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Found 118 results
  1. News Article
    More than 100,000 patients, including children, have been treated in so-called virtual wards over the last year, NHS officials have said. Leading medics said that the use of the system to monitor patients at home has been a “real game changer”. Officials say virtual wards can help patients avoid unnecessary hospital trips altogether, or enable them to be sent home from hospital sooner. Using various equipment and technology, clinicians can monitor vital signs such as a patients’ heart rate, oxygen levels and temperature remotely. NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “The advantages of virtual wards for both staff and patients have been a real game-changer for the way hospital care is delivered and so it is a huge achievement that more than 100,000 patients have been able to benefit in the last year alone, with the number of beds up by nearly two thirds in less than a year. “With up to a fifth of emergency hospital admissions estimated to be avoided through better supporting vulnerable patients at home and in the community, these world-leading programmes are making a real difference not just to the people they directly benefit but also in reducing pressure on wider services.” Read full story Source: The Independent. 11 March 2023
  2. News Article
    A miniature radar system that tracks a person as they walk around their home could be used to measure the effectiveness of treatments for Parkinson’s. The disease, which affects about 145,000 people in the UK, is linked to the death of nerve cells in the brain that help to control movement. With no quick diagnostic test available at present, doctors must usually review a patient’s medical history and look for symptoms that often develop only very slowly, such as muscle stiffness and tremors. The device, about the size of a wi-fi router, is designed to give a more precise picture of how the severity of symptoms changes, both over the long term and hourly. It sits in one room and emits radio signals that bounce off the body of a patient. Using artificial intelligence it is able to recognise and lock on to one individual. Over several months it will notice if their walking speed is becoming slower in a way that indicates that the disease is becoming worse. During a single day it can also recognise periods where a person’s strides quicken, which means that it could be used to monitor the effectiveness of new and existing drugs, even where the effects last a relatively short time. “This really gives us the possibility to objectively measure how your mobility responds to your medication. Previously, this was nearly impossible to do because this medication effect could only be measured by having the patient keep a journal,” said Yingcheng Liu, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who is part of the team behind the device. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 22 September 2022
  3. News Article
    Hundreds of thousands of older people in England are having to endure chronic pain, anxiety and unmet support needs owing to the worsening shortage of social care staff and care home beds. Age UK has said older people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure are increasingly struggling with living in their own homes because of a lack of help with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, dressing and eating. The decline in the amount of support and care provided to older people is piling pressure on families and carers and leaving the NHS in constant crisis mode, contributing heavily to ambulance queues outside A&E departments, the charity said in a new report It warned that there would be a repeat of the NHS crisis this winter – in which rising numbers of elderly people have been unnecessarily stuck in hospital because of an acute lack of social care – without a shift to preventing unnecessary admissions. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 17 February 2023
  4. Content Article
    Key findings Half (49%) of all the people arriving in A&E by ambulance are over 65. A third (36%) of all the people arriving in A&E by ambulance are over 75. Unplanned hospital admissions have been rising and have become more frequent, particularly for the oldest old. The proportion of older people feeling supported to manage their condition has been falling consistently, almost 20% in relative terms since 2016/17. 2.6 million people over 50 have unmet social care needs increasing to 15% of people in their 70s, and 21% of people in their 80s. In 2022, there were 165,000 vacant posts in social care- an increase of 50% and the highest rate on record. Call for action Integrated Care Systems (ICS) to develop comprehensive strategies for meeting the health and social care needs of older people at home, and in care homes, living in their areas. This must include major efforts to embed prevention in their work so older people can avoid the need for crisis care and maintain their independence. Social care reform and a major and sustained increase in funding. The NHS cannot deliver these improvements alone. The lack of adequate social care for basic daily needs simply stores up problems, leaving older people less able to care for themselves and arriving in hospital with serious health problems that could have been avoided. Multidisciplinary working to become the default method of delivering health and care services to older people. Older people are too often left to fall between the cracks of disjointed services and professionals who don’t communicate well with each other. For ICSs, this means making sure that social care services – and by extension the local authorities that are responsible for them - are central to their leadership and decision-making. A better paid health and social care workforce, with the skills and competencies to properly support older people would make a huge difference to the quality and availability of care. A step change in the recognition of and financial and practical support on offer to unpaid carers, who are holding up many parts of the health and care system.
