Health e-news Friday 29 May

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

NHS Employers update guidance on carrying out staff risk assessments

Guidance from NHS Employers on risk assessments for staff has been updated. The updates have added additional context on COVID-19 and the staff groups that are more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and offer recommendations for ongoing actions that can be taken to mitigate the level of risk to staff. The update also provides guidance on how employers can support colleagues to raise concerns, and offers good practice examples of responses from NHS trusts.

Guidance from WHO/Europe on long-term care and COVID-19

In light of the high numbers of COVID-19 related infections and deaths in care facilities and other long-term care, the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe has produced guidance on how to prevent and manage infections in these settings going forward. The guidance also calls for integrated, person-centred long-term care systems, working in collaboration with health services in order to improve outcomes for residents and staff in care settings, while also minimising pressure on health care systems.

Latest updates to COVID-19 guidance from NHS Employers

The most recent set of updates to COVID-19 related guidance from NHS Employers includes information on: deploying nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students; visa extensions and application process; support resources available for NHS staff; and tips on carrying out interviews via video conferencing.

Guidance on NHS test and trace service

Various guidance on the government’s test and trace programme has been published. This includes an overview of the system, including what happens if you test positive, or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. Separate guidance has been published for workplaces, offering advice for employers, workplaces and employees, and also for individuals who have had contact with possible or confirmed cases.

Discussion paper from IZA considers design of safe COVID-19 exit strategy

Non-profit research institute, the Institute of Labor Economics, (IZA) has published a paper on the design of strategy for exiting COVID-19 lockdown. The paper argues against a general release strategy, suggesting that this ignores the fatality risks this may pose for citizens in midlife and older. Presenting data from China, Italy and the UK which highlights the strong age pattern in the risk of death from COVID-19, the authors recommend a rolling age-release strategy, combined with continued social distancing measures. The paper also discusses the benefits of releasing lockdown according to the age gradient of risk, including the decreased likelihood of having to introduce further rounds of lockdown.

COVID-19 related news

MHRA offers support for use of remdesivir in COVID-19 treatment

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has given support for use of remdesivir through the UK’s Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS). This step will enable the drug, which was originally developed as an ebola treatment, to be used in the treatment of adults and adolescents hospitalised with severe coronavirus (COVID-19) infection who meet additional clinical criteria.

Results of RCN survey suggests BAME staff more likely to be left without PPE

A recent RCN member-wide survey suggests disparities in access to personal protective equipment (PPE), and the offer of PPE training, between respondents from BAME backgrounds and those from white British backgrounds. In light of the results, both the RCN and the NMC have reiterated the need for all health and care professionals to have access to the necessary PPE and training to protect themselves and those they care for.

Research highlights value of lung ultrasound in COVID-19 management

A paper in the journal, Anaesthesia, reviews the early evidence and guidance on the use of lung ultrasound in COVID-19 patients. The research considers the diagnostic advantages of ultrasound over alternatives such as CT scans, stethoscopes and chest X-rays, including the high diagnostic accuracy, the portability of ultrasound machines, and the low infection control implications. The article also explores the practical issues around implementing lung ultrasound into routine clinical practice.

Other news

Government research maps current provision of occupational health and work-related MSK services

Research commissioned by the government’s Work and Health Unit to inform the ongoing development of policy relating to occupational health has published its findings. The research aimed to examine the available models of private and NHS service provision; how these are commissioned, resourced and accessed; examine the workforce of private and NHS providers; and investigate the commissioning of MSK and work-related NHS services.

NICE guidance

Technology appraisal

TA630 Larotrectinib for treating NTRK fusion-positive solid tumours

NIHR alerts 

Loneliness, but not social isolation, predicts development of dementia in older people

Largest ever trial into a rare cancer of the urinary system shows clear benefits of chemotherapy after surgery


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