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Found 43 results
  1. News Article
    Dr Rebecca Fisher gives the lowdown on why maintaining general practice as a ‘front door’ to the NHS that is safe for both GPs and patients is not easy. It’s fair to say that Matt Hancock’s pronouncement that henceforth all consultations should be “teleconsultations unless there’s a compelling reason not to”, has not been universally welcomed in general practice. In my surgery, practicing in a pandemic has seen us change our ways of working beyond imagination. In March, like many other practices, we shifted overnight to a “telephone first” approach. And whilst at peak-pandemic we kept face-to-face consultations to a minimum, we’re now seeing more and more patients in person again. Although many consultations can be safely done over the phone, we’re very clear that there are some patients – and some conditions and circumstances – where a patient needs a face-to-face appointment with a GP. NHS England have also been clear that all practices must offer face-to-face consultations if clinically appropriate. But maintaining general practice as a “front door” to the NHS that is safe for both GPs and patients is not easy. Options to quarantine and pre-test patients set out in national guidance and intended to help protect secondary care cannot be deployed in primary care. Other national guidance – for example regarding wearing masks in clinical sites – often seems to be issued with secondary care in mind, with little or delayed clarity for primary care. Measures like maintaining social distancing are also likely to be harder in general practice, where the ability of a surgery to physically distance staff from each other, and patients from each other and staff, is in part dependent on physical factors. Options to quarantine and pre-test patients set out in national guidance and intended to help protect secondary care cannot be deployed in primary care Things like the size and layout of a practice, or the availability of a car park for patients to wait in are hard to change quickly. Stemming from those challenges are ones related to staffing; how to keep practice staff safe from covid-19? NHS England and the British Medical Association have stated that staff should have rigorous, culturally sensitive risk assessment and consider ceasing direct patient contact where risks from covid-19 are high. The risk of catching COVID-19 – or dying from it – is not equally distributed amongst GPs. Age, sex, ethnicity, and underlying health conditions are all important risk factors. New Health Foundation research finds that not only are a significant proportion of GPs at high or very high risk of death from covid-19 (7.9 per cent), but one in three single-handed practices is likely to be run by a GP at high risk. If those GPs step back from face-to-face consultations we estimate that at least 700,000 patients could be left without access to in-person appointments. Even more concerningly, there’s a marked deprivation gradient. If GPs at high risk from COVID-19 step back from direct face-to-face appointments, and gaps in provision aren’t plugged, the patients likely to be most affected are those in deprived areas – the same people who have already been hardest hit by the pandemic GPs at high risk of death from covid are much more likely to be working in areas of greater socioeconomic deprivation. And single-handed practices run by GPs classed as being at very high risk from covid are more than four times as likely to be located in the most deprived clinical commissioning groups than the most affluent. If GPs at high risk from COVID-19 step back from direct face-to-face appointments, and gaps in provision aren’t plugged, the patients likely to be most affected are those in deprived areas – the same people who have already been hardest hit by the pandemic. Where do solutions lie? Ultimate responsibility for providing core general practice services to populations lies with CCGs. In some areas, collaborations between practices (such as GP federations and primary care networks), may be able to organise cross-cover to surgeries where face-to-face provision is not adequate to meet need. But these collaborations have not developed at equal pace across the country, have many demands on their capacity and may not be sufficiently mature to take on this challenge. These local factors – including the availability of locums – will need to be considered by commissioners. It’s vital that CCGs act quickly to understand the extent to which the concerns around GP supply highlighted by our research apply in their localities. In some cases, additional funding will be needed to enable practices to ‘buy in’ locum support for face-to-face consultations. This should be considered a core part of the NHS covid response. Face-to-face GP appointments remain a crucial NHS service, and must be available to the population in proportion with need. Just as in secondary care, protecting staff, and protecting patients in primary care will require additional investment. Failure to adequately assess the extent of the problem, and to provide sufficient resource to engineer solutions is likely to further exacerbate existing health inequalities. Original Source: The HSJ
  2. News Article
    Doctors and surgeons’ leaders have issued a warning that the NHS must not shut down normal care again if a second wave of Covid-19 hits as that would risk patients dying from lack of treatment. Here, one patient tells her story. Marie Temple (not her real name) was distraught when her MRI was cancelled in March, shortly after the UK went into lockdown and Boris Johnson ordered the NHS to cancel all non-urgent treatment. Temple, who lives in the north of England, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour last year after suffering seizures and shortly afterwards had surgery to remove it. She had been promised a follow-up MRI scan in late March to see if the surgery had been a success, but she received a letter saying her hospital was dealing only with emergency cases and she didn’t qualify. Read the full article here.
