- Created on 19 December 2014
It is gratifying to report that the most highly rated of the King's Fund 2014 reports was the report entitled, 'Making our health and care systems fit for an ageing population', written by David Oliver, Catherine Foot, Richard Humphries, published in March of this year.
About the report: Our fragmented health and care system is not meeting the needs of older people, who are most likely to suffer problems with co-ordination of care and delays in transitions between services. This report sets out a framework and tools to help local service leaders improve the care they provide for older people across nine key components.
- Created on 17 December 2014
Some skills may ‘go’ quicker than others
Researchers at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit have discovered that specific mental abilities – such as problem-solving or multi-tasking – decline with age at different rates because individuals’ brains age differently.
This challenges the previously held idea that, as we get older, these types of mental abilities all decline at the same rate. Given the number of people who are now living well into old age, this has important implications for our understanding of declining mental ability.
- Created on 15 December 2014
The Times: Older people are becoming healthier, according to research that suggests an ageing population is putting less pressure on hospital emergency departments than commonly thought. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that people born in each year from 1912 were increasingly less likely to need emergency treatment, and spent shorter periods in hospital once they were admitted. Experts said the changes were because of reductions in smoking and healthier diets, as well as vaccination programmes earlier in life and preventive drugs such as statins. They warned, however, that high levels of obesity among the young and of drinking in middle age meant that the trend may not continue. Barry McCormick, director of the university’s centre for health service economics and organisation, said that the finding meant that an ageing population should not be seen as an extreme burden on NHS hospitals. “The perception that elderly people are placing an increasing burden on the hospital system needs to be moderated by a realisation that at each age people are a little bit healthier than they were in previous years and less demanding of hospital admission,” he said. “A 70-year-old today is using less hospital admission than a 70-year-old five or ten years ago.” The number of emergency admissions of patients aged over 65 rose from 1.51 million in 1999-2000 to 2.13 million in 2011-12, despite each year’s new cohort of older people being less likely to be admitted to hospital than the previous year’s.
That rise was because there were simply more older people, as well as factors such as advances in technology that meant people were admitted more often for diagnostic tests, changes in capacity because of increased funding in the 2000s, or an increasingly “risk-averse” society that was more likely to seek treatment, the research found.
- Created on 15 December 2014
Telegraph: The Care Quality Commission found 522 care services failed to meet the most basic legal standards for staffing when inspected in the past 12 months. More than 500 care homes and services for the elderly put frail residents at risk in the past year because their staff were not up to the job. New figures show that of the 5,332 care homes and home-help services assessed in the last 12 months, 522 failed to meet the most basic legal standards for staffing. The findings suggest tens of thousands of elderly and disabled adults across England are being looked after by workers who are not properly trained, have no relevant experience, or in some cases may even have criminal records. Read more here
The Telegraph is launching a campaign to demand higher standards in elderly care. It says: Everybody has a right to be treated with dignity in old age. That means providing high-quality levels of care to those who need it. Sadly, there is evidence that some of Britain’s care homes and home-help agencies are falling short. Read more here
- Created on 11 December 2014
Professor David Oliver is right to highlight the scandalous expenditure by the NHS on management consultants. As a non-executive director and audit chairman of an acute NHS Trust I was shocked by the inability of NHS management to “manage” without the support of highly remunerated and unaccountable management consultants. It is an embedded culture and all of those to whom NHS Trusts report, including the senior officials at the Department of Health, must take responsibility. Read more in the Telegraph
- Created on 11 December 2014
Telegraph: The world's first clinical trial of a Viagra-style drug to prevent dementia is to begin in the UK. Group of British pensioners to be given Viagra in world first scientific experiment to see if it combats dementia. The world's first clinical trials in London will explore whether the Viagra-style drug could help prevent a common form of dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain. Scientists will be using the drug Tadalafil, which works by dilating blood vessels, in helping to prevent the onset of vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia which accounts for 110,000 cases in the UK. The Alzheimer’s Society is jointly funding the £328,000 initiative with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) in New York.
See also: The Times: Sleeping badly can increase risk of dementia
- Created on 10 December 2014
A third of NHS contracts in England have been awarded to private sector providers since the service was reorganised in 2013, figures suggest. The information comes from a Freedom of Information request made by the British Medical Journal. Of 3,494 contracts awarded by 182 Clinical Commissioning Groups in England between April 2013 and August 2014, 33% went to the private sector.
The government says the data is misleading. It's unclear how much the contracts were worth because the CCGS would not disclose this information citing commercial sensitivities.A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Official NHS accounts show that use of the private sector amounts to only six pence in every pound the NHS spends, slowing the rate of increase to just one penny since May 2010.
"Charities, social enterprises and other providers of healthcare play an important role in the NHS, as they have done for many years."
The investigation looked at different types of contract to provide NHS clinical services, including those awarded to a single provider without an open tender, those awarded via a competitive tendering process, and those awarded to multiple providers under Any Qualified Provider - a government policy that opened up a wide range of community-based NHS services to different providers from outside the NHS.
Private sector providers were most successful at winning contracts awarded via competitive tender - 80 compared with 59 won by NHS providers
Read more on the BBC website
- Created on 10 December 2014
The Guardian: As a GP working in a diverse part of Bristol, prescription charges are always a bone of contention with staff and patients. Every item of medication or appliance dispensed by a pharmacy costs £8.05, and this usually rises every year by about 20p. I issue around 30 prescriptions a day, usually for items that would last a month, but sometimes for “acute” medicines for patients with infections or those who need pain relief.
Patients pay for prescriptions based on the number of items on the “script” and not the number of tablets dispensed. So it’s understandable that we get requests by patients on a daily basis to issue large batches of medication, as this can save considerable money.
There are no prescription charges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland prescriptions are free for English visitors as well. In England, patients under 16, between 16-18 and in full-time education and those over the age of 60 are exempt from paying. Certain long-term conditions are also exempt such as diabetes, cancer (or cancer-related problems) and epilepsy.
- Created on 28 November 2014
This evidence scan was initially commissioned to inform attendees at the National Summit on Quality in General Practice, held at the Royal College of General Practitioners on 31 July 2014. The theme of the day was Sustaining and improving the quality of general practice.
The scan is divided into three parts:
Part 1 explores how quality should be defined, drawing upon literature from leading thinkers and organisations in health care and quality improvement.
Part 2 summarises empirical evidence on what the public think of general practice, and the features they think are important in good quality general practice care.
Part 3 compiles empirical research about interventions that have been tested to improve the quality of general practice care.