News, Population Health

North East and North Cumbria ICS initiative drives air quality improvement

By
ICS air quality improvement

A new pilot project in the North East and North Cumbria aims to drive air quality improvement at an NHS systems level.


Poor air quality in the UK is an increasing health concern, new data published by The Lancet has revealed that pollution remains responsible for approximately nine million deaths per year, corresponding to one in six deaths worldwide.

Approximately 30 per cent of preventable deaths in England are due to non-communicable diseases explicitly connected to air pollution. The health and social care costs of air pollution in England could reach £18.6 billion by 2035 if air quality is not improved.

Global Action Plan, an environmental change charity, has been working with the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Integrated Care System (ICS) over the last six months to identify opportunities to drive change around air quality improvement at healthcare access points.

The project aims to make sure air quality levels are controlled around health centres and help to protect the people who need to visit hospitals most frequently.

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has committed to ensuring all employees will be given basic sustainability training. The green procurement is to be embedded across the organisation with the aim of encouraging all ICS members to switch to a renewable energy tariff.

The findings from the pilot project were published on 17 May in the ‘Levers for Change’ report. The report highlights how air pollution is linked to health challenges and inequalities and identifies key opportunities that developing an ICS focused action plan would present.

The progress being made in the NENC region forms part of the broader Integrated Care for Cleaner Air initiative with the goal of improving air quality around all healthcare access points in England.

Newcastle Hospitals, Global Action Plan, and Boehringer Ingelheim have formed a partnership with the joint goal of supporting every ICS in England to become a ‘Clean Air Champion.’

In preparation for ICS statutory footing in July, ICS leaders are currently submitting system-wide Green Plans. Many are already incorporating air quality improvement measures around hospitals as part of their broader commitment to tackle environmental challenges.

James Dixon, Associate Director Sustainability at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Sadly we know that people in the North East and North Cumbria are disproportionately burdened by ill health.

“The research presented in the ‘Levers for Change’ report is key to understanding the impact that air quality has on the health outcomes of the people of the region.

“The framework will be an extremely useful resource for us, as an ICS to use, to identify ways to work across organisations and reduce the impact that poor air quality has on the health and quality of life for the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Larissa Lockwood, Director of Clean Air, Global Action Plan, explains: ‘It is vital that we tackle air pollution at the regional ICS level, with partners from all across the health system, across primary and secondary care but also with local government.

“It is vital that everyone understands the NHS cannot tackle air pollution alone. Insights from the ‘Levers for Change’ report will be packaged into an interactive, freely available tool for all Integrated Care Systems in England to use. This tool will build on the Clean Air Hospital Framework developed in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital.”

Over half of Brits say their health has worsened due to rising cost of living

By
Cost of living

Over half of Brits (55 per cent) feel their health has been negatively affected by the rising cost of living, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).


Of those who reported their health getting worse, 84 per cent said it was due to increased heating costs, over three quarters (78 per cent) a result of the rising cost of food and almost half (46 per cent) down to transport costs rising.

One in four (25 per cent) of those who said that their health had been negatively affected by the rising cost of living, had also been told this by a doctor or other medical professional.

16 per cent of those impacted by the rising cost of living had been told by a doctor or health professional in the last year that stress caused by rising living costs had worsened their health. 12 per cent had been told by a healthcare professional that their health had been made worse by the money they were having to spend on their heating and cooking.

The experiences of RCP members who responded to the poll include a woman whose ulcers on their fingertips were made worse by her house being cold and a patient not being able to afford to travel to hospital for lung cancer investigation and treatment. Other reports include respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD being made worse by pollution and exposure to mould due to the location and quality of council housing.

Health inequalities – unfair and avoidable differences in health and access to healthcare across the population, and between different groups within society – have long been an issue in England, but the rising cost of living has exacerbated them.

The Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA), a group of over 200 organisations convened by the RCP, is calling for a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities – one that covers areas such as poor housing, food quality, communities and place, employment, racism and discrimination, transport and air pollution. The government recently announced that it will publish a white paper on health disparities and the IHA is calling for it to commit to action on the social determinants of health. These largely sit outside the responsibility of the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS.

