[NICE Guideline] Post-traumatic stress disorder

NICE | December 2018| Post-traumatic stress disorder

This guideline covers recognising, assessing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children, young people and adults. It aims to improve quality of life by reducing symptoms of PTSD such as anxiety, sleep problems and difficulties with concentration. Recommendations also aim to raise awareness of the condition and improve coordination of care.


Post-traumatic stress disorder

[NICE Guideline] Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in over 16s: diagnosis and management

NICE | December 2018 | Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in over 16s: diagnosis and management

This guideline covers diagnosing and managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in people aged 16 and older, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It aims to help people with COPD to receive a diagnosis earlier so that they can benefit from treatments to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and keep them healthy for longer.

Consultation on a national patient safety strategy for the NHS

NHS Improvement| December 2018 | Consultation on a national patient safety strategy for the NHS

NHS Improvement are developing proposals for a new national patient safety strategy to support the NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world. The strategy is being developed alongside the NHS Long Term Plan and will be relevant to all parts of the NHS, be that physical or mental health care, in or out of hospital and primary care. To make sure the strategy works for patients, NHS staff and providers, they are currently consulting on their proposals. 


Consultation document and further details are available from the Consultation web page

A vision for population health: Towards a healthier future

The King’s Fund | November 2018 | A vision for population health:Towards a healthier future

A recent report from The King’s Fund looks at  population health, an approach that aims to improve physical and mental health outcomes, promote wellbeing and reduce health inequalities across an entire population. A vision for population health:Towards a healthier future  outlines The King’s Fund’s vision for population health, their reasoning for why such a vision is needed and the steps required to achieve it.

The report considers:

  • The case for change
  • What affects our health?
  • What is population health?
  • What needs to change?
  • Where next?
a vision
Image source: kingsfund.org.uk


The King’s Fund calls for action at national, regional and local levels. This should include: ambitious and binding national goals to drive progress; a cross-government strategy for reducing health inequalities; stronger political and system leadership; greater clarity on the roles and accountability of national bodies and local organisations; and increased investment in prevention, public health and spending that supports population health (Source: The King’s Fund).

Download summary (PDF)

Download publication (PDF)

Patients in Yorkshire set to benefit from revolutionary medical imaging due to University of Sheffield fundraising campaign

University of Sheffield | December 2018 | Patients in Yorkshire set to benefit from revolutionary medical imaging thanks to £2 million fundraising appeal

A campaign launched by the University of Sheffield in 2017 has raised £2million to make possible a revolutionary scanner in Yorkshire.  During the last 18 months, staff, current  students, alumni and members of the public and local business community, and friends of the University have supported the Sheffield Scanner campaign.

The high-tech scanner will provide unprecedented views of inside the human body by combining the power of both MRI and PET images in a single scan. It will help leading scientists and medics tackle some of the most devastating diseases facing millions of people including dementia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease (MND).

The facility will also bring more clinical trials to the region, giving patients in Yorkshire access to ground-breaking new innovative treatments that are being developed. The scanner will be the only MRI-PET scanner in Yorkshire, the new Sheffield Scanner Facility will be attached to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Dame Pam Shaw, Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health at the University of Sheffield, and Director of the Sheffield NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience, said:

“The combination of these two imaging techniques – MRI and PET – in one machine will let us detect extremely small abnormalities very accurately. We are hoping, and expecting, this will allow us to diagnose medical conditions much earlier. We will also be able to monitor how new innovative treatments are working much more nimbly than we have in the past.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The success of this fundraising campaign is a fantastic achievement and marks the beginning of an exciting journey for the University, the Sheffield city region and beyond. I am extremely proud that Sheffield will now be home to one of only eight MRI-PET scanners in the UK.”

(Source: University of Sheffield)

Regular problem solving does not protect against mental decline

The well known ‘use it or lose it’ claim has been widely accepted by healthcare professionals, but researchers in the Christmas issue of The British Medical Journal find that regularly doing problem solving activities throughout your lifetime does not prevent mental decline in later life. However, the results suggest that regularly engaging in intellectual activities boosts mental ability throughout life and provides a “higher cognitive point” from which to decline.


