England smoking ban cuts children hospital admissions

Thousands of children may have been spared serious illness and admission to hospital by the smoking ban in England, research has shown.  The law making it illegal to smoke in public indoor places saw 11,000 fewer children being admitted to hospital each year with lung infections, the study found.

Researchers analysed more than 1.6 million hospital admissions of children aged 14 and under across England between 2001 to 2012.

They found that the introduction of the smoking ban in 2007 was followed by an immediate reduction of 13.8 per cent in the number of admissions for lower respiratory tract infections.

Admissions for upper respiratory tract infections also decreased but at a more gradual rate. The sharpest falls were seen in the most deprived children.

BBC report

Reference: Been, Jasper et al. Smoke-Free Legislation And Childhood Hospitalisations For Respiratory Tract Infections European Respiratory Journal (2015): ERJ-00146-2015. 29 May 2015.

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Pictorial health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products

The World Health Organisation has published Evidence brief: how large pictorial health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products affect knowledge and behaviour. This briefing shows that combined written and graphic health messages on the packaging of tobacco products are more effective than text-only warnings. Studies have shown that pictorial health warnings increase quit attempts and decrease smoking uptake.  Pictorial health warnings, including graphic, fear-arousing information, have proven to be particularly effective.

Heatwave plan

The Department of Health has published its annual Heatwave Plan for England. The plan aims to prepare for, alert people to, and prevent, the major avoidable effects on health during periods of severe heat in England. It recommends a series of steps to reduce the risks to health from prolonged exposure to severe heat for: the NHS, local authorities, social care, and other public agencies; professionals working with people at risk; and individuals, local communities and voluntary groups.

Caring into later life

Carers UK and Age UK have published Caring into later life: the growing pressure on older carers.    The report rings together and analyses evidence from national data sources and older carers themselves to set out some of the key facts about this growing and diverse group and look at what steps must be taken to better support older carers.  The report is accompanied by statistics showing number of carers by local area.

Prime Minister’s plan for a 7 day NHS

The Prime Minister has set out his vision for a modern NHS that will work for patients 7 days a week.  The speech set out the government’s plans to prioritise patient access to all services – from GP access to hospital care – backing NHS England’s plan for modernising the NHS.  Investment into the NHS will increase by £8 billion a year by the end of the Parliament to support the transformation of services across the country, including an increase in the number of GPs, faster access to new drugs and treatments and a greater focus on mental health and healthy living.

Dying without dignity: complaints about end of life care

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has published Dying without dignity: investigations by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman into complaints about end of life care.  This report is intended to inform the debate about how, as a society, standards to improve the quality of end of life care offered across the country can be developed. It features 12 cases that illustrate the issues the Ombudsman regularly sees in casework on end of life care. The examples represent a diverse collection of stories, drawn from a range of different health care settings.

Increase in online booking of GP appointments

NHS England has reported that the number of GPs offering appointments, repeat prescriptions and access to summary information in medical records online has tripled in the first three months of the year with almost every GP surgery in England offering the service. Data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows that over 97% of patients in England can now take advantage of online services, an increase from the 3% in April 2014.