Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

April 9, 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.

Every 10 minutes a child in England has a rotten tooth removed

As Public Health England (PHE)’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy came into effect on 6th April 2018, PHE is reminding parents of the dangers of sugar on children’s teeth.

New data published by PHE shows that a child in England has a tooth removed in hospital every ten minutes due to preventable tooth decay.

PHE’s Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents to make healthy food and drink swaps to prevent tooth decay.

Productivity of the English National Health Service: 2015/16 update

The University of York’s Centre for Health Economics has published a new research paper outlining NHS productivity growth for the period 2014/15 to 2015/16.

It finds that over the last 11 years, NHS productivity has increased by 13.49% or an average of 1.17% per annum. However, since 2012/13, productivity has been continuously decreasing.

The report concludes a target of increasing NHS productivity by 2-3% per year may soon be unattainable, and that there needs to be a reassessment of what the realistic funding needs of the NHS are, going forward.

National HIV self-sampling service

PHE has published a report which summarises progress of the national HIV self-sampling service which was co-commissioned with local authorities in 2015. The service was intended to provide a cost-effective and remote self-sampling service for sexually active individuals aged 16 years and over.

Key findings include:

  • between November 2015 and October 2017, 81,761 kits were ordered of which 45,350 (55.5%) were returned;
  • of those returned, 1.04% (467) of specimens were reactive which translates to a cost per reactive of £933;
  • demand for the HIV self-sampling service is highest among men who had sex with men who made up 71% of kits tested. Of these 1.07% were reactive; and
  • a total of 3,238 kits were tested from black African service users which represented 7.25% of all kits tested.

A tough ask ahead for the NHS in 2018/19

NHS Providers has published a new report which presents an assessment of the challenges facing NHS trusts in this financial year (2018/19) and their ability to meet performance and financial targets. It focusses on the must-dos set out in the recent NHS Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance.

The report highlights concerns in three particular areas: A&E, planned hospital treatment and finances. It predicts that patients’ experiences of care will continue to fall below acceptable standards and warns that failing to set achievable tasks risks creating a toxic, damaging culture.

NHS England Funding and Resource 2018/19: Supporting ‘Next Steps for the NHS Five Year Forward View’

NHS England has published a business plan to set out how it will deliver the objectives set out in the Government’s mandate. It also sets out how NHS England will, through the distribution of funding, people and resources, support Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View to transform local health and care systems.

NHS England Gender Pay Report

NHS England has published a report to provide details on gender pay and the work that is being undertaken to address this.

The report states that as of March 2017, there was a mean gender pay gap of 21.2% and a median gender pay gap of 21.5%.

In order to address this gap, the report highlights various measures, including:

  1. recruitment and remuneration – use data to develop pay strategy to ensure equality and diversity standards are met;
  2. flexible working – flexible working policy to be refreshed, and flexible working opportunities will be actively promoted to existing and prospective employees; and
  3. coaching and mentoring – number of interventions on offer to support talent development of women in the workplace will be expanded.

How commissioners use research evidence

The National Institute for Health Research has published a guide to provide insight on how commissioners and other NHS service managers make use of evidence from research studies.  The guide can assist researchers to make their work more accessible and relevant to commissioners and managers.

Think Autism strategy: governance refresh 2018

The Department of Health and Social Care has issued revised governance to oversee the implementation of the Think Autism strategy to help drive progress in 2018 before a formal review of the strategy in 2019. The 19 objectives of the strategy have been grouped under:

  • measuring, understanding and reporting needs of autistic people;
  • workforce development;
  • health, care and wellbeing,
  • specific support; and
  • participation in local community.

The strategy is in place to transform the support for, and experience of autistic people.

Media monitoring

On Tuesday 3rd April 2018, the following stories were published:

  • Paramedics are to be given the power to issue prescriptions as part of plans to help reduce pressure on the NHS. Up to seven out of ten people currently seen by advanced care paramedics may need help, but not a hospital visit. Covered by The Independent, The Times, The Guardian, The Sun, the BBC.
  • NHS data has shown that thousands of ambulances are being prevented from responding to 999 calls every day due to delays handing over patients at busy A&E units. Covered by The Guardian, The Sun.
  • The NHS has capped the amount it pays for branded drugs, setting maximum prices for medicines to treat conditions such as cancer and HIV. Covered by The Sun, The Times.
  • The Sun reports that the NHS has paid almost half a billion pounds more to treat British citizens in the European Union than it has recouped for treating EU citizens in the UK.

On Wednesday 4th April 2018, the following stories were published:

  • NHS delays put thousands of bowel cancer patients at risk, reports the Telegraph. Following reports of Andrew Lansley’s cancer diagnosis, patient groups have criticised the ‘unacceptable’ waits suffered by more than 5,000 people due to staff shortages.
  • Sugary drinks ban looming for NHS hospitals as one third fail to sign up to reduction scheme, reports the Telegraph. The NHS could bring in a complete ban of sugary drinks in hospitals after more than a third of trusts failed to sign up to a scheme to cut sales. Also reported by ITV.
  • Hospital shops are selling the equivalent of 2.6 million fewer chocolate bars after an NHS drive to cut junk food, reports the Times. Also reported in the Sun and Mail.

On Thursday 5th April 2018, the following stories were published:

  • NHS sees hospital admissions for obesity double in four years, reports the BBCThe Guardian reported there had been an 18% increase in the last year alone. Also featured in the Independent, Mail and iNews.
  • Sugar taxes improve health of the poor, major study finds. Research published in a series of Lancet articles found that taxes such as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy are more likely to alter the behaviour of less well-off consumers. Featured in the Telegraph, Independent, iNews, Times, Sun and Express.
  • Patients to see consultants within 24 hours under ‘digital healthcare revolution’, reports the Evening Standard. Paper referral forms used by GPs to book appointments with consultants will be scrapped from October and replaced with online communications. The new e-referral scheme will enable GPs to obtain ‘advice and guidance’ from a consultant within 24 hours to help decide on the next stage of treatment.

On Friday 6th April 2018, the following stories were published:

  • iNews reports that the number of people applying to midwifery courses in England has dropped by 35% since 2013.
  • Tooth decay now costs 60,000 school days a year, reports the Telegraph. Health chiefs have revealed ‘endemic’ tooth decay is now costing children approximately 60,000 days off school a year. Also featured in the Express and the Huffington Post.
  • Green neighbourhoods linked to improved mental health, reports the Independent. Researchers found that exposure to nature can cut the odds of serious depressive disorders by more than 5%.



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