Hand washing web programme ‘helps reduce infections’

A web-based programme encouraging people to wash their hands more frequently could reduce the risk of catching and passing on infections, a study suggests.

nurse handwashing

Researchers writing in The Lancet tested it on around 16,000 households in the UK during the winter flu season. They found a 14% reduction in general risk of infection and a 20% lower risk of catching flu in those who used it. This group also visited their GP less and needed fewer antibiotics.
Most people wash their hands five or six times a day, but Prof Paul Little, from the University of Southampton, who led the research, said that if that could be increased to 10 times a day it would have an important effect on reducing the spread of bugs and infections.

Previous research has shown that infections in adults could be prevented if they washed their hands more often and reduced their ‘viral load’. This would be of particular benefit to people who do not want to catch flu, such as those with heart or lung problems or the elderly.

The programme, called PRIMIT, has four weekly sessions which explain the medical evidence behind regular hand-washing.
It encourages users to learn simple techniques to avoid catching and passing on viruses and to monitor their own hand-washing behaviour.
Those using the programme in the study were followed for 16 weeks and asked to fill in a questionnaire afterwards.
Prof Little said that because most households now have access to the internet, the programme could be a good source of health information in a pandemic and help prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.

Carry on reading via Hand washing web programme ‘helps reduce infections’ – BBC News.

Read the original research article via An internet-delivered handwashing intervention to modify influenza-like illness and respiratory infection transmission (PRIMIT): a primary care randomised trial

Listening to the voices of abused older people: should we classify system abuse? | The BMJ

BMJ 2015;350:h2697#


Elder abuse is often the result of the organisation of health systems rather than the fault of individuals, argue Yuliya Mysyuk and colleagues. They call for system abuse to be acknowledged and addressed by incorporating older people’s views when designing health services

Over the past few decades it is has become clear that abuse of older people is a far reaching public health problem that affects the quality of life of people worldwide.1 2 3 4 It disproportionately affects people with mental health problems, such as depression and dementia.1 5 Currently, the most widely used definition comes from the World Health Organization: “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.”6 The definition focuses on a trusting relationship, includes acts of omission and commission, and is mostly interpreted as referring to interpersonal relationships.7 However, scandals in the UK, such as at Mid Staffordshire8 and Leas Cross,9 indicate that the problem goes beyond interpersonal relationships.

Read the full article via Listening to the voices of abused older people: should we classify system abuse? | The BMJ.

Demography still dictates destiny for children with disabilities

The Lancet: Volume 386, No. 9993, p503, 8 August 2015

About one in 50 people in England have a learning disability, a significant general impairment in intellectual functioning acquired during childhood. People with learning disabilities have worse health and increased age-adjusted mortality than their peers. The Learning Disabilities Public Health Observatory (Improving Health and Lives), part of Public Health England, collates current research and new analyses from the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) in their report The determinants of health inequities experienced by children with learning disabilities. Focusing not on those health differences that are to some extent unavoidable (eg, congenital abnormalities associated with syndromes such as Down’s and Prader-Willi) nor factors that affect adults with learning disabilities (such as transition between children’s and adults’ care, or limited opportunities within the workforce), the report finds that children with learning disabilities are at increased risk of exposure to all major categories of social determinants that adversely affect health.

Read the full article via Demography still dictates destiny for children with disabilities – The Lancet.

Is protecting NHS spending the best way to protect health?

Little is understood about the impact of wider public sector cuts on people’s health. We need to build an evidence base to help guide spending decisions.

It is well established that a person’s health is not simply the product of the NHS but is shaped by many wider determinants such as housing and employment. The government has made it clear that they want to protect health, and have elected to do so by protecting NHS spending. This has been at the expense of non-health service spending, particularly on welfare, with significant cuts made following the 2008 global economic crisis and five more years of austerity to come.

This approach raises the following questions: is protecting health services really the same as protecting people’s health? And, could cutting non-health service spending damage health more than cutting the NHS budget? With the government’s spending review fast approaching, these questions require answers so that policy makers avoid making spending decisions that could worsen health and widen health inequalities.

So, what is the evidence for the impact on people’s health of cutting non-health service spending? We have scanned a combination of academic papers and research from charities and local governments, from the UK and abroad, to try to better understand what evidence is available and what it tells us.

Carry on reading via Is protecting NHS spending the best way to protect health? | Public Finance.

GMC launches mobile app for doctors’ professional development

The GMC has launched a mobile app to help doctors manage their continuous professional development.

The new app ‘GMC My CPD’ allows doctors to record their learning activities on the go, at the click of a button.

Whether on the way back from a seminar, or when they have received some good advice from a colleague, the app will provide a useful way for doctors to store learning points.

