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Found 437 results
  1. Content Article
    The TUC and Long Covid Support Employment Group are calling for the government to urgently introduce a range of measures including: Ensure everyone with Long Covid is recognised as disabled under the Equality Act. Many people with Long Covid will already get the protections under the Act but extending Equality Act 2010 protections would ensure everyone is protected by law and entitled to reasonable adjustments that remove, reduce or prevent any disadvantages workers with Long Covid face. This would be decisive action from government to protect those facing the long-term health consequences of the pandemic. Recognising Covid-19 as an occupational disease. This would entitle employees and their dependents to protection and compensation if they contracted the virus while working. Greater flexibility in all jobs. There should be a duty on employers to list the possible flexible working options for each job when it is advertised. And all workers should have a day one right to work flexibly – not just the right to ask – unless the employer can properly justify why this is not possible. Workers should have the right to appeal any rejections. And there shouldn’t be a limit on how many times a worker can ask for flexible working arrangements in a single year. Guidance for employers. The Equality and Human Rights Commission should urgently produce detailed guidance for employers on Long Covid and the types of reasonable adjustments people may need.
  2. Event
    The pandemic struck just over a year after the Long Term plan was published, a year which was designed to lay the groundwork for many of the plan’s commitments. Some of this had progressed, for example new Primary Care Networks were created, but work on delivering many of the plan’s goals had only just begun when COVID-19 arrived. It’s clear that no part of the NHS Long Term Plan has been unaffected by the pandemic. The conference will build on collaboration during the pandemic across government departments, health and care organisations, local government, and voluntary, community and private sector organisations to prevent and mitigate some of the most pressing impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s mental health and wellbeing and support people who are struggling. Register
  3. Content Article
    In February 2022, NHS England published a plan to recover elective and cancer care over three years from April 2022 to March 2022. Analysing the implementation of this plan to date, the Public Accounts Committee’s has come to the following conclusions and recommendations: Cancer waiting times are at their worst recorded level and NHS England (NHSE) will not meet its first cancer recovery target. Recommendation: NHS England should be able to treat 85% of people with cancer within 62 days of an urgent GP referral and no one should ever have to wait more than 104 days for cancer treatment. It is unacceptable that 8,100 people waited over 104 days in the first five months of 2022–23. As a matter of urgency, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England should do whatever is required to bring cancer treatment back to an acceptable standard. NHS England was over-optimistic about the circumstances in which the NHS would be trying to recover elective and cancer care. Recommendation: NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care should revisit their planning assumptions for the recovery and publicly report any updates to targets so that patients and NHS staff can see a clear and realistic trajectory to achieve the 62-day cancer backlog target, the 52-week wait target for elective care, and, ultimately, the 18-week legal standard for elective care. NHS funding has increased, but to deliver key priorities such as elective and cancer recovery it will need to be spent in the most cost-effective way. Recommendation: NHSE should transparently describe how the additional funds for elective recovery have been allocated. Alongside the Treasury Minute response, it should also write to us providing details of the programmes on which it expects the £14 billion to be spent, the independent evaluations it has put in place to monitor the effectiveness of additional spending, and how it expects additional spending to improve NHS productivity. NHS England’s elective recovery programme partly relies on initiatives which have potential but for which there is so far limited evidence of effectiveness. Recommendation: NHS England should know more about the conditions necessary for individual programmes to make the greatest contribution possible to recovery. Alongside its Treasury Minute response to this report, it should write to us more fully describing the real-world impact of community diagnostic centres, surgical hubs, increased use of the independent sector, and the advice and guidance programme. It should set out its understanding of the extent to which these initiatives have so far generated genuinely additional activity, rather than simply displacing activity elsewhere in the NHS. NHSE started 2022–23 with a strategy but spent most of the year dealing with tactical issues and its strategic and programme management of the recovery must improve. Recommendation: NHS England must lift its sights and refocus on its strategic duty to offer direction to the whole NHS. This should involve making difficult trade-offs to address historical inequalities between areas, and by having a clear set of actions to improve leadership. To demonstrate progress, NHS England should write to us by the Summer recess setting out the action is has taken to address variation in elective and cancer performance and provide evidence of the impact this has had on patient waiting lists. The NHS’s recovery cannot succeed without comprehensive, realistic and sustainable plans for the future of the workforce and the capacity of adult social care. Recommendations: The Department of Health and Social Care should work with NHS England to reassess the achievability of elective and cancer recovery targets following the publication of its workforce plan in 2023, and planned improvements to the discharge of patients into adult social care. It should write to us as soon as possible describing the conclusions of this achievability assessment. The Department should publish the underlying assumptions of its workforce projections alongside the forecasts in the workforce plan. This should include quantification of key assumptions, particularly on productivity, domestic training and overseas recruitment and, in full, the independent reviewer’s assessment.
