Thursday, 30 May 2013

Air ambulance paramedics given go-ahead to use advanced medication

Air ambulance paramedics given go-ahead to use advanced medication:
Paramedics for Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance will now be able to administer even more advanced care when they are called to accidents and emergencies across the county. Evening Telegraph

Delivering high quality, effective, compassionate care: developing the right people with the right skills and the right values

Delivering high quality, effective, compassionate care: developing the right people with the right skills and the right values:
 This mandate to HEE includes a comprehensive and wide-ranging series of measures and is intended as a blueprint for NHS staff training. It emphasises the importance of training for support staff providing community care, and preventing patients with long term conditions for example needing to go into hospital. Kings Fund Blogs

Insights into Developing Caring Cultures: a review of the experience of The Foundation of Nursing Studies

Insights into Developing Caring Cultures: a review of the experience of The Foundation of Nursing Studies: This report outlines insights from the Caring Cultures programme of work, which aimed to help nurse-led teams to create healthcare workplaces that are conducive to the delivery of high quality care, and provide a supportive place for staff to work. Kings Fund Blogs

NHS England announces new technical guidance to improve patient care

NHS England announces new technical guidance to improve patient care:
NHS England has today published guidance for GP practices explaining how better use of anonymised patient information from general practice will help commissioners improve the quality, efficiency, and equity of health care services.
The GP Technical Specification and its associated guidance was developed in partnership with the British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners. The document explains the process of how data from general practice will be collected, anonymised and used to improve patient care.
The initiative is designed to link information from general practice, with information from hospitals and community health care services.  This will help the NHS evaluate and improve the quality and safety of the NHS, and enables patients to make more informed choices about the treatments and services they use.
The data will be held in a secure, controlled environment and will be made available to NHS organisations in anonymised form.
The data will be used to support local health and care commissioners by giving them access to timely and accurate information that they can use to plan health services that best fit the needs of their local community.
Implementation will start with a small number of practices to test the process, and GP practices will be written to well in advance of any extract so that they can raise awareness with patients about the new service.

For further information, please contact NHS England at or call 07768 901293
GP practices will be contacted directly with further details and materials in June.

Overcrowded A&E units forced to turn away ambulance calls on 350 occasions

Overcrowded A&E units forced to turn away ambulance calls on 350 occasions:
NHS hospitals were forced to shut their doors to ambulances on more than 350 occasions last year because they were too full to cope with more emergency patients.

'Virtual wards' urged as answer to strain on NHS

'Virtual wards' urged as answer to strain on NHS:
Report urges patients to opt for 'virtual ward', saying they can be back at home within hours after treatment
The NHS is being urged to relieve the pressure on hard-pressed hospitals by treating thousands of patients in "virtual wards" – at home, with regular visits from health staff replacing long stays on wards.
The service could create 5,800 "virtual beds" in people's homes to help hospitals cope with bed shortages and overcrowded A&E units deal with patients arriving as emergencies, a new report says.
A few hospitals have begun treating certain types of patients this way in an effort to provide a patient-friendly response to growing demand at a time when NHS budgets are tight. In some places up to 35 patients a week, whom doctors agree do not need to be kept in hospital, are being cared for this way.
Patients who agree to have their treatment in a virtual ward can avoid anything more than a few hours of treatment at hospital before being discharged to such care.
Advocates of virtual wards claim that patient satisfaction with such arrangements is very high and recovery is hastened by being at home. Hospitals save money as virtual wards are cheaper to provide than the typical £250-a-night cost to the NHS of an overnight stay.
The new report is by NHS specialist consultant Alex Kafetz of ZPB Associates in conjunction with the NHS Confederation and some trusts which already operate virtual wards on behalf of private healthcare firm Healthcare at Home. It urges NHS chiefs to dramatically expand the currently patchy provision of such care.
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust began looking after small numbers of patients who had undergone surgery such as a hip or knee replacements in virtual wards in 2010. Around 120 mainly elderly patients every month now stay at home, where they receive up to three visits a day from a nurse to change a dressing, give them an injection or check their blood pressure and up to several visits a week from a physiotherapist who helps them regain their mobility through intensive mobilisation.
Jane Hayward, the trust's chief operating officer, said: "Only 2% of patients on the scheme end up back in hospital again compared to the average, which is 7%.
"We started this because we are a big, busy trust and didn't have anywhere else physically to expand into and so needed to think how to do differently."
So far the trust has looked after 2,366 patients this way and saved 14,228 bed days through what it calls "enhanced supported discharge" or "healthcare at home". In a survey 98% of such patients said being at home had benefitted their wellbeing, while 90% were very satisfied with the home care they received.
The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust offers a similar service but plans to add video consultations – where the patient can speak directly to their consultant while at home – to the package of care they offer. "Patients absolutely love this service. It's optional. They can choose to stay in or go home, but pretty much all of them go home", said Katie Donlevy, the trusts's director of integrated care. "Medically the care is better than being in hospital because the patient cane recover more quickly at home, especially complex elderly patients, who may otherwise be stuck in a bed in hospital."
A spokeswoman for NHS England said virtual wards were an excellent idea which typified the sort of innovation the NHS needed to embrace in order to meet the growing challenges it is facing.
Denis Campbell Guardian