Responding to these findings, Dr Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “The cost-of-living crisis has barely begun so the fact that one in two people is already experiencing worsening health should sound alarm bells, especially at a time when our health service is under more pressure than ever before.

“The health disparities white paper due later this year must lay out plans for a concerted effort from the whole of government to reduce health inequality. We can’t continue to see health inequality as an issue for health directives to solve. A cross-government approach to tackling the underlying causes of ill health will improve lives, protect the NHS and strengthen the economy.”

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity, commented: “This survey demonstrates that the cost of living crisis is damaging the perceived health and wellbeing of poorer people. The surprise is that people in above average income groups are affected, too. More than half say that their physical and mental health is affected by the rising cost of living, in particular food, heating and transport.

“In my recommendations for how to reduce health inequalities, sufficient income for a healthy life was one among six. But it is crucial as it relates so strongly to many of the others, in particular early child development, housing and health behaviours. As these figures show, the cost of living crisis is a potent cause of stress. If we require anything of government, at a minimum, it is to enable people to have the means to pursue a healthy life.”

Also responding to the survey was NHS Providers Chief Executive, Chris Hopson, who said: “Trust leaders are acutely aware of the soaring cost of living crisis facing the nation and the impact rising financial pressures could have on people’s health.

“This is particularly concerning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which exposed deeply entrenched social, racial and health inequalities. As highlighted in this survey, there is a risk that the current cost of living crisis widens those inequalities.

“Trust leaders share the view that there is an opportunity to tackle the factors which lead to health inequalities and poor health. They have committed time and resource to reducing inequalities across their local communities.”

How ICSs can help uproot risk aversion and progress innovation

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Barnsley Hospital - innovation

Integrated Care Journal speaks with Kathy Scott and Aejaz Zahid of the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) on how the implementation of a dedicated innovation hub within ICS frameworks has helped to streamline innovation and improve patient care.

Above: Barnsley Hospital, part of South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS.


Integration and innovation are two increasingly prominent principles that are, in part, designed to address the growing problems of unmet health needs. Each is intended to supplement and support the development of the other.

Integrated care systems (ICSs) offer new frameworks through which innovation can be adopted at scale, streamlining past previous bureaucratic and individualistic barriers to change and adopting a transformation led approach. Innovation is crucial in turning the core aspirations of integrated care into tangible realties, to use technology and sophisticated approaches to data to help address the root causes of ill-health and expand health service offerings.

The above outlines the core principles of integration and innovation, which can be found reiterated from a wealth of sources, if one is to engage in the sector for even a few days. Integrated care is not a new concept and neither is innovation, so how are these two principles coming together to improve patient outcomes in reality?

“There is a vast range of unmet need across the whole health and care sector.”

“There is a vast range of unmet need across the whole health and care sector,” says Aejaz Zahid, Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s Director for the ICS Innovation Hub at South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYB ICS). “Much of this is of course clinical, but a huge part of this is more operational, system level needs.

“The ICS needs intelligence on all of this, but then must ascertain how it can use innovation to leverage economies of scale in terms of investing and finding solutions to those problems and challenges. What we are trying to do within the innovation hub is create straightforward and easily accessible processes which enable busy staff working on the ground to regularly bring those challenges and problems to our attention, while enabling ICS leadership to ascertain and prioritise needs which could benefit from a systemwide innovative solution.”

The ICS Innovation Hub is a single point of contact for health and care innovators in the SYB region. The hub works, via the AHSN, to identify and validate market ready innovations and help drive improved health outcomes, clinical processes and patient experience across the SYB health economy. The idea to set up a dedicated innovation hub within an ICS was developed by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (Yorkshire & Humber AHSN) and has proved a successful model to help spread and adopt innovations at pace and scale. Yorkshire & Humber AHSN also provides innovation support to three different ICSs in the region.


Fostering a culture of innovation

Explaining how the Hub, and by extension, Yorkshire & Humber AHSN are working to cultivate innovation in the region, its Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO, Kathy Scott says “it is as much about identifying good practice as it is implementing the ‘shiny stuff’.