  5. News Article
    A training programme is providing people with the skills to care for loved ones suffering from serious conditions at home in their final days. Sarah Bow's partner Gary White, from Somerset, was 55 when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2021. A team from NHS Somerset provided personalised training to Ms Bow which allowed the couple to spend the final 13 months of his life together at home. The Somerset NHS Foundation Trust social care training team made visits to the couple's home as Mr White's condition progressed, to provide advice and guidance to Ms Bow. The service was set up in November 2021 to provide free NHS standardised training and competency assessments in clinical skills to people involved in social care. Ms Bow said the scheme had helped them spend more time together doing the things Mr White enjoyed. "Being able to care for him meant we could have so many precious moments before he died," she said. The training in a variety of skills including like catheters and injections, aims to reduce hospital admissions and improve patient discharge times. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 February 2023
  6. News Article
    "It would be much better if I was out there than in here," said Roger. The 69-year-old looked wistfully across Newport from the window next to his bed at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Wales. He has been here for three weeks after being admitted with an infection and although he is now well enough to leave, and desperate to do so, he can't. Roger has cerebral palsy and the impact of his recent illness means he needs extra care to be arranged before he can safely go home. Roger is not alone. "At least a quarter of patients in our care of the elderly beds are in a similar position," explained Helen Price, a senior nurse at the hospital. "It is very much a waiting game for that care to be available," she said. Hospitals in Wales are fuller than ever, according to the latest statistics. In the final week of January more than 95% of all acute beds in the Welsh NHS were occupied, which is the highest figure ever recorded. Paul Underwood, who manages urgent care in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said there are well over 350 patients medically fit enough to leave hospital. "Roughly a third of patients do not need to be accommodated on those sites and that's extremely difficult," he said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 February 2023
  7. News Article
    More than half a million patients a year will be treated in “hospitals at home” in an attempt to relieve pressure on A&E departments. Under the plans, elderly and frail patients who fall will be treated by video link, with ministers saying that a fifth of emergency admissions could be avoided with the right care. Health officials said the “virtual wards” would be backed up by £14 billion in extra spending on health and care services over the next two years, as the NHS tackles record backlogs, with seven million people on waiting lists. Rishi Sunak said the Urgent & Emergency Care Recovery Plan showed that the NHS was one of his “top priorities”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 29 January 2023
  8. News Article
    Ambulance crews say they are treating a growing number of patients who are falling ill because they are unable to afford to heat their homes. The soaring cost of gas and electricity has forced many people to switch off their heating in the winter months. Scottish Ambulance Service crews say they are seeing people who are unwell because their homes are so cold or they cannot afford to eat properly. Charities have warned many people are dealing with a "toxic cocktail" of increasing energy bills, growing inflation and higher interest rates this winter. Glasgow ambulance workers Tanya Hoffman and Will Green say that most weeks they see patients who are facing the stark choice between eating and heating. They have been in homes which feel ice cold, where the patients are clearly struggling to cope. "It is sad to see people are living like that," said Tanya. "There's been quite a few patients I have been out to who can't afford to buy food. They have to choose one or other, heating or food. "So they'll sit quietly at home and it's usually a relative or a friend who will phone for them as they don't want to bother anybody. "They're sitting there [and] you can't get a temperature off them because they're so cold. "So you take them into hospital because they are not managing. You know if you leave that person at home they are probably going to die through the fact they are so cold." Read full story Source: BBC News, 24 January 2023
  9. News Article
    Senior NHS staff have been advised by the Welsh government to discharge people who are well enough to leave, even without a package of care. But one GP called the announcement "terrifying" and warned that patients could deteriorate and end up back in hospital. The seven health boards in Wales have nearly 1,800 patients medically well enough to leave hospital. The Welsh government has called the NHS situation "unprecedented". The message comes after one health leader said the NHS was on a "knife-edge" in terms of its ability to cope. The letter from the chief nursing officer and the deputy chief medical officer to the health boards offered "support and advice to ensure patients are kept as safe as possible, and services are kept as effective as possible over the next period". Read full story Source; BBC News, 4 January 2023
  10. News Article
