Skip to main content
Other pages in this section

Policy update, December 2017

Your monthly round-up of national health policy developments for 17 November to 15 December

If you have any comments or if there is anything else you would like to see in the round-up, please contact us at



The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that the government will conduct an in-depth review of protests outside abortion clinics following concerns about the tactics of some protesters.

The review will gather evidence from police forces, healthcare providers and local authorities to understand the scale and nature of these protests, before considering what further action the government can take to protect those using or working in abortion clinics. This could include bolstering existing or creating new police and civil powers.


In November the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, delivered his Autumn Budget which included some announcements for the NHS:

  • The NHS will get an extra £10bn capital investment over this parliament.
  • He says he recognises the "NHS is under pressure right now".
  • To help ease the burden, he says he's giving an extra £2.8bn NHS England. Of that, £350m will be for this winter, and then £1.6bn for 2018-19 and the remained in 2019-20.
  • He says this comes on top of other funds already announced, meaning a £7.5bn increase in the NHS budget.
  • The Chancellor also said he will provide extra funding for NHS pay at the next pay deal.


The government has established an independent, non-statutory inquiry into the circumstances and practices around the case. The Right Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich will chair the Inquiry, which is likely to consider:

  • the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector; appraisal, revalidation and multi-disciplinary working in the independent sector;
  • information sharing, reporting of activity and raising concerns between the independent sector and the NHS;
  • and the role of insurers of independent sector providers (including sharing of data), and arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector.

The Inquiry will be formally established from January 2018 and will report in summer 2019.


The Government and the European Commission have reached an agreement on Phase 1 of the negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Key details of today's agreement include:

  • A "divorce settlement" of between €40-€60bn
  • A commitment to protecting North-South cooperation and avoiding a hard border in the island of Ireland and a commitment to upholding the Good Friday Agreement
  • Confirmation that the UK intends to leave the Single Market and Customs Union
  • A promise to maintain "full alignment" with key EU Internal Market and customs rules underpinning trade across the Irish border in the event that the UK and EU do not settle the terms of their future relationship
  • Protection for citizens' rights
  • A continued role for the European Court of Justice to the extent that UK courts should have "due regard to relevant decisions", and can make direct referrals for the next 8 years.



NHS Digital has published the latest data on the number of women smoking at the time of delivery, for Quarter 2 2017-2018. They found that 11% of pregnant women were known to be smokers at the time of delivery, which compares to 10.8% from the last quarter. The CCG with the lowest proportion of women known to be smokers at time of delivery were NHS Central London (Westminster) with 1% and the highest proportion was NHS Blackpool with 25.5%.


Consultations and opportunities

The Department of Health (DH) has launched an open consultation about an ‘opt-out’ system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England. They would like to examine how much say families have in a relative’s decisions to donate their organs, where exemptions for the ‘opt-out’ would be needed, and how the new system might affect different groups depending on their age, disability, race or faith.

The consultation is open until 6 March 2018.


The Scottish Government is consulting on a range of proposed actions to improve diet and weight in Scotland. In launching the consultation, the Scottish Government announced funding of £42 million over the next five years to expand services to tackle obesity. Some of the proposals include taking action on junk food advertising, a range of opportunities for people to be more active, practical support for food manufacturers to reformulate and develop healthier products, and working preventative services including information, advice and support for children and families on healthy eating.

The Scottish Government wants to hear a wide range of views on the proposals and is also looking to understand what more could be done. The consultation is open until 31 January 2018.