evidence on whether the Code of Practice that supports the Mental Capacity Act 2005 should be revised. The call for evidence will seek to establish the extent to which the current Code of Practice reflects changes in case law and lessons learned through practical use of the code over the last 11 years. More details on the consultation and questionnaire can be viewed here. The Act itself is not under review.

    Social care charging for local authorities: 2019 to 2020

    Department of Health and Social Care, 23 January

    This circular advises local authorities of the social care charging arrangements for 2019 to 2020. It includes details about capital limits, personal expenses allowance, minimum income guarantee, and savings credit. Read more from Practical Law.