  4. News Article
    During the pandemic, nearly half a million people in the UK missed out on starting medication to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, a new study suggests. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) team looked at prescribing data for the first 18 months after Covid hit. Some 491,000 people (27,000 a month) appear to have missed out on blood pressure pills, and 316,000 did not get treatment to lower their cholesterol. The team says more needs to be done to make sure that anyone who needs treatment gets it. During the pandemic, normal NHS services were severely disrupted. For example, there was a reduction in diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of high blood pressure, and other heart and circulation disease risk factors. Although the NHS took action, including providing more than 220,000 blood pressure monitors for people to use at home, data shows two million fewer people in England were recorded as having controlled hypertension in 2021 compared to the previous year. Lead investigator Prof Reecha Sofat, who is based at the University of Liverpool, said the findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, highlight the impact Covid has had on other important health conditions: "Despite the incredible work done by NHS staff, our data show that we're still not identifying people with cardiovascular risk factors at the same rate as we were before the pandemic. " Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 January 2023
  5. News Article
    The Conservatives have been accused of “failing women” as analysis reveals gynaecology waiting times have trebled in the past decade, with more than 540,000 waiting for NHS care. NHS England data shows that in October 2012, the average waiting time to see a gynaecologist was 4.8 weeks. By October 2022, the most recent month for which figures are available, that figure had increased by 225% to 15.6 weeks. Many of the conditions experienced by women waiting to see a gynaecologist are progressive. Left untreated, they can need more complex or invasive surgery. Thousands are living in extreme pain as a result of the long waits, doctors, health experts and charities told the Guardian. The figures reveal that 38,231 women have been waiting more than a year. Ten years ago there were 15 women in England waiting longer than 12 months – and no one waiting two years. Today, 69 women have been waiting more than 24 months. Dr Ranee Thakar, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “This new analysis adds to our own research that gynaecology waiting lists were outstripping other specialities long before the pandemic, and they continue to grow rapidly. “Shockingly, the fact we can now track this pattern back 10 years, shows how long overdue action is to address the unequal growth in waiting lists.” Thakar added: “Women’s health has been consistently deprioritised. Gynaecology waiting times are currently the longest we’ve seen since waiting list targets were introduced, leaving thousands of women with symptoms including extreme pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and incontinence.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 December 2022
  6. News Article
    Nearly 8,900 more people have died of cancer than expected in Britain since the start of the pandemic, amid calls for the Government to appoint a minister to deal with the growing crisis. In an essay in The Lancet Oncology, campaigners and medics said the upward trend of cancer deaths is likely to continue, with 3,327 in the last six months alone. They urged the Government to tackle the crisis with the same focus and urgency given to the Covid vaccine rollout, and called for a cancer minister to get on top of the backlog. NHS data from November showed that in the last 12 months, 69,000 patients in the UK have waited longer than the recommended 62-day wait from suspected cancer referral to start of treatment. Professor Gordon Wishart, a former cancer surgeon and chief medical officer of Check4Cancer, said: “The Covid-induced cancer backlog is one of the deadliest backlogs and has served to widen the cracks in our cancer services". “Now we face a deadly cancer timebomb of treatment delays that get worse every month because we don’t have a sufficiently ambitious plan from policymakers. I urge the Government to work with us.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 15 December 2022
  7. News Article
    A report commissioned by Jeremy Hunt before he became Chancellor has highlighted how the pandemic ’stopped progress on patient safety in its tracks’ and called for more accurate data to be published on a range of measures. The National State of Patient Safety was funded by Mr Hunt’s Patient Safety Watch charity and produced by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation. It highlights a rise in rates of MRSA and C. difficile since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, as well as an increase in deaths due to venous thromboembolism and hip fractures. The report said the pandemic had also exacerbated issues associated with staff wellbeing, claiming there had been “notable rises” in staff burnout and ill-health. The researchers described problems with the breadth and accuracy of available patient safety data and highlighted that only 44% of trusts currently fulfilled the obligation to report their own estimated number of avoidable deaths. Although the report added that “data on rates of avoidable deaths are not a panacea”, it described them as a “snapshot of safety and harm and are most usefully used to initiate further work to understand the causes of unwarranted variation”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 27 November 2022
  8. News Article