  3. News Article
    New analysis by the Health Foundation reveals the devastating impact the pandemic has had on social care in England. The independent charity says the findings provide further evidence that the government acted too slowly and did not do enough to support social care users and staff, and that protecting social care has been given far lower priority than the NHS. The Health Foundation finds that policy action on social care has focused primarily on care homes and that this has risked leaving out other vulnerable groups of users and services, including those receiving care in their own homes (domiciliary care). It also notes that the shortcomings of the government’s response have been made worse by longstanding political neglect and chronic underfunding of the social care system. Since March there have been more than 30,500 excess deaths* among care home residents in England and 4,500 excess deaths among people receiving domiciliary care. While high numbers of excess deaths of people living in care homes have been well reported, the analysis shows there has been a greater proportional increase in deaths among domiciliary care users than in care homes (225% compared to 208%). And while deaths in care homes have now returned to average levels for this time of year, the latest data (up until 19 June) shows that there have continued to be excess deaths reported among domiciliary care users. The Health Foundation says that decades of inaction by successive governments have meant that the social care system entered the pandemic underfunded, understaffed, and at risk of collapse. Read full article here.
  4. News Article
    More than a quarter of black, Asian and minority ethnic NHS staff had not yet had a risk assessment in relation to their exposure to coronavirus, according to the latest data collection by national NHS leaders. Full article here on the HSJ website (paywalled)
  5. News Article
    The government removed a key section from Public Health England’s review (published Tuesday) of the relative risk of COVID-19 to specific groups, HSJ has discovered. The review reveals the virus poses a greater risk to those who are older, male and overweight. The risk is also described as “disproportionate” for those with Asian, Caribbean and black ethnicities. It makes no attempt to explain why the risk to BAME groups should be higher. An earlier draft of the review which was circulated within government last week contained a section which included responses from the 1,000-plus organisations and individuals who supplied evidence to the review. Many of these suggested that discrimination and poorer life chances were playing a part in the increased risk of COVID-19 to those with BAME backgrounds. HSJ understands this section was an annex to the report but could also stand alone. Typical was the following recommendation from the response by the Muslim Council of Britain, which stated: “With high levels of deaths of BAME healthcare workers, and extensive research showing evidence and feelings of structural racism and discrimination in the NHS, PHE should consider exploring this in more detail, and looking into specific measures to tackle the culture of discrimination and racism. It may also be of value to issue a clear statement from the NHS that this is not acceptable, committing to introducing change.” One source with knowledge of the review said the section “did not survive contact with Matt Hancock’s office” over the weekend. Read full story Source: HSJ, 2 June 2020
  6. Content Article
    Complaints from staff are not being heeded. Why is it that healthcare staff's opinions and pleas for their safety and the safety of patients do not matter? Here are just some examples of where safety has been compromised: Disposable gowns are being reused by keeping them in a room and then reusing after 3 days. There were no fit tests. Staff were informed by management that "one size fits all, no testers or kits available and no other trusts are doing it anyway". Only when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced recently that fit tests were a legal requirement, then fit tests were given. I queried about fit checks only to discover that it was not part of the training and, therefore, staff were wearing masks without seals for three months before fit tests were introduced and even after fit tests! I taught my colleagues how to do fit checks via telephone. There was no processes in place at the hospital to aid staff navigation through the pandemic (no red or green areas, no donning or doffing stations, no system for ordering PPE if it ran out); it was very much carry on as normal. A hospital pathway was made one week ago, unsigned and not referenced by governance, and with no instructions on how to don and doff. Guidelines from the Association for Perioperative Practice (AFPP) and Public Health England (PHE) for induction and extubation are not being followed – only 5 minutes instead of 20 minutes. Guidelines state 5 minutes is only for laminar flow theatres. None of the theatres in this hospital have laminar flow. One of my colleagues said she was not happy to cover an ENT list because she is BAME and at moderate/high risk with underlying conditions. She had not been risk assessed and she felt