“As an AHSN we also have sight of a lot of potential solutions that can address those needs often identified by the innovation hub. So, we are able to nudge the ICS leadership towards potential solutions.

“We can push out new ideas and innovations as much as we like, but if you don’t have that culture of innovation and improvement there, it’s not going to stick.”

“It’s about growing the capability and capacity for change within a locality and for improvement techniques and innovation adaptive solutions to be implemented. Not simply implementing new technology and essentially running away.

“We can push out new ideas and innovations as much as we like,” continues Kathy, “but if you don’t have that culture of innovation and improvement there, it’s not going to stick.”

The ICS’s digital focus has also enabled significant work on pre-emptive care. For example, through the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s digital accelerator programme Propel@YH, the AHSN has worked with innovator DigiBete to support the adoption of their “one stop shop” app to help young people living with diabetes manage their treatment.

The app was clinically approved during the height of the pandemic, with extra funding provided from NHS England, and is now being used in 600 services across England. “This is an excellent example of how we can pre-emptively assess unmet need and streamline innovation into the system,” says Kathy.


Innovation as an antidote to health inequality

“Health inequalities are part of our design thinking from the get-go in any project,” says Aejaz, who points to the recent implementation of SkinVision, a tele dermatology app, as an example.

“The app was originally developed in the Netherlands, where predominantly you would have Caucasian skin that the AI would have been trained on,” he explains, “so, from the beginning, we have been mindful to capture more data on how well the app works on other skin types and feed that back to the company to improve their AI algorithms for wider populations.”

The Innovation Hub also works to ensure that implementing digital technology does not exacerbate inequality for less digitally mature users. “If somebody, for example, doesn’t have a smartphone that is able to run that app, there is always the non-digital pathway in parallel. So, it’s never either/or.”


An appetite for risk

“There is always a level of risk aversion when it comes to adopting something new in healthcare,” says Aejaz, “even with evidence backed solutions, we find there’s sometimes a level of reluctance. Staff want to know whether it’s going to work in their local context or not and whether introducing innovation would entail a significant ‘adoption’ curve. Building enthusiasm around a new idea and overcoming hesitancy to innovation is, therefore, central to the role of organisations such as the AHSN and, by extension, ICS innovation hubs.

“Building a culture of innovation is fundamentally about building a culture of increased risk appetite, where failure is most certainly an option.”

“Building a culture of innovation is fundamentally about building a culture of increased risk appetite, where failure is most certainly an option,” Aejaz continues. “We need to create systems which provide innovators with the necessary psychological safety that allows them to experiment.”

To help shift the mindset of NHS staff in favour of innovation, the Innovation Hub established a series of ‘exemplar projects’, designed to erode the fear of failure and capture learnings in the process. For example, for Population Health Management exemplars, one of the priority themes for the ICS, the hub called for providers to submit ideas to the Hub, all framed under high priority population health challenges such as cardiovascular health. Successful applicants with promising ideas received funding in the region of £25,000 as well as co-ordination support from the Hub towards their project.

The programme has enabled frontline innovators and has led to the development of a host of new services incorporating novel technologies, such as virtual wards and remote rehabilitation. The Hub is also working to transform dermatology pathways throughout the SYB region by introducing an app that allows patients to upload images of skin conditions and be processed more efficiently through the system. Funded by an NHSx Digital Partnerships award, this pilot project with Dermatology services in the Barnsley region will test out the use of this AI-enabled app to ascertain how well it can successfully identify low risk skin lesions which can be addressed in primary care. Thereby reducing demand on secondary care and speeding up access for higher risk patients. Each of these projects demonstrate the capacity for transformation when on the ground staff are given the freedom to innovate.

Interestingly, many of the ideas that the Hub works with are non-tech solutions. For example, primary care providers working with local football teams via a 12-week health coaching programme to engage with fans who may be at risk of cardiovascular disease, or introducing Cognitive Behaviour Therapy techniques to patients with severe respiratory conditions to help reduce anxiety when experiencing an episode of breathlessness.

