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Found 38 results
  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. News Article
    Three patients have died after being given a bowel test by a doctor who failed to ensure treatment needed was carried out, a health board has said. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said three more patients suffered harm. The six patients were identified in a clinical review the health board carried out of 2,700 people the consultant carried out a colonoscopy on between 2020 and 2022. The consultant, who has not been named, was suspended in November 2022 and has since left the health board. NHSGGC deputy medical director Professor Colin McKay said: “We would like to offer our sincere apologies to patients who were not followed up appropriately and our condolences to the families of those patients who have died." “Our investigations found that the doctor did not consistently follow up the results of investigations that had been completed or requested and therefore missed the opportunity for patients to be treated, including a number of patients who went on to develop malignancy." Read full story Source: The Independent, 11 October 2023
  4. News Article
    NHS England plans to reduce follow-up appointments is leading to patient safety risks and causing waiting lists to grow, an acute trust has warned. The NHSE plans were set out in the 2023-24 planning guidance which says trusts must cut outpatient follow-ups by 25% against 2019-20 levels by March, to increase capacity for new patients. But North Cumbria Integrated Care Foundation Trust has raised concerns that adhering to the policy will “exacerbate” its follow-up backlogs, warning that the delays “potentially… pose a risk of harm to patients whose condition may deteriorate when follow-up is late”. NHS Confederation told HSJ it thought the policy “has risks” because it could mean that patients needing follow-ups will wait for longer, although the organisation also saw benefits. It said hospital leaders had “mixed feelings” about the policy. The Patients Association also raised concerns that cancelling follow-ups for some patients “will exacerbate health inequalities”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 12 October 2023
  5. Content Article
    Patient initiated follow up and remote clinical reviews show promise in alleviating capacity issues and ensuring timely care, with positive patient feedback and early intervention benefits Media interest regularly reports on the three headline performance measures of the NHS; 18-week target, cancer wait targets, and four hour waits in emergency departments. There is, however, another large group of patients that we do not have any targets for and receive no media attention, who Peter Towers, NHS service manager, has termed the “fourth group”. These are the patients who have started their treatment but cannot be discharged back to primary care as they require continued secondary outpatient care.
  6. Content Article
    Incident investigation remains a cornerstone of patient safety management and improvement, with recommendations meant to drive action and improvement. However, there is little empirical evidence about how—in real-world hospital settings—recommendations are generated or judged for effectiveness.
  7. Content Article
    The extent to which postintensive care unit (ICU) clinics may improve patient safety for those discharged after receiving intensive care remains unclear. This observational cohort study from Karlick et al., conducted at an academic, tertiary care medical centre, used qualitative survey data analysed via conventional content analysis to describe patient safety threats encountered in the post-ICU clinic. For 83 included patients, safety threats were identified for 60 patients resulting in 96 separate safety threats. These were categorised into 7 themes: medication errors (27%); inadequate medical follow-up (25%); inadequate patient support (16%); high-risk behaviours (5%); medical complications (5%); equipment/supplies failures (4%); and other (18%). Of the 96 safety threats, 41% were preventable, 27% ameliorable, and 32% were neither preventable nor ameliorable. Nearly 3 out of 4 patients within a post-ICU clinic had an identifiable safety threat. Medication errors and delayed medical follow-up were the most common safety threats identified; most were either preventable or ameliorable.
  8. Content Article
    This Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) investigation focuses on the systems used by healthcare providers to book patient appointments for clinical investigations, such as diagnostic tests and scans. ‘Clinical investigation booking systems’ are used throughout the NHS to support the delivery of patient care. Healthcare services use paper-based or fully electronic systems, or a combination of the two (hybrid systems), to communicate to patients the time, date and location of their appointment. These systems also produce information for patients about actions they need to take to prepare for their appointment. Written patient communication is a key output of clinical investigation booking systems. This investigation examines the safety implications of patient communications, produced by booking systems, that do not account for the needs of the patient. In addition, it looks at why patients are ‘lost to follow-up’ after an appointment is cancelled, rescheduled or not attended. Lost to follow-up is the term used to describe a patient who does not return for planned appointments (whether for continued care or evaluations) or is no longer being tracked in the healthcare system when they should be.
