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Found 92 results
  1. Content Article
    About 40,000 patient pathways have disappeared. But on the plus side, a new and better data series has begun. The referral-to-treatment (RTT) waiting list data has now changed in two important ways. First, about 40,000 patient pathways in community services are now excluded from the RTT data collections, and this accounted for all of the apparent reduction in list size in the latest (February) official RTT data. Second, NHS England has started regular publication of the more detailed and timely (though – for now – less complete and accurate) Waiting List Minimum Data set. This HSJ article looks at those changes in more detail.
  2. Content Article
    When Adam Luck’s mother, Ann, was admitted to hospital with a suspected stroke, it was the beginning of a distressing seven-week stay. The previously cheerful 82-year-old became stuck in a dysfunctional health system. Her story is presented here via her son Adam’s diary of her hospitalisation.
  3. Content Article
    Nicholas Gerasimidis had a history of mental illness manifesting as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety. In 2022, his condition deteriorated. His GP referred him twice to the Community Mental Health Team but the referrals were rejected with medication being prescribed instead, together with advice to contact Talking Therapies.   He was taken on to CMHT workload after being assessed by the Psychiatric Liaison Team in Royal Cornwall Hospital in November 2022. The preferred course of treatment was psychological treatment in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Exposure Response Prevention. There was a waiting list of a year. In May 2023, Mr Gerasimidis became worse. It was felt an informal admission to hospital was required but a bed was not available. He was found hanged at his home address on 3 June 2023.
  4. Content Article
    On 29 December 2022, Shahzadi Khan was detained under section 2 of the Mental Health Act due to her mental state and the risks she presented. She was found to have had a manic episode with psychotic symptoms. Due to a lack of beds, she was placed in a privately-run mental health hospital in Norfolk. She remained there until her discharge to the family home on 26 January 2023. She was commenced on Olanzapine and Zopiclone for her mental health whilst an inpatient.   Her diagnosis on discharge was mania with psychotic symptoms. She was to remain on olanzapine in the community. Her placement out of area contributed to disjointed and inadequate discharge planning to support her in the community and was exacerbated by poor communication between the team managing out of area placements and the local team. As a consequence, the aftercare planning did not take place in accordance with S117 Mental Health Act.   This was exacerbated by a failure by all health professionals involved in her care within the mental health trust to recognise that she needed to be referred on to the Trafford Shared Care pathway. A referral would have ensured she received support and care for at least 12 weeks when she returned to the community. There is no clear reason for this failure. She was seen by the Home-Based Treatment Team (HBTT) on 28 January and 2 February, then discharged back to her GP. Within a week of that discharge from HBTT, which meant she had been left with no mental health support, she had deteriorated significantly. On 9 February her GP sent her to hospital for emergency assessment due to her presentation. She was discharged home to be seen by the Home- Based Treatment Team on 11th February. She was seen by that team on 11, 12, and 13 February. There was still no recognition of the fact that the Trafford policy was not being followed. She had indicated her lack of compliance with olanzapine, suicidal thoughts and her behaviour on 13th February was erratic. On 14 February 2023 she took a fatal overdose of prescribed zopiclone at her home address.
  5. Content Article
    ‘Patient-initiated follow-up’ (or PIFU, for short) is not a new idea and has been referred to in different ways over time, such as open-access appointments, self-managed follow-up, and see-on-symptom appointments. However, this approach has been given renewed attention given rising waiting times and the backlog of care that built up throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.  Moving outpatient attendances to patient-initiated follow-up (PIFU) pathways is considered a key part of plans to reduce outpatient follow-ups. But what exactly is PIFU? In this Nuffield Trust explainer, Sarah Reed and Nadia Crellin describe more about what it is, the problems it could solve, and what is known so far about how well it works.
  6. Content Article
    Millions of people use hospital services as an outpatient, with numbers of appointments rising rapidly over recent years. Patient-initiated follow-up (PIFU) is a relatively new initiative in the English NHS, and the NIHR RSET team has conducted a mixed-methods evaluation as the process develops to understand how it's working and what impact it's having on health care systems and the staff and patients involved.