    Care workers are taking as little as three minutes to help vulnerable people in their own homes, the social care ombudsman has found, after discovering a council was allocating extremely short visits to hundreds of people. Amid chronic staff shortages and rising unmet care needs nationwide, a homecare worker commissioned by Warrington borough council sometimes stayed for just three minutes, despite the family paying for the full visit. The council was found to have allocated 15-minute care calls to more than 300 people in the region, despite national guidance stressing these were “not usually appropriate”. The Homecare Association, which represents care providers, said the number of short calls being commissioned was increasing more widely and said “15-minute visits are inappropriately short”, result in inadequate care and are stressful for workers placed under “unfair pressure”. The case that triggered the investigation involved a woman with dementia who was paying the full costs of her care under a plan devised by the council. In 15 minutes two agency care workers were expected to wake her, prepare a meal and a drink, ensure she ate and drank, administer her medication, change her incontinence pad, administer any personal care and tidy the kitchen. Electronic monitoring showed they regularly stayed less than 15 minutes and the ombudsman said it was probable her care needs were not met and her care was not dignified. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 5 January 2023
  11. News Article
    People have been urged to wear face coverings and remain at home if feeling unwell, as an already crisis-stricken NHS faces down multiple waves of winter illnesses. With children returning to school at a time when high levels of flu, Covid-19 and scarlet fever are all being reported, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued fresh guidance in a bid to minimise the diseases’ spread. Parents have been urged to keep children at home if they are unwell and have a fever, with adults told to only go out if necessary and wear face coverings if they are ill and avoid visiting vulnerable people. While transport secretary Mark Harper said the advice was “very sensible”, Downing Street insisted that such guidance was “pretty longstanding”, stressing that it was “not mandatory” and remained a far cry from ministers “telling people what to do” at the height of the pandemic. The government has also reintroduced travel bans for those testing positive for Covid-19 in China from 5 January amid a mass outbreak there. It comes as pressure on the NHS continues to grow, but Rishi Sunak said he was “confident” the NHS has the funding it needs despite accusations from senior doctors his government is in denial about the scale of the crisis in the health service. Read full story Source: The Independent, 3 January 2023
  12. News Article
    Almost one in four people have bought medicine online or at a pharmacy to treat their illness after failing to see a GP face to face, according to a UK survey underlining the rise of do-it-yourself treatment. Nearly one in five (19%) have gone to A&E seeking urgent medical treatment for the same reason, the research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows. One in six (16%) people agreed when asked by the pollsters Savanta ComRes if the difficulty of getting an in-person family doctor appointment meant they had “carried out medical treatment on yourself or asked somebody else who is not a medical professional to do so”. Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said delays and difficulty in accessing GP appointments constituted a national scandal, and face-to-face GP appointments had become “almost extinct” in some areas of the country. He said: “We now have the devastating situation where people are left treating themselves or even self-prescribing medication because they can’t see their local GP.” Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in England, said: “While self-care and consulting other services such as pharmacies and NHS 111 will often be the right thing to do for many minor health conditions, it is worrying if patients feel forced into inappropriate courses of action because they are struggling to book an appointment for an issue that requires the attention of a GP or a member of practice staff.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 January 2023
  13. News Article
    Flu and Covid are on the rise in England, with experts stressing the importance of vaccination and warning that people who feel unwell should stay at home rather than mingling with others during the festive season. The figures come as cases of scarlet fever and strep A infections continue to rise. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) added that while invasive strep A infections remain rare there have now been a total of 94 deaths in England, including 21 children. Dr Colin Brown, the deputy director at UKHSA, sought to reassure parents. “I understand how this large rise in scarlet fever and ‘strep throat’ may be concerning to parents, however the condition can be easily treated with antibiotics and it is very rare that a child will go on to become more seriously ill,” he said, adding that parents should visit NHS.UK, contact 111 online or their GP surgery if their child has symptoms so they can be assessed for treatment. Dr Mary Ramsay, the director of public health programmes at UKHSA, noted a link between indoor mixing and the rise in cases and hospital admissions for flu and Covid. “Both Covid and flu can cause severe illness or even death for those most vulnerable in our communities, and so it is also important to avoid contact with other people if you are unwell in order to help stop infections spreading over the Christmas and new year period,” she said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 December 2022
  14. News Article