Importantly, it also allows them to set a reminder so the app will ask them at a later date if changes to their practice have been effective.

The app will allow doctors to record all aspects of their work wherever they are, so long as they have their mobile device with them.

Consultation with doctors revealed that many already have a system for managing their CPD, though not necessarily a portable one. The app can complement those systems, or act as a single way of recording learning for doctors who do not currently have one.

In addition the app will allow them to photograph learning certificates and voice record their ideas and thoughts.

It also provides advice and case studies, including planning, reflecting on points of learning, and how to prepare for appraisal.

via GMC | GMC launches mobile app for doctors’ professional development.

Little known about what people want from self-management

PLoS ONE. 2015. 10(7): e0130990

White female person with diabetes self monitoring blood glucose levels.

Clinical indicators such as blood sugar control are often used to measure the success of self-management programmes but these may not be important outcomes for patients, families, professionals or commissioners. It is important to learn more about which outcomes are important to stakeholders in order to better design self-management support.

Many initiatives aim to support self-management. Reviewers from England examined which outcomes of supported self-management may be most valued by patients, their families, health professionals and those that plan and purchase services.

Nine bibliographic databases were searched and 41 studies were included focused on people with colorectal cancer, diabetes and stroke.

Most studies focused on people with diabetes. Few studies directly assessed people’s views about desired self-management outcomes. Almost no studies examined the views of healthcare commissioners. The outcomes measured ranged widely and included knowledge, skills, clinical indicators and social networks.

Link to full article

via Little known about what people want from self-management | The Health Foundation.

NICE produces new draft guidelines on caring for the dying

The draft guideline is out for consultation with stakeholders between 29 July 2015 and 09 September 2015.

A few of the main points are detailed below:

Recognising when a person is in the last days of their life

If it is thought that a person may be dying, information should be gathered on their:

  • clinical signs and symptoms, and medical history
  • the person’s goals and wishes, as well as their psychological and spiritual needs
  • the views of those important to the person with respect to future care

The assessment of their clinical state should be made on a team basis and not just by one individual. The assessment should be reviewed at least every 24 hours.


Establish their communication needs, their current level of understanding and how much information they want to know about their prognosis. If patients or their families do want information, staff should discuss any concerns they have, while avoiding giving false hope.

Shared decision making

Find out how much the person wants to be involved in terms of shared decision making when it comes their care plan. As part of this process, find out whether the person has an advanced care plan or decision in place, as well as their goals and wishes.


A dying person should always be supported if they wish to drink and are able to, though it is important to check for potential risks, such as swallowing problems.

Encourage friends and family to help with giving drinks and mouth care. Provide any necessary aids, such as sponges.

Discuss the risks and benefits of clinically assisted hydration, such as intravenous feeding, and their wishes about its use. It is also important to make clear that clinically assisted hydration is unlikely to prolong life.

Pharmacological interventions

Discuss what level of symptom control they would want in the last days of their life, as well as the possible benefits and harms of any medicines offered.

The plan for pharmacological interventions should be regularly reviewed.

Read the NHS choices article via NICE produces new draft guidelines on caring for the dying – Health News – NHS Choices.

NHS England launches first stage of new programme to improve young people’s mental health services

NHS England has distributed £30m of funding to improve eating disorder services aiming to achieve 95 per cent of patients being seen within four weeks or one week for urgent cases by 2020.

The funding is the first stage of a new programme to improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing and will be used to improve community based eating disorder (ED) services so patients are helped earlier and fewer need in-patient care.

The funding will be recurrent for five years as part of the Autumn statement announcement in 2014, and in addition to the £1.25bn pledged in the March 2015 budget for CAMHS which is also over the next five years.

NHS England has issued guidance to CCGs on submitting their Local Transformation Plans (LTPs) to improve mental health care for children and young people, including how they will develop eating disorder services.

This year NHS England will spend an extra £133m on improving children and young people’s mental health, in addition to current local CAMHS budgets and the £30m for ED. A further £9m will be spent by Health Education England.

via NHS England » NHS England launches first stage of new programme to improve young people’s mental health services.

PHE – Local Tobacco Control Profiles for England

Local Tobacco Control Profiles

The Local Tobacco Control Profiles for England provides a snapshot of the extent of tobacco use, tobacco related harm, and measures being taken to reduce this harm at a local level. These profiles have been designed to help local government and health services to assess the effect of tobacco use on their local populations. They will inform commissioning and planning decisions to tackle tobacco use and improve the health of local communities.

The tool allows you to compare your local authority against other local authorities in the region and benchmark your local authority against the England or regional average.

tobacco control graph

via Local Tobacco Control Profiles for England.