The state of care in urgent primary care services

This report presents findings from the Care Quality Commission’s programme of comprehensive inspections of urgent care centres, NHS 111 services and GP out-of-hours services.

state of care
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Urgent primary care services play a vital role in England’s healthcare system. They are the first step to ensure that people are seen by the professional best suited to deliver the right care and in the most appropriate setting.  A quick, safe and effective response from these services provides a good outcome for patients and takes pressure off other parts of the urgent care system.

This report presents some common themes and characteristics that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have found from their inspections.

The report found:

  • Urgent care services are an essential part of the healthcare system, particularly in taking pressure off other parts of the NHS at times of peak demand.
  • Urgent primary care services have been able to improve. Overall, the quality is good – although one in 10 services still require some improvement, particularly in initial assessment of people and timeliness of response to urgent needs.
  • Urgent care providers face pressures with staffing and workforce planning. This is compounded by the reality of unsocial working hours and high reliance on self-employed clinicians
  • Many providers experience difficulties in accessing people’s medical records.
  • NHS 111 in particular has the potential to take pressure off the NHS – and provide a better experience for people by giving advice and treatment in one place. However, to achieve this it must be adequately resourced. Commissioners need to support providers, take action if they are not meeting their contracts and integrate services more closely.
  • Many people are not aware of the range of urgent care services available. There is a need for more public information – and consistency of service provision.

Full report: The state of care in urgent primary care services. Findings from CQC’s programme of comprehensive inspections in England

Digital change in health and social care

This Kings Fund report aims to support  local organisations looking to undertake large-scale digital change. The document states that the future is bright for technology in health and social care, with local care providers digitising under their own steam and initiative.


The report shares the lessons from five varied case study sites that have made significant progress towards their digital aims. It sets out the lessons learnt and tips for other organisations that are looking to progress their own digital change.


  • The use of digital technology in health and social care can improve quality, efficiency and patient experience as well as supporting more integrated care and improving the health of a population.
  • Large-scale change involving digital technology, such as adopting electronic patient records (EPRs) and shared care records, is complex and necessitates attention to particular aspects of the change.
  • This report shares practical learning from a series of case studies where significant largescale digital change is happening.
  • Key barriers to successful digital change include the constraints care organisations face in their workforce, tight budgets, organisations’ attitudes towards risk and the relationships that exist between care providers and key stakeholders.
  • Most of the barriers can be mitigated through time and effort and by treating digital projects as change projects, not IT projects. Effective and consistent staff engagement and resource allocation to the project are key factors in success.

The Kings Fund have also produced an interactive map which brings together case studies from across England, highlighting some of the places that are experimenting with and implementing new technologies to achieve better health outcomes or more efficient care.

Full report: Digital change in health and social care

A summary of the report is available here

The learning disability improvement standards for NHS trusts

NHS Improvement | June 2018 | The learning disability improvement standards for NHS trusts

NHS Improvement have developed new standards which have been developed with a number of outcomes created by people and families — which clearly state what they expect from the NHS. By taking this approach to quality improvement, it places patient and carer experience as the primary objective, as well as recognising the importance of how the NHS listens, learns and responds in order to improve care.

Better standards of care
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There are four standards, which include:

  • respecting and protecting rights
  • inclusion and engagement
  • workforce
  • learning disability services standard (aimed solely at specialist mental health trusts providing care to people with learning disabilities, autism or both)

Source: NHS Improvement 
The learning  disability improvement standards for NHS trusts

Easy read version: the learning disability improvement standards for NHS trusts


Statistics on care of people with learning disabilities

NHS Digital | June 2018 | Statistics on care of people with learning disabilities

As this week (18-24 June 2018) is Learning Disability Week, NHS Digital have released some key statistics associated with the health and care of people with learning disabilities.

  • 49.7% of patients with a learning disability registered at a GP practice received an annual learning disabilities health check in 2016-17, an increase from 43.2% in 2014-15.
  • 41.9% of patients with a learning disability registered at a GP practice received a seasonal influenza immunisation in 2016-17, an increase from 40.8% in 2014-15.
  • 79.5% of eligible patients with a learning disability registered at a GP practice aged 60-69 received screening for colorectal cancer, less than the 86.0% of those eligible patients without a learning disability.
  • On average, females with learning disabilities had around an 18-year shorter life expectancy than the general population, and males had around a 14-year shorter life expectancy than the general population.

(Source: NHS Digital)

The figures have been compiled into an easy to read format available here 


Banning phones in schools could give children ‘space to focus’, says RCGP

Royal College of General Practitioners | June 2018 | Banning phones in schools could give children ‘space to focus’, says RCGP


Writing in The Telegraph earlier this week,  the Culture Secretary Matt Hancock argued mobile phones should be confiscated at the beginning of the school day. Now the Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Helena Stokes- Lampard has responded to this in a statement.

“Children are under so much pressure to conform to social norms around how to look and what to do in order to be popular, and this can certainly impact on their mental, and physical, health and wellbeing. Whilst pressure to conform might always have existed, these days it is relentless through social media and other such channels and smartphones are often the gateway to this. Considering taking measures to ban the use of mobile phones in schools during lessons – either physically or by blocking 4G signals – would be a welcome move, and one that we hope will give children more space to focus on their studies, and have some respite from the pressures they face online (via RCGP).”

In the news:

The Telegraph Exclusive: Teachers should ban mobile phones in classrooms, says minister


BBC News To ban or not to ban: Should phones be allowed in schools?

Multi-disciplinary diagnostic centre at University College London Hospital delivers faster diagnosis

NHS England | June 2018 | Multi-disciplinary diagnostic centre at University College London Hospital delivers faster diagnosis

A new case study published by NHS England shows how the multidisciplinary diagnostic centre (MDC) at University College London Hospital (UCLH), delivers faster diagnosis and improved patient journeys, to patients presenting with complex or vague abdominal symptoms.

It is available from NHS England

Blood signature could improve early TB diagnosis

University of Leicester | June 2018 | Blood signature could improve early TB diagnosis

A gene signature (genes that are either more or less active during active TB, representing the body’s response to the infection)  in the bloodstream could reveal whether someone is going to develop active tuberculosis (TB) disease months before symptoms begin. Now it has been developed by a team led by the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Leicester, and international collaborators. The study is the first-of -its kind to link the presence of signature and the onset of early TB before the patient has developed symptoms.

The team behind the research studied 53 TB patients in Leicester and followed over 100 of their closest associates during a two-year period to see who developed active TB. The patients who remained healthy showed no sustained gene signature, while two-thirds (6 out of 9) of those who on to develop active TB showed a strong, sustained signature (Source: University of Leicester).

The full news item is available from the University of Leicester

A press release provided by the Francis Crick Institute is also available from their website