Short and sweet: Why the government should introduce a sugary drinks tax

Sugar tax could prevent 3.7 million cases of obesity over next decade

A 20% tax on sugary drinks in the UK would prevent 3.7 million people becoming obese over the next decade, a report predicts. Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum worked out the likely impact of the tax on eating habits.  Their report said such a tax would also save the NHS £10m a year by 2025.

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Full report: Short and Sweet: Why the government should introduce a sugary drinks tax

BBC report: Sugary drinks tax ‘would stop millions becoming obese’

Monitoring change in health care

This report from Nuffield Trust outlines how the ability to detect real change in the way care is being delivered will be critical as the NHS faces financial challenges.

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Using information in the right way will be especially important if managers and policy-makers are to make the right decisions about the effects that new models of care are having. The family of approaches known as statistical process control (SPC) have been widely used for monitoring outcomes in industry and have gained acceptance in many health care settings.

This report describes three different SPC methods which are relatively uncommon as a means for monitoring change across health systems

Journal clubs to promote evidence based nursing practice

By rheale. BMJ Evidence-Based Nursing blog. 12 Feb, 16

This week’s EBN Twitter Chat, on Wednesday 17th February 2016 between 20:00 – 21:00 hrs (GMT), will focus on tips and tricks to facilitating nursing journal clubs. The Twitter Chat will be hosted by Dr. Stephen McKeever (@Stephen8McK) who is a Senior Lecturer in Children’s Nursing in the Department of Children’s Nursing at London South Bank University and an Honorary Research Nurse in the Nursing Research Department of The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.


2570464636_a888dd068b_zJournal clubs can be particularly useful in; keeping up-to-date on practice, improving reading habits and critical appraisal skills, facilitating learning and openness to evidence based practice principles, and promoting multidisciplinary cooperation 2 4. It is proposed that developing these skills can be effective in overcoming some of the often cited barriers to implementing of evidence based nursing practice 3.

Participation in a journal club, with all its inherent different levels of engagement, are all with merit. However, whilst some journal clubs can facilitate inter-professional collaboration, if nursing learning needs are not met 3 then nurses will disengage with the format. There is an increased potential for this to happen if the opportunities to discuss issues related to nursing practice are not offered. If these opportunities are provided however, it enables a clinical context, and appropriateness to a particular setting, to be derived and improvements in practice to be explored. Thus, in some circumstances the formation of a nursing focused journal club are warranted.

Read the full blog here

Digital Technology – Nuffield Trust

Imison C,et al. (2016) Delivering the benefits of digital health care. Research Summary. Nuffield Trust

Clinically led improvement, enabled by new technology, is transforming the delivery of health care and our management of population health. Yet strategic decisions about clinical transformation and the associated investment in information and digital technology can all too often be a footnote to NHS board discussions. This needs to change. These decisions need to move centre stage.

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Image source: Nuffield Trust/KPMG

In this report we set out the possibilities to transform health care offered by digital technologies, with important insight about how to grasp those possibilities and benefits from those furthest along in their digital journey. The report draws on an extensive literature and evidence review, and on interviews with leaders of health care organisations who have been actively pursuing a digital strategy over many years.

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Image source: Nuffield Trust/KPMG

Many reports about technology-enabled change tend to focus on the large number of exciting future opportunities but less on the pitfalls and how they are to be avoided. We aim to fill this important gap. We want the leaders of NHS organisations reading this report to deepen their understanding of the digital terrain and the possibilities it offers, particularly to meet the immense productivity challenge ahead, and also to gain practical insights that will help avoid expensive mistakes.

Read the full report here

View the Summary here

Winter pressures: what’s going on behind the scenes?

Elizabeth Fisher and Holly Dorning. Quality Watch & the Nuffield Trust.


NHS staff are working in a heavily resource-constrained environment and facing increasing demand for care. In this report we examined 15 key indicators of performance of the NHS in England over the most pressured time of year – winter (November to March) – focusing on 2014-2015, as well as looking back over the last five years. At the time of analysis, data for the winter 2015-16 were not yet available. While the winter of 2014–15 was mild, in some areas the performance of the NHS deteriorated, and in others it held up.