To nurture a mentality more open to change, the Innovation Hub has developed learning networks across South Yorkshire. Through these networks, the Innovation Hub and AHSN teams have been reaching out to key leads from each of the provider organisations who are involved in innovation, improvement or research and invited them to become innovation ambassadors. “These ambassadors have become our eyes and ears on the ground across health providers, where they can start to introduce what we do and also help capture unmet needs from colleagues in their respective organisations,” explains Kathy.

Following in the footsteps of the first innovation hub established by the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN in South Yorkshire, other AHSNs across the country are now looking at setting up innovation hubs within their ICS by bringing leadership together, getting them out of their ‘comfort zone’ and giving them the space to innovate, and hoping to chip away at risk aversion and fear of experimentation. Introducing solutions outside of traditional domains will enable a culture of innovation and improvement. To streamline past bureaucratic and individualistic hurdles, ICS frameworks are key to facilitating transformational change in every region of the country.


If you would like to find out more about the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, please contact info@yhahsn.com

News, Primary Care, Workforce

LDC Confederation: taking an active role in combatting discrimination

By
discrimination

Martin Skipper, Head of Policy for the LDC Confederation, discusses how the organisation is taking an active approach to addressing racism, working as part of the London Workforce Race Equality Strategy (WRES), to ensure that the dental profession benefits from the programme of work.


The aim of the London Workforce Race Equality Strategy work is to address the inequality experienced by a large proportion of the NHS workforce. The experience of professionals from black and minority ethnic backgrounds continues to lag behind that of white colleagues.

To address this imbalance, the objective is for the NHS in London to be a more inclusive place to work. The workforce strategy aims to create a step change by increasing the diversity of the workforce and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion strategies. This includes improving the leadership culture and growing and training the workforce. In a recent survey undertaken by the London WRES for Equality and Discrimination in Primary Care, around half of respondents said they had faced some sort of discrimination or harrasment at work, with 39 per cent saying that they had received this from patients. The remaining 29 per cent had been on the receiving end of discrimination or harrasment from colleagues. Of these cases only one third were reported.

Colleagues from Asian or African backgrounds were most likely to be on the receiving end of discrimination, and also less likely to know where to turn for help. Additionally, while ethnicity was the main factor reported to underlie discrimination and harrasment by a considerable margin, gender was the second most common factor. Unfortunately, responses from dental practice were very low, so few conclusions about issues specific to dentistry can be drawn.

Registration data from the General Dental Council, however, shows that many of the issues reported above can be expected to be true in dental practice. Over 50 per cent of dentists on the register are women, leaping to almost 93 per cent of dental care professionals (DCPs). At least 31 per cent of the dental workforce identify as Asian, Black, Chinese, mixed or other non-white ethnicity, with a further 17 per cent unknown. Around nine per cent of DCPs by contrast, identify as non-white, with a further 14 per cent whose ethnicity is not known.

There will be sizeable groups within both parts of the dental profession with at least one characteristic strongly associated with discrimination and harrasment. With 60 per cent of DCPs and 52 per cent of dentists being aged under 40, expectations of professionals will vary considerably from this younger cohort of professionals to their more established colleagues.

The LDC Confederation is supporting dental teams in several ways to make sure that their workplace is inviting and supportive to everyone. One these is working with the National Guardian’s Office to ensure that all practices in member LDCs have access to a clear pathway to a dental guardian. This impartial champion provides support and guidance to those in the dental team who are unsure of where to turn when they have a concern.

As many dental practices continue to be independent providers with relatively small teams, the LDC Confederation act as an impartial body able to support practices and practitioners alike. By providing this opportunity for confidential and impartial support we hope that a more open and accepting culture will be developed in dental practice.

We will continue to work with the London WRES to embed their plans for increased awareness among teams of the issues and behaviours, as well as providing a trusted environment for all members of the dental team to seek support. We will also maintain a campaign of zero tolerance towards harrasment and discrimination from patients. Individual LDCs will be working with their local training hubs to embed training opportunities at the local level and with EDI leads in the Integrated Care Systems to align practice processes and outcomes with those of system wide strategic objectives. Through these combined efforts, the LDC Confederation will continue to take an active approach to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity in the dentistry profession.

