Cold weather alert

NHS England has issued a Cold weather alert: level 3

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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.

Find out more about staying well this winter.

More details about this weather alert are available on the MET Office website.

Enhanced health in care homes

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.

Full report: Enhanced health in care homes: learning from experiences so far

Ten-year framework for mental health research

A framework for mental health research | Department of Health

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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.

Full document: A Framework for mental health research

‘Severe pressure’ on NHS may put patients at risk this winter

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

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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.

Full report: Ready and resilient? How NHS trusts have prepared for winter,

 

Productive healthy ageing

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.

Full detail at Public Health England

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Image Source: http://www.gov.uk

More cancer specialists to be employed by the NHS

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.

Further detail at HEE: Health Education England unveils plan to transform the future NHS cancer workforce

Older people living with frailty in hospital

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.

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Image source: http://www.dc.nihr.ac.uk

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.

Full report: Comprehensive care: research on older patients living with frailty in hospital