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Found 447 results
  1. Content Article
    The aim of this study from Aiken et al. was to determine the well-being of physicians and nurses in hospital practice in Europe, and to identify interventions that hold promise for reducing adverse clinician outcomes and improving patient safety. The study found that poor work/life balance (57% physicians, 40% nurses), intent to leave (29% physicians, 33% nurses) and high burnout (25% physicians, 26% nurses) were prevalent. Rates varied by hospitals within countries and between countries. Better work environments and staffing were associated with lower percentages of clinicians reporting unfavourable health indicators, quality of care and patient safety. The effect of a 1 IQR improvement in work environments was associated with 7.2% fewer physicians and 5.3% fewer nurses reporting high burnout, and 14.2% fewer physicians and 8.6% fewer nurses giving their hospital an unfavourable rating of quality of care. Improving nurse staffing levels (79% nurses) and reducing bureaucracy and red tape (44% physicians) were interventions clinicians reported would be most effective in improving their own well-being, whereas individual mental health interventions were less frequently prioritised.
  2. News Article
    It may take seven years to get NHS Wales waiting lists of 700,000 back to 2020 levels, Wales' auditor general has said. The number of patients waiting for non-urgent treatment has doubled since February 2020, just prior to the Covid pandemic. They include Patient Michael Assender, 74, who has spent two years on a waiting list with severe back pain. After struggling with his back, Mr Assender, from Cwmbran, Torfaen, paid £1,500 for a private scan, which revealed he had two slipped discs. "At the moment I'm coping pretty well, taking pills for the pain and trying to stay active," he said. "But something that took me half hour before now takes an hour." Mr Assender said he knew others waiting for surgery who had become depressed and considered taking their lives, adding: "A lot of people out there are in a constant pain and I do pity them." "It's a dire situation really." The Welsh government said it had a plan to deal with backlogs. But Wales' Auditor General Adrian Crompton said: "Just as the NHS rose to the challenge of the pandemic, it will need to rise to the challenge of tackling a waiting list which has grown to huge proportions." "Concerted action is going to be needed on many different fronts, and some long-standing challenges will need to be overcome." Read full story Source: BBC News, 31 May 2022
  3. News Article
    A lack of diabetes checks following the first Covid lockdown may have killed more than 3,000 people, a major NHS study suggests. Those with the condition are supposed to undergo regular checks to detect cardiac problems, infections and other changes that could prove deadly. But researchers said a move to remote forms of healthcare delivery and a reduction in routine care meant some of the most crucial physical examinations did not take place during the 12 months following the first lockdown. Experts said the findings showed patients had suffered “absolutely devastating” consequences and were being “pushed to the back of the queue”. The study, led by Prof Jonathan Valabhji, the national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, links the rise in deaths to a fall in care the previous year. It showed that, during 2020/21, just 26.5% of diabetes patients received their full set of checks, compared with 48.1% the year before. Those who got all their checks in 2019-20 but did not receive them the following year had mortality rates 66% higher than those who did not miss out, the study, published in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, found. The study shows that foot checks, which rely on physical appointments, saw the sharpest drop, falling by more than 37%. “The care process with the greatest reduction was the one that requires the most in-person contact – foot surveillance – possibly reflecting issues around social distancing, lockdown measures, and the move to remote forms of healthcare delivery,” the study found. Those in the poorest areas were most likely to miss out. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 30 May 2022
  4. News Article
    More than 400,000 children and young people a month are being treated for mental health problems – the highest number on record – prompting warnings of an unprecedented crisis in the wellbeing of under-18s. Experts say Covid-19 has seriously exacerbated problems such as anxiety, depression and self-harm among school-age children and that the “relentless and unsustainable” ongoing rise in their need for help could overwhelm already stretched NHS services. The latest NHS figures show “open referrals” – troubled children and young people in England undergoing treatment or waiting to start care – reached 420,314 in February, the highest number since records began in 2016. The total has risen by 147,853 since February 2020, a 54% increase, and by 80,096 over the last year alone, a jump of 24%. January’s tally of 411,132 cases was the first time the figure had topped 400,000. Mental health charities welcomed the fact that an all-time high number of young people are receiving psychological support. But they fear the figures are the tip of the iceberg of the true number of people who need care, and that many more under-18s in distress are being denied help by arbitrary eligibility criteria. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 22 May 2022