Social care crisis leaves 500,000 adults waiting for care

By
social care

More than half a million adults in England are waiting for social care assistance, says the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), as staff shortages continue to impact the provision of care.


According to Adass’ research, the number of people waiting for either social care assessments, direct payments or reviews of their care has risen sharply over the last year. The research marks a 72 per cent rise in the numbers waiting for support, as similar research last year put the figure at about 294,000.

Adass president Sarah McClinton said the figures represent “a devastating impact on people’s lives,” while the government has said that reforming social care is a priority.

Published in May 2022, the Adass report, Waiting for Care, found that during the first three months of 2022, an average of 170,000 hours a week of home care could not be delivered due to workforce shortages, and that 61 per cent of councils were having to prioritise care assessments.


“The situation is getting worse”

The report states the capacity of the care sector to deliver on people’s needs has been sharply reduced, at the same time as England’s ageing population develops ever more complex care requirements.

It says that “despite staff working relentlessly over the last two years, levels of unmet, under-met or wrongly-met needs are increasing, and the situation is getting worse. The growing numbers of people needing care and the increasing complexity of their needs are far outstripping the capacity to meet them.”

The report also says that the government’s focus “of resources on acute hospitals without addressing care and support at home, means people deteriorate and even more will need hospital care.”

Adass argue that not only are people waiting longer for care, “but family carers are having to shoulder greater responsibility and are being asked to take paid or unpaid leave from work when care and support are not available for their family members.”

This was echoed by Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, who has said the current state of social care is putting “even more pressure on even more families who are propping up a chronic shortage of services.”


Changes welcome, but not enough

The government states publicly that fixing social care in England is a priority, and the Health and Social Care Levy passed last month will see £5.4 billion invested into social care over the next three years, including £3.6 billion to reform the charging system for social care and a further £1.7 billion to begin “major improvements” to the sector. The added funding is cautiously welcomed, but critics argue the government needs to go further.

However, ADASS president Sarah McClinton said: “We have not seen the bounceback in services after the pandemic in the way we had hoped. In fact, the situation is getting worse rather than better. Social care is far from fixed.

“The Health and Social Care reforms go some way to tackle the issue of how much people contribute to the cost of their care, but it falls short in addressing social care’s most pressing issues: how we respond to rapidly increasing unmet need for essential care and support and resolve the workforce crisis by properly valuing care professionals.”

Responding to the ADASS report, Miriam Deakin, Director of Policy and Strategy at NHS Providers said: “This valuable report paints a worrying picture of unmet care needs and lays bare the pressures on the social care system, which are having a serious knock-on effect on individuals’ quality of life and independence, as well as the timely discharge of patients from hospital.

“Although hospital patients who are medically fit for discharge are made a priority for assessment, any delay to those assessments means a delay to people receiving the care they need and makes it difficult to maintain the flow of patients through the NHS.

“Equally worrying is the obvious need for more support to help people stay well and live independent lives in the community which would in many cases prevent, or delay, any need for hospital care.

“We must recognise the efforts of social care staff delivering more care in people’s homes over the last year and ensure they are paid appropriately to acknowledge their valued contribution.

“The ADASS report highlights once again the urgent need to properly fund and reform the adult social care system.”

Mental Health, News

Mental Health Act reform to tackle detention disparities

By
mental health reform

The Queen’s Speech yesterday outlined government plans to change the Mental Health Act 1983, empowering the individual to have more control over their care.


The announcement included plans to introduce a draft bill which will change the criteria for detaining so that it is only used when necessary: if the person is a genuine risk to their safety or others and there is therapeutic benefit.

The definition of a mental disorder will also be amended in the draft to ensure no one can be detained solely for having a learning disability or being autistic.

Plans to reform the Mental Health Act 1983 follow the government-commissioned Independent Review, published in December 2018 and the follow-up white paper produced in January 2021.