  1. Acute services in the NHS are under strain on several measures. A&E attendances each year are increasing – 7% over the last five years. The number of beds available in hospitals has decreased by a similar percentage over the same period, and bed occupancy is rising each winter. The average daily number of beds closed due to a delayed transfer of care (delays in a person being discharged from hospital) is increasing each winter (nearly 4000 in 2014-15 compared to 2500 in 2011-12). While the numbers of staff in the NHS have increased each year, there is a peak in sickness absence in winter which means a dip in full-time equivalent capacity at times of greatest strain.
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Image source: QualityWatch
  1. Pressure normally seen during the winter months is increasingly visible at other times of the year. For example, the number of people waiting more than four hours on trolleys in A&E at the end of summer 2015 was higher not just than in any of the previous four summers studied, but also higher than in any of the four winters before 2014–15.
  2. The performance of the NHS in winter 2014-15 deteriorated in some areas. For example, the number of ambulances queuing outside A&E departments increased to 96,150 during the time period studied, compared to a fairly steady 60,000 in the previous winters. This peaked over the Christmas and New Year period. The proportion of patients waiting longer than four hours in A&E, the number waiting longer than 12 hours for a bed after a decision to admit to a ward, and response times to calls for an ambulance all grew, again particularly during December.
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Image source: Quality Watch
  1. But some measures of performance in acute care – such as the average length of time patients spend in A&E; the number of cancelled operations; temporary diversion of patients to other A&E departments to provide temporary respite; and unplanned, unilateral closure of an A&E department to admissions – did not deteriorate in 2014–15 compared with the previous four winters.
  2. While the trend in the number of people attending A&E units each year is increasing, fewer people attend during winter compared to the rest of the year. But of those who do attend there is a larger proportion of older people attending and a larger proportion of people requiring an emergency admission to hospital.
  3. The pressure on primary and community services in winter is largely unquantifiable at a national level because of a lack of available data.

Red the full report here

Tomorrow’s World: The Future of Ageing in the UK

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Image source: ILCUK

Using data featured in the expert testimony delivered at the 2015 Future of Ageing conference, this report describes the future challenges and opportunities posed by an ageing population.

What might the future of ageing look like? Will we live longer, healthier and wealthier lives, or will there be too little for too many?

On Tuesday 24th November 2015, the International Longevity Centre – UK hosted the first annual Future of Ageing conference. The conference brought together representatives from Government, business, academia and civil society to outline the challenges and opportunities posed by a rapidly ageing society, and to discuss how best to confront them.

Using data featured in the expert testimony delivered at the conference, in the guest blogs written for our Future of Ageing series, and research and analysis from the ILC-UK, ‘Tomorrow’s World: The Future of Ageing in the UK’ describes the future challenges and opportunities posed by an ageing population.

The report argues that our society is not adequately responding to ageing today. Instead:

  • The social care system is crumbling and health care is failing to incentivise the prevention of ill health.
  • The housing and planning  system is failing to respond to ageing, resulting in people living in housing which does not meet their needs.
  • Individuals are currently underestimating their life expectancy and risking running out of money in retirement.
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Image source: ILCUK

The report emphasises that without action today, the picture in 10 years time could be much worse. The report predicts that average pensioner incomes will start falling as more people retire with a less generous state pension and without the benefit of final salary pensions.

If urgent action is not taken to address the challenges posed by population ageing, the ILC-UK presents a future in which health expenditure has increased debt as a proportion of GDP to 180%; more than 1 million additional care workers are required to meet the demand for social care; and millions have failed to save enough ahead of retirement.

Read the full report here

Evidence from NHS Improvement on clinical staff shortages: A workforce analysis

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Image source: NHS Improvement

NHS providers have reported shortages of qualified clinical staff. This report looks at the causes and extent of current clinical staff shortages in acute hospitals, focusing on adult nurses and consultants. It also sets out the actions NHS Improvement is taking to help support providers facing workforce shortages.

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Image source: NHS Improvement

Read the full report here

Five year forward view for mental health

The Independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England has published Five year forward view for mental health.

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Image Source: NHS England

The NHS in England today (Monday) commits to the biggest transformation of mental health care across the NHS in a generation, pledging to help more than a million extra people and investing more than a billion pounds a year by 2020/21.

It is making the move in response to the final report of an independent taskforce, chaired by the Chief Executive of Mind Paul Farmer, set up by the NHS as part of its Five Year Forward View to build consensus on how to improve services for people of all ages.

The taskforce gives a frank assessment of the state of current mental health care across the NHS, highlighting that one in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and the cost of mental ill health to the economy, NHS and society is £105bn a year.

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In a wide ranging package of recommendations, it proposes a three-pronged approach to improving care through prevention, the expansion of mental health care such as seven day access in a crisis, and integrated physical and mental health care.

The taskforce suggests, and the NHS accepts, investing over £1bn a year of additional funding in NHS care by 2020/21 to reach one million more people – this investment is in addition to the previously announced new funding for children, young people and perinatal care.

Read the full report here

As the Mental Health Taskforce launches its Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, its independent chair Paul Farmer discusses the priorities in this film, which also includes a snapshot of some of the work going on around the country to improve care across the NHS.