1,000 conversations: speaking out on mental health

How we feel affects every waking moment, and can be driven by everything, from the crucial (meeting a work deadline) to the more trivial (reacting to the person shoving in front during the morning commute) | Centre for Mental Health

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And for those struggling with their mood and emotions, aspects of culture which perpetuate the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach can make things really difficult, as HRH Prince Harry recently highlighted.

We’re working to change that through calling on everyone to have a ‘mental health conversation’ – just a regular conversation, but with the aim of promoting mental health awareness through answering one simple question: what helps your wellbeing?

We’ve been inspired to launch 1,000 conversations by our involvement with ‘On the edge’, a show garden at RHS Hampton Court flower show which evokes a journey through mental distress. We’ll be trying to reach 1,000 mental health conversations during the show, but you can be part of it via social media – join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Read the full overview here

Updated confidentiality guidance comes into force for doctors

From 25th April 2017 all doctors practising medicine in the UK will be expected to follow revised, expanded and restructured ethical guidance on confidentiality | GMC

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Image source: GMC

Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information has been updated following an extensive consultation exercise, and is now more explicit than previously published guidance about working with patients. It now clarifies:

  • The circumstances in which doctors can rely on implied consent to share patient information for direct care.
  • The importance of sharing information for direct care, recognising the multi-disciplinary and multi-agency context doctors work in.
  • The significant role that those close to a patient can play in providing support and care, and the importance of acknowledging that role.
  • The public protection responsibilities of doctors, including when to make disclosures in the public interest.

The full guidance is available here

Digital solutions for social care

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VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) has published Co-producing technology: harnessing digital solutions for social care. 

This paper outlines how health and social care providers can collaborate with service users when designing apps, websites and other digital technologies.  It recommends how providers can maximise the benefits of such new approaches, and addresses three focus areas: the locality perspective, the integration perspective and the practice perspective.

Download the full report:
Co-producing technology: harnessing digital solutions for social care.

Access to General Practice

Concerns persist over patients’ access to GPs and staffing levels

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The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published Access to general practice: progress review. This follow-up report finds that the Department of Health and NHS England now have objectives to improve and extend access to general practice and have made some effort to understand the demand for extended access.  However, the committee notes that extended hours are being introduced without an understanding of the level of access currently being provided, or how to get the best from existing resources.

The report also notes that despite the government’s target to recruit 5,000 more GPs, the overall number of GPs has reduced in the last year, and problems with staff retention have continued.

Health Education England has increased the number of trainee GPs recruited, but still did not manage to meet its recruitment target last year.

 

Integrated care

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The European Commission’s Expert Group on Health Systems Performance Assessment has published BLOCKS: tools and methodologies to access integrated care in Europe.

Drawing on insights from experts from seventeen European countries, the report looks at the factors behind successful integrated care models including stakeholder engagement, patient empowerment and the use of information and communications technology.

Support for people with a learning disability

The Public Accounts Committee report, Local support for people with a learning disability, says greater focus is needed on measuring outcomes and improvements to quality of life.

Two years ago, the previous Committee of Public Accounts reported on the Department of Health’s efforts to move people with a learning disability out of mental health hospitals and into the community. At that time, the Committee found that progress had been poor but was promised improvements.

This follow up report finds the Transforming Care programme has moved some people out of hospital, however more needs to be done to address known barriers.  There is also concern that support for people with a learning disability who live in the community is patchy.

Impact of care quality commission

The Care Quality Commission has published Review of CQC’s impact on quality and improvement in health and social care

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Image source: http://www.cqc.org.uk/

This report considers what the CQC knows about how effective it has been so far.  The focus for this report is on the CQC’s main activities of registering, monitoring, inspecting and rating care services, enforcing against regulations and using their independent voice.

Wellcome science book prize goes to story of a heart transplant #WBP2017

Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living, which tracks the journey of a heart from donor to recipient, is only the second novel to take the £30,000 award | The Guardian

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Image source: Wellcome Book Prize

A novel that “illustrates what it is to be human” has become the first translated book to win the Wellcome prize for science writing.

Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living, which tracks the journey of a heart from donor to recipient over 24 hours, is only the second novel ever to scoop the £30,000 prize, which is awarded to a work of fiction or nonfiction that engages with health and medicine.

Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal review – the story of a heart
The journey of a transplant organ explores the metaphysical zone between life and death, in an excellent novel from the French author

Announcing the winner, chair of judges Val McDermid said: “Sometimes you read a memoir and it is just one person’s tragedy, but this is about the tragedy and hope that comes from loss that could affect every single one of us.” She said the judges “felt very strongly” that the book had the potential to change the lives of readers and called it “compelling, original and ambitious”.

Read the full news article here

Aerobic and resistance exercises can improve thinking skills of the over 50s

Researchers reviewed 39 studies published up to the end of 2016 to assess the potential impact of varying types, intensities, and durations of exercise on the brain health of the over 50s | Alzheimer’s Society

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Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

‘The benefits of regular exercise to keep a sharp mind are becoming clearer. Previous studies show that people who exercise are less likely to develop dementia, but more research is needed to find out exactly what type and how much exercise is best to help reduce your risk of the condition.’

‘In this study, researchers reviewed results from 39 trials of people in their 50s who were given supervised exercise programmes. Taking up moderate or vigorous exercise improved people’s performance on tests of thinking skills, but the study didn’t look at whether this reduced their likelihood of developing dementia.’

Read the original research article here

Help offered to medical students in crisis

The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) has today re-launched its programme of support for UK medical students | OnMedica

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Image source: RMBC

In two new publications it encourages students to seek help and offers advice on how to cope with the demands of studying medicine.

The charity aims to support and protect the future of the medical profession, offering financial help in the form of grants for students facing critical and unexpected hardship while studying. Previously this support was offered in the form of loans, but by switching to grants the RMBF hopes to reach more students in need who may be wary of taking on additional debt.

A new downloadable publication, The Vital Signs for Medical Students, highlights key pressure trigger points for medical students and provides advice on managing stress during the rigours of medical education. A new-look leaflet, for distribution in medical schools, will also set out the support on offer and encourage students to seek help in difficult times.

The re-launched RMBF website also hosts an updated guide to medical student finances, which provides information on sources of funding, advice on applying for bursaries and grants, and tips for saving money as a student.

Read the full overview here

The report is available to download here