Health inequality – Data gaps from NHS Apps

A new report from the NHS Race and Health Observatory urges reform to data collection to help tackle health inequalities surrounding ethnicity.

The Digital apps and reducing ethnic health inequalities report measured variation in use and experience of online apps by ethnicity. It then used the findings to make a series of recommendations for NHS leaders and providers.

Two case studies were used for the report: the NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT)’s Give Blood App and the mainstream NHS App. 

With the NHS App hitting 30 million users it becomes even more vital to close health inequality gaps, say the authors. 

Read more about the report here.

Tender launched for NHS Federated Data Platform

A tender has been issued for the development of the NHS Federated Data Platform. 

At the same time a new blog from NHSE sets out the benefits of data sharing for patients and the health care system.

An NHSE policy paper published at Christmas set out 12 guidelines for secure environments for NHS health and social care data and the plans for public consultation on the new platforms.

"Engaging with patients and the public on how we store and use their data is key to getting secure data environment policy right," states the paper. 

"We have started this process, having engaged public and patient groups on the contents of a simple explainer for secure data environment policy." 

Broader engagement is expected to start in spring 2023. 

Earlier consultations on data sharing have not been very successful so it is vital NHSE engages with the public in a transparent and accessible way.

Pandemic digital health wave did not sustain

Increased public interest in digital health during the pandemic did not sustain, according to a new study published in JMIR.  

Remaining structural barriers to digital inclusion are suggested as the cause of the downturn.

Researchers measured the changes in relative Google search volumes of the keywords online doctor, telehealth, online health, telemedicine, and health app in six English speaking countries.

Data pre pandemic-mid, pandemic and post pandemic were compared. 

The only search term that remained stable or showed a slight increase was ‘health app’.

Building digital health capacity and developing robust digital health governance frameworks remain crucial to sustainable digital health transformation, the study concludes.

Access the full study findings here.

Self management tools for children and young people with sickle cell disease

Despite a growth in self management tools for children and young people (CYP) with sickle cell disease, there is inconclusive evidence about their effectiveness, concludes a review  published in Health Expectations.

Support from family, peers and care providers appears to be important for self-management interventions' effectiveness and acceptability.

Future research should prioritise CYP involvement in both intervention design and delivery, their wider social context and include CYP with SCD from non-Black backgrounds. 

Three young people with sickle cell acted as review advisors.

Read the full review here.

All Wales primary care antimicrobial guidelines published

Studies show that patients are less likely to ask their GP for antibiotics if they are advised what to expect during the course of an illness and are given a self-care plan. 

A patient-specific leaflet for adults has been developed for use in primary care by the Welsh Government. 

It contains information on how long common illnesses normally last, self-care and when patients should contact their GP.

The leaflet is signposted to HCPs in new guidelines on antibiotic prescribing. 

The guidelines aim to provide an evidence-based approach to the treatment of common infections and to minimise the development of bacterial resistance in the community.

Access the guidelines here.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could 'cut the risk of Alzheimer’s in some at-risk women'

A study by a team at the Universities of East Anglia and Edinburgh shows HRT use is associated with better memory, cognition, and larger brain volumes in later life among women carrying the APOE4 gene, a well-established risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

Almost two thirds of Alzheimer’s patients in the UK are women, and a quarter of them are carriers of APOE4, according to lead researcher Professor Anne-Marie Minihane.

The finding could have important public health consequences, particularly as there are limited therapeutic options for people with dementia. 

Read the study findings in full here.

Alzheimer’s Research UK seeks South Asian dementia champions for Leicester pilot

Alzheimer’s Research UK is offering people from South Asian communities in Leicester the opportunity to become Dementia Community Champions, to help build awareness and understanding around the condition.

People from South Asian backgrounds are more likely to develop dementia than the general UK population and experience diagnosis delay.

Volunteers will be trained in a partnership between Alzheimer’s Research UK and local Leicester charity, South Asian Health Action. 

After their training, champions will receive ongoing support to share knowledge and information about dementia with their communities through their day-to-day interactions, as well as talks and events.

Find out more here.

CQC Maternity Survey shows deterioration in information and support

The Care Quality Commission’s 2022 maternity survey shows people's experiences of care deteriorated in the last five years. 

The results raise concerns about information and support experienced by women and echo the results of PIF’s Maternity Decisions survey published just over a year ago.

The CQC data states the proportion of women and pregnant people: 

  • Given appropriate advice and support when they contacted a midwife or hospital at the start of their labour, decreased from 87% in 2017 to 82% in 2022
  • Given the information and explanations they needed during their care in hospital, fell from 66% in 2017 to 59% in 2022
  • Saying concerns they raised during labour and birth were taken seriously,  fell from 81% to 77% in 2022.

Respondents agreeing they were ‘always’ treated with kindness and understanding in hospital after the birth, fell from 74% to 71%.
Read the full results here.

PIF TICK members PKD Charity and Expert Self Care partner on new app

PKD Charity started the new year with the launch of  a new app co-produced with clinicians and patients.

The app, produced in partnership with  PIF member Expert Self Care, is designed to provide:

  • Credible information and accredited health advice all in one easily accessible place
  • Practical tips for everyday life
  • Links to trusted further information and support for newly diagnosed patients and those who are ‘old hands’

PKD Charity has asked healthcare professionals to signpost the app to patients and has provided a QR code for ease of use. 

The app is available for Android and iOS, free from Google Play or the App Store. 

NICE emphasises personalised care in new guidance on antidepressant withdrawal 

Reducing an antidepressant dose should be done in stages, with help from a medical professional, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

It says this helps manage withdrawal symptoms that can occur from the drugs.

It recommends community care services should work with patients to agree a treatment plan, with extra attention paid to adults from minority ethnic backgrounds who are less likely to complete a course of treatment for depression. 

The recommendations are in addition to guidelines on managing depression in adults, updated in November 2021.

NICE suggested then that people with mild depression should be offered behavioural therapy or group exercise before medication is discussed.

Read the full quality standard here.