Nearly half of people with potential cancer symptoms in first wave did not contact GP

A study by PIF member Cancer Research UK and Cardiff University has found nearly half of people who experienced possible cancer symptoms in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic did not contact their GP.

Preliminary findings focus on the experiences of 7,543 people across the UK from March to August 2020.

Just over 40% of participants said they had experienced at least one potential cancer symptom.

Of those who experienced symptoms, 44.8% did not contact their GP for any symptom.

This included coughing up blood (30.7% of those who experienced this symptom did not seek help), an unexplained lump or swelling (41% did not seek help) or a change in the appearance of a mole (58.6% did not seek help).

A policy briefing released with the findings calls for coordinated campaigns across the UK to highlight that NHS services are open safely for anyone with unusual or persistent symptoms.

Cardiff University

Symptom awareness of less survivable cancers 'as low as 4% in UK'

New data released by the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT) shows symptoms awareness is 'dangerously low' and COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation.

The LSCT represents six less survivable cancers – lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach.

These cancers have an average five-year survival rate of 16% and make up half of all common cancer deaths in the UK.

A UK-wide survey into symptoms awareness found only 4% of people were able to correctly identify all symptoms of pancreatic cancer from a list presented to them. 

Symptoms awareness for liver cancer was 5% while 10% of respondents knew all the symptoms of stomach cancer, 11% oesophageal cancer and awareness of lung cancer and brain tumours was 21% and 37% respectively. 

Knowledge of symptoms was shown to be particularly poor among younger adults.

In addition to low symptom awareness, the percentage of people who would seek medical help for symptoms of a less survivable cancer has dropped from 69% to 59% because of COVID-19.

The main reasons are not wanting to burden the NHS (48%) and being worried about being exposed to the virus (44%).

Less Survivable Cancers

Putting digital innovation at heart of healthcare reform

Public Policy Projects has called on the government to use digital tools to better enable collaboration across the NHS and empower patients following the release of the white paper for health and care.

PPS' State of the Nation: Digitisation and Medical Technologies report sets out 12 recommendations to drive digital-first healthcare.

It includes a recommendation to 'empower patients to become co-creators of their own health', by increasing access to digital tools and encouraging them to be involved in the development of digital and data enabled healthcare.

Public Policy Projects

Inquiry into white paper on health and social care

The Health and Social Care Committee is holding an inquiry into proposals in the Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care white paper.

The inquiry will examine the extent to which the proposals will deliver integrated health and care services throughout England. 

It will also consider the extent to which the paper delivers the necessary long-term plans for social care and the health and social care workforce and the proposals to confer additional powers on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Evidence can be submitted until 23 March 2021.

UK Parliament

Health literacy and self‐advocacy tool developed by youth for youth mental health

A team of young people has developed the Wellness Quest – a health literacy tool to enable help‐seeking youth to advocate for themselves.

The youth research team conducted five focus groups and one online survey to evaluate the Wellness Quest tool.

Overall, young people aged 16-24 felt the tool would be useful during their mental health help‐seeking journey.

Participants expressed the need for information about services for specific populations, such as indigenous, immigrants, refugees and 2SLGBTQ + youth. 

They also felt the tool should be available in complementary online and print versions.

Wiley Online Library

New data show vaccines reduce severe COVID-19 in older adults

A pre-print of a Public Health England study shows both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines significantly reduce severe COVID-19 in older adults.

Since January, protection against symptomatic COVID, four weeks after the first dose, ranged between 57% and 61% for one dose of Pfizer and between 60% and 73% for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

In the over 80s, data suggest a single dose of either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation, around three to four weeks after vaccination. 

There is also evidence for the Pfizer vaccine, which suggests it leads to an 83% reduction in deaths from COVID-19.


Xploro named as a First 100 Digital Health Exporter

PIF member Xploro has been chosen as one of the Department of International Trade’s First 100 Digital Health Exporters.  

The UK companies forming the first Digital Health Playbook were selected after a rigorous process.

They were judged on a range of criteria including responsiveness, ethics and values, the global uniqueness of their innovation and how well they represent the UK in digital health, particularly with the NHS.  

The list will be reviewed and maintained regularly and released formally twice a year.

It aims to identify some of the best British talent in digital health and link it with worldwide opportunities.


NHSX launches new 'simpler and faster' assessment for digital health technologies

NHSX has unveiled a new assessment process to help give staff, patients and the public confidence that the digital health tools they use meet NHS standards. 

The new Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) is a rapid process that can be completed in days.

It is hoped the criteria will equip local and national NHS and social care teams with the guidance they need to decide which health technologies they should be buying or recommending to patients.

The tool will apply to all types of digital health technologies, from public facing health apps to digital systems used within hospitals such as electronic patient records.


Tackling vaccine hesitancy, fighting misinformation and working with communities

In this article, Dr Nikki Kanani, Medical Director for Primary Care, describes NHS England's work to tackle misinformation and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

This includes opening vaccination centres in places of worship and building trust and confidence by working closely with local communities and faith leaders.


New animation guides to help prevent care home outbreaks

NHS England has released three new animations to help prevent care home COVID-19 outbreaks.

The animations cover Getting to and from work, Testing and tracing and PPE: what to wear.

With more than 100 different languages spoken by care home staff across the country, the videos are presented in an easily accessible format for all to watch, understand and share.

Event: Patient and user engagement in the delivery of virtual care 

The King's Fund is hosting a free online event on patient and user engagement in the delivery of virtual care.

It will explore what we can learn from the innovations that have accelerated during the pandemic and how we can align patient and user involvement in the development of future virtual health and care solutions.

The event takes place from midday to 1pm on 10 March. Click on the link below to book your free place.

The King's Fund