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 have information on the latest COVID-19 guidance updates. Updates include: details on the government announcement confirming that registered health and care professionals travelling to the UK from high-risk countries will be required to self-isolate for 14 days; revised guidance on quarantine, including leave and pay options for staff required to quarantine; and guidance relating to the pausing of shielding, which is effective 1 August.
COVID-19 related news
In a response to the publication of Office for National Statistics (ONS) comparison of all-cause mortality between European countries, and the latest figures for the test and trace programme, Dr Layla McCay, a director at NHS Confederation, expressed concerns over the week-on-week decreases in the percentage of close contacts being reached by tracing system, and stressed the importance of this system to the ability to identify and manage any surges in infections.
In a report published by the NHS Confederation this week, chief executives from NHS trusts across England revealed concerns about the impacts of COVID-19 on their staff. Executives voiced serious concerns over: the increasing levels of anxiety and fatigue reported by staff during the pandemic; the safety of BME staff, in light of the disparities of COVID-19 impacts; and protecting the safety of patients and staff as routine services are resumed.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has announced joint funding with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) of six new research projects to eek to explain and mitigate the disproportionate death rate from COVID-19 among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. One of the studies, UK-REACH, led by the University of Leicester, will establish a unique partnership between national healthcare organisations to specifically address the prevalence of COVID-19 amongst BAME healthcare workers.
A new website from NHS England has been launched, offering an ‘online portal’ to help the rehabilitation of patients discharged from hospital post COVID-19 and those managing their illness at home. The site has been developed with the support and input of several royal colleges, professional bodies and charities. The site offers support for managing a variety of common physical effects those recovering from the virus may experience, as well as for supporting mental health and wellbeing.
A report from Public Health England (PHE), which summaries findings from recent publications examining he effects of excess weight and obesity on COVID-19, confirms that the data show that obese people are significantly more likely to become seriously ill and be admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy BMI. The report also summarises evidence regarding the nation’s eating and exercise habits during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some data suggests that more people have exercised during lockdown, evidence indicates that the nation’s exercise levels have not increased overall since before the pandemic.
NHS England is planning to roll out new emergency care standards, designed to replace the four-hour A&E target, before this winter. The new standards have not been published or consulted on and do not have official sign-off from ministers, though the plans have the backing of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and other royal colleges. Details of the proposed changes are outlined in a paper discussed at an NHSE and NHS Improvement board meeting.
Evidently Cochrane discusses a recently updated Cochrane review, ‘Induction of labour at or beyond 37 weeks’ gestation’, looking at the effects for women and their babies of inducing labour towards the end of pregnancy. The review found evidence that induction later in pregnancy, when compared to waiting for birth to happen, reduced the number of perinatal deaths, led to fewer babies requiring intensive care, and a probable reduction in the number of caesareans required. The review does highlight the variation in values and preferences, and reiterates the need for collaborative discussion and shared decision-making.
A new Dysphagia Guide, developed in conjunction between Health Education England (HEE), Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists has been made available to access without registration on the HEE e-Learning for Healthcare website. The guide is intended as a resource for health and care professionals working with people with dysphagia, as well as carers and those living with dysphagia themselves.
The NHS People Plan has today (30 July) been published, outlining actions that organisations, employers and staff will need to take in the coming months.
We are the NHS: People Plan 2020/21 sets out guidelines for employers and systems within the NHS, as well as actions for NHS England and NHS Improvement and Health Education England throughout the coming months and year. While welcomed by royal colleges and professional bodies representing health professionals, there was widespread comment on the need for action on staff shortages and a commitment to funding. This was echoed by the Health Foundation in it’s response.
Medtech innovation briefing
- Potential Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms reported through NHS Pathways and 111 online
- Weekly all-cause mortality surveillance: 2019 to 2020
- Comparisons of all-cause mortality between European countries and regions, January to June 2020
- Weekly national flu reports: 2019 to 2020 season
- Maternity Services Monthly Statistics April 2020, experimental statistics
- Psychological Therapies, Annual report on the use of IAPT services 2019-20
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