Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

September 11, 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.

New report reveals ‘upselling’ is fuelling the obesity crisis 

The Royal Society for Public Health and Slimming World have published a report highlighting how consumer upselling is contributing to weight gain.

The two organisations conducted research to ask the general public about their experience of upselling – being persuaded to purchase something additional or more expensive than originally intended – and how often it occurs and in which setting it occurs.

The report includes responses from 2,055 UK adults and shows that consumers face an average of 106 verbal pushes towards unhealthy choices each year as they are asked if they want to upgrade to a large meal or drink and add extra toppings or sides to their order.

Key findings include:

  • more than 78% of the public experience upselling at least once in a typical week;
  • in the course of a week, upselling techniques used by businesses resulted in 34% of people buying a larger coffee than intended, 33% upgrading to a large meal in a fast food restaurant, 36% buying chocolate at the till at a newsagents or petrol station and 35% adding chips or onion rings to the side of their pub or restaurant meal;
  • the average person consumes an extra 330 calories each week as a result of upselling, resulting in an estimated weight gain of 2.3kg over the course of a year; and
  • young people are even more likely to be exposed to upselling, with 18-24-year olds experiencing it 166 times each year, nearly every other day, and going on to consume an extra 750 calories per week as a result.

1 in 10 men aged 50 have a heart age 10 years older than they are

Public Health England (PHE) has conducted an analysis on its Heart Age Test, which is the only known way of measuring heart age, and has found that many people are at an increased risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke.

The analysis is based on 1.2 million Heart Age Tests taken, of which 33,000 of those were by people aged 50. Out of all 1.2 million people who have taken the Heart Age Test, 167,000 (12%) had a heart age at least 10 years older than them. To date, the test has been taken 1.3million times.

Additionally, PHE found that around half of those taking the test since it launched in February 2015 did not know their blood pressure numbers.

Sector-led improvement for public health, prevention and early intervention 

The Local Government Association (LGA) has published a prospectus outlining the work they will do with PHE and the Association of Directors of Public Health to deliver sector-led improvement activity for public health, prevention and early intervention in 2017/18. This is part of the Care and Health Improvement programme, funded by the Department of Health (DH).

The prospectus sets out:

  • the programme of sector-led improvement support available through the LGA and partners;
  • signposting to other support and resources available; and
  • the early support arrangements for local authorities with performance challenges in public health.

‘Unrelenting pressure’ on NHS staff spells trouble for cancer care, says Macmillan 

Macmillan Cancer Support has published the findings of a survey of over 250 GPs and nurses working in primary care across the UK to assess the impact of workforce pressures on the delivery of care for cancer patients.

Key findings include:

  • over a third (37%) of GPs and nurses surveyed said that existing workforce pressures meant that some cancer patients are attending A&E because they can’t get help elsewhere;
  • 44% of those GPs and nurses surveyed said pressures meant cancer patients were not always being treated as early as possible; and
  • nearly a third (31%) reported that cancer patients do not have the support they need to regain a good quality of life after treatment because of pressures affecting the NHS workforce.

The charity is urging government across the UK to address these significant pressures and set out an ambitious vision to ensure that the NHS cancer workforce is equipped to meet future challenges.

Hunt: We will target medication errors next in the drive for patient safety 

The Health Service Journal has published an article by Jeremy Hunt, in which he announces an initiative that aims to change culture and systems.

Jeremy Hunt and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England will be launching an initiative focussed on reducing prescribing and medication errors. It will look at a number of areas such as improving how technology is used and understanding how best to educate and inform patients about their medicines.

New £13 million funding to help hospital A&Es prepare for winter 

DH has announced that it has made available funds for emergency care in the latest wave of winter funding. A list of trusts eligible for the funding is available on the DH website.

Around £13 million has been awarded to improve patient flow through A&E and will be used to help hospitals finalise preparations ahead of winter, particularly to deal with the high demands expected.

The funding supports NHS England’s wider plans to improve A&E performance by 2018.

Media monitoring

Saturday 2nd September, Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th September 2017

  • The main story is the call from NHS Providers for the NHS to receive a £350 million cash injection to enable it to cope through the winter. This is covered by the Daily Mail, Guardian, Telegraph, Times, BBC and ITV.
  • ITV has reported on a shortage of organs resulting in unnecessary deaths, as part of Organ Donation Week.

Tuesday 5th September 2017

  • The Sun has reported that the Royal College of Nursing has threatened strike action this winter unless Theresa May lifts the public sector pay cap.

Wednesday 6th September 2017

  • The Today Programme reported on staff shortages in the NHS, in the context of speculation on the public sector pay cap, also reported in the Mirror and elsewhere.

Thursday 7th September 2017

  • The Telegraph, BBC and Times have reported that ‘cyberchondria’ (internet searching and fitness trackers) is causing too many patients to book unnecessary NHS appointments.
  • A British Medical Association ballot of GPs has found that more than half would consider temporarily suspending new patient registration as a form of industrial action to protest about what they say is a lack of Government support for their increased workloads. This has been reported by the Times and Daily Mail.

Friday 8th September 2017

  • The Guardian claims that new research shows that the drinks industry – and the public awareness bodies which they fund are misleading the public in regard to the link between alcohol and cancer. This was also covered in the Daily Mail.
  • Former MP for Bath, Ben Howlett, has written an opinion piece in the Guardian on how the Government’s plans to tackle European immigration will adversely affect DH’s ability to recruit much needed talent.
  • The Times reports that the number of suicides in the UK has fallen to a six-year low. According to the Office for National Statistics there were 5,688 suicides last year, about 200 fewer than the previous year.



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