  7. News Article
    Patients are at risk of having serious health conditions missed because of the lack of continuity of care provided by GPs, the NHS safety watchdog says. Investigators highlighted the case of Brian who was seen by eight different GPs before his cancer was spotted as an example of what can go wrong. Brian had a history of breast cancer and had been discharged from the breast cancer service. Two years later he began to have back pain. Over the following eight months, he saw two out-of-hours GPs and six GPs based at his local practices as well as a physio and GP nurse, before he was sent for a hospital check-up in late 2020. A secondary cancer had developed on Brian's spine, but it was too late to offer him curative treatment and he was given end-of-life care. He has since died. The watchdog said the lack of continuity of care resulted in the diagnosis of Brian's cancer being missed. One of the key problems was that the different GPs he saw missed the fact he was attending repeatedly for the same issue. Senior investigator Neil Alexander said Brian's case was a "stark example" of what can happen when there is a breakdown in continuity of care. "He told our team 'when I am gone, no-one else should have to go through what I did'." Read full story Source: BBC News, 30 November 2023
  8. Content Article
    Patients who visit their GP practice with an ongoing health problem may see several different GPs about the same symptoms. To make sure they receive safe and efficient care, there needs to be a system in place to ensure continuity of care. In the context of this report, continuity of care is where a patient has an ongoing relationship with a specific doctor, or when information is managed in a way that allows any doctor to care for a patient. While some GP practices in England operate a formalised system of continuity of care, many do not. This investigation explored the safety risk associated with the lack of a system of continuity of care within GP practices. The investigation focused on: How GP practices manage continuity of care. This includes how electronic record systems alert GPs to repeat attendances for symptoms that are not resolving and how information is shared across the healthcare system. Workload pressures that affect the ability of GP practices to deliver continuity of care. This investigation’s findings, safety recommendations and safety observations aim to prevent the delayed diagnosis of serious health conditions caused by a lack of continuity of care and to improve care for patients across the NHS.
  9. News Article
    Patients are being left feeling “confused and neglected” by not being told who to contact about their future care when they are discharged from hospital, an NHS watchdog has said. Research by Healthwatch England has found that 51% of people are not being given details when they leave of which services they can turn to for help and advice while they are recovering. The NHS was risking patients having to be readmitted as medical emergencies and hospital beds becoming even more scarce by failing to adhere to its own guidelines on discharge, it said. “While our findings show some positive examples, it’s alarming that guidance on safe discharge from the hospital is routinely not being followed,” said Louise Ansari, the patient champion’s chief executive. Healthwatch asked 583 people and their carers how their discharge had gone. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 November 2023
  10. Content Article
    New research from Healthwatch reveals worrying problems with hospital discharge arrangements. Many people told us they are not given the right support or information when being discharged from hospital. Read on about their experiences and Health Watch's calls to action.
  11. News Article
    Two young people facing mental health crises were left on paediatric wards for months while different agencies across a health system struggled to find appropriate placements. The patients – who were both autistic and had learning disabilities, with special educational needs – were admitted to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust (MTW) last year after attending emergency departments more than 10 times within a two-month period. They were left on a paediatric ward – one of the patients for four months – as this was the “only available place of safety as opposed to the optimum setting to meet their needs,” according to Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board’s “learning review” of children and young people with complex needs, which the two cases prompted. The review, which HSJ obtained under a Freedom of Information request, revealed several problems with joint working, despite a multidisciplinary team meeting regularly to discuss the young patients’ needs. Since the review, a new escalation process has been introduced, urgent mental health risk assessments in the community have been enhanced and a three-month pilot of a self-harm service has been implemented at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, part of MTW. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 17 November 2023
  12. News Article
    New data suggests around 700,000 cases on the elective waiting list relate to patients who are on at least four different pathways, and NHS England says personalised care plans must be developed to treat them more efficiently. NHSE has published new data that reveals the overall referral to treatment waiting list, of 7.8 million cases, is made up of 6.5 million individual patients. The difference is due to some patients waiting for more than one treatment. Stella Vig, NHSE’s clinical director for secondary care, told HSJ around 2-3% of the individual patients on the waiting list are on four to five pathways or more. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 9 November 2023
  13. Content Article
    The aim of this investigation and report is to help improve the inpatient care of adults with a known learning disability in acute hospital settings. It focuses on people referred urgently for hospital admission from a community setting, such as a person’s home or residential home. In undertaking this investigation, the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) looked to explore the factors affecting: The sharing of information about people with a learning disability and their reasonable adjustment needs following admission to an acute hospital. How ward-base staff are supported to delivery person-centred care to people with a learning disability.