The government set out a goal to ‘deliver a modern mental health service that respects the patient’s voice and empowers individuals to shape their own care and treatment.’ It also made recommendations on how to address disparities in how the act affects people from black, Asian and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The next steps will likely be that the draft bill is considered by a parliamentary committee to inform full legislation to reform the act. It is not currently clear when the draft legislation will be published but the proposals will be considered over the next year.

Responding to the proposed new measures, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers Miriam Deakin said: “A new Mental Health Act on its own won’t be enough to guarantee high-quality mental health services or transform the way we deliver them for years to come. Mental health services are under severe strain from huge demand and limited resources.

“Covid-19 has left a significant legacy on the nation’s mental health, particularly for children and young people, and the effects of poor mental health are expected to last longer than in some other areas of care.

“Coming hard on the heels of the biggest health service reforms for more than 10 years under the new Health and Care Act, we look forward to seeing detailed government proposals to reform the Mental Health Act as soon as possible.”

Vicki Nash, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs for Mind, said: “Over 53,000 people were detained under the existing Mental Health Act in England in 2020/21 – an increase of four per cent on the year before. As these numbers continue to rise, we urgently need to see the UK government implement the long—overdue legislative changes needed to give people greater choice and control over their treatment

“In most cases, people are detained under the Mental Health Act against their will because they didn’t get the right help when they needed it. Black people are hardest hit, with higher rates of detention and practices that restrict their liberty, including face-down restraint, which can be fatal.

We need the new Mental Health Bill to change this and we must see more investment in early intervention to reduce the number of people becoming unwell in the first place. Mental health problems become more difficult to treat if left unchecked, as well as more costly to the NHS.”

News, Partners, Upcoming Events

One week to go until The Healthcare Show opens its doors

By
The Healthcare Show

CloserStill Media, organisers of The Healthcare Show, taking place at ExceL London on 18-19 May 2022, are delighted to announce that over 3,000 healthcare professionals are registered to attend the largest, senior gathering of UK healthcare leaders.


Don’t miss out on your chance to attend The Healthcare Show, two days full of opportunities to increase your industry knowledge through CPD accredited content and to network with both old and new peers and learn about the latest products and services. Bringing thousands of senior healthcare managers and clinicians together who are striving to transform care and improve quality against a backdrop of Covid-19, it’s an event not to be missed.


Healthcare professionals can secure their free tickets online here

The Healthcare Show are extremely excited to open their doors again this year with a variety of new theatres and a fully booked exhibition hall. You will have ample prospects to develop professionally and examine the effects of Covid-19 within the healthcare sector.

Show highlights:

  • Louise Minchin, broadcaster and journalist, to chair the Healthcare Keynote Theatre
  • Co-located with the Digital Healthcare Show and The Residential & Home Care Show
  • Incorporating The National Association of Link Workers Conference and Awards Ceremony
  • Brand new theatres for The Healthcare Show 2022 include the Transformation Theatre, Clinical Priorities Theatre and Care Quality and Efficiency Theatre
  • Incorporating The Patient Safety and Infection Prevention Show
  • Patient Safety Learning Partner Lounge will offer a platform to share a combination of tools, resources, case studies and best practice
  • Meet CQC inspectors across health and social care at their Meet the Inspectors Hub and put all your burning questions to them

The programme is available to view here (subject to change).

Sponsorship is also now also open for the event. Should you wish to sponsor, speak or exhibit at The Healthcare Show please contact Mike Corbett on: m.corbett@closerstillmedia.com

For delegate enquiries, please contact Imogen Scott on i.scott@closerstillmedia.com

New digital maternity pathway goes live in Devon

By
TPP's maternity software in action

TPP SystmOne Maternity technology goes live at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation, digitising the entire maternity pathway, from ante to postnatal care.


This week, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust have gone live with TPP SystmOne Maternity. The system has enabled the Trust to digitise their entire maternity pathway, from antenatal through to postnatal care. It is being used by all midwives in the region, including those based at the hospital and those working in the community. More than 2,500 women will benefit from the new system every year, with their maternity care now centred on a complete, integrated digital care record.