  5. News Article
    Respiratory syncytial virus is killing 100,000 children under the age of five every year worldwide, new figures reveal as experts say the global easing of coronavirus restrictions is causing a surge in cases. RSV is the most common cause of acute lower respiratory infection in young children. It spreads easily via coughing and sneezing. There is no vaccine or specific treatment. RSV-attributable acute lower respiratory infections led to more than 100,000 deaths of children under five in 2019, according to figures published in the Lancet. Of those, more than 45,000 were under six months old, the first-of-its-kind study found. More children are likely to be affected by RSV in the future, experts believe, because masks and lockdowns have robbed children of natural immunity against a range of common viruses, including RSV. “RSV is the predominant cause of acute lower respiratory infection in young children and our updated estimates reveal that children six months and younger are particularly vulnerable, especially with cases surging as Covid-19 restrictions are easing around the world,” said the study’s co-author, Harish Nair of the University of Edinburgh. “The majority of the young children born in the last two years have never been exposed to RSV (and therefore have no immunity against this virus).” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 May 2022
  6. News Article
    Families are being ‘left without the support they need’, as overstretched services struggle to handle ‘a significant and growing minority’ of children not developing as expected. Figures published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities earlier this month show 79.6% of children who received a two-to-two-and-a-half year review with an ages and stages questionnaire during quarter three of 2021-22 met the expected level in all five areas of development measured. The five areas assessed by the screening questionnaire are communication skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving, and personal-social. A lower-than-expected score in any of the five areas will likely mean some sort of intervention, which may include further monitoring from health visitors or referral to a specialist service. However, health visitor numbers are declining. ber 2015. Alison Morton, Institute of Health Visiting executive director, said: “The latest national child development data highlight a worrying picture with fewer children at or above the expected level of development at two-to-two-and-a-half years. While the majority of children are developing as expected, a significant and growing minority are not. “The pandemic and its impacts are not over. In many areas, despite health visitors’ best efforts, they are now struggling to meet growing levels of need and vulnerability and a backlog of children who need support. In our survey, health visitors reported soaring rates of domestic abuse, mental health problems, child behaviour and development problems, poverty, and child safeguarding. “In addition, onward referral services like speech and language therapy, and mental health services, also have long waiting lists and families are left without the support that they need.” Read full story Source: HSJ, 16 May 2022
  7. News Article
    The United States could see a deficit of 200,000 to 450,000 registered nurses available for direct patient care by 2025, a 10 to 20% gap that places great demand on the nurse graduate pipeline over the next three years. The new estimates and analysis come from a McKinsey report published this week. The shortfall range of 200,000 to 450,000 holds if there are no changes in current care delivery models. The consulting firm estimates that for every 1% of nurses who leave direct patient care, the shortage worsens by about 30,000 nurses. To make up for the 10 to 20%, the United States would need to more than double the number of new graduates entering and staying in the nursing workforce every year for the next three years straight. For this to occur, the number of nurse educators would also need to increase. "Even if there was a huge increase in high school or college students seeking nursing careers, they would likely run into a block: There are not enough spots in nursing schools, and there are not enough educators, clinical rotation spots or mentors for the next generation of nurses," the analysis states. "Progress may depend on creating attractive situations for nurse educators, a role traditionally plagued with shortages." Read full story Source: Becker's Hospital Review, 12 May 2022
  8. News Article