  14. News Article
    Hundreds of thousands of patients referred to specialists by their GPs are being rejected by hospitals and left to deteriorate because there are no appointments available. NHS waiting lists are already buckling under record-high backlogs and now delays are being compounded as local doctors struggle to even get their patients to outpatient services. Patients’ referrals are rejected by hospital trusts if there are no appointment slots available, meaning they get bounced back to the GP who is unable to help with their complex needs, leaving them without the care they desperately need. Clare Rayner, 54, from Manchester, has been left distraught by delays which have hampered the treatment she needs for complex spinal problems. She is still waiting to find out if an upcoming appointment with a neurologist is going ahead after a request for an urgent review from her GP was ignored five times. Outpatient referrals are typically classed as having an “appointment slot issue” (ASI) when no booking slot is available within a specific time frame, under the NHS e-Referral system. According to experts, the situation varies between specialities, but is reportedly particularly bad in areas such as mental health and neurology. Ms Rayner, a former medical teacher who had to retire because of ill health, said: “I’ve been sent all around the country for neurosurgery over the last few years so have been directly affected by being bounced back to my GP." “A unit in London rejected me because they said I lived too far away, which was ridiculous as they take people from all over the UK, and a local consultant just never replied to my GP’s email. Ms Rayner said she has endured “massive delays” to her care which had left her intensely frustrated. “It’s left me with significant deterioration with my spinal problems and that’s been very distressing,” she said. Helen Hughes, chief executive of charity and campaign group Patient Safety Learning, said: “NHS England needs to urgently investigate, quantify the scale of the problem and take action if we are to prevent these capacity problems resulting in avoidable harm for patients.” A target for providers to reduce ASIs to a rate of 4% or less of their total outpatient activity was set by NHS England in 2019. Guidance in subsequent years has seen a move towards the requirement for providers to implement “innovative pathways” to support prevention of ill health. Read full story Source: iNews, 22 May 2022 Related blogs on the hub: Rejected outpatient referrals are putting patients at risk and increasing workload pressure on GPs A child left waiting for ‘urgent’ surgery, a blog by Clare Rayner
  15. News Article
    Thousands of lives are being put at risk due to delays and disruption in diabetes care, according to a damning report that warns patients have been “pushed to the back of the queue” during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are 4.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK, and almost half had difficulties managing their condition last year, according to a survey of 10,000 patients by the charity Diabetes UK. More than 60% of them attributed this partly to a lack of access to healthcare, which can prevent serious illness and early mortality from the cardiovascular complications of diabetes, rising to 71% in the most deprived areas of the country. One in three had no contact with healthcare professionals about their diabetes in 2021, while one in six have still not had contact since before the pandemic, the report by the charity said. Diabetes UK said that while ministers have focused on tackling the elective surgery backlog, diabetes patients have lost out as a result, and there is now an urgent need to get services back on track before lives are “needlessly lost”. Chris Askew, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, called for a national diabetes recovery plan. “Diabetes is serious and living with it can be relentless,” he said. “If people with diabetes cannot receive the care they need, they can risk devastating, life-altering complications and, sadly, early death. “We know the NHS has worked tirelessly to keep us safe throughout the pandemic, but the impacts on care for people living with diabetes have been vast. While the UK government has been focused on cutting waiting lists for operations and other planned care, people with diabetes have been pushed to the back of the queue.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 20 April 2022
  16. News Article
    NHS England’s plan to make the 111 service a ‘primary route’ into emergency departments has fallen ‘far short of aspiration’, with only a small fraction of attendances being booked through it. NHSE began recording the numbers of ED appointments booked via 111 in August 2020, as it aimed to reduce unnecessary attendances and demand on emergency services, via the programme known as “111 First”. Planning guidance for 2021-22 told local systems to “promote the use of NHS 111 as a primary route into all urgent care services”. It added that at least 70% of patients referred to ED by 111 services should receive a booked time slot to attend. Pilots experimented with making it harder for people who had not called 111 to attend A&E, although proposals to direct those people away were rejected. Data published by NHSE shows the number of ED attendances that were booked through 111, but not those referred to ED without a booking. Jacob Lant, head of policy and research at Healthwatch England, said: “Sadly, it’s clear from these figures that implementation across the country is lagging behind where we would have hoped. “Obviously this has to be seen in the context of the massive pressures on A&E departments at the moment as a result of the pandemic, but there is also a need for the NHS to really step up efforts to tell people about this new way of accessing care.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: 25 February 2022
  17. News Article