Following the go-live, midwives now have instant access to all of the maternity data they need. For example, midwives working in postnatal care can easily view all antenatal care and delivery details. All medical and nursing notes are captured in a single record. This provides staff with the information required to make the best clinical decisions and improve safety for mothers and babies. Advanced functionality in the system is also supporting staff with the management of more complex pregnancies, through enhanced clinical decision support, alerts, and a complete maternity timeline.

TPP maternity
TPP SystmOne Maternity in use at Torbay Hospital

There has been strong clinical engagement throughout the project, from midwives, doctors and nurses. The teams have used TPP’s powerful Clinical Development Kit (CDK) functionality to develop exactly the data entry templates and visualisations they wanted. All staff members can quickly capture the information they need for a complete antenatal, labour, delivery and postnatal record. The Trust have also used CDK functionality to create customised safeguarding content, helping to support and protect the most vulnerable families. Staff are also benefiting from interactive inpatient screens in the system, allowing them to manage bed capacity and perform safe, efficient handovers.

The go-live has also included providing TPP’s smartphone application, Airmid, to all women under the maternity service. This is putting women at the very centre of their pregnancy journey. Airmid allows women to access their maternity records, manage their upcoming appointments, complete questionnaires at home, and receive personalised advice and education material. Airmid supports better engagement and seamless communication between women and their maternity care team.

SystmOne also provides significant improvements to integrated care across the region and to multidisciplinary working. For example, maternity staff can immediately access any important information entered by GPs. This is significantly improving patient experience. Women only have to tell their story once, without having to repeat themselves. GPs can directly refer into the maternity unit, improving efficiency across both services. Additionally, all new births are now automatically registered with regional Child Health services, with no extra burden placed on NHS staff.

Tracy Moss, Head of Strategic Systems’ Software Development at the Trust, said: “We are excited to be working with TPP to introduce a new maternity IT system here at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust. The new system is expected to bring a wealth of clinical as well as efficiency benefits for our maternity teams and the wider organisation. The families we care for will also benefit from the system, as the new associated Airmid patient app will allow them to view their records, access information and be more involved in their care. Moving forward, we would like to continue to work with TPP to deploy other SystmOne products, both within our maternity unit and across our wider Torbay and South Devon organisation.”

Charlotte Knowles, Managing Director at TPP, said that “maternity services will always hold a particular place in my heart. Having had three babies, I know, from personal experience, what a superb job they do. We are delighted that the Trust are already seeing significant benefits for staff and patients from TPP Maternity. The dedication of the staff here has been truly inspiring. We are looking forward to working together to continue to make better use of technology to improve the experience and outcomes for pregnant women and their families.”

Government failing on social care and health inequalities

By
health inequalities

The government’s failure to reform social care funding in the Health and Care Act is compounding regional health inequalities, writes Kari Gerstheimer, CEO and Founder of Access Social Care.


Speaking before a Cabinet meeting last month Boris Johnson stated that: “With household bills and living costs rising in the face of global challenges, easing the burden on the British people and growing our economy must be a team effort across Cabinet.” He added that “we will continue to do all we can to support people without letting Government spending and debt spiral, whilst continuing to help Brits to find good jobs and earn more, no matter where they live.”

However, the Prime Minister’s own assurances on protecting the British public from rising costs were set against the Government’s actions regarding the Health and Care Act, which has just been enshrined in law.

The Prime Minister continues to make promises to help the British people with the growing cost burden, while the Health and Care Act leaves those on the lowest income exposed to spending a greater proportion of their assets on care costs, during the worst financial crisis we have seen in generations.

The Government’s own amendment to the Bill, which was subject to a fierce debate in both chambers of Parliament before ultimately being voted through, means that the local authority support people receive to help them meet their care costs, will no longer count towards the proposed £86,000 cap.

This is all the while that the PM has continued to make promises to address the decades-long social care funding crisis and widening health inequalities. The £5 billion in extra money announced for social care over the next 3 years, is of course welcome. But there is no mathematical link between the amount of money and the level of need. The Health Foundation calculates that at least £8 billion are needed per year, just to deliver what councils are legally obliged to.