  9. News Article
    People who survive cancer may be at heightened risk of cardiovascular disease in subsequent years, data suggests. However, heart scans may identify early heart damage, potentially opening the door to more tailored follow-up care for cancer survivors. Although previous studies have suggested that people who have been treated for cancer may be at greater risk of future cardiovascular problems such as stroke or heart failure, these have mainly focused on the first year after a cancer diagnosis. Few have looked at longer term risks or included cardiovascular imaging to pinpoint damage that has not yet resulted in symptoms. To plug these gaps, Dr Zahra Raisi-Estabragh at Queen Mary University of London and her colleagues assessed the cardiovascular health of 18,714 UK Biobank participants with a previous diagnosis of lung, breast, prostate, blood, womb or bowel cancer, and compared them with an equal number of participants with no cancer history, tracking their cardiovascular health for nearly 12 years. Almost a third of cancer survivors developed a cardiovascular problem during the study period, compared with a quarter of people in the control group. “This study adds to existing knowledge about the impact of some cancer treatments on cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors,” said Martin Ledwick, the head information nurse at Cancer Research UK. “It may help to inform strategies for how some cancer survivors need to be monitored long-term, especially in situations where they have been discharged from cancer follow-up to the care of their GPs.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 18 April 2023
  10. News Article
    Plans to scrap tens of millions of “unnecessary” hospital follow-up appointments could put patients at risk and add to the overload at GP surgeries, NHS leaders and doctors are warning. Health service leaders in England are finalising a radical plan under which hospital consultants will undertake far fewer outpatient appointments and instead perform more surgery to help cut the NHS backlog and long waits for care that many patients experience. The move is contained in the “elective recovery plan” which Sajid Javid, the health secretary, will unveil next week. It will contain what one NHS boss called “transformative ideas” to tackle the backlog. Thanks to Covid the waiting list has spiralled to a record 5.8 million people and Javid has warned that it could hit as many as 13 million. Under the plan patients who have spent time in hospital would be offered only one follow-up consultation in the year after their treatment rather than the two, three or four many get now. “While it is important that immediate action is taken to tackle the largest ever backlog of care these short-term proposals by the health secretary have the potential to present significant challenges for patients and seek to worsen health disparities across the country,” said Dr David Wrigley, the deputy chair of council at the British Medical Association. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 25 November 2021
  11. News Article
    An acute trust is reviewing thousands of gastroenterology cases for possible patient harm, after details emerged of an ‘extremely concerning’ list of patients who have not had follow-up appointments for up to six years since being treated. HSJ understands major concerns have been raised internally at Liverpool University Hospital Foundation Trust, over 9,500 patients who received treatment at Aintree University Hospital as far back as 2015, but have not had a follow-up appointment. Whistleblowers have also contacted the Care Quality Commission, which has confirmed it is looking into the issues. Well-placed sources said around 7,000 of the cases have “target dates” for an outpatient follow-up that are in the past. Around 20 of these cases were supposed to be seen in 2015 or 2016, with around 400 dating back to 2017, and around 900 to 2018, the sources said. The remaining 2,500 cases either have no target date or have not yet had a follow-up appointment booked. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 8 April 2021
  12. Content Article
    This National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) report reviews the quality of care of patients aged 16 and over who had a pulmonary embolism (PE), The study aimed to highlight areas where care could be improved in patients with a new diagnosis of acute PE. A retrospective case note and questionnaire review was undertaken in 526 patients aged 16 and over who had a PE, and who either presented to hospital or developed a PE whilst an inpatient for another condition. You can view and download the following documents: Full report Summary report Summary sheet Recommendation checklist Infographic Slide set Commissioners' guide Fishbone diagram Audit toolkit YouTube video: Know the Score
  13. Content Article
    With the number of outpatient hospital appointments in England recently as high as 125 million per year and a huge elective care backlog following the Covid-19 pandemic, patient-initiated follow-up on outpatient appointments has been touted as a potential solution in appropriate cases. But can it free up much-needed capacity while maintaining quality of patient experience and outcomes? As the NHS begins to expand its use of the approach, the NIHR RSET research team has conducted a first review of the available evidence.
