Health & Care Review
Health & Care Review
June 12, 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.
Government must improve preventive care outside hospitals
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report on NHS emergency admissions and readmissions to hospitals and the proportion that could be avoided. The report finds that emergency admissions continue to rise, and nearly 1.5 million people could have avoided emergency admissions in 2016/17 if hospitals, GPs, community services and social care had worked together more effectively.
Key findings include:
- in 2016/17, there were 5.8 million emergency admissions, up by 2.1% on the previous year; 24% that could have been avoided if effective preventative services were in place;
- without a better understanding of what works best to reduce emergency admissions, NHS England cannot prioritise resources effectively; and
- poor data on day-case emergency care and readmissions stops NHS England knowing if its efforts to reduce emergency admissions are helping or potentially harming patient.
A number of recommendations have been made in the report.
Carers action plan 2018 to 2020
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published an action plan which sets out the cross-government programme of work to support carers over the next two years.
The programme is structured around the following themes:
- services and systems that work for carers;
- employment and financial wellbeing;
- supporting young carers;
- recognising and supporting carers in the wider community and society; and
- building research and evidence to improve outcomes for carers.
It is envisaged that the action plan will help to improve the health and wellbeing of carers and to support a better experience for them.
Good progress but more to do: teenage pregnancy and young parents
The Local Government Association has published a report which provides a progress update on the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy which was launched 15 years ago. The Strategy was launched in response to England having one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Western Europe and prompted councils to take action to lower the under-18 conception rate.
Key facts include:
- the conception rate for young women aged 15-17 has fallen by 60% since 1998 with a similar reduction in conceptions to under-16s;
- conceptions rates for the above age groups are at the lowest levels since record-keeping began in the 1960s;
- the teenage birth rate remains higher than a number of other western European countries and progress made has been uneven across England; and
- around 29% of local authorities (LAs) have a rate significantly higher than the England average where inequalities exist.
The report features case studies on how LAs have taken various approaches to drive down the conception rate.
Making the money work in the health and care system
The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) has published a report, in conjunction with Pricewaterhouse Coopers to explore how financial flows could be redesigned to get maximum value of any new investment in the health service. The report also proposes radical financial reforms so that benefits to patients are maximised and resources are used more effectively.
The report outlines the changes that need to be made and proposes that:
- financial flows should be aligned with the emerging place-based architecture;
- systems should be provided with more clarity through longer-term funding; and
- money should be focussed towards achieving better outcomes.
A number of detailed recommendations have been made in the report covering both the long and short term.
Childhood obesity is everyone’s business
The House of Commons Health Select Committee has published a report on childhood obesity ahead of the Government’s soon-expected refreshed childhood obesity plan. The report highlights key areas as a matter of urgency for the Government to consider before the next plan is published.
The Committee is calling for an effective childhood obesity plan with a joined-up, ‘whole systems’ approach and one which focuses particularly on tackling the ever-widening health inequality due to childhood obesity between the richest and poorest areas. The Government is being urged to ensure that children at risk of obesity are identified at an earlier stage so they and their families can access appropriate help and services.
Some of the key issues highlighted in the report are:
- the Committee endorses the calls for a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising;
- restrictions on discounting and price promotions and removal of unhealthy foods from the ends of aisles and checkouts;
- calorie labelling at point of food choice for the out-of-home sector; and
- Committee calls for targets to improve rates of breastfeeding and a full and timely implementation of the school-centred measures contained in the original 2016 Child Obesity Action Plan.
National campaign needed to tackle loneliness ‘epidemic’, says RCGP
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has called for a national public campaign to raise awareness of loneliness and social isolation across society. The College argues that the campaign is essential to educating the public and should encourage people to speak to neighbours and members of their communities about loneliness or start local initiatives to build social connections.
The call is made in a new RCGP manifesto which seeks to influence the Government’s approach to tackling loneliness.
Dementia-friendly rural communities guide
The Alzheimer’s Society has published a new guide to help all types of rural communities increase awareness of dementia and become more dementia-friendly. The charity highlights that 24% of older people in rural communities are carers, and there are now greater numbers of older people living in rural areas than urban areas.
Numbers of GPs who want to leave within 5 years at all-time high, finds survey
The Ninth National GP Worklife Survey 2017 was carried out by University of Manchester researchers, who have now published the independent report commissioned and funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme.
Key facts highlighted include:
- the number of GPs who say they are likely to quit within five years is 39%. This is an increase from 35% in 2015; the figure rose from 61% in 2015 to 62% in GPs over 50. Among this group, the majority said it was highly likely (47%) or considerably likely (15%); and
- more than 90% of GPs reported experiencing considerable or high pressure from increasing workloads.
NHS England welcomes homeopathy court ruling
NHS England has welcomed the high Court’s decision to reject a legal challenge by the British Homeopathic Association to overturn plans to no longer routinely fund homeopathy on the NHS.
Last year, NHS England published guidance for Clinical Commissioning Groups to restrict the amount of prescriptions for medicines that can be brought over the counter; are of low value or are ineffective, unsafe or low clinical priority treatments, one category of which covers homeopathic medicines.
New data reveals 420,000 cases of STIs diagnosed in 2017
Public Health England (PHE) has published new figures in a report that covers sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexual health services provided in England by demographic characteristics and geographical region.
