Health & Care Review

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Health & Care Review

February 22, 2016

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.

At the heart of health: Realising the value of people and communities

 A report has been published by Nesta and the Health Foundation, which explores the value of people and communities at the heart of health. The report is intended to support the NHS 5 Year Forward View (5YFV) vision to develop a new relationship with people and communities.

The report intends to bring together a wide range of person- and community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing, as well as helping commissioners, policymakers and practitioners understand the range of approaches available.

It highlights the need for health and care services to work alongside individuals, carers, families, social networks and thriving communities.

Implementing the Forward View: supporting providers to deliver

A report has been published for NHS provider organisations, which sets out key priorities in delivering high quality health and care.

It has been published by NHS Improvement in collaboration with various other leaders and organisations such as the Local Government Association, NHS Clinical Commissioners and NHS Confederation. 

The report is part of a series of planned roadmaps that draw on messages from the NHS Planning Guidance and reflects a shared vision for the NHS as set out by the 5YFV. It outlines the current challenges faced, a set of recommended activities and how they can be implemented as well as the support available to NHS providers. 

Delivering the benefits of digital health care

The Nuffield Trust has published a report, Delivering the benefits of digital health care, defining the possibilities to transform health and care through digital technologies.

The report draws on extensive literature and evidence reviews to enable NHS organisations to expand their understanding of digital healthcare. It also outlines ways in which they can meet productivity challenges that lie ahead, and offers practical advice to avoid costly mistakes.

Seven key areas of opportunity have been identified in the report:

  1. More systematic, high-quality care;
  2. More proactive and targeted care;
  3. Better coordinated care;
  4. Improved access to specialist expertise;
  5. Greater patient engagement;
  6. Improved resource management; and
  7. System improvement and learning.

These opportunities for information technology will support changes in services and ways of working that would drive improvements in quality, efficiency and population health.

Sugar tax could prevent 3.7 million obesity cases over next decade

Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum have published a report, Short and sweet: why the Government should introduce a sugary drinks tax, to lend its support to the sugar tax campaign.

The report is calling on the Government to take action to put a tax on sugary drinks, ban junk food adverts on TV before 9pm, and introduce targets for reducing the amount of fat and sugar in food as part of a public health intervention strategy.

The key findings of the report are:

  • the introduction of a 20% excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks could avoid 3.7 million people being obese by 2025;
  • unless action is taken, obesity levels in the UK could increase from 29% in 2015 to 34% by 2025; and
  • implementing the 20% excise tax on sugary drinks could save approximately £10 million in direct NHS healthcare and social care costs in the year 2025 alone.

A modelling analysis in the report predicts the impact of a tax on the number of obesity-related cancer cases in the future.

The report also highlights sugary drink taxes implemented around the world.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Cancer Prevention, said: “The ripple effect of a small tax on sugary drinks is enormous. These numbers make it clear why we need to act now before obesity becomes an even greater problem.”

How is the NHS performing? February 2016

The latest quality monitoring report has been published by The King’s Fund. The report is based on survey responses from 83 trusts carried out between 7th January and 25th January 2016.

Respondents were asked about their organisation’s financial situation and the financial outlook for their local health economy over the past financial year and the state of patient care in their area.

They were also asked about their financial situation looking ahead to 2016/17, the key organisational challenges facing trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups and workforce issues.

The report’s main findings are:

  • NHS Trusts’ deficit at the end of 2015/16 is estimated to be £2.3 billion;
  • just over half (53%) of trust finance directors said that quality of care in their local area has worsened in the past year;
  • just over half (53%) of trusts are concerned that they will not be able to meet nationally imposed caps on their agency staff spending;
  • nearly two-thirds (64%) of trusts are reliant on extra financial support from the Department of Health or drawing down their reserves;
  • 2% of patients are still waiting for a planned hospital admission after 18 weeks in December – the first time the target has been missed since it was introduced in April 2012; and
  • 9% of patients waited longer than 4 hours in A&E over the quarter up to the end of December 2015 – the worst quarterly performance since 2003.

Recent trends in life expectancy at older ages

Public Health England (PHE) has published a report on recent trends in life expectancy at older ages.

According to the report, there has been an overall upward trend in life expectancy at older ages in England since the 1980s. The report shows:

  • men can now expect to live for a further 19 years at age 65, 12 years at 75, 6 years at 85 and 3 years at 95; and
  • women can expect to live for a further 21 years at age 65, 13 years at 75, 7 years at 85, and 3 years at 95.

PHE is developing its programme of work on this topic with its external mortality surveillance advisory group.

The figures vary by region and local authority. Professor John Newton, Chief Knowledge Officer at PHE said: “The reasons for the variation in trend between local areas are not yet clear. PHE will continue to monitor these trends and analyse the data for 2015 as soon as possible.”

New standard primary medical care contracts

NHS England has published guidance and links to further resources following changes to the General Medical Services, Personal Medical Services and Alternative Provider Medical Services contracts that will apply in England.

The new core contract terms from the 2015/16 GP contract agreement have been introduced in the new standard primary medical care contracts, to ensure a consistent contractual framework is in place across the country.

NHS providers urged to take more action to counter pressures

An update on the analysis of the operational and financial performance of NHS providers has been published in a quarterly report by Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority. The report also highlights the joint action being taken by the two organisations to tackle any concerns and drive improvements in the NHS.

The report calls on NHS providers to continue driving on financial improvements in order for patients to receive quality care in the future.  

Jim Mackey, Chief Executive Designate of NHS Improvement, said: “At NHS improvement, we intend to work with the providers to identify improvement opportunities, both recognising strong performers and supporting those who are struggling.”

The future of child health services: new models of care

A report highlighting the current problems surrounding healthcare services for children and young people has been published by the Nuffield Trust.

The report highlights difficulties with service delivery in the UK and examples of new ways of delivering care for children and young people to eliminate those problems.

It has described an ideal child health system as one that is specific to the needs of the child and their families, has accessibility to high quality paediatric experts and linked-up, timely information, data and care.

This briefing is the first in a new series by the Nuffield Trust investigating the future of service delivery in various organisations within the NHS.

NHS commits to major transformation of mental health

A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health for the NHS in England has been created by the independent Mental Health Taskforce along with care leaders, experts and service users.

The report provides an overview of the current state of the mental health and care system, highlighting existing problems and makes a string of recommendations.

The recommendations fall under three tiers; the first is for the six NHS arm’s length bodies to achieve the ambition of valuing mental health as equally as physical heath.

The second tier outlines where wider action is needed, such as providing decent living environments, jobs and enabling mental health patients to have good quality relationships with their local communities.

The third tier focuses on tackling inequalities at local and national level.

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