    At least 200,000 people missed out on essential surgery as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many enduring “misery and daily pain” as a result, a conference has heard. Both scheduled and emergency surgery levels dropped by 20% during the pandemic, suggesting there is now significant pent-up demand for treatment, according to the national clinical lead in surgery, Prof Deborah McNamara. Almost 343,000 people are waiting to see a surgeon for the first time, 100,000 of whom have been on a waiting list for more than 18 months, she told the conference on outcomes from the pandemic at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). This was only the start of delays for patients, she pointed out, as they have to wait again for their procedure to be carried out. Currently, more than 71,000 patients are waiting for surgery, a fifth of whom have been on the list for more than a year. Long-waiting patients needing complex surgery have been disproportionately affected, she said, as the system focused on treating “quick-win” procedures such as endoscopies. The amount of day-case work carried out by hospitals is back to 84 per cent of 2017 levels, yet complex care remains at only 67 per cent, she pointed out. Patients waiting for surgery were enduring a “huge amount of misery” that remains unquantified, according to Prof McNamara. The pandemic resulted in some positive changes, she said, including shorter hospital stays, a greater role for physician associates and a generational change in the use of IT. However, it also led to greater constriction in the capacity for scheduled surgery, and greater seasonal variations in demand. Read full story Source: The Irish Times, 26 April 2022
  9. News Article
    Major differences in the rate of foot amputations for people with diabetes in England are incredibly concerning, patient groups say. Such amputations are a sign patients have not received adequate care, as poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of foot ulcers and infections. One in 10 areas had "significantly higher rates", government data shows. There was nearly a five-fold difference between the best and worst when taking into account risk factors such as age. The government data - published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities - looked at the three years leading up to the pandemic. It is believed up to 80% of foot amputations could be avoided with better care. Diabetes UK said the figures "shined a light on the scale of the crisis facing diabetes care" and it warned access to support was likely to have become worse during the pandemic. A report produced by the charity earlier this month said lives would be needlessly lost because of disruption to services over the past two years. Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew said the latest figures were "incredibly concerning". "The majority of these major amputations are preventable, but many people living with diabetes are struggling to access the care they need - and in areas of higher deprivation, people are experiencing worse outcomes. These inequalities must be addressed." Read full story Source: BBC News, 27 April 2022
  10. News Article
    Relatives of intensive care Covid patients were left traumatised by being banned from visiting their seriously ill loved ones during the pandemic, a study has found. Researchers found two-thirds of family members of patients in intensive care were still suffering high levels of symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) three months after their relative was admitted. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares and physical sensations such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling. Before the Covid pandemic, symptoms of PTSD in family members of intensive care patients were between 15 and 30 per cent, depending on the condition. The team from the University of Colorado School of Medicine said visitation restrictions may have inadvertently generated a secondary public health crisis of stress-related disorders in family members of Covid patients. At the height of the pandemic, hospitals across Britain restricted access to patients, with many people forced to say goodbye to dying loved ones over Skype, or behind screens or windows. Even as late as last winter, a Telegraph investigation showed that a quarter of trusts were still imposing restrictions on visitors. The findings suggest that the rates of PTSD may be higher in relatives than in patients. A previous study by Imperial College and the University of Southampton found that only one-third of patients on ventilators suffer symptoms. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 25 April 2022
  11. News Article
    Yet another hidden cost of Covid-19 was revealed on Thursday as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented new data showing how the pandemic has dramatically impeded the US effort to vaccinate kids for other diseases. According to the CDC’s report, national vaccine coverage among American children in kindergarten dropped from 95% to below 94% in the past year – which may seem like a small amount but meant 350,000 fewer children were vaccinated against common diseases. “Overall, today’s findings support previous data showing a concerning decline in childhood immunizations that began in March 2020,” Shannon Stokley, the CDC’s immunization services deputy division director, said in a press conference on Thursday. Some of the reasons for the lower vaccination rates included reluctance to schedule appointments, reduced access to them, so-called “provisional” school