Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

July 30, 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.

60% of people don’t realise hepatitis C can infect the liver

Public Health England (PHE) has teamed up with the Hepatitis C Trust to urge people to get free testing for Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the run up to World Hepatitis Day which took place on 28th July 2018.

New data from the Hepatitis C Trust shows that whilst 80% of people were aware of the virus, less than 40% knew it infects the liver and less than 30% knew the virus is curable. It is estimated that around 200,000 people in the UK live with chronic HCV yet challenges in timely diagnosis and treatment remain.

Health matters: health economics – making the most of your budget

PHE has published the latest edition of Health matters, focussing on local authorities, NHS commissioners and healthcare providers making better evidence-based commissioning decisions and getting the most from their budget.

This edition discusses the scale of the problem, the current situation, how to get the most from a budget, the cost-effectiveness of specific topic areas, where they need to get to in the future and further resources.

Severe obesity in 10 to 11 year olds reaches record high

PHE has published an analysis of the National Child Measurement Programme which shows that the levels of severe obesity in Year 6 have reached the highest point since records began. It also shows the continued widening of health inequalities. Excess weight, obesity, overweight and severe obesity prevalence was high in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived – this is happening at a faster rate in Year 6 than Reception.

Other observations include a downward trend in excess weight, overweight, obesity and severe obesity in Reception age boys and a downward trend of underweight in Reception age boys and girls, and Year 6 girls.

Hospital vending machines: helping people make healthier choices

PHE has published information about the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)’s work with a vending machine company on  a trial using behavioural insights as part of NHS England’s commitment to ensure the NHS as an employer sets an example of food and drink sold on its premises. The collaboration implemented two phases of interventions to assess whether the alteration of products available and placement in vending machines affects people’s behaviour.

The trial showed that vending machine operators could easily encourage healthier choices by altering placement and visibility; although given the current nutrient content of snacks, helping people to choose healthier snacks is more complicated. The success off trial suggested that it is possible to support healthier choices without affecting profits. It was recognised that there is no single solution to tackling obesity, but this work compliments PHE’s sugar and calorie reduction programme and the Government’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which both aim to improve the food environment.

Migrant health

The Health Foundation has funded a new website launched in July 2018,, which serves as a tool for everyone in UK primary healthcare working to support new migrant patients, and a community to ask and respond to colleagues.

The website developed jointly by Doctors of the World and the University of Sheffield contains a topic A-Z or country A-Z with information taken from PHE’s migrant health guide and the World Health Organisation.

Medicines management for people receiving social care in the community

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a guide, Medicines management or people receiving social care in the community, which covers assessing if people need help with their medicines and deciding what medicines support is needed to enable people to manage their medicines. It also includes communication between health and social care staff, to ensure people have the medicines support they need.

The quality standard assumes that:

  • the responsibilities for providing medicines support have been agreed between the relevant NHS and local authority commissioners; and
  • before any medicines support is provided by a social care provider, commissioning and contractual arrangements, that these are discussed, agreed and recorded as part of the local care planning process.

The quality statements cover:

  • adults having an assessment for social care in the community having their medicines support needs included in the assessment;
  • adults receiving medicines support in the community from a social care provider having their general practice and supplying pharmacy informed that support has started;
  • adults receiving medicines support in the community from a social care provider having a record of the medicines support that they need in their care plan;
  • adults receiving medicines support in the community from a social care provider being given information on how to raise any medicines-related problems.

Cannabis-derived medicinal products to be made available on prescription

Specialist clinicians will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products by the autumn, it was announced. The Home Secretary decided to reschedule these products after receiving advice from experts during the two-part review he commissioned a few months earlier. It means that senior clinicians will be able to prescribe the medicines to patients with an exceptional clinical need.

DHSC and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency will now develop a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product so they can be rescheduled and prescribed.

Satisfaction with NHS cancer care at record high, national patient survey reveals

With survival rates at an all-time high, the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, for 2017, has found that almost 70,000 patients rate their overall care nine out of ten. The survey asks people with cancer across England to rate their care on a scale of zero (very poor) to 10 (very good).

Patients also reported more positively on areas including involvement in decisions about care and treatment, and being treated with dignity and respect. They survey also pointed to areas of improvement including follow up community and social care after treatment.

Media monitoring

On Tuesday 24th July 2018, the following stories were published:

  • iNews includes an analysis piece on what a no-deal Brexit might mean for the healthcare system. It says that medicines prices could increase, although states that Government has been working on contingency plans to ensure the supply of vital drugs.
  • The Mirror features research which suggests that slightly raised blood pressure increases the risk of dementia in later life.

On Wednesday 25th July 2018, the following stories were published:

  • Matt Hancock has said there needs to be more use of apps in the NHS. In an interview with BBC Newsbeat, he said ‘the NHS needs to be more convenient for you, but also to help clinicians so that doctors’ and nurses’ lives are easier’.
  • The Mirror reports that a research team from Oxford University are developing a vaccine which could give long-term protection against flu, which could result in the scrapping of the yearly vaccine.

On Thursday 26th July 2018, the following stories were published:

  • The NHS in England is facing a deepening staffing crisis, according to NHS Digital figures. Doctors, nurses and midwives are the groups of health professionals where vacancies are running at the highest level since records began three years ago. Featured in The Guardian.
  • MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee warn that heat-related deaths could triple by 2050. Higher temperature put some people at increased risk of dying from cardiac, kidney and respiratory diseases. Featured in the BBC, The Telegraph, The Sun, ITV, The Express.

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