  14. Content Article
    The number of people on NHS Wales waiting lists for treatment has reached record levels. This problem has worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the average wait time for treatment more than doubling since December 2019. This report by the Welsh Centre for Public Policy identifies five key areas in which policy could be developed to improve outcomes and reduce waiting times. These areas target the underlying factors causing increased waiting times, and are likely to both improve the overall performance of the health system, and to impact outcomes which matter to patients, resulting in a more patient-centred approach: Workforce capacity Digital technology Reimagining primary care Systems collaboration Follow-up care
  15. Content Article
    Nine specialist mesh centres have been set up by NHS England to offer removal surgery and other treatment to women suffering from complications and pain as a result of vaginal mesh surgery, but women are reporting that they are not operating effectively. In this opinion piece, Kath Sansom highlights ten problems with these specialist mesh centres, evidenced by the real experiences of women who are part of the Sling the Mesh campaign Facebook group.
  16. News Article
    NHS patients will wait longer for routine checks as part of a national drive to clear record backlogs. Health officials have instructed hospitals to “repurpose” resources to focus on those waiting the longest, who are yet to have their first appointment. Today the NHS claimed it had “virtually eliminated” two year waits, with less than 3,000 people enduring such delays, down from 22,500 at the end of January. Hospitals are being urged to prioritise those waiting 18 months or more, with pledges to get rid of such waits by April next year. NHS chiefs have instructed hospitals to focus on outpatient first appointments, rather than patients who have already had treatment, and are waiting for follow-up checks. Senior officials have said many such appointments are a “a waste of time” saying there should be more use of systems where routine slots are scrapped, and patients instead told to contact their medical team if they have particular concerns. The drive - which health chiefs dubbed “Super September” - will see priority given to tackling the longest waits. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 9 August 2022
  17. News Article
    A large acute trust is carrying out a major expansion of patient-initiated follow-up (PIFU) appointments, which is said to be “the most ambitious” project of its kind in the NHS. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust has categorised around half of its outpatient follow-up list as “possible or probable opportunities” for patient-initiated pathways. NNUH wants to make PIFU the “default model” for patients who are not on active pathways, and where it is safe to do this. Its project is being closely watched by national leaders and has already drawn praise from NHS England’s director of elective recovery, Rob Stones, during a webinar last month. It is understood to be more ambitious than NHSE’s official PIFU pilot projects. NHSE’s elective chief, Sir Jim Mackey, has said he wants to expand PIFU pathways on an “industrial” scale. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 29 July 2022
  18. News Article
    A new report has condemned ‘serious issues’ with NHS referral processes, amid findings that one in five patient referrals made by GPs went into a ‘black hole’. Healthwatch England said that 21% of people they spoke to with a GP referral to another NHS service were rejected, not followed up on or sent back to general practice. The watchdog said that more support should be given to help GP and hospital teams to reduce the numbers of people returning to general practice due to ‘communication failures’ following a referral. According to the findings, the failures were due to GP teams not sending referrals, referrals going missing between services, or being either booked or rejected by hospitals without any communication. Louise Ansari, Healthwatch England’s national director, said that thousands of people told the watchdog that the process is ‘far from straightforward.’ She said: "Falling into this “referrals black hole” is not just frustrating for patients but ultimately means people end up going back to their GP or visiting crowded A&E departments to get the help they need. "This adds more burden to already stretched services, making things even harder for the doctors and nurses trying to provide care." Read full story Source: Pulse, 20 February 2023
  19. Content Article
    GP services are the first point of call for many health issues and the gateway to NHS specialist support.  GP teams are highly skilled and may decide that treatment without specialist care is the best action. But when you need specialist support, such as hospital tests or treatment, you may need a referral from your GP team first. New research from Healthwatch highlights that it can be very hard for some people to get a GP referral to another NHS service. And for 21% of people we spoke to, even when they get referrals, they can be lost, rejected or not followed up on. When services don't process referrals properly, it can cause significant frustration, unnecessary anxiety, and even cause harm to patients.  It can also lead to increased demand for either more GP appointments or help from healthcare teams in other parts of the NHS, putting more pressure on already overstretched services.
