NHS England has issued a Cold weather alert: level 3
There is a 90 per cent probability of severe cold weather/icy conditions/heavy snow between 8.00am on Thursday 7 December and 6.00am on Wednesday 13 December in parts of England. Cold weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.
Enhanced health in care homes: learning from experiences so far | The King’s Fund
This report draws on published literature about joining up and co-ordinating care homes and health services. It also draws on interviews with a range of providers, local authorities and CCGs. It aims to help care homes and NHS providers (including GPs), local authorities and CCGs who are thinking through how to join up and co-ordinate services locally and how to manage the complexities involved.
The report makes recommendations for extending enhanced health in care homes to all areas, supporting and developing leaders, and ensuring that people living in care homes can access high-quality health care.
A framework for mental health research | Department of Health
This framework provides a collective view of how mental health research should develop in the UK over the next decade. It sets out a structure to improve co-ordination and strengthen the focus on areas where mental health research is likely to translate into significant health benefit.
Published in response to a recommendation in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, the framework makes a number of recommendations to help guide the future of mental health research. These include:
Investigating mental illness at every stage of life
Putting people with lived experience at the heart of research
Investigating innovative responses to mental illness that go beyond medical settings
Improving coordination between research organisations
Learning from the vast amounts of data we have related to mental health
Developing new, flexible funding for mental health studies
The framework shows the many ways that research could help our understanding of mental health, but it also makes clear the scale of the challenges that remain to make that vital change possible.
New briefing says NHS trusts have done all they can to prepare for extra winter pressures, but the health service may be sorely tested in the coming months as it is already at or close to full stretch | NHS Providers
An NHS Providers briefing, Ready and resilient? How NHS trusts have prepared for winter, outlines what has been done locally and nationally to ensure safe, high quality care for patients. The briefing provides details of specific actions by trusts and reports on the steps taken at a national level to improve NHS resilience
The report also highlights continuing difficulties and pressures that could jeopardise trusts’ ability to cope. These include:
Lack of beds – the NHS is already running at 87 per cent bed occupancy, which means there is very little give in the system. Too many patients still face delays in being discharged after they are ready to move on.
Shortages of key staff groups including paramedics, GPs and A&E consultants and nurses.
Funding pressures – the additional NHS funding for winter in the Budget was welcome but has come very late to be used to maximum effect.
Flu – this year’s strain is potentially the worst we have seen in two decades, having already placed health systems in Australia and New Zealand under severe pressure earlier this year.
This resource for health professionals and local authorities makes the case for action in midlife to support healthy productive later life | Public Health England
Longer, healthier lives are a benefit to society in many ways, including financial, social and cultural, because older people have skills, knowledge and experience that benefit the wider population. There is an opportunity to utilise this increased longevity as a resource, whilst challenging ageism and the view that retirement is about ‘sitting more and moving less’.
As life expectancy rises, we must promote the concept of productive healthy ageing, which involves:
improved health and wellbeing
increased independence and resilience to adversity
the ability to be financially secure through work and build resources
engagement in social activities
being socially connected with enhanced friendships and support
enjoying life in good health
Longer, healthier lives can be a benefit to society, but this requires over-65s to be more active community and economic participants.
New specialists will speed up cancer diagnoses and improve access to treatment
The UK is facing increased demand for cancer treatments based on the growing number of cases of cancer diagnosed each year and the fact that people are living for longer with cancer. Around 357,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with cancer in 2014. In the year 2022, it has been projected that there will be around 422,000 new cases.
The NHS is to employ more cancer specialists, to speed up cancer diagnoses and get more people into treatment more quickly. The specialists will be trained in areas where there are shortages. It is part of Health Education England’s new Cancer Workforce Plan.
Announcements of extra provision include:
200 clinical endoscopists – to investigate suspected cancers internally
300 reporting radiographers – to identify cancers using x-rays and ultrasound
support for clinical nurse specialists – to lead services and provide quality care
The plan is part of a campaign to make sure patients are diagnosed quickly and get better access to innovative treatments that can improve survival rates.
Comprehensive care: research on older patients living with frailty in hospital | The National Institute for Health Research
Comprehensive Care looks at the concept of ‘frailty’ in older people living in hospital. It brings together NIHR research on what can be done to identify and manage the needs of this group of people and avoid potential problems. With the right support, patients can continue to live well at the end of their hospital stay.
This themed review highlights completed and ongoing studies outlining best practice in secondary care for older people living with frailty. It covers assessment; identifying and managing symptoms associated with frailty in hospital; discharge planning; and caring environments.
The Royal College of Podiatry has launched an online commissioner’s guide aimed at improving diabetic foot care. The online toolkit resource aims to support CCGs in England to commission improved services for diabetic foot disease. It provides information on: the impact of diabetic foot ulcers and amputations on patients’ lives and on NHS costs; the potential for improved care to transform lives and reduce NHS expenditure, and what good care looks like and how to restructure services and pathways.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has launched its annual Winter flow project to look at system-wide pressures impacting on the emergency care system over the winter period. The project sees data collected from over 50 sites across the UK on a weekly basis and measures four hour performance, acute bed capacity, delayed transfers of care, cancelled elective operations and the number of locums and agency staff sites employ.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published 5th Report Managing the costs of clinical negligence in hospital trusts. The committee found that despite the spiralling costs for clinical negligence for trusts over the last decade, the government has been disappointingly slow and complacent in its response. The committee highlighted that there still seems to be a prevailing attitude of defensiveness in the NHS when things go wrong, and a reluctance to admit mistakes, which is likely to be leading to more clinical negligence claims.