enrollment, the easing of vaccination requirements for remote learners, fewer parents submitting documents and less time for school nurses to follow up with unvaccinated students. States and schools also told the CDC that there were fewer staff members to assess kindergarten vaccination coverage, and a lower response rate from schools, both due to Covid-19. “The CDC provides vaccines for nearly half of America’s children through the Vaccines for Children program,” Stokley said. “And over the last two years, orders for distribution of routine vaccines are down more than 10% compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are concerned that missed routine vaccinations could leave children vulnerable to preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough which are extremely dangerous and can be very serious, especially for babies and young children.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 21 April 2022
  12. News Article
    The prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and deaths from drug overdoses increased in the US over the past two years, showing the pandemic’s effect on public health. “Even in the face of a pandemic, 2.4 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis were reported,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. STDs declined during the early months of the pandemic in 2020 but then increased rapidly. Cases of gonorrhoea increased by 10% during 2020 compared with 2019. Cases of primary and secondary syphilis increased by 7% and congenital syphilis in newborns increased by 13%.2 New data suggest that primary and secondary syphilis—the most infectious stages of the disease—continued to increase during 2021, the CDC said. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s national centre for HIV, viral hepatitis, STD, and tuberculosis prevention, said, “The unrelenting momentum of the STD epidemic continued even as prevention services were disrupted.” His colleague, Leandro Mena, director of CDC’s division of STD prevention, said, “The pandemic increased awareness of a reality we’ve long known about STDs. Social and economic factors—such as poverty and health insurance status—create barriers, increase health risks, and often result in worse health outcomes for some people.” Another disturbing trend during the pandemic has been the increase of deaths from drug overdoses, especially among teenagers. Just over 100 000 Americans died of drug overdoses during the year to April 2021, according to the CDC’s national centre for health statistics—an increase of 28.5% from the previous year. Read full story Source: BMJ, 19 August 2022
  13. News Article
    Operations are being cancelled across England as Covid causes “major disruption” inside the NHS, the country’s top surgeon has said, as doctors and health leaders say the government’s backlog targets look increasingly unachievable. Six million people are on the waiting list for NHS hospital care, including more than 23,000 who have waited more than two years. Boris Johnson said in February that he had launched “the biggest catch-up programme in the history of the health service”, but in the same month he dropped every domestic Covid restriction. Now record-high Covid rates are wreaking havoc with the ability of the NHS to catch up with surgery that was delayed or cancelled before and during the pandemic. More than 28,000 staff are off work every day due to Covid, recent figures show, while more than 20,000 patients are in hospital with Covid, which has dramatically reduced the number of beds and space available for planned surgery patients. “Unfortunately, Covid-19 continues to cause major disruption in the NHS, with high staff absences in recent weeks,” Prof Neil Mortensen, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, told the Guardian. “We have heard that planned surgery is being cancelled again in different parts of the country due to staff being off sick with the virus. This is understandably frustrating for surgical teams who want to help their patients by getting planned surgery up and running again. It’s also very distressing for patients who need a planned operation.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 April 2022
  14. News Article
    Two years ago the first wave of the covid pandemic reached its peak. The NHS had reacted with impressive speed to prepare for an influx of patients with an infectious disease that few knew much about, had no cure for, and for which there was no known vaccine. However, now the NHS goes into the Easter break in a more fragile state than in any previous winter since, at least, the 1990s. This is not just the direct result of covid hospitalisation, of course – although the distracting narrative of ‘with rather than because of covid’ has obscured how hugely damaging any kind of infectious disease that is as widespread in the community as covid is now can be to effective hospital care. For someone who has just undergone an operation, for example, the greatest threat is not from catching covid itself, but from the impact the virus may have on how quickly their wound may heal. Perhaps covid’s greatest continuing impact is on growing staff absences and the pernicious impact it is having on the long-term health of those who had the disease – even in some cases where it has been relatively mild. For the tens of thousands who have been hospitalised with covid, the consequences for their long-term health look more serious every day. Much of this new workload is ending up at the doors of primary and community care – and displacing other needs and services just when they are most required after two years of coping with the pandemic. There is usually one thing you can confidently say about the NHS, which is that in any crisis it will make sure the life-saving decisions are made on time. However, in the South West, and probably other regions too, that is not happening. People are dying because the NHS cannot – despite its best efforts – save them. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 8 April 2022
