Improving palliative care data collection

Public Health England’s National End of Life Care Intelligence Network (PHE NEoLCIN) has published a statement updating progress towards a new national data collection from specialist palliative care services.  The new data collection is due to start in July 2016 from NHS and non-NHS hospital, hospice and community specialist palliative care services, with full implementation scheduled for April 2017. It is being supported by the development of a new national information standard.

Additional link: PHE press release


A vision for modernising general practice in England has been published by the BMA GPs committee. The report Responsive, safe and sustainable: Towards a new future for general practice examines the current problems in general practice, but also looks at the future of primary care within a rapidly changing system.  It outlines five steps to meet future aspirations, and responding to the concerns of patients and doctors these include: developing new models for delivering care; addressing the recruitment and retention crisis; bridging the primary care funding gap; modernising premises and infrastructure and realising the potential benefits of IT and other technology.

Full report: Responsive, safe and sustainable: Towards a new future for general practice

A series of infographics that explain the GPC vision for general practice in England are available here

The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific? | The BMJ

BMJ 2015;351:h4962

It has a big impact on the diet of American citizens, and those of most Western nations, so why does the expert advice underpinning US government dietary guidelines not take account of all the relevant scientific evidence? Nina Teicholz reports

The expert report underpinning the next set of US Dietary Guidelines for Americans fails to reflect much relevant scientific literature in its reviews of crucial topics and therefore risks giving a misleading picture, an investigation byThe BMJ has found. The omissions seem to suggest a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice.

Issued once every five years, the guidelines have a big influence on diet in the US, determining nutrition education, food labeling, government research priorities at the National Institutes of Health, and public feeding programs, which are used by about a quarter of Americans each year.1 The guidelines, which were first issued in 1980, have also driven nutrition policy globally, with most Western nations subsequently adopting similar advice.

The guidelines are based on a report produced by a dietary guidelines advisory committee—a group of 11-15 experts who are appointed to review the best and most current science to make nutrition recommendations that both promote health and fight disease. The committee’s latest report was published in February2 and is under review by the government’s health and agricultural agencies, which will finalize the guidelines in the fall.

Concern about this year’s report has been unprecedented, with some 29 000 public comments submitted compared with only 2000 in 2010. In recent months, as government officials convert the scientific report into the guidelines, Congress has sought to intervene. In June, it proposed a requirement that the guidelines be based exclusively on “strong” science and also that they focus on nutritional concerns without consideration of sustainability. Other debated topics include newly proposed reductions in consumption of sugar and red meat.

Read the full article via The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific? | The BMJ.

Do NHS mergers represent good value for money?

Mergers of trusts in the NHS are often instigated by national bodies so that NHS trusts can gain foundation trust status or failing providers can be rescued from financial difficulties. This report looks at 20 mergers between 2010 and mid-2015 and finds that significant sums of money are being spent on such mergers (£2 billion on just 12 mergers over this period), often based on faulty reasoning and a lack of evidence that mergers offer lasting solutions.

Full report available via the Kings Fund

Outcomes-based commissioning in the NHS

The Health Foundation has published Need to nurture: outcomes-based commissioning in the NHS. This report examines what outcomes-based commissioning means, the evidence to support it, progress to date on introducing the approach in England, and the optimum role of national policy in response to it. The work is the product of interviews and discussions with many commissioners, providers, policy makers, experts and academics; as well as a rapid literature review.


New NICE home care guideline

A new guideline has been published, promoting high-quality home care services for older people, at a time when demand for such services is set to grow. The focus of the guideline is on ensuring that home care services support the aspirations, goals and priorities of each person. The guideline is the first to be developed on behalf of NICE by the NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care (NCCSC), a partnership led by SCIE.

Read the NICE Press release

Impact of out-of-hours GP services on A&E attendance rates

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published Investigating the impact of out-of-hours GP services on A&E attendance rates: multilevel regression analysis. This report sets out how the NAO used an analytical technique called multilevel regression modelling to investigate the factors affecting levels of attendance at accident and emergency (A&E) departments by patients registered at a GP practice.