    The death of a "vulnerable" transgender teenager who struggled to get help was preventable, a coroner has said. Daniel France, 17, was known to Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT) when he took his own life on 3 April 2020. The coroner said his death showed a "dangerous gap" between services. When he died, Mr France was in the process of being transferred from children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Suffolk to adult services in Cambridgeshire. The First Response Service, which provides help for people experiencing a mental health crisis, also assessed Mr France but he had been considered not in need of urgent intervention, the coroner's report said. Cambridgeshire County Council had received two safeguarding referrals for Daniel, in October 2019 and January 2020, but had closed both. "It was accepted that the decision to close both referrals was incorrect", Mr Barlow said in his report. Mr Barlow wrote in his report, sent to both the council and CPFT: "My concern in this case is that a vulnerable young person can be known to the county council and [the] mental health trust and yet not receive the support they need pending substantive treatment." He highlighted Daniel was "repeatedly assessed as not meeting the criteria for urgent intervention" but that waiting lists for phycological therapy could mean more than a year between asking for help and being given it. "That gap between urgent and non-urgent services is potentially dangerous for a vulnerable young person, where there is a chronic risk of an impulsive act," Mr Barlow said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 25 February 2022
  18. News Article
    A man who died from a mixed medication overdose might still be alive if the help his partner was "begging" for had been provided, a coroner said. Mental health patient Benjamin Stroud, 42, had been under the care of Essex Partnership University NHS Trust (EPUT) in the weeks before his death in March. Essex coroner Michelle Brown said in a post-inquest report that, despite "escalating psychosis", his care co-ordinator did not flag the case. Following an overdose of medication in February, his partner, a nurse, called for psychiatric intervention and despite "begging" for help, Mr Stroud's care co-ordinator did not make a referral to the multi-disciplinary team (MDT). Mr Stroud died at home on 19 March and was found surrounded by empty insulin pens and pain medication. In her prevention of future deaths report, the coroner said: "It was clear from [his partner's] account that she had been begging the care co-ordinator for Mr Stroud to have an appointment with the psychiatrist, which did not occur and, from the evidence of EPUT, it was clear that Mr Stroud's care co-ordinator did not make any referral to the MDT, despite his escalating psychosis." The coroner added that the issue of care co-ordinators failing to document their reasons for not referring cases to the MDT had been raised at other inquests. "If these practices continue there is a real risk of future deaths occurring," Ms Brown warned. Paul Scott, chief executive at the trust, said: "We will continue to view all safety-related incidents as an opportunity to learn and make sure lessons are shared across the trust." Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 February 2022
  19. News Article
    A scheme in which ‘category 2’ 999 calls are validated by clinicians will be extended nationally after reducing journeys by 4%in a pilot, with no adverse incidents, NHS England has told HSJ. NHSE also confirmed that one ambulance trust in the scheme, the West Midlands, has begun delaying the dispatch of ambulances for some category 2 calls by up to 23 minutes so that the validation can take place. At three other trusts – London, South Western and the East Midlands – about 40% of category 2 calls receive clinical validation, but an ambulance is dispatched to them as soon it is available, as normal. Officials said they believe the demand benefit could be greater if ambulance trusts are able to devote more clinical capacity to the validation process. About 40% of category 2 calls are judged suitable for validation, but not all of them complete the process before an ambulance arrives. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 11 July 2023
  20. News Article
    County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has created and implemented an artificial intelligence (AI) model to protect patients from acute kidney injury (AKI). The trust’s AI-driven model helps healthcare staff to identify patients who are at risk from AKI and to swiftly respond with treatment. The technology uses risk stratification digital tools that staff are able to access through an app. These are combined with care processes developed at the trust and which involve a new specialist nurse team, preventive specialist intervention, assessment and follow-up. Its implementation at County Durham and Darlington has led to a reduction in both hospital-acquired and community AKI. Overall, the incidence of AKI within the trust fell from 6.5% between March and May 2020, to 3.8% during the same period in 2021. The most significant reduction was seen in hospital-acquired AKI – which fell by more than 80%. Jeremy Cundall, medical director for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and executive lead for the project, said: “The partnership has resulted in patients being detected earlier – preventing AKI from occurring or mitigating the worsening of existing AKI. Accordingly, patients have been more effectively triaged to the right pathways of care including referral and transfer to tertiary renal units where appropriate.” Claire Stocks, early detection, resuscitation and mortality lead nurse for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This work has been a project very much about using collaborative partnerships to enhance patient safety and quality. An idea that was developed in a ‘cupboard conversation’ is now a fully operational specialist nurse service. Utilising digital innovations supports rapid triage, early detection and treatment to improve outcomes.” In addition to the improvements in patient safety, the technology has delivered cost savings for the trust too. County Durham and Darlington saved more than £2million in direct costs from reductions in AKI incidence. The improved transfer of patients has also released ICU capacity, vital at a time when the NHS is dealing with a growing national backlog for elective surgery. Read full story Source: Digital Health, 27 July 2022