  15. News Article
    Children and young people who are anxious, depressed or are self-harming are being denied help from swamped NHS child and adolescent mental health services, GPs have revealed. Even under-18s with an eating disorder or psychosis are being refused care by overstretched CAMHS services, which insist that they are not sick enough to warrant treatment. In one case, a crisis CAMHS team in Wales would not immediately assess the mental health of an actively suicidal child who had been stopped from jumping off a building earlier the same day unless the GP made a written referral. In another, a CAMHS service in eastern England declined to take on a 12-year-old boy found with a ligature in his room because the lack of any marks on his neck meant its referral criteria had not been met. The shocking state of CAMHS care is laid bare in a survey for the youth mental health charity stem4 of 1,001 GPs across the UK who have sought urgent help for under-18s who are struggling mentally. CAMHS teams, already unable to cope with the rising need for treatment before Covid struck, have become even more overloaded because of the pandemic’s impact on youth mental health. Mental health experts say young people’s widespread inability to access CAMHS care is leading to their already fragile mental health deteriorating even further and then self-harming, dropping out of school, feeling uncared for and having to seek help at A&E. “As a clinician it is particularly worrying that children and young people with psychosis, eating disorders and even those who have just tried to take their own life are condemned to such long waits”, said Dr Nihara Krause, a consultant clinical psychologist who specialises in treating children and young people and who is the founder of stem4. “It is truly shocking to learn from this survey of GPs’ experiences of dealing with CAMHS services that so many vulnerable young people in desperate need of urgent help with their mental health are being forced to wait for so long – up to two years – for care they need immediately. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 3 April 2022
  16. News Article
    Infection control rules in hospitals are ‘now disproportionate to the risks’ posed by covid and should be relaxed, some of the NHS’s most senior leaders have warned. The government rules – such as not allowing covid-positive staff to work, and separating out services for covid, non-covid and covid-contact patients – make a big dent in hospital capacity and slows down services. Glen Burley, who is chief executive of three Midlands trusts and involved in national-level discussions on elective matters, told HSJ: “Pretty much every pathway has a covid and non-covid route, which slows down flow and staff productivity. “There is a growing argument that these rules are now disproportionate to the risks. With covid cases in the community also rising now, we may have to question again the relative risks of continuing to isolate staff.” NHS Confederation director of policy Layla McCay told HSJ: “Healthcare leaders are concerned the current [IPC] measures are having a serious knock-on effect on capacity and that the measures in their current form are reducing efficiency and capacity within healthcare settings. “We need more clarity on if and how current measures can be safely adjusted so [the NHS] can further increase bed capacity and patient throughput, as well as the ability to transport patients more quickly and efficiently.” But NHS Providers, which has previously said relaxing the IPC guidance would not enable a “rapid” increase in the NHS’ capacity to tackle the elective care backlog and could pose significant “risks”, remains more cautious. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 21 March 2022
  17. News Article
