Health and Social Care Briefing – July 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.

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.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act – 29th of April 2015

The key purposes of the Act 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 Act.

Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 – 29th of April 2015

The provisions of the Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 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 Act 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 Act 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 Act contains provision for the appointment of a Ministerial Adviser.

LEGISLATION IN PROGRESS – CURRENT 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.

The Counsel General wrote to the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly on 11 December 2013 to advise that he would be referring the Bill to the Supreme Court under Section 112 of the Government of Wales Act 2006. This letter can be found here together with the response from the Attorney General.

The Supreme Court handed down its Judgment on this case on 9 February 2015. The Supreme Court found that the Assembly does not have the legislative competence to enact the Bill in its present form.  Details of the judgment can be accessed here [Opens in a new browser window] (external website).

Under Standing Order 26.53, any Assembly Member may propose that the Bill proceeds to Reconsideration Stage.

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 councilors and unsuccessful candidates) and the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 (relating to electoral reviews).

Following the completion of Stage 2 proceedings, Stage 3 commenced on the 25th of June 2015.

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 at stage 1.  A debate on the General Principles of the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Bill will be held on the 14th of July 2015.

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.

A debate took place in Plenary on the 3rd of June 2015.  The motion to agree the general principles of the Bill was agreed.

The Bill now moves to stage 2 and the Health and Social Care Committee will consider amendments subject to the Assembly’s agreement on a necessary financial resolution in advance of their deliberations.  Currently, the deadline for tabling amendments is Thursday 2nd of July.

Public Health (Wales) Bill

The Bill includes provision for the following:

  • Tobacco and nicotine product
  • Special procedures (creating a mandatory licensing scheme for practitioners and businesses carrying out procedures such as acupuncture, body piercing, electrolysis and tattooing)
  • Pharmaceutical services
  • Provision of public toilets

The Bill is at Stage 1.  Health and Social Care Committee will report by the 27th of November 2015

FUTURE BILLS – OF INTEREST

Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal (Wales) Bill

Welsh Government plan to introduce a new legislative framework for supporting children and young people with additional learning needs.  This will replace existing legislation for the assessment and provision of support for learners with special educational needs in schools and learning difficulties and/or disabilities in post-16 education and training.

The Welsh Government has indicated that a draft Bill will be published before summer recess.  An early draft of a new ALN Code of Practice and an outline of Welsh Government plans for implementation will also be published in the autumn term.

It is hoped that a Bill will be formally introduced after the elections in 2016.

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