Objectives:  To examine the association between intellectual engagement and cognitive ability in later life, and determine whether the maintenance of intellectual engagement will offset age related cognitive decline.

Design: Longitudinal, prospective, observational study.

Setting:  Non-clinical volunteers in late middle age (all born in 1936) living independently in northeast Scotland.

Participants:  Sample of 498 volunteers who had taken part in the Scottish Mental Health Survey of 1947, from one birth year (1936).

Main outcome measures:  Cognitive ability and trajectory of cognitive decline in later life. Typical intellectual engagement was measured by a questionnaire, and repeated cognitive measurements of information processing speed and verbal memory were obtained over a 15 year period (recording more than 1200 longitudinal data points for each cognitive test).

Results:  Intellectual engagement was significantly associated with level of cognitive performance in later life, with each point on a 24 point scale accounting for 0.97 standardised cognitive performance (IQ-like) score, for processing speed and 0.71 points for memory (both P<0.05). Engagement in problem solving activities had the largest association with life course cognitive gains, with each point accounting for 0.43 standardised cognitive performance score, for processing speed and 0.36 points for memory (both P<0.05). However, engagement did not influence the trajectory of age related decline in cognitive performance. Engagement in intellectual stimulating activities was associated with early life ability, with correlations between engagement and childhood ability and education being 0.35 and 0.22, respectively (both P<0.01).

Conclusion:  These results show that self reported engagement is not associated with the trajectory of cognitive decline in late life, but is associated with the acquisition of ability during the life course. Overall, findings suggest that high performing adults engage and those that engage more being protected from relative decline.

Full reference: Staff, R. et al. | Intellectual engagement and cognitive ability in later life (the “use it or lose it” conjecture): longitudinal, prospective study | BMJ | 10 December 2018


Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies, published

NICE | December 2018 | Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies

A working group that includes NICE, Public Health England, MedCity and DigitalHealth. London, has published Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies.

The aim of these standards is to make it easier for innovators and commissioners to understand what good levels of evidence for digital healthcare technologies look like, while meeting the needs of the health and care system, patients, and users.


The evidence standards framework comprises 2 sections:

  1. Evidence for effectiveness for intended use.
  2. Evidence for economic impact.

Both parts of the framework have a proportional approach to defining evidence standards. This recognises:

  • the sparsity of available evidence in the field of digital healthcare
  • the challenges of developing traditional clinical trials for digital health technologies
  • the significant opportunities offered by digital health technologies to collect real world data to inform effectiveness judgements (Source: NICE).

 Download the evidence standards framework for digital technologies

You can share your views on the evidence standards framework, by completing a short survey. The survey will close on Monday 7 January 2019.

Full details at NICE 

The state of medical education and practice in the UK

General Medical Council | December 2018 |The state of medical education and practice in the UK

 The state of medical education and practice in the UK reports on some of the challenges the health service and doctors continue to face. In this report, the General Medical Council (GMC) looks at how they and others can address these issues and create a sustainable workforce for the future.

In their eight annual report the GMC argues that the profession is at ‘a critical juncture’- it presents important new primary data and analysis on the mindset and coping mechanisms of a medical profession working within a highly-pressured system. This will the GMC’s understanding of what is needed to support and retain the current workforce and supply of doctors for the future. The UK is running out of time to prevent a significant decline in workforce numbers, which risks patient safety (Source:  GMC).


Executive summary

Full report 

A Workforce Strategy 

Appointments in General Practice

On Medica | December 2018 | Appointments in General Practice

Between November 2017 and the end of October this year 307 million appointments were booked.  Figures from NHS Digital show 40 per cent of appointments in general practice were booked on the same day.  Just over half (52%) of the appointments given between January and October of this year were with GPs, compared with 62% in 2007 and 76% in 2005. Over two- fifths (45 per cent) were with nurses at GP practices (Source: OnMedica). 


NHS Digital Appointments in General Practice