    More than a third of working-age people in the UK now suffer from a long-term illness, with new figures showing a dramatic rise since the pandemic began. Post-Covid conditions, including Long Covid, breathing difficulties and mental-health problems, are among the causes, according to disability charities and health campaigners. An Observer analysis of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) labour market status of disabled people figures shows that nearly 14.2 million people in the UK aged 16 to 64 said they had a health condition lasting for at least 12 months in 2021 – a rise of 1.2 million during the two years of the pandemic. Levels of long-term ill-health had been rising more slowly before the emergence of Covid, at an annual average of about 275,000 cases a year between 2014 and 2018, but the rapid increase over the last two years highlights the health problems facing the UK, says the disability charity Scope. About 800,000 more people suffered from mental-health problems in 2020-21 than did so in 2018-19, Scope said, and the number of people with chest and breathing problems had grown by about 570,000 over the same period. James Taylor, Scope’s director of strategy, said: “These figures show the ongoing shock waves of the past two years continue to affect lives today. We’re concerned things will continue to get worse as time goes on." Long Covid is another factor. The latest ONS long Covid report estimates that 1.5 million have had Covid symptoms for more than four weeks, and 685,000 people had symptoms that had lasted more than a year. Further analysis by Long Covid Kids shows that people with pre-existing conditions are more likely to suffer long Covid than those without. Those whose activity is limited are, on average, more than three times as likely to suffer long Covid as those with no pre-existing conditions. Dr Susannah Thompson was infected in April 2020 while working as a GP in her local hospital’s urgent care centre in north-west England. She made a “slow, gradual recovery” over the next months and was involved in setting up the GP-led vaccination programme until she had a “massive relapse” in January 2021. “It feels like we’re ignoring Long Covid,” Thompson said. “People in the middle of their lives are getting robbed of their livelihoods, at risk of losing their homes. I can’t fathom why we don’t try to prevent it. But we’re not.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 5 March 2022
  18. News Article
    Face-to-face GP appointments have continued to fall, despite a rallying cry for doctors to restore normal services. The proportion of GP appointments held in person fell for the third month in a row to 60.3% in January, latest data show. Data published by NHS Digital on Thursday show about 25.6 million appointments were carried out in January. Of these, some 15.4 million were face-to-face. The last time it fell below this level was August 2021, when just 57.6% of appointments were face-to-face. Pre-pandemic, the proportion of GP appointments held in person was about 80%. Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s medical director of primary care, told doctors last month to “restore routine service” following the successful rollout of the booster jab campaign. Writing to GPs, she said: “It is now important that all services across the NHS, including in primary care, are able to restore routine services where these were paused in line with the Prime Minister’s request to focus all available resource on the omicron national mission.” But patient groups say the “situation hasn’t improved” and patients are still struggling to see their doctor in person. Dennis Reed, from patient group Silver Voices, said the figures were “worrying” but not surprising. “I'm still getting complaints on a daily basis that people are struggling to see their GP,” he said. Read full story Source: The Telegraph, 24 February 2022
  19. News Article
    Breast cancer screening uptake fell to its lowest point ever during the pandemic, as the numbers of women seen dropped by more than one third. Just 1.19 million women aged 45 and over were screened for breast cancer in 2020-21, while the numbers of women who actually took up their invitation for screening dropped to 61%. Analysis by Breast Cancer Now, of the new NHS figures published on Thursday, found that uptake during the first year of the pandemic was the lowest it had been since records began. The number of women who had cancer detected through screening decreased by almost 40 per cent, although rates when calculated per 1,000 women were up by 8.4%. The news comes after NHS figures revealed that half of patients in October waited more than two weeks following an urgent breast cancer referral. According to analysis from the Labour Party in January, breast cancer patients faced the longest waits when compared to all other cancer referrals. Breast Cancer Now chief executive Baroness Delyth Morgan said: “Screening uptake has hit its lowest point in history, with less than 62% of women invited being screened, despite NHS staff working tirelessly, in the toughest of circumstances, to restart and continue breast screening services after they needed to be paused in March 2020. “The human cost behind these figures is stark, with an estimated 8,870 women in the UK living with undetected breast cancer as a result of the pandemic – a significant number of which would have been detected at routine screening. Tragically, research suggests that up to an additional 680 women could die from breast cancer in the next decade due to impacts of the pandemic on screening.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 24 February 2022
  20. News Article