    Patients should “make their own way to hospital” if they can do so during Wednesday’s strike by ambulance workers, a cabinet minister said yesterday, as the government warned that the industrial action would put lives at risk. Senior government figures said that ambulance unions had still not agreed national criteria for what conditions would be considered life threatening and responded to during the strike. Steve Barclay, the health secretary, is understood to be writing to all striking unions, including nurses, seeking discussions on patient safety. Yesterday Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Office minister, said people should still call 999 in an emergency but might in less serious cases have to make their own way to hospital. “We are working to ensure that if you have a serious injury, in particular a life-threatening injury, you can continue to rely on the ambulance service, and we would urge people in those circumstances to dial 999,” he told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg on BBC1. “If it is the case that you have less serious injuries, you should be in touch with 111, and you should seek to make your way to hospital on your own if you are able to do so.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 19 December 2022
  15. News Article
    Doctors are prescribing heating to patients with conditions that get worse in the cold as part of a health trial. The Warm Home Prescription pilot paid to heat the homes of 28 low-income patients to avoid the cost of hospital care if they became more ill. Michelle Davis, who has arthritis and serious pulmonary illness, had her energy bills paid for and said the difference was "mind-blowing". "When the weather turns cold, I tend to seize up," she told the BBC. "It's very painful, my joints ache and my bones are like hot pokers." In 2020 Ms Davis spent most of the winter in bed, trying to keep warm and was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy. But not in winter 2021. "You're not stuck in bed, you're not going to hospital, my children were able to have a life, they were able to go out and play and get cold," she said. Academics estimate that cold homes cost NHS England £860m a year and that 10,000 people die every year due a cold home. But that research was completed before the current cost of living crisis took hold. This first trial achieved such good results, that it's being expanded to 150 households in NHS Gloucestershire's area, plus about 1,000 in Aberdeen and Teesside. Dr Matt Lipson helped design the pilot programme and feels like this preventative step is a no-brainer for the health service. "If we buy the energy people need but can't afford, they can keep warm at home and stay out of hospital," he said. "That would target support to where it's needed, save money overall and take pressure off the health service." The change in patients was swift: "The NHS were telling us they were seeing a benefit much more quickly than pills and potions," Dr Lipson added. "It was taking days, not weeks and months." Read full story Source: BBC News, 22 November 2022
  16. News Article
    Private companies are offering “misleading” home blood-testing kits that fuel health anxieties and pile pressure on the NHS, a report has suggested. There has been a boom in sales of the kits, which promise to reveal everything from cancer risk to how long patients can expect to live. But an investigation by the BMJ found these “unnecessary and potentially invasive tests” can be misleading and generate false alarms. The NHS is then left to “clear up the mess” as worried patients see GPs for reassurance or extra tests, piling more pressure on the overstretched service. One GP described patients coming in “clutching the results of private screening tests”, with doctors asked to review the results. The companies have been criticised for not providing sufficient follow-ups after the “poor quality and overhyped” tests, and for misleading results such as wrongly telling people their test levels are outside the “normal” range. Bernie Croal, president of the Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine, said: “Most of the online [tests] will send the results to the patient with at best a sort of asterisk next to the ones that are abnormal, with advice to either pay some more money to get some sort of health professional to speak about it or go and see your own GP.” Doctors are calling for the tests to be more tightly regulated by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 27 October 2022
  17. Event
    NHS England & Improvement has asked all Integrated Care Systems to extend, or introduce for the first time, the Virtual Ward model. The guidance starts a two-year funded transformation programme to support the development of Virtual Wards, including Hospital at Home. In this free webinar an expert panel will discuss how Virtual Wards can support elective recovery and improve patient flow during the critical Winter period. Our panel will also focus on the practicalities of setting up, rolling out and managing Virtual Wards across multiple treatments and care pathways. Headline discussion points: NHS winter pressures and tools to support delivery. Setting up, rolling out and managing Virtual Wards. Impact of Virtual Wards on the Healthcare system. Hospital at home & community based care models. What attendees will learn: What is a virtual ward and what needs to be in place to make virtual wards work. Innovation and initiatives that have been used previously to support delivery. How virtual wards can be rolled out across a system and new treatments/pathways introduced within a virtual ward. Register
  18. News Article
    Elderly people who call for help after a fall at home will no longer be left waiting for hours on the floor, the head of the NHS has said, as she bids to keep patients out of hospital and stop the service being overwhelmed this winter. Amanda Pritchard said she would start a new national service within weeks under which community teams would offer immediate help to people who had had an accident but had avoided serious injury. Pritchard, who took over as chief executive of NHS England last year, said a quarter of less severe 999 calls in January involved falls. The new teams could stop 55,000 elderly people a year being taken to hospital, she said. All NHS areas will be told this week to establish the service before a “very, very, very challenging winter” for the health service. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 16 October 2022