Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

December 22, 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.

HEE launches plan to ‘future-proof’ NHS and care workforce

Health Education England (HEE) has published Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future, A health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027 which looks at challenges faced by the health and care system and the workforce over the next decade.

The draft strategy includes content from NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England (PHE), the Care Quality Commission, National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the Department of Health. It will now be consulted upon over the coming months and a final report will be published in July.

Specific measures mentioned in the strategy include:

  • targeted retention schemes to encourage staff to continue working in healthcare;
  • improvements to medical training and how junior doctors are supported in the careers;
  • a far-reaching technology review across England; and
  • making the NHS a more inclusive, ‘family-friendly’ employer.

Medical profession at ‘crunch point’, GMC report finds

The General Medical Council (GMC) has published an annual report which looks at data on the medical workforce across the UK to identify challenges and highlight priorities for those responsible for medical training and workforce planning.

Key facts in the report include:

  • supply of new doctors into the UK’s medical workforce has failed to keep pace with changes in demand – the number of doctors on the medical register has grown by 2% since 2012, while in contrast A&E attendances and GP appointments have grown by 27% in England.
  • dependence on non-UK qualified doctors has increased, ranging from 18% in the South-West to 43% on the East of England;
  • at the same time, the UK is at risk of becoming a less attractive place for overseas doctors to work in.

The report sets out four key priorities for workforce planning which the GMC will support. They include maintaining a healthy supply of doctors, helping the profession evolve to meet future demands, reducing pressure and burden on doctors and improving workplace culture.

NHS diabetes prevention – more than 110,000 people ‘at risk’ offered help

A new article has been published by Diabetes UK to highlight progress being made by the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in terms of referrals, uptake and participant characteristics. It was co-authored by NHS England, PHE and Diabetes UK.

NHS England has published highlights from the article, which are:

  • the programme received 43,603 referrals between June 2016 and March 2017 – 16% higher than expected;
  • nearly half of those referred on to the programme attended their first session – higher than the 40% originally expected;
  • attendance rates for men, for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, and for individuals from the most deprived areas, suggest that the programme is reaching those who are both at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and who typically access healthcare less effectively.

Campaign to protect young people from STIs by using condoms

PHE has launched a new campaign to encourage 16-24 year olds to use condoms in order to reduce the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). ‘Protect Against STIs’ launched on 15th December 2017 with a nationwide digital advertising campaign targeting young people. The new advertising hears from real people talking about their own personal experiences of having an STI and aims to help normalise and encourage condom use in young people.

To coincide with the launch of the survey, a YouGov survey of 2,007 young people reveals that almost half of sexually active young people have had sex with someone new for the first time without using a condom whilst 1 in 10 sexually active young people said they have never used a condom.

New approach to NHS clinical assessment could save thousands of lives

NHS England has asked every hospital trust to adopt a new clinical assessment system, produced by the Royal College of Physicians to save approximately 2,000 lives and 627,000 beds every year.

The National Early Warning Score aims to create a standardised approach to clinical assessment and provides a consistent system especially as NHS staff move between trusts.

Under the system, patients are assessed on a series of key measures and the results are plotted on a chart which then gives a score for each measure and the combined number then shows the level of clinical care needed and the risk of deterioration. The patient would then be seen by a nurse, acute clinician or a critical care team depending on their score.

England’s chief nurse launches new winter support package to help patients stay active and leave hospital

The Chief Nursing Officer for England has issued a winter framework to reduce the amount of time people overstay in hospitals over the winter period.

The framework aims to maximise the appropriate use of care homes as well as identify and care for the cohort of patients who are medically fit for discharge. This is in recognition of the pressure that can build in the system, with ensuing threats to patient safety, during the winter months.

Doing Care Differently

Independent Age has published a report summarising what needs to be considered to deliver a social care solution and examines six themes currently dominating discussions on social care. By bringing together ideas and suggestions of over 30 individuals and organisations from across the care sector, the six themes were identified as: demand; funding and responsibility; quality; integrated care; technology; and sustainability.

GPhC publishes updated strategic plan 2017-20

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has published a strategic plan to set out the progress made in the first year since the plan was published in 2016.

Key achievements mentioned in the plan include:

  • launching new standards for pharmacy professionals and developing and publishing guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs;
  • carrying out a consultation on the education and training of non-registered pharmacy staff; and
  • publishing new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacy technicians.

Populus research published by Mind explores the impact that the festive season can have on mental health

Mind, the mental health charity, has published new research as part of its Christmas appeal on the impact that the festive period is having on people’s mental health.

Key findings in the research are:

  • a quarter of people feel unable to ask for help when struggling emotionally;
  • 1 in 10 people consider taking their own life because of the festive period; and
  • 1 in 5 people feel like they have nowhere to turn for support.

Making obesity everybody’s business: A whole systems approach to obesity

The Local Government Association has published a briefing, written in partnership with PHE and the Association of Directors of Public Health, which focusses on a programme providing local authorities (LAs) with a different approach to tackling obesity.

The Whole Systems Obesity programme explores the evidence and local practice to develop guidance and tools to help councils set up a whole systems approach in their local area to tackle obesity.

Key benefits of the programme are that it:

  • supports the council’s key priorities;
  • develops a coordinated set of approaches;
  • reflects the local leadership role of LAs;
  • develops transferrable workforce skills and capacity relating to systems thinking.

Health Survey for England, 2016

NHS Digital has published the Health Survey for England which is designed to monitor trends in the nation’s health, estimating the proportion of specified health conditions and prevalence of risk factors associated.

Key facts include:

  • 26% of men and 27% of women were obese. The proportion of adults who were obese has been similar since 2010;
  • 66% of men and 58% of women aged 19 and over met the aerobic activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week or an equivalent combination of both, in bouts of 10 minutes or more;
  • 28% of adults had high blood pressure (hypertension). 12% of adults had untreated hypertension; and
  • 31% of men and 16% of women usually drank at increased or higher risk of harm in 2016.

Media monitoring:

On Sunday 17th December 2017, the following story was published:

  • Sunday’s Observer reported that a NHS Ideas Lab hackathon had taken place, intended to explore new ideas for healthcare apps.

On Monday 18th December 2017, the following stories were published:

  • The Telegraph reports that the NHS is going to use a ‘sickness surveillance system’ to predict illnesses before they happen this winter in a bid to cope with pressures within the healthcare system.
  • The BBC has a story from the British Cardiovascular Society, which says that tens of thousands of people may be at increased risk of dying early from heart attacks and strokes by misusing anabolic steroids.
  • The Daily Mail says that a new study has shown that a third of diabetes patients are not taking their medication because of the side effects.

On Tuesday 19th December 2017, the following story was published:

  • The Daily Express has reported on how there is no scientific evidence that over the counter medicines are effective in tackling cold and flu symptoms, but that people turn to them due to their availability and desperation.

On Friday 22nd December 2017, the following stories were published:

  • The Times reports that tens of thousands of patients will have operations cancelled with immediate effect to make space for winter emergencies after NHS bosses issued the first edict from a national crisis team. Hospitals are expected to cancel all non-urgent operations until mid-January, the health service’s national emergency pressures panel said.
  • The Times also reports that the number of people waiting for a heart transplant is 24% higher than this time last year and includes 33 children. At present 298 people are on the waiting list.
  • The BBC has reported that cases of shingles have reduced by 35% in England since a vaccine was offered to 70-year-olds, but that Public Health England is still urging more people in their 70s to get their free injection against the painful condition.



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