    A Covid report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has highlighted some ‘tragic individual cases’ over the past months. The report analyses cases over the first 18 months of the pandemic which for the majority reveal that councils and care providers weathered the unprecedented pressures they were under fire. However, the report also reveals the ‘serious impact on people’s lives’ when things go wrong. Cases include a woman who died from COVID-19 at a care home with poor infection control procedures which was then compounded by staff trying to cover up the facts. The Ombudsman’s report focuses on the lessons that can be learned from the complaints it has received about the pandemic and welcomes that, in many cases, councils and care providers are already using their experiences from the pandemic to consider how they can make improvements to services. Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “We have investigated some tragic individual cases over the past months. Each represents poor personal experiences where councils and care providers did not get things right. “Our investigations have shown that, while the system did not collapse under the extreme pressures placed on it, Covid-19 has magnified stresses and weaknesses present before the pandemic affecting some councils and providers. “We have always advocated how crucial good complaint handling is in any setting, so I am particularly saddened that, in some authorities, dealing with public concerns and complaints itself became a casualty of the crisis. At a time when listening to public problems was more important than ever, we saw some overstretched and under-resourced complaints teams struggle to cope. “If evidence was needed, this report proves that managing complaints should be considered a frontline service.” Read full story Source: Care Home Professional, 24 February 2022
  21. News Article
    Five months after being infected with the coronavirus, Nicole Murphy’s pulse rate is going berserk. Normally in the 70s, which is ideal, it has been jumping to 160, 170 and sometimes 210 beats per minute even when she is at rest — putting her at risk of a heart attack, heart failure or stroke. No one seems to be able to pinpoint why. She’s only 44, never had heart issues, and when a cardiologist near her hometown of Wellsville, Ohio, USA, ran all of the standard tests, “he literally threw up his hands when he saw the results,” she recalled. Her blood pressure was perfect, there were no signs of clogged arteries, and her heart was expanding and contracting well. Murphy’s boomeranging heart rate is one of a number of mysterious conditions afflicting Americans weeks or months after coronavirus infections that suggest the potential of a looming cardiac crisis. A pivotal study that looked at health records of more than 153,000 U.S. veterans published this month in Nature Medicine found that their risk of cardiovascular disease of all types increased substantially in the year following infection, even when they had mild cases. The population studied was mostly White and male, but the patterns held even when the researchers analyzed women and people of color separately. When experts factor in the heart damage probably suffered by people who put off medical care, more sedentary lifestyles and eating changes, not to mention the stress of the pandemic, they estimate there may be millions of new onset cardiac cases related to the virus, plus a worsening of disease for many already affected. “We are expecting a tidal wave of cardiovascular events in the coming years from direct and indirect causes of covid,” said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association. Read full story (paywalled) Source: Washington Post, 21 February 2022
  22. News Article
    Patient care may suffer as a result of cuts to the NHS budget to fund the continuing costs of Covid, NHS leaders and Labour have said, after Sajid Javid refused to say where the axe would fall. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is trying to make savings from its budget to fund free lateral flow tests for elderly people, Covid surveillance studies and genomic sequencing, after the Treasury refused its request for £5bn in extra funding. Although the government announced an end to most free mass testing and contract tracing on Monday, remaining Covid measures are expected to cost more than £1bn. The Treasury and the DHSC refused to say exactly how much cash would be needed or which services would have to be cut back, prompting fears that the NHS could have to find savings at a time of a huge waiting list backlog. It is understood that DHSC officials are working on identifying savings in the department’s £178.5bn budget for 2022-23, to fund the measures agreed on Monday, including maintaining a “baseline” testing capability that can be scaled up if necessary. They have ruled out hitting Javid’s plan for tackling waiting lists, but a government source would not rule out any other areas being affected, saying a “significant amount of money” would have to be found by “reprioritising”. Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, warned the government against abandoning its commitment to give the NHS “whatever it needs” to tackle Covid and called for transparency about “where the impact of these extra costs will fall”. “Trust leaders are understandably anxious over reports that the ongoing and significant costs of living with Covid will be met by ‘reprioritising’ the NHS’s existing budget,” she said. “There is a very real risk of trade-offs affecting the quality of patient care – something no one wants to see.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 February 2022
