Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

February 3, 2017

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.

‘Chaotic’ recovery of NHS costs is adding to pressure on finances, says report

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published a report about the recovery of NHS costs from overseas visitors and the progress made by the Department of Health (DH) and NHS England since  the launch of the overseas visitor and migrant cost recovery programme in 2014.

The report says that DH and NHS England are still a long way from achieving the target of recovering up to £500 million a year by 2017/18. Although the amount charged to overseas visitors has increased since launching the programme, this progress is more as a result of changes in the charging rules rather than from trusts implementing existing rules more effectively.

According to the report, more needs to be done to promote public confidence that the money due to the NHS is being recovered to ensure a fair system to taxpayers.

The Committee’s conclusions in the report include:

  • that the Committee is not confident that DH is taking effective action to recover more of the costs of treating overseas visitors;
  • progress in increasing the amounts recovered, particularly for patients from other European Economic Areas & Switzerland countries is hampered because the NHS is not effectively identifying chargeable patients;
  • the extent of unexplained variation between trusts, both in the amounts they charge and the debts they recover, suggests that some hospital trusts have scope to make substantial improvement;
  • while the statutory responsibility to identify and charge overseas patients lies with trusts, other parts of the health system also have an important role and are not yet doing enough to support cost recovery; and
  • GPs could do more to help the NHS increase the amounts recovered for treating chargeable overseas patients.

COPD: Who cares when it matters most? – outcomes report 2014

The Royal College of Physicians has published a report relating to the outcomes of patients included in a clinical audit of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations in England. The report presents the full data analysis, key findings and recommendations.

The reports are based on data extracted from the Office of National Statistics and Hospital Episode Statistics, and relate to patients whose index admission with COPD exacerbation occurred during the audit period (February–April 2014) in England.

The report includes a set of recommendations for commissioners and for primary and secondary care providers.

Key facts from the report include:

  • inpatient mortality has reduced historically (7.9% 2003, 7.8% 2008, 4.3% 2014);
  • for those patients discharged alive, mortality was 2.8% within 30 days of admission and 8% within 90 days of admission;
  • mortality within 90 days of admission was higher for patients who were admitted on a Saturday/Sunday, and over the extended Easter weekend (which fell during the audit period), than for those admitted on weekdays; and
  • for patients discharged alive, longer lengths of stay were related to increased mortality within both 30 days (9.9%) and 90 days (22.6%) of admission.

Inquiry into key issues and priorities for local tobacco control

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has published a report, Burning Injustice – reducing tobacco driven harm and inequality, which provides recommendations to the Government, local authorities (LA) and NHS England to consider as measures to reduce smoking prevalence.

The recommendations include:

  • the Government should renew its commitment to reducing smoking prevalence by publishing the latest tobacco control plan for England without further delay;
  • funding to LAs for public health services should be protected with LAs held to account for improving outcomes;
  • if a LA’s budget position makes it impractical to fund a comprehensive stop smoking service, it should consider how to reconfigure the service so that it provides an effective, well publicised and free, specialist service to the most vulnerable groups of smokers, including pregnant women, people with mental health conditions, and patients referred by hospitals; and
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups should commit to improving their joint working with LAs and should recognise the importance of their preventive role in relation to smoking.

Obesity costs less than half as much as the government claims, says report

The Institute of Economic Affairs has published a report, Obesity and the Public Purse, which focusses on Government spending on obesity.

The report states that the net cost of obesity to taxpayers is only 0.3% of total Government spending, considerably less than the most commonly reported estimate by other sources.

The report finds that an ageing population carries the highest costs of treatment, as older people frequently require lengthy and expensive treatments for chronic conditions or full time care.

PHE launches Act FAST stroke campaign again

Public Health England (PHE) has re-launched its Act FAST campaign to remind people of the main symptoms of stroke and the importance of dialling 999 immediately if they notice any single one of the symptoms in themselves or others.

Research from the previous stroke campaign shows that nearly a quarter of people wait to call an ambulance because they wrongly believe they need to see two or more symptoms of stroke to confirm its presence, or feeling reluctant to call an ambulance for others without permission. 

The main stroke symptoms are:

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time – to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs


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