Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

January 29, 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.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen best treatment for sore throats, says NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has with Public Health England (PHE) published new guidance on the management of sore throats.

NICE is advising GPs and healthcare professionals not to prescribe antibiotics, but instead help people manage their symptoms with pain relief and other over-the-counter products such as lozenges.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE, said: “The evidence shows antibiotics are not an effective treatment for the majority of sore throats. People who need them should be given them, and our advice will support those decisions. But it is clear that routine prescribing in all cases isn’t appropriate.”

One in ten: the male diabetes crisis

The Men’s Health Forum has published a new report on the growing diabetes crisis in men. The report shows that men are 26% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than women and men are more likely to be overweight (Body Mass Index (BMI) 25+) and to develop diabetes at a lower BMI than women.

The report highlights how the sex inequalities have not been highlighted by health policy makers and practitioners and calls for better engagement of men in:

  • NHS Health Checks;
  • routine eye tests;
  • weight management programmes; and
  • diabetes education programmes.

Key NHS technology programme extended to ambulance trusts

NHS England has announced new funding to be made available to three ambulance trusts to develop into digital organisations. South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) and North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) are the first to join the ambulance version of the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme.

The three Trusts will share an investment of £5 million over two and a half years, which they will be expected to match fund, taking total investment to £10m as they develop into Global Digital Exemplars.

Information sharing presents major barrier to social workers

NHS Digital has published findings of a research projected conducted on social workers.

The report, Social Workers and Information Technology, was conducted to gain insight into how the social work role can be supported through the use of information technology (IT), understand how social workers currently use IT in their role and evaluate the gap between current availability and perceived requirements.

The research shows that whilst 49% had a smart phone to support remote and mobile working, more than 25% of social workers in the study could only access case information while in the office. It was highlighted that although social workers are keen to take advantage of digital opportunities, there are significant barriers around digital skills, systems design and guidance on information sharing.

Ongoing rise in detentions under Mental Health Act may be symptomatic of a system ‘under considerable strain’

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has conducted a review on detentions made under the Mental Health Act and published a report to highlight findings.

In it, CQC has found that the causes of the rise in rates of detention can be grouped under four main themes:

  1. Changes in mental health service provision and bed management: This can include there being fewer alternatives to inpatient care in some parts of the country (such as support in the community).
  2. Demographic and social change: This includes general population growth, as well as growth in sections of the population that are more likely to be detained, such as older people with dementia, people who are homeless and people whose health is affected as a consequence of alcohol and substance misuse.
  3. Legal and policy developments: The broadened definition of a mental disorder in the revised Mental Health Act in 2007 is already understood to have led to increased applications for detention. As well as that, there is greater awareness, for example among the police, of mental disorder and among clinicians who wish to ensure there are legal safeguards in place when caring for people who lack mental capacity.
  4. Data reporting and data quality: This includes better reporting of detentions, as well as the potential for double-counting, such as when a detained patient moves between wards or from one hospital to another.

Fragmented approach to child health damaging long term health of nation warns Royal College

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has published a report which states that child health is suffering due to the disjointed Government approach to child health. The RCPCH has published State of Child Health: ONE year on scorecard which describes progress made against recommendations in the State of Child Health report published one year ago.

The England scorecard reveals progress in some areas including the launch of a Digital Child Health Strategy, the publication of a new Tobacco Control Plan, the initiation of some specialist service reviews in paediatrics and the implementation of the sugar tax. However, there has been no improvement in several fundamental areas, including:

  • no plans for an overarching child health strategy;
  • no junk food advertising ban;
  • no way of measuring UK breastfeeding prevalence; and
  • no increased investment in child health research.

NHS Winter Pressures in England, 2017/18

The house of Commons Library has published an article on winter pressures on the NHS to include ambulance handover delays, bed occupancy, norovirus bed closures and A&E diverts.

Key facts highlighted include:

  • 105,000 ambulance arrivals at hospital have had their handover delayed by more than 30 minutes since November 20th 2017 – this amounts to one in seven ambulance arrivals;
  • general & acute bed occupancy in England’s hospitals has been above 90% for all but four days since 20th November 2017; and
  • the number of calls to NHS 111 this winter has been around 30,000 on weekdays, and around double this number on weekends. The highest number of calls was 86,359 on Saturday 23rd December.

Sustainability and transformation in the NHS

The National Audit Office has published its sixth report on the financial sustainability of the NHS. The report fives a summary of the financial position of NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and trusts and examines the support given to local NHS bodies to enable the NHS to become financially sustainable.

Key findings include:

  • In 2016/17, NHS commissioners and trusts reported a combined surplus of £111 million, not including adjustments needed to report against the Department’s budget for day-to-day resources and administration costs;
  • CCGs and trusts are increasingly reliant on one-off measures to deliver savings, posing a significant risk to financial sustainability in the future;
  • in 2016/17, demand for health services continued to increase and performance against key access targets declined further; and
  • local transformation of care is being hampered by a lack of resources and ongoing pressure to make increasingly tighter finances balance each year.

Using the world leading NHS Health Check programme to prevent CVD

PHE has published the latest edition of Health Matters to explore how the NHS Health check is playing an important role in the prevention and early detection of cardiovascular disease.

The article describes the scale of the problem, the NHS Health Check programme, and has a call to action for local authorities (LAs), NHS commissioners, NHS Health Check providers and third sector charities.

NHS England announces consultation on ACO contracts

NHS England has announced it will be launching a consultation on contracting arrangements for Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs).

The consultation will set out how the contract fits within the NHS as a whole, address how the existing statutory duties of NHS commissioners and providers would be performed under it (including how this would work with existing governance arrangements) and will set out how public accountability and patient choice would be preserved.

Meeting the health and wellbeing needs of young carers

The Local Government Association has published a report featuring case studies on young carers and what LAs are doing to support them. Each case study describes the challenge, solution, lessons learnt and how the approach is being sustained.

Call for NHS staff investment as cancer cases rise

An article by Cancer Research UK is urging the Government to commit to long-term plans to increase NHS staff, in light of new figures which show that there were 303,135 cancers diagnosed in England in 2016, up from 299,923 in 2015.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, also show that:

  • the majority (93.1%) of cases were recorded as being diagnosed in 24 sites of the body;
  • over half (52.7%) were found in 4 sites:
    • breast: 15.2% of cases;
    • prostate: 13.4%;
    • lung: 12.7%; and
    • bowel: 11.5%.

Media monitoring:

Monday 22nd January 2018

  • The Sun reports that robots will be able to answer NHS 111 calls within two years.
  • A study reported in the Mail has found that online booking systems for GP surgeries are more effective than longer opening hours for reducing A&E attendances.

Wednesday 24th January 2018

  • The Times reports that more than two million older people will have at least four serious illnesses within 20 years because of the increase in obesity and inactive lifestyles, a large study warns. This story was also covered by the Sun and the Guardian.
  • The Daily Mail reports that the number of people dying in England and Wales has reached the highest level since a flu epidemic swept the country three years ago, new official figures showed yesterday.
  • The Daily Mail also reports that electronic cigarettes do encourage teenagers to try traditional cigarettes.

Thursday 25th January 2018

  • A third of GP practices have either run out or are running low on flu vaccines, the Telegraph reports based on a Pulse survey.

Friday 26th January 2018

  • A comment piece in The Times by Phil Collins discusses the vanguard programmes, and how they are a new way of working to support patients with long-term health conditions.
  • The BBC has also reported on a study which shows that people who smoked even one cigarette a day were still about 50% more likely to develop heart disease and 30% more likely to have a stroke than people who had never smoked. This was also covered by the Daily Mail.

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