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Government plans to move patients stuck in hospital to care homes – but will not discuss this year’s NHS pay | Politics News

A new NHS winter care package is set to be unveiled by the government to move patients stuck in hospital to care homes.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay will announce the changes this week, although the total amount of cash that will go towards the initiative is still being settled.

Senior government sources told the Sunday Times it would involve spending hundreds of millions of pounds on top of the £500m for social care announced in the autumn statement.

‘Transparency is good thing’ says Starmer about Sky News project – live politics updates

The plan, which Mr Barclay will announce on Monday, is understood to be aimed at block-buying up to 2,000 care home beds in Care Quality Commission-approved facilities over the next four weeks.

Patients who should be discharged from hospital but have been unable to as they need more care but have nowhere to go will then be moved to the care home beds.

The aim is to reduce NHS waiting lists and ambulance waiting times that have been exacerbated by beds being blocked by these types of patients, through no fault of their own.

There are currently about 13,000 patients stuck in NHS hospitals who do not need to be there.

As the government faces further strikes from NHS workers, including nurses later this month and possibly junior doctors in March, the health secretary has doubled down on insisting pay review bodies are the best way for public sector salaries to be decided.

For months, ministers have been saying salary negotiations are for the pay review bodies, made up of experts and staff from the relevant fields, to decide.

But unions have said ministers have the final say on whether to accept the recommendations and have also argued this year’s salaries were decided before inflation soared above 10%.

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Starmer proposes ’10-year NHS plan’

Mr Barclay is set to meet union leaders on Monday but the health secretary wants to focus on pay negotiations for 2023/24.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it will go ahead with its strikes on 18 and 19 January unless the last few months of this financial year are discussed.

Pat Cullen, head of the RCN, has urged ministers to meet nurses halfway on their demand for a 19% pay rise for this financial year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak indicated to the BBC on Sunday only 2023/24’s pay is up for discussion.

Ms Cullen said she had a “chink of optimism” as she said she noticed a “little shift” in Mr Sunak’s stance.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield, who is also a cancer nurse, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme the talks on Monday will be about “both pay and conditions” after the government had previously said only a change in conditions was on the table.

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PM invites unions for ‘grown up’ talks

Mr Barclay, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, said he recognises “inflation has made life tougher for the workforce”, which is why he is “so determined to talk about what we can do next year on pay”.

“Doing this work through the independent pay review bodies process is clearly the best way to do this, not least because spending each winter frozen in pay negotiations with the unions would take focus away from the other challenges the NHS faces,” he wrote.

The health secretary added that he is “ready to engage with the unions” and NHS staff could get a significant pay boost from April – if they accept radical reforms to improve productivity such as “virtual wards” at people’s homes.

Members of the RCN pictured on the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital, central London, on 20 December
RCN nurses went on strike for the first time ever in December

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We recognise the pressures the NHS is facing following the impact of the pandemic and are working tirelessly to ensure people get the care they need, backed by up to £14.1 billion additional funding for health and social care over the next two years.

“This winter, we’re providing £500m to speed up discharge and the NHS is creating the equivalent of 7,000 extra beds to boost capacity.

“We are continuing to consider all options to help urgently reduce delays in the discharge of medically fit patients from hospital. Further steps will be set out in due course.”

On Saturday, Mr Sunak held an emergency meeting with health leaders as he called for “bold and radical” action to alleviate the NHS’s winter crisis.

He said a “business-as-usual mindset won’t fix the challenges we face”.

Doctors’ reluctance to discuss anal sex is letting down young women, researchers warn | UK News

Doctors’ reluctance to discuss the possible harms of anal sex is letting down a generation of young women, researchers have warned.

Many doctors are concerned that they may come across as judgemental or homophobic, but by avoiding the topic they may be failing patients who are unaware of the risks, according to a study.

Surgeons Tabitha Gana and Lesley Hunt argue that not discussing it “exposes women to missed diagnoses, futile treatments, and further harm arising from a lack of medical advice”.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, they say healthcare professionals, particularly those in general practice, gastroenterology, and colorectal surgery, “have a duty to acknowledge changes in society around anal sex in young women, and to meet these changes with open, neutral and non-judgemental conversations to ensure that all women have the information they need to make informed choices about sex.”

Data from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle shows that participation in heterosexual anal intercourse among 16 to 24 year-olds in Britain rose from 12.5% to 28.5% over the last few decades.

Up to 25% of women with experience of anal sex report they have been pressured into it at least once.

Read more:
Doctors to ask patients about their sexuality

It is also associated with specific health concerns, the surgeons explain.

For example, increased rates of faecal incontinence and anal sphincter injury have been reported in women who have anal intercourse.

Women are also at a higher risk of incontinence than men, due to their different anatomy.

“The pain and bleeding women report after anal sex is indicative of trauma, and risks may be increased if anal sex is coerced,” the authors said.

Effective management of anorectal disorders requires understanding of the underlying risk factors, and good history taking is key, they say.

Yet clinicians may shy away from these discussions, influenced by society’s taboos.

What’s more, NHS patient information on anal sex considers only sexually transmitted diseases, making no mention of anal trauma, incontinence, or the psychological aftermath of the coercion young women report in relation to this activity.

“It may not be just avoidance or stigma that prevents health professionals talking to young women about the risks of anal sex,” the authors said.

“There is genuine concern that the message may be seen as judgemental or even misconstrued as homophobic.

“However, by avoiding these discussions, we may be failing a generation of young women, who are unaware of the risks.”

They added: “With better information, women who want anal sex would be able to protect themselves more effectively from possible harm, and those who agree to anal sex reluctantly to meet society’s expectations or please partners, may feel better empowered to say no.”