that someone with lower or no risk could do the list. She was removed from the ENT list, told she would be reprimanded on return to work and asked to write a report on her unwillingness to help in treating patients. The list had delays and she was told if she had done the list it would not have suffered from delays. Just goes to show, management only care about the work and not the staff. It was only after the list, she was then risk assessed. Diathermy smoke evacuation is not being used as recommended. Diathermy is a surgical technique which uses heat from an electric current to cut tissue or seal bleeding vessels. Diathermy emissions can contain numerous toxic gases, particles and vapours and are usually invisible to the naked eye. Inhalation can adversely affect surgeons’ and theatre staff’s respiratory system. If staff get COVID-19 and die, they become a statistic and work goes on as usual. The examples listed above are all safety issues for patients and staff but, like me, my colleagues are being ignored and informed "it's a business!" when these safety concerns are raised at the hospital. The only difference is they are permanent staff and their shifts cannot be blocked whereas I was a locum nurse who found my shifts blocked after I spoke up. Why has it been allowed to carry on? Why is there no Freedom To Speak Up Guardian at the hospital? Why has nothing been done? We can all learn from each other and we all have a voice. Sir Francis said we need to "Speak Up For Change", but management continues to be reactive when we try to be proactive and initiate change. This has to stop! Actions needed We need unannounced inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and HSE when we make reports to them. Every private hospital must have an infection control team and Freedom To Speak Up Guardian in post.
  7. Content Article
    The purpose of this blog was to examine the impact of COVID-19 on access to and use of health care services for people with pre-existing health conditions including asthma, cancer diabetes, heart disease and mental health illness. The Health Foundation supported an online YouGov survey of members of the public, designed by the Resolution Foundation. 6,005 UK citizens responded to the survey between 6 and 11 May. This blog draws on the data and looks at: the level of reduction in access for care management the reasons behind the reduction in access.
  8. News Article
    People will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks even if they are asymptomatic after coming into ‘high-risk’ contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 – a testing chief has told NHS executives. This marks a change from the official guidance given to users of the government’s contact tracing app – on NHS’ COVID-19 website – which states: “If you do not have symptoms, you do not need to self-isolate at this time.” John Newton, a leader of the UK’s testing programme, would be “directed towards those people at high risk” instead of the wider public. He added the government faces a “huge communications exercise” next week ahead of the launch of the test and trace programme. Giving an update on the test and trace programme – which is due to launch on 1 June – Professor Newton said: “People who are deemed high risk contact of confirmed [COVID-19] cases will be told to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms at the time. Professor Newton said: “The point is there will still be a requirement to contain the virus, but the impact in terms of containment will be directed towards those people at high risk so the rest of the population can enjoy more normal life." He said the programme’s success would depend on the public’s response in terms of: Presenting themselves for a test if they have symptoms; Providing the information needed to identify high risk contacts; and Those people identified as high risk contacts complying with advice to self-isolate. Read full story Source: HSJ, 21 May 2020
  9. Content Article
    Episode 1: (1.20) Carl gives us an update on the England and Wales admission data. (3.00) Helen talks about ways in which spread and severity of infection amongst household contacts. (8.20) We talk natural history of covid-19, and Harlan Krumholz, cardiologist at Yale, tells us what we know, and why it's difficult to have a full picture at the moment. (15.10) Helen picks up on a study from Tim Spectre and colleagues using an app to track cases. (20.00) Henry Scowcroft, one of The BMJ's patient editor, who also works for Cancer Research UK, joins us to talk about patients who are taking part in clinical trials, and how this is affecting them. He also touches on the thin patient participation in the design of covid treatment guidelines. (24.10) Carl talks rapidity of publishing, and where researchers should most target their evidence outreach.
  10. Content Article
    The rheumatology community has created a global, coordinated and timely response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The alliance aims to harness the breadth of expertise and knowledge in the rheumatology physician and patient communities to advance knowledge about COVID-19 for the benefit of all patients with rheumatic diseases.
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