Study links painkillers to increased risk of heart attack

Study links painkillers to increased risk of heart attack:
Some of the most commonly used painkillers can increase long-term users' heart-attack risk by more than a third, an in-depth study into their side-effects has shown. Independent

Adopting a pharmacy-first approach can improve health and wellbeing

Adopting a pharmacy-first approach can improve health and wellbeing:
Pharmacists could alleviate pressure on GPs, who currently undertake 57 million consultations for minor ailments yearly
As the responsibility for public health is put into the hands of local councils, the pressure is on for clinical commissioning groups to improve the quality of service provided to the public. A new report, The Wells Family Challenge: A Pharmacist First Approach, suggests that pharmacists could transform the improvement of health and wellbeing in local communities.
The report, which 2020health worked on closely with the Sainsbury's Pharmacy team, assesses the impact of in-store pharmacy advice on the health and lifestyles of 10 families. Although undertaken on a small scale, the results suggest minimum intervention from a pharmacist over a small amount of time could have a significant impact on public health if replicated on a larger scale. The pharmacists involved in the challenge improved health literacy levels, and in doing so provided much more than a service to treat coughs and colds. They actually helped prevent illness – a function that GP surgeries are not always able to fulfil due to competing demands. This demonstrated that they could play a role in alleviating pressure on GPs who currently undertake 57 million consultations each year for minor ailments that could have been dealt with by a pharmacist.
Even more importantly, they could help detect the early signs of cardiovascular disease. In the initial pharmacist visit of the study, 81% of family members who were diagnosed with high cholesterol (68% of the total sample) were completely unaware beforehand, as were almost as many of those suffering from high blood pressure. The health advice given by the pharmacists over the 12 months led to measureable improvements including 65% of adult participants losing weight (an average 4kg), 58% reducing their risk of stroke or heart attack and over a 50% reduction in unhealthy levels of cholesterol. The families found simple advice and strategies offered by the pharmacists such as putting a fruit bowl by the front door to encourage healthy snacking and reducing dinner plate sizes useful in contributing to these kinds of reductions.
Cardiovascular disease costs the NHS £19bn per year. If pharmacists can detect the signs early enough, through providing monitoring services for cholesterol, blood pressure and weight management, and offer the guidance to change habits and prevent the serious effects of prolonged poor lifestyle choices, they could alleviate pressure on NHS services and help reduce costs in the long run.
So within the new NHS landscape, and as local health delivery systems take shape, we need to increase the understanding of the pharmacist's role and the value they bring to preventing ill health and assisting the public in self-managed treatments.
A three-pronged approach needs to be adopted. First, to help clinical commissioning groups succeed in maintaining the health of the population, the measurable impact our 80,000 pharmacists could have on public health should be recognised; pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge and expertise which should be drawn upon in terms of shaping and designing health and wellbeing strategies and addressing the wider determinants of health. Second, Public Health England needs to develop a clear strategy for how local authorities can partner with pharmacies more effectively in order to deliver the range of mandated public health services which they are now responsible for. And third, the NHS Commissioning Board needs to give a clear steer as to the contribution that pharmacists should make in the delivery of services which prevent those illnesses so sadly common in the UK today.
Gail Beer is director of operations at the thinktank 2020health. She worked in the NHS for over 30 years as an executive director at Barts and the London NHS Trust