What if?

The King’s Fund is launching a series of short essays that take a step back from the challenges currently facing the NHS to explore a range of hypothetical scenarios for the future of health and care.

  • What if antibiotics stopped working?
  • What if every patient in the NHS had their genome mapped?
  • What if people owned their own health data?

Over the next few months, The Kings Fund will be publishing essays by experts from inside and outside the Fund that consider ‘what if’ questions like these about health and care in England.

A survey of sports drinks consumption among adolescents

British Dental Journal 220, 639 – 643  Published online:  June 2016

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image source: Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr// CC BY-ND 2.0

Background Sports drinks intended to improve performance and hydrate athletes taking part in endurance sport are being marketed to children, for whom these products are not intended. Popularity among children has grown exponentially. Worryingly they consume them socially, as well as during physical activity. Sports drinks are high in sugar and are acidic. Product marketing ignores the potential harmful effects of dental caries and erosion.

Objective To investigate the use of sports drinks by children.

Method One hundred and eighty-three self-complete questionnaires were distributed to four schools in South Wales. Children in high school years 8 and 9 (aged 12–14) were recruited to take part. Questions focused on use of sports drinks, type consumed, frequency of and reason for consumption and where drinks were purchased.

Results One hundred and sixty children responded (87% response rate): 89.4% (143) claimed to drink sports drinks, half drinking them at least twice a week. Lucozade Sport was the most popular brand. The main reason for consuming the drinks was attributed to the ‘nice taste’ (90%, 129/143). Most respondents purchased the drinks from local shops (80.4%, 115) or supermarkets (54.5%, 78). More boys claimed to drink sports drinks during physical activity (77.9% versus 48.6% girls, P <0.001). Whereas more girls claimed to drink them socially (51.4% versus 48.5% boys, NS).

Conclusion A high proportion of children consumed sports drinks regularly and outside of sporting activity. Dental health professionals should be aware of the popularity of sports drinks with children when giving health education advice or designing health promotion initiatives.

Full reference: Broughton, D et. al.  A survey of sports drinks consumption among adolescents BDJ Published online 24th June 2016

Related: NHS Choices:  Sports drinks may have adverse effects on teens’ dental health

Integrated health and social care

The King’s Fund has published has published Supporting integration through new roles and working across boundaries.

 

Commissioned by NHS Employers and the Local Government Association, this report looks at the evidence on new roles and ways of spanning organisational workforce boundaries to deliver integrated health and social care.  The report includes examples of integrated schemes from across the country.

 

Key findings:

  • Where new roles have emerged, they have mainly done so due to developments in practice or to fill gaps in provision.
  • There is a lack of evidence on the cost-effectiveness of new roles and the extent to which they improve patient outcomes.
  • There are a number of ways in which integrated care is being delivered without the explicit need for new boundary-spanning roles.
  • Engaging staff from the outset and building on the existing skills of the workforce can overcome cultural barriers between professionals and organisations to develop integrated ways of working.

Additional link: Kings Fund press release

Child poverty rate over time

Child poverty fell between 2008 and 2013 both Before and After Housing Costs but now shows signs of increasing  | Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have produced the above graph which shows nineteen per cent of children are currently living in poverty Before Housing Costs are taken into account (29% after housing costs). The gap between the two poverty measures has grown which reflects the rising housing costs over the past decade, pushing more people into poverty.

Related: How can we tackle child poverty? The JRF looks at creating an anti-poverty childcare system, special educational needs, and poverty and children’s relationships.

Dealing with NHS financial pressures – what do the public think?

In this Kings Fund blog, Ruth Robertson makes the point that the  financial pressures facing the NHS are leading to increasingly tough choices  for commissioners and providers about how to prioritise their spending.

She looks specifically at how  the public think the NHS should approach these difficult decisions, looking at data from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey – an annual survey which asks randomly selected members of the public (rather than patients) for their opinions on a wide range of issues including the NHS.

Analysis from Ruth and her colleague, John Appleby  appears in the BSA survey which can be accessed here

 

Better mental health for all

It’s imperative that a public health perspective is taken within mental health to change the current crisis and reactive service model. | Mental Health Foundation

This report, which was written as a collaboration between the Mental Health Foundation and the Faculty of Public Health, examines what can be done individually and collectively to enhance the mental health of individuals, families and communities by using a public health approach and look to support the development of knowledge and skills in public mental health. The report is an evidence based resource for people who want to create real change in local communities.

  • Section one maps out why mental health is an important and often overlooked aspect of overall health.
  • Section two outlines the risk and protective factors through the life course and across communities.
  • Section three addresses approaches and interventions to improve mental health at different stages of the life course and in different settings.
  • Section four offers a practical guide to enable practitioners to support their own mental wellbeing.

Throughout the report, case studies showcase examples of innovative public mental health programmes and projects being run across the UK.

Full document: Better mental health for all: A public health approach to mental health improvement

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Evidence for Everyday Orthotists

Morris, C. Evidently Cochrane Blog. Published online: 27 June 2016

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Image source: Evidently Cochrane

In the second guest blog of the new series Evidence for Everyday Allied Health (#EEAHP), ‘lapsed orthotist’ and researcher Chris Morris looks at the challenges, and importance, of ensuring everyday practice is evidence-based.

‘I am a lapsed orthotist – no longer licensed to use the title, as I am not now registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. However I was an orthotist for 20 years, and for 10 of those I trained in health services research.

When I started out on my clinical career orthotists were more commonly called ‘surgical appliance fitters’ and we simply made and fitted what was prescribed by learned others. As orthotists became more academically trained, and recognised formally as allied health professionals, the role evolved into prescribing, or advising on prescription as part of multidisciplinary teams.

I write the following to encourage orthotists (and our prosthetist cousins) to use evidence everyday in the pursuit of an evidence-based practice.

 

Read the full blog post here