Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

February 19, 2018

Keeping up with all the latest developments in health and care policy could almost be a full time job and PSNC regularly receives questions from LPCs and pharmacy contractors about what is going on in the wider health and care landscape beyond community pharmacy. To help answer some of these questions and to help contractors and LPCs stay up to date, PSNC provides this update service outlining the latest information in an easily digestible format. Weekly updates are published on our website and contractors can ensure they do not miss them by signing up to PSNC’s email newsletter service here.

The reviews extend the work we have been doing for some time to help LPCs stay informed about the NHS changes, and they inform the more detailed PSNC briefings which we continue to publish on this topic; these can be accessed in the Healthcare Landscape section of the website.

Public can expect ‘gold standard’ protection against flu next year

Public Health England (PHE) has published an article aimed at patients to highlight that it has published guidance for GPs and pharmacists on influenza vaccine orders for 2018/19.

It states that given the evidence, following the guidance is in the best interest of patients, particularly given the association of flu with increased mortality and it will ensure the most vulnerable people get the best available protection.

Sexual and reproductive health in England: local and national data

PHE has issued a guide to provide health professionals, including local government service providers and commissioners, with key information they require to understand the available data relating to sexual and reproductive health. This includes data collated by PHE as well as other organisations.

The guide covers various sexual and reproductive health topics and provides a description of the topic, where to find local information and a list of national resources.

Integrated care: what does it mean for commissioning?

The Nuffield Trust has published a blog post which considers which risks and opportunities integrated care could have for commissioning. The post highlights that debates around new organisational structures relate more to privatisation within the NHS and less about NHS commissioning.

It discusses the differences between Accountable Care Systems and Accountable Care Organisations, NHS commissioning, setting standards and effective strategic commissioning.

New research into options for funding social care published

The Health Foundation and the King’s Fund have published a working paper setting out interim findings from their project looking at funding options for social care in England.

The paper looks at the following options:

  • improving the current system;
  • the Conservative Party’s proposals at the time of the 2017 general election (a revised means test and a cap on care costs);
  • a single budget for health and social care;
  • free personal care; and
  • a hypothecated tax for social care

After a review of relevant literature and engagement with two stakeholder groups, a framework was developed for exploring these options, and to identify the key strengths and weakness of each.

The conclusions of the paper include:

  • there is scope for making small improvements within the current system, however it would not address many of the fundamental problems within the current system, including the downward trend in the numbers receiving publicly funded care;
  • a joint health and social care budget might support progress towards more integrated care, but it will not in itself address the differences in eligibility between the two systems or generate additional revenue for health or care;
  • free personal care would mean increasing the government’s ‘offer’ on social care. However, given this would require an increase in public spending, there is a question as to whether this would be the best use of additional funding for social care; and
  • a hypothecated tax may help gain public support for raising additional funding for social care, however, this would represent a significant shift from the existing system and could exacerbate the lack of alignment between the health and social care.

Smarter homes for older people could save NHS and social care system over £2.5 billion a year

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has published a report, Healthy Homes: Accommodating an Ageing Population, which calls on the Government to offer financial incentives for construction companies to build more modified homes for older living.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • the Government must change its existing policy on house building and incentivise construction companies to build for older living. A house that enables people to age well will reduce long-term costs;
  • the Government should commit to modernising the UK building design and construction regulations, and create a ‘kitemark’ for agile/cognitive housing and its associated technology; and
  • the Department of Health to invest in nationwide “healthy living for life” technology programmes and collaborate with the Academic Health Science Networks to invest in national programmes that focus on technology for prevention of ill health in old age.

Learning from the vanguards: New publications launched

NHS Clinical Commissioners have published a series of briefings in partnership with NHS Providers, the Local Government Association and the NHS Confederation to explore learning from a number of vanguard sites.

The resources include briefings on:

  • Learning from the vanguard: supporting people and communities

This briefing looks at what the vanguards set out to achieve when it comes to supporting people and communities to stay well.

  • Learning from vanguards: staff at the heart of new care models

This briefing looks at what the vanguards set out to achieve when it comes to involving and engaging staff in the new care models.

  • Learning from vanguards: spreading and scaling up change.

This briefing looks at what can be learned from the vanguards’ efforts to design, test and deliver a variety of scalable and replicable new care models.

It is hoped that these briefings present an opportunity for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Accountable Care Organisations to build on the vanguards’ understanding of what has and has not worked.

Communities and health

The King’s Fund has published an article on the role of communities in improving health with a particular focus on moving to population health systems. It covers health policy in relation to the role of communities in health as well as examples of community involvement through commissioning, service design and care pathways.

Media monitoring

On Monday 12th February 2018, the following stories were published:

  • The Independent reports a 13% rise in hospital admissions over the past four years as spending on drug and alcohol support services has reduced.

  • Digital health trackers will be offered by the NHS as part of its ‘healthy towns’ initiative, reports the Telegraph. These tackers will help check up on the elderly and encourage families to live healthier lives, saving the NHS money in the long run. This story has also been covered by the Express and the Sun.

On Tuesday 13th February 2018, the following stories were published:

  • Age UK has found that people with dementia are not receiving the care they need, reports The Guardian. The charity claims that out of the 458,461 people with a recorded diagnosis of dementia, only 282,573 had an up-to-date care plan.

  • The Times reports on a trial in which up to 15 patients with the same long-term condition take part in ‘shared consultations’ with a GP. This story has also been covered by the Daily Mail, which highlights concerns from patient groups.

On Wednesday 14th February 2018, the following story was published:

  • The Mail reports that adopting a vegan diet can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight, whilst the Express reports on the development of a supplement drink which could help people who are living with diabetes to better manage their condition.

On Thursday 15th February 2018, the following stories were published:

  • The BBC reports that the gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor has widened. It’s up 7.2 years since 2001, and those from the least advantaged fifth of the population are now about 80% more likely to die than those from the most advantaged fifth.

  • ITV News reports that an estimated 10,000 Alzheimer’s patients a year have become stuck in the healthcare system. They are medically fit to leave hospital but are unable to do so because of a lack of available community care.

  • Research has revealed that eating highly-processed foods could increase the risk of cancer, reports the Telegraph. However, there is a note of caution because it is possible that those who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods may also be more likely to have a less healthy lifestyle overall. This story was also covered by the BBC, Guardian, iNews, Mirror, Express, Daily Mail, Sun and Sky News.

On Friday 16th February 2018, the following story was published:

  • The Independent reports that as many as 61% of us would put off going to the GP for fear of finding out it’s a serious condition. This story was also covered by the Telegraph and Mirror.

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