  20. News Article
    Trusts are being encouraged to adopt a system in which patients initiate follow up appointments by the lastest guidance from NHS England designed to help the NHS recover from the covid crisis. It is hoped the approach can reduce unnecessary demand and therefore help trusts cut waiting lists that have soared as a result of the restrictions placed on hospital activity during the pandemic. Under 'patient initiated follow up' (PIFU) patients decide when they require follow up appointments. They are given guidance as to what symptoms and other factors they should take into account when deciding if a follow up appointment is necessary. PIFU is already used by some trusts, but it has not yet become widely adopted. The plan to increase PIFUs was set out in a guidance published today designed to underpin the “phase three letter” sent out to NHS leaders last week. The guidance, Implementing phase 3 of the NHS response to COVID-19 pandemic , says “individual services should develop their own guidance, criteria and protocols on when to use PIFUs”. The document also sets out some overarching principles. It says services will be rated against the following headline metrics: “total number and proportion of patients on the PIFU pathway; patient outcomes, e.g. recovery rates, relapse rates; waiting times; and DNA rates”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 7 August 2020
  21. News Article
    The aftercare of COVID-19 patients will have significant financial implications for ‘understaffed’ community services, NHS England has been warned. This month the national commissioner released guidance for the care of patients once they have recovered from an immediate covid infection and been discharged from hospital. It said community health services will need to provide “ongoing health support that rehabilitates [covid patients] both physically and mentally”. The document said this would result in increased demand for home oxygen services, pulmonary rehabilitation, diagnostics and for many therapies such as speech and language, occupational, physio, dieticians and mental health support. One GP heavily involved in community rehab told HSJ: “There is a lot detailed information about what people might experience in recovery, but it doesn’t say what should actually happen. “We have seen people discharged from hospital that don’t know anything about their follow-up and the community [health sector] hasn’t got any instructions of what they should be doing or what services have even reopened. This guidance needs to go a step further and rapidly say what is expected so local commissioners can put that in place.” Read full story Source: HSJ, 10 June 2020
  22. News Article
    Nearly 35,000 patients are overdue a follow-up appointment at North Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust, HSJ has learned. Almost 20% of the 34,938 follow-up appointments are in ophthalmology. A paper from the trust’s November board meeting said the “backlog of follow-up appointments… clearly remains a risk”. The report also said the service was failing some of the quality guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The trust told HSJ it had introduced a clinical harm review process last year to address the backlog. It has reviewed “more than 5,000 patients”, out of the 34,938 cases to date, according to Chief Operating Officer Shaun Stacey. He said the trust had initially identified 83 patients who could have come to “potential harm”. Read full story Source: HSJ, 28 January 2020
  23. News Article
    A national strategy is needed to tackle health risks linked to antipsychotic drugs because current policy is letting tens of thousands of people fall through the gaps, commissioners in London are warning. Commissioners and clinicians in City and Hackney found more than 1,000 patients in their area who were on these drugs without having regular medication reviews or health checks. They warned that, if their findings applied across England, 100,000 patients could be in the same position. Although NHS England funds GP practices to carry out regular health checks on patients who are on the serious mental illness register, this excludes patients who are prescribed antipsychotics without having an SMI diagnosis — which typically covers psychoses, schizophrenia or bipolar active disorder. An audit by City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group, carried out in July 2019 and shared with HSJ, found 1,200 patients in the area were taking antipsychotics but did not have a formal SMI diagnosis. The audit found most of these patients were not receiving regular health checks and a significant number may have benefited from having their medication reduced. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 27 January 2020
  24. Content Article
    Nearly half of all adults and approximately 8% of children (aged 5-17) worldwide have a chronic condition. Yet, studies have consistently shown that adherence to medication is poor; estimates range from under 80% to under 50%, with an average of 50%. There could be a considerable improvement in health outcomes (and consequently longevity), not only by developing new drugs, but by helping people adhere to existing treatment regimens that have already been researched, tested and prescribed for them. But adherence isn’t usually prioritised by governments, health providers or healthcare professionals (HCPs). Adherence isn’t measured at a national level for any disease, apart from in Sweden where hypertension is recorded. And as governments don’t prioritise adherence, health providers aren’t measured or incentivised for improving it, meaning HCPs may not have the time and resources (or reminders) to focus on it during consultations.  This report from the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC) makes a series of recommendations.
  25. Content Article
    As Clare Gerada finished the final house calls of her long career in general practice, it struck her how detached she was from her patients now – and that it was not always like this. Where did we go wrong, and what can we do to fix it? she asks in this article in the Guardian.
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