Failure on “levelling-up”

Research commissioned by Access Social Care, which provides free legal advice for those with care needs, shows that poorer areas with lower council tax and business rate yields have been worse affected by the reduction in the central Government grant for social care.

This means that people living in poorer areas where social care need is often the greatest, are already getting a bad deal compared to other parts of the country, which flies in the face of the much-vaunted concept of “levelling-up.”

Rather than addressing this unfairness, the Government’s amendment is compounding it, by leaving people living in ‘red wall’ areas having to spend a greater percentage of their total assets on care.

The Health and Care Act is a clear contradiction in the PM’s assurance to focus efforts on easing the burden for British people and protecting the public from rising costs. It will instead deepen the cost of living to the poorest of our society and widen long-standing health inequalities.

Access Social Care are already seeing cases where the cost of living crisis means that people cannot afford the social care they so desperately need. The Government urgently needs to do more to ensure that everyone can get the social care they need, at a price they can afford.

Addressing the increased demand in healthcare

By
Capita healthcare

With the current increased demand within health and care, it is vitality important for providers to recover from the pandemic and address the challenges faced around growing elective care backlogs, staffing pressures and rising costs.


Addressing these challenges requires industry leaders to come together and adopt value-adding solutions and technology.

In November 2021, Capita Healthcare Decisions announced a partnership with Microsoft, integrating our clinical content into the Azure Health Bot, part of Microsoft’s Health Cloud platform. The key purpose around this has been to address the patient backlogs faced and improving the patient experience through the use of new technology.


How does it work?

Capita Healthcare Decisions’ content on Health Bot uses AI to pre-empt a wide variety of patient conditions and emergencies, with 164 symptom-based algorithms and over 40 scenarios ranging from ‘call an ambulance’ to ‘self-care’. The content is customisable and adaptable, with 500 sets of care instructions, including appropriate medical information and guidance on what to do if symptoms worsen.

Health Bot users can now gain access to Capita Healthcare Decisions’ content, meaning providers have access to the evidence-based healthcare content service. Saving the patient time is a goal of the collaboration and simple everyday language is used in the place of clinical and medical terminology – delivering a more user-centric approach and promoting ease of understanding.

The service aims to give users flexibility through access to information on different devices and channels, enabling a swift referral to appropriate care. Health Bot also aims to reduce the risk to patients of ‘self-triage’ – when a person evaluates their own health concerns to determine what they should do next.


What makes the clinical content unique?

Capita Healthcare Decisions produces content which is peer-reviewed and updated by an internal team of doctors and nurses to ensure robust clinical governance.

The Health Bot is available through Microsoft’s Cloud for Healthcare, a platform that provides the structure which supports health information and patient management across healthcare organisations and health providers, both public and private. The service provides AI-powered medical data which is used by some of the largest healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and tele-medicine services in the world.


How will this help?

Steve Fearon, CEO of Capita Health Decisions, said: “We are proud and excited that our relationship with Microsoft continues to grow and strengthen. With this collaboration of our world-leading clinical content, available within the Microsoft health ecosystem, we have recognised the need to provide instant access to safe and accurate medical and peer reviewed content to support positive health outcomes. We are seeing just how vital the need for this offering has become, especially at a time of growing misinformation online.

“We see this collaboration as a great opportunity for organisations to completely transform and revolutionise access to healthcare, levelling the playing field in terms of equity in access to the most up to date health guidance, and ensuring that health resources are optimised to drive clinical and operational efficiency and effectiveness.”

Hadas Bitran, Partner Group Manager at Microsoft Health and Life Sciences, said: “Capita’s content is a valuable asset in the Health Bot service that empowers healthcare organisations to assist in triaging and directing patients to the appropriate level of care and to navigate the services available to them. Timely access to quality medical information saves lives; and deepening our relationship with Capita will further strengthen the patient-centric approach that is fundamental to our Health Bot service.”


Capita Healthcare Decisions have been at the forefront of tackling the challenges within healthcare systems for over 27 years. To find out more, visit: https://capitahealthcaredecisions.com/healthbot-cs/