The high profile role that the NHS played in Brexit and recent general election campaigns demonstrates that the health care system remains foremost in the minds of all political parties when considering how to present their policies | The Health Foundation
These campaigns put a spotlight on the sustainability of the health care system, but may have also fuelled a fear over deteriorating health system performance. In 2017, the NHS was recently ranked by the Commonwealth Fund as the best performing health care system out of 11 countries, including Germany, Australia and the United States. However, 82% of the general public expressed concerns about the future of the NHS in a survey following the 2017 General Election, with quality of care identified as one reason for dissatisfaction previously. Arguably, this disparity may be the result of intense media coverage of the human and financial pressures on the NHS, which could have shaped public perception to some extent. However, it might also point to a deeper disparity: a disconnect between the general assessment of measurable health system performance versus the quality of care perceived by patients when accessing the NHS.
One reason for this relates to the difficulty in measuring quality of health care at the system level. Quality in the context of health care is a multi-dimensional framework that captures six domains:
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has published a case study on Bath and North East Somerset CCG medicines optimisation service.
To reduce excessive prescribing BANES CCG commissioned community pharmacy to actively review their patients medication and to look for opportunities to optimise their care. The community pharmacists identified items to either not dispense or optimise and then worked with the CCG employed practice support pharmacists to make the changes permanent on a patient’s record.
In the first eight weeks of the service (18th May 2017 – 12 July 2017) the five initial pilot
pharmacies have identified £15,421 of annualised savings of which £9,396 have been actioned by the surgery, with £2,498 rejected and £3,528 awaiting resolution in the surgery. Currently 120 medicines optimisation opportunities have been identified by the community pharmacies with 69 being actioned by the CCG pharmacists.
The average annual saving per actioned suggestion is £136 (£9,396 / 69). The £30 professional fee is only paid to the community pharmacist once the change has been actioned by the surgery. The 69 approved changes resulted in £2,070 being paid in a professional fee, which represents a return on investment of 1 : 4.5 (£2,070 : £9,396). In year two, the CCG will continue to gain the benefits of these savings with no additional professional fee.
Research concerning point of care testing (POCT) in primary care finds that the total expected cost of using POCT to deliver an NHS Health Check in primary care is lower than the laboratory-led pathway. It also minimises DNA rates and only requires one visit from the patient.
Objective: To determine if use of point of care testing (POCT) is less costly than laboratory testing to the National Health Service (NHS) in delivering the NHS Health Check (NHSHC) programme in the primary care setting.
Design: Observational study and theoretical mathematical model with microcosting approach.
Setting: We collected data on NHSHC delivered at nine general practices (seven using POCT; two not using POCT).
Participants: We recruited nine general practices offering NHSHC and a pathology services laboratory in the same area.
Methods: We conducted mathematical modelling with permutations in the following fields: provider type (healthcare assistant or nurse), type of test performed (total cholesterol with either lab fasting glucose or HbA1c), cost of consumables and variable uptake rates, including rate of non-response to invite letter and rate of missed [did not attend (DNA)] appointments. We calculated total expected cost (TEC) per 100 invites, number of NHSHC conducted per 100 invites and costs for completed NHSHC for laboratory and POCT-based pathways. A univariate and probabilistic sensitivity analysis was conducted to account for uncertainty in the input parameters.
Main outcome measures: We collected data on cost, volume and type of pathology services performed at seven general practices using POCT and a pathology services laboratory. We collected data on response to the NHSHC invitation letter and DNA rates from two general practices.
Results: TEC of using POCT to deliver a routine NHSHC is lower than the laboratory-led pathway with savings of £29 per 100 invited patients up the point of cardiovascular disease risk score presentation. Use of POCT can deliver NHSHC in one sitting, whereas the laboratory pathway offers patients several opportunities to DNA appointment.
Conclusions: TEC of using POCT to deliver an NHSHC in the primary care setting is lower than the laboratory-led pathway. Using POCT minimises DNA rates associated with laboratory testing and enables completion of NHSHC in one sitting.
New report from the Nuffield Trust evaluates an initiative called the Primary Care Home (PCH) model developed by the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC).
The primary care home model was developed by the National Association of Primary Care as a response to workforce challenges, rising demand and opportunities to shape transformation in local health and care systems across England.
This report from the Nufield Trust suggests that the new models of primary care provision are showing early signs of success but will need more resources and support for these models to work well on a permanent basis.
The evaluation found that participating in the primary care home programme had strengthened inter-professional working between GPs and other health professionals while also stimulating new services and ways of working, tailored to the needs of different patient groups.
It was judged to be too early in the scheme’s development for the Nuffield Trust to quantify impacts on patient outcomes, patient experience or use of wider health services.
Public Health England has released data on brisk walking levels and physical inactivity in people aged between 40 and 60 in England from 2015 to 2016.
Data released by Public Health England (PHE) has shown that the amount of activity people do starts to tail off from the age of 40. PHE estimates 40% of 40- to 60-year-olds take a brisk 10-minute walk less frequently than once a month.
The analyses were carried out by PHE using data from Sport England’s Active Lives Survey, which is designed to measure participation in sport and physical activity in England.
PHE say just 10 minutes a day could have a major impact, reducing the risk of early death by 15%. To help, the government agency is promoting a free app – Active 10 – which can monitor the amount of brisk walking an individual does and provide tips on how to incorporate more into the daily routine.
In addition, the PHE framework ‘Everybody active, every day’ has been updated. This framework aims to make active lifestyles a reality for all, with 4 areas for action which will:
change the social ‘norm’ to make physical activity the expectation
develop expertise and leadership within professionals and volunteers
create environments to support active lives
identify and up-scale successful programmes nationwide
Three Royal Colleges have jointly agreed five shared principles designed to improve care and support for children and young people with mental health problems.
The Royal College of General Practitioners, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and The Royal College of Psychiatrists have issued a position statement saying that as well as the commissioning of specialist treatment, an effective child and young people’s (CYP) mental health system required:
acknowledgment that CYP mental health is everybody’s business and should be supported by a shared vision for CYP mental health across all government departments
a preventative, multi-agency approach to mental health across all ages, incorporating attention to education for young people and families, social determinants, and health promotion
a system of national and local accountability for population-level CYP mental health and well-being, delivered via integrated local area systems
training and education for the whole children’s workforce in their role and responsibilities for CYP mental health
more support, both from specialist services and other sectors, for professionals dealing with CYP who do not meet referral threshold to CAMHS.
Action is needed to deal with growing levels of substance misuse in people aged over 50, claims BMJ editorial
Researchers in the UK and Australia said the number of people aged over 50 who were experiencing problems from substance misuse was growing rapidly and the numbers receiving treatment were expected to treble in the US and double in Europe by 2020.
In both the UK and Australia, dangerous levels of drinking are declining, except among people aged 50 years and older, they said. One of the authors warns that the issue goes beyond drinking, citing illicit drugs such as cannabis, and commonly prescribed medications such as opioid painkillers as also being an issue.