Health E-News is a weekly update on policy and guidelines from organisations including NICE and individual Royal Medical Colleges, and news and views on health related subjects and research from trusted sources such as The King’s Fund, Cochrane, The Health Foundation, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care.
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COVID-19 guidance and policy
In support of the announcement of an antibody testing programme intended to begin from next week, the government has published guidance explaining the aims of the programme. The guidance details who will currently be eligible for testing, what antibody testing is, and what the test will tell you. In conjunction with the guidance, there is also an infographic to explain the different coronavirus tests; the swab test to identify whether an individual has the virus, and the new antibody test to identify if someone has had it.
The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) have worked with other professional bodies, and leading cancer care charities to created tailored coronavirus guidance for radiotherapy patients. The advice stresses the importance of continuing with treatment, and aims to reassure patients of the precautions being taken by cancer centres to prevent the transmission of the virus, and to keep patients and staff as safe as possible.
New guidance from the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) reflects upon the changes in provision that were made to accommodate COVID-19 patients, and addresses the considerations that will have to be faced in the transition back to restoring more routine services. These include issues relating to capacity, staffing levels and the availability of drugs, consumables and PPE, as well as the need to manage infection control, potentially by adapting the site of service delivery.
The Centre for Perioperative Care (CPOC) has published FAQs to address some of the concerns that patients may have about going to hospital during the ongoing pandemic, and to offer advice on how best to prepare for an operation. The series of FAQs take patients through measures being taken to protect patients and staff, and questions to ask the hospital, as well as providing an idea of the surgery journey.
COVID-19 related news
In an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson, highlighted the crucial nature of implementing a coherent test, track and trace strategy, involving local agencies and public health professionals, in order to limit the risk of unleashing another wave of infections when lockdown measures are further eased.
A new antibody testing programme, intended to start from next week, will offer tests to NHS and care staff and eligible patients and care residents. The test will aim to identify whether someone has already had the virus, and to provide data on the antibodies they have developed. While there is no current evidence that the presence of antibodies means a person is immune to COVID-19, or that they cannot be re-infected or pass the virus along to others, data from the testing will help to answer questions relating to immunity that are currently under examination, and will offer additional information on the prevalence of the virus.
Trials to explore whether specially trained ‘detection dogs’ may be able to detect coronavirus in humans are set to begin. The research will bring together researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University, with the charity Medical Detection Dogs. Dogs have already been successfully trained to detect the odour of diseases such as cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s in humans, and the new research will see if dogs could detect COVID-19 even before symptoms appear.
A new trial, led by Cambridge and King’s College London, will set out to test whether existing drugs which target the body’s immune response, can be re-purposed for use in the treatment of COVID-19. For those patients who develop a severe case of the virus, the most serious symptoms appear to be caused by the immune system response, which results in the destruction of healthy cells as well as those infected by the virus. The two drugs to be trialled are Ravulizumab and Baricitinib, and have been chosen by doctors and scientists with expertise in immune-response diseases.
Hosted by charity the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness week this year is centred upon the theme of kindness. On the website supporting the week, there are resources discussing why kindness matters, and the links between kindness and good mental health, a look at some of the research on kindness, and some thoughts on the importance of kindness in public policy.
The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM), in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have produced guidance for the development of enhanced care in the acute hospital setting. The guidance addresses those patients whose needs fall into the gap between critical care and the provision available on a normal ward, and outlines a framework to be considered in developing a service to meet these needs.
The Royal College of Surgeons have highlighted five things that can be done to support good mental health. While some of the advice is more specifically aimed at surgeons, the list includes advice on taking time for self-care, making use of support networks or trusted colleagues, and being kind to others.
Medtech innovation briefing
NG160 COVID-19 rapid guideline: dialysis service delivery Updated
- Social prescribing could empower patients to address non-medical problems in their lives
- Cancer screening across the world is failing people with mental illness
- Support programme for GP practices increases referrals for domestic abuse
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey pilot: England, 21 May 2020
- Potential Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms reported through NHS Pathways and 111 online
- Potential Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms reported through NHS Pathways and 111 online, Week Ending 17th May 2020
- Diagnostic imaging dataset for January 2020
- Bed availability and occupancy data for Q4 2019/20
- NHS Outcomes Framework Indicators – May 2020 Release
- Weekly all-cause mortality surveillance: 2019 to 2020
- NHS Sickness Absence Rates – January 2020, Provisional Statistics
- NHS Workforce Statistics – February 2020
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