  21. News Article
    Government will pick five or six ‘integration frontrunner’ areas ‘to lead the way in developing and testing radical new approaches’ to speeding up discharge from acute hospitals. Along with NHS England, ministers today wrote to local NHS and council directors asking for bids to take part by 30 June. They said there was “a need to take a more fundamental look at [how the] system currently manages the discharge of patients, their post-acute care, and their access to high-quality social care”. The “discharge integration frontrunner sites” will focus on exploring “new service models, such as the delivery of a more integrated model for intermediate care across existing health and social care”, and “designing and testing new enabling arrangements, which might include new funding models, more integrated workforce models, or the deployment of new technologies”, their letter said. They said speeding up hospital discharge was “just one” potential benefit from integration and indicated that “future phases” of frontrunners may focus elsewhere. But delayed discharge has been a major pressure on the system over the past year, particularly last winter, and the letter says: “Delayed discharges are one very visible signal that the health and care system remains fragmented and too often fails to deliver joined-up services that meet people’s needs.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 21 June 2022
  22. News Article
    NHS 111 sends too many people to accident and emergency departments because its computer algorithm is “too risk averse”, the country’s top emergency doctor has warned. Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said that December was the “worst ever” in A&E with 9 in 10 emergency care leaders reporting to the RCEM that patients were waiting more than 24 hours in their departments. Asked what measures could help improve pressures in emergency care, Dr Boyle said more clinical input was needed in NHS 111 calls. “In terms of how we manage people who could be looked after elsewhere, the key thing to do is to improve NHS 111,” Dr Boyle told MPs. “There is a lack of clinical validation and a lack of clinical access within NHS 111 - 50 per cent of calls have some form of clinical input, there’s an awful lot which are just people following an algorithm.” Dr Boyle added where clinical input is lacking “it necessarily becomes risk averse and sends too many people to their GP, ambulance or emergency department”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 24 January 2023
  23. News Article
    Hospital staff have to complete 50 separate steps on average to discharge a patient, it has emerged, as the NHS grapples with a bed-blocking crisis. On average, around 14,000 patients deemed fit to leave hospital are stuck in beds every day, according to the latest official figures. The congestion is helping to fuel the backlog in accident and emergency (A&E) departments, where more than 55,000 patients waited 12 hours or longer last month. Steve Barclay, Health Secretary, announced an additional £250 million in funding last week to buy up care beds to help discharge thousands of patients. But doctors, social care experts and families have warned discharges are being delayed by NHS “bureaucracy” and excessive form filling. Dr Matt Kneale, co-chair of the Doctors’ Association UK and a junior doctor in Manchester, said patients are held up by “numerous bottlenecks” before being sent home. “While social care shortages are the predominant issue, smaller factors stack up to create a big problem,” he told The Telegraph. Many hospitals have limits on the times their pharmacies are open, he explained, meaning patients can often be stuck on the ward all day, or an extra night, waiting for their medication. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 15 January 2023
  24. News Article
    Vulnerable patients, including some children, have faced long delays for a suitable bed as organisations argue over whose responsibility it is to fund and deliver their care, HSJ understands. In a letter outlining winter arrangements, NHS England has warned trust leaders and commissioners against delaying emergency mental health admissions – typically needed when a patient is away from home, and understood to be more common over the Christmas period – while determining which area has which responsibility. National mental health director Claire Murdoch wrote: “It is not acceptable to delay an emergency mental health admission while determining which area has clinical and financial responsibility for the care of an individual.” She added such admissions should be arranged “as quickly as possible, and without delay caused by any financial sign-off process”. It comes as HSJ has been told patients can often end up waiting for several days in emergency departments or in “inappropriate” out of area or acute beds when disputes occur over who is responsible for their care. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 15 December 2022
  25. News Article
    Delayed health checks among people with diabetes may have contributed to 7,000 more deaths than usual in England last year, a charity report suggests. The routine checks help cut the risk of serious complications like amputations and heart attacks. Diabetes UK says too many people are still being "left to go it alone" when managing their challenging condition. There are more than five million people in the UK living with diabetes, but around 1.9 million missed out on routine vital checks in 2021-22, Diabetes UK says. Disruption to care during the pandemic is likely to be a factor in the current backlog, which may be leading to higher numbers of deaths than usual in people with diabetes, it says. Between January and March 2023, for example, there were 1,461 excess deaths involving diabetes - three times higher than during the same period last year. "Urgent action is needed to reverse this trend and support everyone living with diabetes to live well with the condition," the report says. Read full story Source: BBC News, 10 May 2023
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