Health and Social Care Briefing – March 2015

 ACTS

The Assembly has to date passed the following Acts of relevance to the health and social care community.

Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Act 2013 – 4th of March 2013

This Act includes provision for food authorities to operate a food hygiene rating scheme and places a duty on food businesses to display their food hygiene rating at their establishment.

Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 – 10th of September 2013

This Act aims to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplant by introducing a soft opt-out system of organ and tissue donation in Wales.

Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 – 4th of November 2013

This Act places a requirement on local authorities to continuously improve facilities and routes for walkers and cyclists and to prepare maps identifying current and potential future routes for their use.  The bill will also require new road schemes to consider the needs of pedestrians and cyclists at design stage.

National Health Service (Finance) (Wales) Act 2014 – 27th of January 2014

This Act changes the current financial duties of Local Health Boards (LHBs) under the National Health Services (Wales) Act 2006 from an annual statutory requirement for expenditure not to exceed resource limit, to a regime which considers the financial duty to manage its resources within approved limits over a 3-year period.

Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 – 1st of May 2014

This Act aims to provide, for the first time, a coherent Welsh legal framework for social services.  It will ensure a strong voice and real control for people, of whatever age, enabling them to maximise their wellbeing.  It will set the legal framework and infrastructure to transform services to meet changing social expectations and changing demography.

Consultation has closed on the first tranche of regulations and codes:

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/part11/?lang=en

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/part-3-and-4/?lang=en

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/part2/?lang=en

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/part7/?lang=en

 Housing (Wales) Act 2014 – 17th of September 2014

The key purposes of this Act are to:

  • Introduce a compulsory registration and licensing scheme for private rented sector landlords and letting and management agents;
  • Reform homelessness law, including placing a stronger duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness and allowing them to use suitable accommodation in the private sector;
  • Place a duty on local authorities to provide sites for Gypsies and Travelers where a need has been identified.
  • Introduce standards for local authorities on rents, service charges and quality of accommodation;
  • Reform the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy system;
  • Give local authorities the power to charge 50% more than the standard rate of council tax on homes that have been empty for a year or more; and
  • Assist the provision of housing by Co-operative Housing Associations.

 LEGISLATION IN PROGRESS – BILLS

Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Disease (Wales) Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to enable the Welsh Ministers to recover from a compensator (being a person by or on behalf of whom a compensation payout is made to or in respect of a victim of asbestos related disease), certain costs incurred by the NHS in Wales in providing care and treatment to the victim of the asbestos-related disease.

This Bill is currently at post-stage 4.  The Counsel General has written to the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly to advise that the Bill will be referred to the Supreme Court for a decision relating to legislative competence.

 

Local Government (Wales) Bill

 

The provisions of the Local Government (Wales) Bill are intended to allow for certain preparatory work to enable a programme of local government mergers and reform and include provisions to facilitate the voluntary early merger of two or more Principal Local Authorities by April 2018. The Bill also amends existing legislative provision in the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 (relating to the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales and the survey of councillors and unsuccessful candidates) and the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 (relating to electoral reviews).

 

The Bill is currently at Stage 1 with the Communities, Equalities and Local Government Committee scrutinising the purpose and general principles of the Bill.

 

The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Bill

 

The key purposes of the Bill are to:

 

  • Set a framework within which specified Welsh public authorities will seek to ensure the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (the sustainable development principle),
  • Put into place well-being goals which those authorities are to seek to achieve in order to improve wellbeing both now and in the future,
  • Set out how those authorities are to show they are working towards the well-being goals,
  • Put Public Services Boards and local well-being plans on a statutory basis and, in doing so, simplify current requirements as regards integrated community planning, and
  • Establish a Future Generations Commissioner for Wales to be an advocate for future generations who will advise and support Welsh public authorities in carrying out their duties under the Bill.

This Bill is currently at stage 4 and is due to be voted on by the full Assembly before the end of March 2015.

Gender Based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill

The provisions of the Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill are intended to ensure a focus across the public sector on the prevention of these issues, the protection of victims and the support for those affected by such issues.

 

The Bill places duties on the Welsh Ministers, County and County Borough Councils (“Local Authorities”) and Local Health Boards to prepare and publish strategies aimed at ending domestic abuse, gender-based violence and sexual violence. The Bill further provides a power to the Welsh Ministers to issue guidance to relevant authorities on how they should exercise their functions with a view to contributing to ending domestic abuse, gender-based violence and sexual violence. The Bill contains provision for the appointment of a Ministerial Adviser.

 

The Bill is now in the four week period of intimation (11 March – 7 April 2015).  During this period, the Counsel General or the Attorney General may refer the question whether the Bill, or any provision of the Bill, would be within the Assembly’s legislative competence to the Supreme Court for decision (section 112 of the Government of Wales Act). Similarly, the Secretary of State for Wales may make an order prohibiting the Clerk of the Assembly from submitting the Bill for Royal Assent.

 

Regulation and Inspection (Wales) Bill

A separate Bill to the Social Services (Wales) Bill to cover the regulation and inspection of the social care workforce, training and social care services in Wales.

The Bill includes provision for:

  • reform of the regulatory regime for care and support services;
  • provision of a regulatory framework that requires an approach to the regulation of care and support services focused on outcomes for service users;
  • reform of the inspection regime for local authority social services functions;
  • the reconstitution and renaming of the Care Council for Wales as Social Care Wales and the broadening of its remit; and
  • the reform of the regulation of the social care workforce.

 

This Bill is currently at the scrutiny stage.  It will be considered by the Constitution Committee and the Finance Committee but the committee taking the lead in scrutiny will be the Health and Social Services Committee.  This committee has called for written evidence by the 24th of April.

 

Safe Staff Nursing Levels (Wales) Bill

This is a proposed member Bill from the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams AM.

The Bill seeks to enshrine minimum nurse to patient ratios in law to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of staff within the NHS to provide safe care at all times.

This legislation would require the government to produce regulations which set a minimum staffing level for nurses in Wales. These regulations would be required to set minimum nurse staffing levels for each different acute and specialist service. I am also mindful to include a requirement for the regulations to address the complexity of patients’ needs and on the skills mix in a hospital.

The legislation would also give the government the power to issue similar regulations for community nursing, but only when they considered that sufficient evidence exists to support regulations in this area.

This Bill is currently at Stage 1 and the Health and Social Care Committee are taking evidence as part of their scrutiny process on the Principles and Purpose of the Bill.  The timescales have changed so that now the deadline for Stage 1 is Friday the 8th of May (as opposed to the original 10th of April deadline) and the Deadline for Stage 2 consideration (should that be required) is now Friday 17th of July as opposed to 5th of June.

POSSIBLE BILLS

Public Health (Wales) Bill

To provide the legislative basis for delivering improved life expectancy, wellbeing and reducing health inequality in Wales as promised both in the manifesto and in the policy document ‘Fairer Health Outcomes for All’.

A Green Paper consultation ended February 2013.  This consultation was to collect views about whether a Public Health Bill is needed in Wales.

The White Paper was published in April 2014 including measures on minimum pricing for alcohol and restricting the use of e-cigarettes.  It closed on the 24th of June 2014.  The Welsh Government intends to introduce this Bill before the summer recess of 2015.

 

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