  23. News Article
    Millions of patients in England face dangerously long waits for mental health care unless ministers urgently draw up a recovery plan to tackle a “second pandemic” of depression, anxiety, psychosis and eating disorders, NHS leaders and doctors have warned. The Covid crisis has sparked a dramatic rise in the numbers of people experiencing mental health problems, with 1.6 million waiting for specialised treatment and another 8 million who cannot get on the waiting list but would benefit from support, the heads of the NHS Confederation and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have told the Guardian. In some parts of the country, specialist mental health services are so overwhelmed they are “bouncing back” even the most serious cases of patients at risk of suicide, self-harm and starvation to the GPs that referred them, prompting warnings from doctors that some patients will likely die as a result. “We are moving towards a new phase of needing to ‘live with’ coronavirus but for a worrying number of people, the virus is leaving a growing legacy of poor mental health that services are not equipped to deal with adequately at present,” said Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the whole of the healthcare system in England. “With projections showing that 10 million people in England, including 1.5 million children and teenagers, will need new or additional support for their mental health over the next three to five years it is no wonder that health leaders have dubbed this the second pandemic. A national crisis of this scale deserves targeted and sustained attention from the government in the same way we have seen with the elective care backlog.” One family doctor in Hertfordshire, Dr David Turner, said he was so concerned about the situation that he had chosen to speak out publicly for the first time in his 25-year career. “I and many other GPs feel the issue has become critical and it is only a matter of time before a child dies,” he told the Guardian. Turner said access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) was “never great pre-Covid” but was now “appalling”. The double whammy of a spike in demand and underinvestment in CAMHS was putting patients at risk, he added. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 21 February 2022
  24. News Article
    Thomas Hebbron is one of the forgotten victims of the pandemic. He was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2019 - a year before Covid hit the UK. The eight-year-old, from Leeds, has been treated with chemotherapy which has continued throughout the pandemic, but his health has suffered in other ways - and his mother believes the unrelenting focus on the virus is to blame. Pre-pandemic he was seen in person by doctors every two weeks. But that changed to monthly video calls, and liver and urinary problems went undetected. His treatment also affected his fine motor skills and has weakened his legs, but he has not seen an occupational therapist since before the pandemic. "I want to take this pain away from him," says his mother, Gemma. "I don't want to sit and watch him in this pain, but I can't do anything. I just feel completely helpless." Thomas's story is not unique. An analysis by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation has for the first time laid bare how access to core health services in England has been squeezed, threatening to leave behind a generation of young people. The review has looked at both physical and mental health services and come to the same conclusion - support has been badly disrupted and the plight of children overlooked. The Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation have been joined by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in calling for a dedicated plan for children to help them recover from the pandemic. Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH president, said the figures "do not take into account the many other 'hidden' waiting lists of children waiting for community therapies and diagnostic assessments, especially for autism". She added that children are "struggling" and, despite services being stretched, no-one should be deterred from speaking to a health professional. Read full story Source: BBC News, 18 February 2022
  25. News Article
    There has been an unusual rise in the number of children and teenagers around the world diagnosed with type 1 diabetes since Covid, say researchers. A new study in JAMA Network Open journal has collated available data from different countries, including the UK, on more than 38,000 young people diagnosed during the pandemic. The authors describe the increase in cases of diabetes as "substantial". More work is needed to understand why the rise is happening, they say. Some of the rise could be attributed to catch-up - from backlogs and delays when health services were shut - but does not explain all of the newly diagnosed cases, say scientists. Before the pandemic, the incidence rate of childhood type 1 diabetes was already increasing - by about 3% a year.
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