UK has 6th highest rate of obesity – OECD

Health at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators | Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development | OnMedica

A report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that the UK has the sixth highest rate of adult obesity. The report looks at health indicators across its 100 member countries.


It shows that almost 27% of the adult population of the UK is obese, compared with the OECD average of 19.4%. The UK has a smoking prevalence of 16.1%, which is below the OECD average of 18.4%.

However average alcohol consumption per UK adult is higher than the OECD average, with consumption averaging at 9.5 litres per adult. Although this is down from 10.4 litres in 2000, it is still above the OECD average, added to which harmful drinking among teens remains problematic. Nearly a third (30.5%) of 15-year-olds have been drunk at least twice in their life, compared with the OECD average of 22%.

Many quality of care indicators are close to or just below the OECD average, but avoidable hospital admissions are high, says the report.

Full document: Health at a glance 2017 – OECD indicators.

Mental health policy research unit

Research unit to bring evidence to forefront of mental health policy

University College London and King’s College London are to lead the establishment of the new NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit.

The research unit will be focusing on prevention, access and quality of mental health care, by conducting research on the impact of existing policies and to guide future plans, as well as by providing expert advice. The unit will offer analyses to help guide mental health policy, drawing on existing data sets to collect evidence, and by synthesising established findings. The unit will also work with a broader network of experts in the field, and identify researchers who can be available at short notice to offer up advice or to take on short-term projects.

Further detail at Centre for Mental Health


HPV jab reduces number of smear tests needed over lifetime

Researchers say three cervical screenings could offer same benefit to women given the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as the 12 currently offered. | International Journal of Cancer | Cancer Research UK

Women who have been given the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may only need three cervical screenings in their lifetime, a study has said. Researchers found that smear tests at the ages of 30, 40 and 55 could offer the same benefit to vaccinated women as the 12 currently offered.

The results are based on how the HPV vaccine and the improved cervical screening programme will work best together. The new programme called HPV primary testing is set to be introduced in England by December 2019. It means that cervical samples are tested for HPV but only checked for abnormal cells if the virus is found. The current test checks for abnormalities first, which is less efficient.

The Cancer Research UK-funded team at Queen Mary University of London said that cutting the number of screenings for vaccinated women could save the NHS time and money.

Full reference: Landy et al. |What cervical screening is appropriate for women who have been vaccinated against high risk HPV? A simulation study. | International Journal of Cancer

See also:

Quality improvement

Establishing quality improvement approaches which actually work has much to do with suitable leadership and organisational culture, according to a new King’s Fund report.


This report explores the factors that have helped organisations to launch a quality improvement strategy and sustain a focus on quality improvement. It identifies three common themes for successfully launching a quality improvement strategy: having a clear rationale; ensuring staff are ready for change; understanding the implications for the organisation’s leadership team in terms of style and role.

The report finds that NHS leaders play a key role in creating the right conditions for
quality improvement. Leaders need to engage with staff, empower frontline teams to
develop solutions, and ensure that there is an appropriate infrastructure in place to
support staff and spread learning.

Full reference: Jabbal, J| Embedding a culture of quality improvement | Kings Fund

How will our future relationship with the EU shape the NHS?

This briefing from the Nuffield Trust explores five key areas where the deals the UK government reaches with the EU – or lack of them – will impact upon health and social care.


The report argues that an exit deal will be needed to make sure:

  • The rights of tens of thousands of EU doctors and nurses are guaranteed, minimising the chances of an exodus making already concerning staff shortages across the NHS worse;
  • A sudden legal vacuum does not risk supplies of already approved medicines, and human substances like blood plasma;
  • Expat pensioners who access healthcare under EU schemes do not feel forced to return, potentially requiring up to £500 million more in annual spending, and 1000 extra hospital beds;
  • British patients do not face slower access to life saving drugs, and British and European taxpayers do not have to pay more for duplicate regulation in medicines.

Full briefing: How will our future relationship with the EU shape the NHS?

£4 billion needed next year to stop NHS care deteriorating

Analysis from the Health Foundation, The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust suggests the government must find at least £4 billion more for the NHS in the Budget to stop patient care deteriorating next year.


The briefing calls on the government to recognise the immediate funding pressures facing the sector in 2018/19, which will see NHS funding growth fall to its lowest level in this parliament.

The publication also urges the government to act to close the growing funding gaps facing the health and care system, which it says are now having a clear impact on access to care.


The report calls for a credible medium-term strategy to better match the resources for the health and care service with the demands it faces, and proposes a new independent body to be established to identify the long-term health care needs of the population and the staffing and funding required to meet these needs.

Full briefing: The Autumn Budget:  Joint statement on health and social care

Related press release from The Health Foundation

Bridging the gap between health and housing

Housing LIN has published Bridging the gap between health and housing: a united approach in South Wales. With housing and health increasingly integrating to respond more effectively to citizens’ needs, this new Housing LIN Cymru case study puts the spotlight on Caerphilly-based housing association United Welsh. It explains their new wellbeing partnership, Wellbeing 4U, and highlights how it is drawing from housing expertise to improve the patient and GP experience across 25 surgeries in Cardiff and Barry.

Professionals trained to help smokers quit

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that nearly 40,000 healthcare professionals have been trained to offer quit smoking advice as part of a drive to make the NHS smoke-free by 2019. In support of the plan, PHE is urging all NHS frontline staff to take advantage of free online training to help them give ‘very brief advice on smoking’ (VBA). The evidence shows that giving VBA to patients makes them 68% more likely to quit if they’re offered stop smoking medication.  

Mental health support for young people in care

The Social Care Institute for Excellence has published a series of resources aimed at improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health support for looked after children and young people, care leavers, those on Special Guardianship Orders and those who are adopted. People who work with these young people, commissioners of care services and others working with children will find the resource informative and insightful.