Health & Care Review

Health & Care Review

May 8, 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.

UK asthma death rates among worst in Europe

Asthma UK has published a new analysis for World Asthma Day which took place in April 2018. The analysis of Europe-wide figures from 2011 and 2015 shows that the UK has one of the worst asthma death rates in Europe, with the rate of people dying from an asthma attack increasing over the years.

  • the rate of asthma deaths in the UK has increased by more than 20% in five years, with figures from 2015 showing 1,434 people died from an asthma attack; and
  • the UK’s average asthma death rate over five years is almost 50% higher than the average death rate in the European Union;
  • like the UK, Spain and France have both seen an increase in asthma death rates; and
  • Germany is leading the way with declining asthma death rates with an 11% drop from 2011-2015.

Asthma UK urges the NHS to invest in better asthma frontline services – including better tests to diagnose people and access to new treatments for severe asthma – and for the Government to invest in research for an asthma cure.

It also calls for healthcare professionals to follow asthma guidelines, and for those with asthma to get in touch if they need health advice.

Alcohol and mental health

The Centre for Mental Health has published a report in partnership with the Institute of Alcohol Studies which highlights that people who have difficulties with alcohol and mental health are still  not getting the help and support they need.

The report is based on a survey and seminar session held with professionals working in mental health and/or alcohol services across the country. It finds that:

  • co-morbidity is a barrier to treatment, and support for people with co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems is too often poor and fragmented;
  • support for homeless people with complex needs is particularly poor; and
  • lack of understanding and join-up between services, funding and workforce shortages, and stigma facing those with co-morbidities are major problems.

The report calls for concerted national leadership to improve the support offered to people with alcohol and mental health problems.

Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2017

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published new statistics on adult (aged 16 years and over) drinking habits in Great Britain in 2017. The information is underpinned by the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, run by the ONS and includes 7,100 respondents.

Key facts include:

  • in Great Britain, 57% of respondents aged in 2017 drank alcohol, which equates to 29.2 million people in the population.
  • young people aged 16-24 years in Great Britain are less likely to drink than any other age group; when they do drink, consumption on their heaviest drinking day tends to be higher than other ages;
  • 4% of respondents reported that they did not drink alcohol at all;
  • People working in managerial and professional occupations, in addition to the highest earners, were most likely to say they drank alcohol in the past week.

Statistics on alcohol

NHS Digital has published a comprehensive set of statistics, building on those published by ONS and other already-published sources to present a range of information on alcohol use and misuse by adults and children in 2016/17.

Key facts include:

  • in 2016/17, there were 337,000 estimated admissions where the main reason for admission to hospital was attributable to alcohol (1% lower than 2015/16 and 17% higher than 2006/07);
  • the number of admissions rises with age up until 45-54 and then falls – 39% of patients were aged between 45 and 64;
  • more men than women were admitted – 62% of the patients were male;
  • almost 25% of admissions were for cancer; 22% were for unintentional injuries; and
  • 79% of adults earning £40,000 or more a year drank alcohol in the previous week in 2017, compared to 58% of all adults.

Powerful Patients & paperless systems

The Centre for Policy Studies has published a report, by Alan Mak MP, which explores how the ‘fragmented’ nature of NHS digital services could be brought together on to one easy to use, trusted platform that conforms to standardised rules.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • all NHS patient records to be fully digitised;
  • new digital messaging system for all NHS doctors and nurses;
  • build a new NHS app to provide patients with instant access to medical data and health services;
  • an NHS Kitemark for approved apps;
  • regional data innovation hubs to cover the whole population of England; and
  • bringing in a hub and spoke model of digital specialisation.

Major challenges threaten future of cancer nursing, in depth study reveals

Macmillan Cancer Support has published the findings of its census of specialist cancer nurses and support workers.

Key facts in the census include:

  • the number of new cases per specialist cancer nurse is dramatically different across the country;
  • A greater proportion of specialist cancer nurses being paid in lower pay bands than in 2014;
  • higher vacancy rates in specialist cancer nurse and cancer support worker roles than the UK average for health and social work; and
  • the proportion of specialist cancer nurses aged over 50 has increased.

Macmillan expresses concern that:

  • variation in the number of new patients diagnosed each year per specialist nurse means that patients may not be getting access to badly-needed specialist care;
  • a trend of highly trained specialists taking on increasingly complex caseloads for lower pay may be exacerbating recruitment and retention problems in the cancer nursing workforce; and
  • the proportion of specialist cancer nurses aged 50 or over has increased since the last census in 2014, which highlights the importance of making sure plans are in place to make the workforce sustainable in the long term.

Tackling obesity – What the UK can learn from other countries

2020health has published its third report on obesity since 2014, which highlights that a strong and mandated central policy is still needed to support bold, holistic local action to challenge obesity. The report examines obesity strategies from around the world to conclude what the UK can learn from.

Key facts include:

  • compulsory national policies on school-based education, health and wellbeing can give greater strength and support to local action on obesity prevention;
  • taxation, whether considered, planned or implemented, can encourage manufacturer reformulation of products to healthier options;
  • raised health literacy can help improve public dietary habits; and
  • community-based programmes for school-aged children, and their families are much more effective than interventions focused on school environments alone.

Hepatitis C in England and the UK

Public Health England has published the latest hepatitis C virus report, slide sets and infographics for England and the UK to outline national progress with the elimination of hepatitis C as a major public health threat in England.

Key facts include:

  • 3% fall in deaths from Hep C-related end-stage liver disease and cancer between 2014-16;
  • Provisional data suggests that 9,440 people were treated in 2016/17; up 85% on pre-2015 levels; and
  • Needle/syringe provision was found to be suboptimal, with just less than one half (45% in 2016) of those surveyed reporting adequate provision for their needs.

Media monitoring

On Tuesday 1st May 2018 the following stories were published:

  • The Guardian features a look at the last decade of health and social care in the UK, reflecting on the 70th anniversary of the NHS.
  • iNews reports that elderly people who exercise regularly are less likely to struggle to find words to express themselves. Researchers found that aerobic fitness levels of men and women in their late 60s and 70s was directly related to how often they become tongue tied.

On Wednesday 2nd May 2018 the following stories were published:

  •  The Independent and The Telegraph report that 90% of councils are stopping public health services due to budget cuts.
  • The BBC reports that the British Homeopathic Association has won the right to have a judicial review of NHS England’s decision to issue guidance to CCGs recommending that GPs no longer prescribe homeopathic treatments.
  • The Guardian reports that Labour is urging minister to give doctors an exemption from the cap on visas for skilled workers to help tackle NHS shortages. A similar story accusing Theresa May of refusing to ease visa restrictions for overseas doctors appears in The Times.

On Thursday 3rd May 2018 the following stories were published:

  • A report in the British Medical Journal claims that the NHS is spending £23 million a year on prescribing bath emollients for children with eczema when the products have no clinical benefit. This was covered by the Telegraph, Mail and BBC.

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