    At a time when it feels like the world’s perpetually on fire, we all need a therapist – but trying to find one in the USA is difficult. A study from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 6 in 10 psychologists “no longer have openings for new patients” in America. The shortage comes as demand for therapy soars: since the beginning of the pandemic, about three-quarters of practitioners have seen their waiting lists expand. In the same period, almost 80% of practitioners report an increase in patients with anxiety disorders and 66% have seen an increase in those needing treatment for depression. “I started my private practice just before Covid hit, and it was certainly filling up then,” says Dr Jennifer Reid, a psychiatrist, writer and podcast host in Philadelphia. “But the numbers have exponentially risen since that time.” Reid focuses on anxiety and insomnia, which have been “major players” in the pandemic. Early on, people with anxiety, phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder related to germs had particular trouble, she says. Then there was the isolation and the doomscrolling. And now, she says, people are struggling to re-enter the world. “People are finding they’re having anxiety trying to re-engage in social settings in situations that were previously not as safe” at Covid’s peak, she says. Often, she says, people may need to return to their primary care doctor for a period of time, “or they just end up going without and waiting on waitlists, unfortunately”. The APA study found that the average psychologist reported being contacted by 15 potential patients every month; Reid, who combines therapy and medical approaches, says she generally has space for about one new patient every few weeks. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 21 November 2022
  9. News Article
    Care homes and hospitals will be forced to allow visitors under plans being drawn up by the government. Helen Whately, the care minister, said shutting out relatives showed a lack of humanity. Covid-19 rules mean some of the country’s most vulnerable people still cannot have loved ones at their bedside. Whately, who has told of her personal grief and frustration at being barred from visiting her critically ill mother, is now developing laws to give residents and patients a right to receive visitors. Although official visiting restrictions were dropped in the spring in England, there are still widespread reports of care homes and hospitals refusing to let in relatives or imposing stringent conditions that ministers do not believe are justified by public health guidance. Hundreds of care homes still refuse to accept visitors entirely, according to government figures, while others restrict residents to one relative at a time. Campaigners report residents losing weight because their relatives cannot go in to help them at mealtimes amid staff shortages. They also fear residents are being left in bed for long periods because staff know there will be no visitors to check on them. Whately said that she was “determined to fix” the issue, adding: “No one can be in any doubt now how much visits matter”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 11 November 2022 Related reading on the hub: Visiting restrictions and the impact on patients and their families: a relative's perspective It’s time to rename the ‘visitor’: reflections from a relative
  10. News Article
    Extreme disruption to NHS services has been driving a sharp spike in heart disease deaths since the start of the pandemic, a charity has warned. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said ambulance delays, inaccessible care and waits for surgery are linked to 30,000 excess cardiac deaths in England. It has called for a new strategy to reduce "unacceptable" waiting times. Doctors and groups representing patients have become increasingly concerned about the high number of deaths of any cause recorded this year. New analysis of the mortality data by the BHF suggests heart disease is among the most common causes, responsible for 230 deaths a week above expected rates since February 2020. The charity said "significant and widespread" disruption to heart care services was driving the increase. Its analysis of NHS data showed that 346,129 people were waiting for time-sensitive cardiac care at the end of August 2022, up 49% since February 2020. It said 7,467 patients had been waiting more than a year for a heart procedure - 267 times higher than before the pandemic. At the same time, the average ambulance response time for a suspected heart attack has risen to 48 minutes in England against a target of 18 minutes, according to the latest NHS figures. The BHF said difficulty accessing face-to-face GP and hospital care may have also contributed to the rise. Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 November 2022
  11. News Article
    The Covid public inquiry has asked to see Boris Johnson's WhatsApp messages during his time as prime minister as part of its probe into decision-making. Counsel for the inquiry, Hugo Keith KC, said the messages had been requested alongside thousands of other documents. He said a major focus of this part of the inquiry was understanding how the "momentous" decisions to impose lockdowns and restrictions were taken. The revelations came as he set out the details of how this module will work. The inquiry is being broken down into different sections - or modules as they are being called. The preliminary hearing for module one, looking at how well prepared the UK was, took place last month. Monday marked the start of the preliminary hearing for module two, which is looking at the political decision-making. Mr Keith said this allowed the inquiry to take a "targeted approach". He said it would look at whether lives could have been saved by introducing an earlier lockdown at the start of 2020. Read full story Source: BBC News, 31 October 2022
