Health e-news Friday 17 July

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

AOMRC recommendations for COVID-19 winter surges

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC) have published a statement, further to a report by the Academy of Medical Sciences warning of the potential for a higher winter peak of coronavirus infections. Acknowledging the risks highlighted, the AOMRC make a series of recommendations for preparatory action across key areas, including: system capacity; workforce requirements; infection control and PPE; and testing, amongst others. In each area, they outline actions that need to be taken at a national level, together with necessary local and regional actions.


Joint statement on improving medical pathways for acute care

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) have published joint recommendations for transformation of the urgent and emergency care pathway, in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The statement includes a number of recommendations which they hope can enable organisations to provide care in such a way that appropriately manages risks of crowding of emergency services, and infection prevention and control.

FSRH update guidance to patients of sexual and reproductive health services

The Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Health (FSRH) have published an update to their advice for patients who need to access contraception, abortion care and other sexual and reproductive health services. The update contains information on which services are likely to be available, along with contact information for relevant services in all countries of the United Kingdom. The guidance is designed for use and distribution by any healthcare workers supporting women with their sexual and reproductive health needs.

Government publishes guidance on managing local COVID-19 outbreaks

New guidance from the government has been published, setting out how national and local organisations should work together in order to contain and manage local COVID-19 outbreaks. The guidance outlines local authority plans and powers, and the roles and responsibilities of both local authorities and national organisations including NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), and Public Health England (PHE).

COVID-19 related news

Research questions the effectiveness of aerosol boxes

A recently published study in Anaesthesia, suggests that aerosol boxes that have been manufactured in order to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 might actually be increasing the risks of exposure to airborne particles carrying the virus. The devices are intended for use during tracheal intubation in patients requiring ventilation, but the paper builds on concerns from the medical community that the devices may either not work, or could be causing unforeseen harm to medical staff. The paper notes the untested nature of such devices and their absence from recommendations or endorsement in any existing guidelines, and calls for appropriate testing and regulation.

Transparent face masks for health and care professionals

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) have been lobbying for the introduction of transparent face masks for use in health and social care settings over the past few months, in light of the communication barriers caused by opaque face coverings. In an update to these efforts, the government has accepted the importance of transparent face masks, and have placed an order with the one supplier whose offerings meet the necessary standards. The masks on order are single use, will not require FIT testing, and will not be suitable for use in high-risk environments.

Other news

PHSO report paints stark picture of NHS complaint handling

A report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), paints a stark picture of the state of NHS complaint handling, drawn from evidence taken from interviews with a wide range of individuals and organisations who have first-hand experience of how the NHS and UK Government departments approach complaints. The report highlights three areas of particular concern: a lack of consistency in how staff are expected to handle and resolve complaints; inconsistent training on handling complaints; and a negative view of complaints at the organisational level. The report recommends establishment of a complaints standards framework, similar to that pioneered by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, which would provide better consistency in the handling of complaints across public services.

RCN survey results reveal increase in numbers considering leaving profession

Initial results of a survey of Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members have been revealed in the first published report. The survey received 42,000 responses, and offers a view of how nursing staff feel about their professional lives. Across both NHS and independent sectors, the percentage of those considering leaving the profession has risen to 36%, up from 27% last year. A high percentage of those considering leaving cited pay as a factor (61%), along with the way nursing staff have been treated during the pandemic (44%), low staffing levels (43%) and lack of management support (42%). The report also notes that while 74% of those responding felt more valued by the public throughout the recent months of COVID-19, only 18% felt more valued by the government.

SOM report on mental health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives

A report from the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) offers a summary of the research evidence on the mental health and wellbeing of UK nurses and midwives. The report considers a variety of questions relating to the topic, highlights key findings from the relevant studies found, and makes a series of recommendations for improving current working conditions. The report identifies considerable risk of stress, burnout and mental health problems related to work amongst nurses and midwives; low satisfaction with job demands, control and support; a high risk of bullying and harassment; and a variety of other working conditions that not only threaten the health of nurses and midwives, but also impact on their ability to deliver high quality care to patients.

NHS Employers guidance on supporting staff with childcare responsibilities

NHS Employers have published updated guidance on how NHS organisations can support staff with childcare responsibilities. The guidance covers issues relating to childcare through the summer, the beginning of the new school term in September, and on providing flexibility as an employer.

King’s Fund on obesity and the need for significant government action

The King’s Fund here consider the potential forms of government action to tackle rising rates of obesity in the UK, and the evidence for their likely success or failure. Obesity is a well-established risk factor for diabetes and a range of other diseases and chronic health conditions, to which list can now be added COVID-19, and the piece argues for a strategy that goes beyond public information campaigns, and which makes use of existing evidence demonstrating the need for fiscal and structural actions.

NICE guidance

Quality standard

QS193 Specialist neonatal respiratory care for babies born preterm

NIHR alerts 

Some antidepressants can help people quit smoking, but other medications may offer greater benefits

Most patients undergoing planned surgery do not need compression stockings

Asthma patients with a history of opioid use have worse outcomes


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