Key facts highlighted include:
- in 2017, there were approximately 422,000 diagnoses of STIs in England, similar to 2016;
- there were 7,137 diagnoses of syphilis reported in 2017, a 20% increase compared to 2016 and a 148% increase compared to 2008;
- there were 44,676 diagnoses of gonorrhoea reported in 2017, a 22% increase relative to the year prior;
- there were 441 diagnoses of first episode warts in 15-17 year old girls in 2017, a 90% decrease relative to 2009 and an early expression of the success of the national human papillomavirus immunisation programme; and
- over 1.3 million chlamydia tests were carried out and over 126,000 chlamydia diagnoses were made among young people aged 15 to 24 years. There was an 8% decline in the number of chlamydia tests in 2017 compared to 2016.
Focus on brisk walking, not just 10,000 steps, say health experts
PHE and the RCGP have launched a new campaign which encourages middle aged adults to do more moderate intensity physical activity by incorporating brisk walking into their days rather than just counting steps to improve their health.
The campaign is encouraging people to download the PHE ‘Active 10’ app which is the only app that combines intensity and time, rather than just the distance.
Nuffield Trust and UCL come together to rapidly evaluate new ways of care
The Nuffield Trust and University College London have collaborated to rapidly evaluate new ways of providing and organising care. This collaborative work has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Service and Delivery Research programme for five years.
The project will study the latest changes in health and care service, and evaluate service innovations driven by national policy and local needs.
An open letter: a long-term funding settlement for the NHS
The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation have written an open letter to the Prime Minister about a long-term funding settlement for the NHS. The letter sets out what the upcoming long-term funding settlement for the NHS must do; the key messages focus on providing adequate resource and reforms to transform; addressing the NHS workforce crisis and reform of social care.
Tobacco control plan: delivery plan 2017 to 2022
DHSC has published a report setting out actions for meeting the aims of the tobacco control plan for England and how progress will be monitored. The delivery plan sets out specific milestones and what is expected at national and local levels.
It includes actions for:
- government departments
- national agencies
- local partnerships
Three million hours of home care lost due to council cuts, says Age UK
Age UK’s new report, Behind the Headlines – The battle to get care at home, highlights cases where many older people and their families struggle to get the care at home they need due to bureaucracy and LAs struggling to meet growing demand. The report states that LAs are facing deeply inadequate resources, a situation worsened by years of budget cuts.
Key facts in the report:
- provision of homecare services has fallen by three million hours since 2015;
- the average spend per adult on social care fell 13%, from £439 to £379, between 2009/10 and 2016/17; and
- over the same period around 400,000 fewer older people received social care, as eligibility criteria were tightened by councils.
Key issues faced by older people include long waits to get an assessment; social services declining to get involved; and poor quality services and support.
On Monday 4th June 2018, the following stories were published:
- The Telegraph features part two of their ’70 Ideas to Save the NHS’ series. This week’s segment includes ‘sourcing home care for patients when they arrive at hospital’, ‘self-testing kits for HIV’ and ‘paramedics treating patients in A&E’.
- A tenth of us will have diabetes by 2030, reports The Express. Recent figures, based on data from Diabetes UK and taken from a Parliamentary question asked by Labour MP Tom Watson, reveal that diabetes diagnoses will rise.
On Tuesday 5th June 2018, the following stories were published:
- Aspirin and antacids could cut risk of throat tumours. Giving high-risk patients a low dose of aspirin and an anti-acid reflux medication for seven years reduced their risk by a fifth, scientists from Cancer Research UK have said. Featured in The Times and The Sun.
- PHE urge fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup to ensure they are up-to-date with their MMR vaccine, following large outbreaks of measles in Europe. In 2017, outbreaks affected more than 20,000 people in Europe, leading to 35 deaths. Featured in the BBC and The Mail.
On Wednesday 6th June 2018, the following stories were published:
- The Times features an opinion piece by James Kirkup, who argues that the NHS won’t learn how to spend effectively if funding is simply increased. The article references research released today from the Social Market Foundation, which sets out the scale of the challenge and offers solutions to make the service spend more effectively.
- Heart attacks are 65% more likely to be fatal in winter because the NHS is so overstretched, research from the British Cardiovascular Society suggests. Featured in The Times, The Express and The Mail.
On Thursday 7th June 2018, the following stories were published:
- Holidaymakers are being warned to check the rules on carrying medicines abroad to avoid falling foul of local laws. The Foreign Office said some commonly-prescribed medicines were ‘controlled drugs’ in certain countries, and travellers cold risk a fine or imprisonment if they break the rules. Featured in the BBC, The Mail and The Sun.
- The Prime Minister will give the NHS a ‘significant increase’ in its budget as part of a ‘birthday present’ as it turns 70 in July, Jeremy Hunt has said. In an interview with The Guardian, the Health Secretary revealed that the PM is ‘100% committed’ to the NHS and intends to increase funding to tackle chronic understaffing, improve care and cope with the ageing population. Also featured in the BBC and The Times.
On Friday 8th June 2018, the following stories were published:
- A report from the Public Accounts Committee has found that one quarter of patients being admitted to hospital as an emergency could have avoided such crises if they had been given the right care earlier. Featured in The Telegraph, The Mail, The Sun and The Express.
- Health spending in the UK is significantly behind other European countries, a report shows. As a percentage of GDP, the UK continues to spend less on health than Germany, Sweden, France and others. Featured in The Mail.
- The Mirror features a piece on ‘England’s death hotspots’. Research by the Centre for Progressive Policy suggests that an NHS postcode lottery exists in England where up to 17% of the country, around 9 million people, are more likely to suffer avoidable deaths due to where they live.