  12. News Article
    Charities are warning that young cancer patients facing soaring living costs are in a "desperate" situation. Both Macmillan Cancer Support and Young Lives vs Cancer say they've seen dramatic increases in the number of people asking for emergency grants. Research suggests tens of thousands of 18 to 39-year-olds with cancer are struggling to pay basic living costs. Shell Rowe was among those who told BBC Newsbeat they're worried about becoming financially independent. She was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 20 in 2019, just as she was about to study film in California for her third year of university. "Prices have skyrocketed. I haven't been able to work and haven't been able to save and get a job," she says. "How am I ever going to be able to be financially independent? It really scares me." More than half of the 18 to 39-year-olds with cancer surveyed by Macmillan and Virgin Money said they needed more financial support to manage the rising cost of living. One in four young people are getting further into debt or have fallen behind paying rent and energy bills because of increased living costs, according to the survey of 2,000 people across all age groups. More than a tenth (11%) of those surveyed say they've had to delay or cancel medical appointments due to the rising cost of petrol. Many people have to travel long distances for treatment, often in their own cars or a taxi because the risk of infection rules out taking public transport. "It's never been as bad as this. Young people with cancer are in really desperate circumstances, because of the cost-of-living crisis," says Rachel Kirby, chief executive of Young Lives vs Cancer. "No young cancer patient should have to think about the choice of putting fuel in the car to get to treatment, or whether they can heat their homes. But those are the kinds of situations they're facing," Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 October 2022
  13. Content Article
    Key findings Many parents in our sample reported that young children seem to be adapting well. Families are still feeling the benefits of time together The pandemic is still affecting parents' mental health Families are not able to access all the support they need from health visiting services and GPs Digital support has an important role to play but there are limitations of online and phone-based service delivery Parents are struggling to access baby and toddler groups Call to action The UK Government must support local authorities to invest in and rebuild health visiting services. Babies and the services that support them must be included in Covid-19 recovery policy and investment at a national and local level. This must include investment in community and voluntary sector support. An evidence-based approach must be taken to ensure the appropriate use of digital and phone-based service delivery, and investment in relational, face-to-face support where this is needed.
  14. News Article
    Every hospital in the UK is under significant pressure and a new Covid surge is “a very heavy straw on the camel’s back”, health leaders have warned. At least eight hospitals declared a critical incident, cancelled operations or asked people not to come to A&E unless they were seriously ill last week. One of Britain’s most senior emergency doctor said there were links between incidents like these and the rapid rise in hospitalisations for Covid, up nearly 37% in a week to 7,024. While the Office for National Statistics said it was too early to say if an autumn Covid wave had begun, health leaders said ministers need to urgently address staffing shortages. Dr Adrian Boyle, the incoming president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine told the Observer: “Our system is under-resourced. We don’t have enough beds, and we don’t have the workforce for the demand that we’re being asked to deal with. “Covid just makes everything that much harder and it’s entirely valid to link this with critical incidents being called around the country. All hospitals are feeling significant levels of pressure at the moment. Covid is a very heavy straw on the camel’s back.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 1 October 2022
  15. News Article
    NHS officials ruled a man who died after his ear infection was not picked up in GP telephone consultations should have been seen face to face, a BBC Newsnight investigation has found. David Nash, 26, had four remote consultations over three weeks during Covid restrictions but was never offered an in-person appointment. His infection led to a fatal abscess on his brainstem. David first spoke to the practice on 14 October 2020, after finding lumps on his neck. He sent a photograph but was never examined. With David worried the lumps might be cancerous, the GP asked a series of questions about his health and reassured him that while she could not rule it out completely, she was not worried about cancer. She suggested he booked a blood test for two to three weeks' time. In those three weeks, David would go on to speak to another GP and two advanced nurse practitioners but never face to face or via video call. He was actually due to be seen in person at the GP surgery that day, for the blood tests booked some 19 days earlier, when he had presented with neck lumps. But - fearing he could have coronavirus, despite a negative PCR test - the nurse cancelled the bloods and asked David to retest for Covid. In its investigation, NHS England found "the overarching benefit [of this decision] was less than the risk with going ahead with blood tests". After five calls to NHS 111, David was taken to hospital in an ambulance that day but died two days later. NHS England, in a finding seen by Newsnight, said: "A face-to-face assessment should have been offered or organised to confirm the diagnosis and initiate definitive management." Read full story Source: BBC News, 29 September 2022
  16. News Article
    Over the past couple of months, deaths in England and Wales have been higher than would be expected for a typical summer. In July and August, there were several weeks with deaths 10% to 13% above the five-year average, meaning that in England about 900 extra people a week were dying compared with the past few years. The leading causes of death are within the typical range (the five-year average): heart and lung diseases, cancers, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Covid-19 deaths could account for half of the excess mortality, but the other half is puzzling, as there’s no one clear reason that jumps out. It’s likely to be a mix of factors: Covid is making us sicker and more vulnerable to other diseases (research suggests it may contribute to delayed heart attacks, strokes, and dementia); an ageing population; an extremely hot summer; and an overloaded health service meaning that people are dying from lack of timely medical care. The excess mortality puzzle has been weaponised by some to argue that this is a delayed consequence of lockdown. In essence, this is to say that mandatory restrictions on mixing and stay-at-home legal orders, as well as turning the NHS into a Covid health service during the first and second waves of infection, prevented people from being diagnosed or treated for other conditions such as cancer, heart disease, or even depression – and that those long-hidden conditions are now killing people. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 13 September 2022
  17. News Article
    Excess deaths in the UK have continued to soar, as Covid deaths decreased for fourth week in a row, the latest data shows. A total of 10,942 deaths from all causes were registered in England and Wales in the week to 26 August, according to the Office for National Statistics. This is 16.6%above the five-year average, the equivalent of 1,556 “excess deaths” during this week. However, new figures show a continued downward trend in deaths involving Covid-19, which have fallen to the lowest level since the beginning of July. A total of 453 deaths registered in the seven days to August 26 mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – down 18 per cent on the previous week. Stuart Macdonald, from the Covid-19 actuaries’ response group, wrote: “There have been around 5,300 deaths with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate in the last ten weeks. Covid was the underlying cause for 3,400 of these and may also have contributed to others. Since Covid does not explain all the recent excess we need to look at other causes.” Mr Macdonald outlined a number of potential drivers of excess deaths which included increased risk of heart failure in people following Covid-19 infection, delays for urgent treatment within the NHS and missed or delayed diagnoses earlier in the pandemic. Read full story Source: The Independent, 6 September 2022
  18. Content Article
    Key points Inequalities in Covid-19 mortality persist with mortality rates three to four times higher in the most deprived areas. However, the overall number of Covid-19 deaths is now significantly lower than it was during the first year of the pandemic. The vaccination programme has been key to reducing Covid-19 mortality rates, but for some groups uptake is still low, especially for people living in poorer areas and people from some minority ethnic groups. The significant deterioration in mental health during the first year of the pandemic has been reversing but has not entirely returned to pre-pandemic levels. Data suggest that anxiety remains heightened, especially among women. People are likely to be less resilient to cope with the stress associated with financial strain in the growing cost-of-living crisis. A large rise in unemployment was avoided, largely due to government support through the furlough scheme. However, long-term health conditions are keeping a significant number of people out of work, representing an ongoing challenge for government and the economy, as well as for individuals. There has been a failure to act on education gaps due to lost learning time in the pandemic. These are between children from richer and poorer backgrounds and compared with previous cohorts. A cohort of ‘left-behind’ children face significant risks to their long-term health and living standards, as well as causing a long-term economic cost to the country.
  19. News Article
    Two years after having Covid-19, diagnoses of brain fog, dementia and epilepsy are more common than after other respiratory infections, a study by the University of Oxford suggests. But anxiety and depression are no more likely in adults or children two years on, the research found. More research is needed to understand how and why Covid could lead to other conditions. This study looked at the risks of 14 different disorders in 1.25 million patients two years on from Covid, mostly in the US. It then compared them with a closely-matched group of 1.25 million people who had a different respiratory infection. In the group who had Covid, after two years, there were more new cases of: dementia, stroke and brain fog in adults aged over 65 brain fog in adults aged 18-64 epilepsy and psychotic disorders in children, although the overall risks were small. Some disorders became less common two years after Covid, including: anxiety and depression in children and adults psychotic disorders in adults. The increased risk of depression and anxiety in adults lasts less than two months before returning to normal levels, the research found. Read full story Source BBC News, 18 August 2022