Good communication with patients guide

NHS England has published guidance to aid good communication with patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance, published on 21 January, says COVID-19 means clear, concise and timely communication with patients is more critical than ever.

Supporting documents to the guidance include template letters and a list of core principles.

It is hoped they will help deliver personalised, patient-centred communications to patients who are waiting for care.

The guidance was developed in collaboration with National Voices and follows the publication of its Communication is Key statement.

Click on the link below to download the NHS guidance and supporting documents.

NHS England

Likelihood of severe and Long COVID may be established very early on following infection

Researchers supported by NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre have set out to increase understanding of the relationship between the immune response and COVID-19 symptoms.

The research shows people with no symptoms or a mild case of COVID-19 mounted a robust immune response to the virus soon after getting infected. 

There was no evidence in these patients of widespread inflammation that can lead to damage in multiple organs.  

However, the people with severe COVID-19 who required hospitalisation had an impaired immune response, which led to a delayed and weakened attempt to fight the virus and widespread inflammation from the time of symptom onset.  

The study also provides clues to the biology underlying Long COVID.

The team found profound alterations in many immune cell types often persisted for weeks or even months after COVID-19 infection, and these problems resolved themselves very differently depending on the type of immune cell.


Guidance for healthcare professionals on return to work for people with Long COVID

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine has published new guidance to help healthcare professionals facilitate the return to work of people who are unable to work due to Long COVID. 

The FOM guidance is intended to complement and supplement the NICE guideline published on 18 December 2020.

Faculty of Occupational Medicine

COVID-19: Digital health trends and opportunities for 2021

ORCHA has published its analysis of digital health usage from January 2020 to January 2021.

It shows digital health accelerated quickly around March 2020 and this shift has been maintained ever since with adoption continuing to grow, both in numbers and additional health areas.

The most recommended apps by health and care professionals in 2020 were: Smoke Free, NHS Weight Loss Plan, Headspace, Wysa and Sleepio.

The most downloaded apps by both professionals and consumers were: Wysa, NHS Weight Loss Plan, Smoke Free, Low Carb Programme and Lincus Companion.

Although 93% of health professionals believe health apps can improve a patient’s health, the majority have not been trained in this field and do not use digital health as part of routine practice.

Trust is a major barrier. In 2021, ORCHA anticipates an increase in education on the use of specific digital health tools to help address this. 


Half of adults more concerned about mental health than in March 2020

Public Health England has launched a new Every Mind Matters campaign as half of adults say they are more worried now than in March 2020.

A survey, commissioned by PHE at the start of the current government restrictions, found almost half of adults felt the pandemic has impacted negatively on their mental health and wellbeing. 

Significant proportions said they had been experiencing more anxiety (46%), stress (44%), sleep problems (34%) and low mood (46%) over the course of the pandemic. 

The most common reasons people thought the lockdown had negatively impacted their mental health were: 56% missing friends and family; 53% uncertainty about the future and 53% worried about family’s safety and health.

The Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign encourages people to get a free NHS-approved Mind Plan from the Every Mind Matters website. 

The Every Mind Matters COVID-19 hub also includes practical tips and support on how adults can deal with uncertainty, money and job worries and how to look after both their own and their family’s mental wellbeing.

Public Health England

What do user-led groups need?

A report aims to understand what challenges user-led mental health organisations face and explore what might help them meet their aims and sustain and develop their activities.

It is the result of 19 interviews commissioned by the National Survivor User Network with community organisations and groups using lived experience to deliver mental health support in England.

One of several key findings was that smaller user-led groups and organisations rely upon relationships to deliver their mission, both within their own group, with the people within their community they support and with their wider community. 

External pressure to move away from their core aims can put these relationships at risk.

National Survivor User Network

Health literacy needs support, now more than ever

This article discusses how COVID-19 has highlighted long-standing gaps in health literacy and argues support is needed more than ever during a 'raging misinformation pandemic'.

It cites the 2012 European Health Literacy Survey which found 29% to 62% of people across eight EU member states had inadequate or problematic health literacy.

The article also discusses how pharma can help, starting with making health information contained in prescribing information and packaging leaflets much easier to understand.


Study: Effects of health literacy on accurate judgement of information and decision making

A new study aims to explore objective and subjective health literacy and test which is associated more strongly with accurate judgments of quality and behavioural intentions beneficial to health.

A survey on depression and its treatments was conducted online. 

The Newest Vital Sign was employed to measure objective, performance-based health literacy, and the eHealth Literacy Scale was used to measure subjective, perception-based health literacy.

It found objective and subjective health literacy were weakly associated with one another. 

High objective health literacy levels were associated with an inclination to behave in ways that are beneficial to health and an ability to recognise low-quality online sources of health information. 

Objective health literacy helped people to recognise misinformation on health websites and improved their judgment on their treatment for depression.

Authors concluded only objective health literacy appears to have the potential to prevent people from becoming victims of health disinformation.


Government updates guidance on vitamin D for vulnerable groups

The Government has updated its guidance on vitamin D for for anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and/or in residential and nursing care homes and has been offered a free supply of vitamin D supplements in England from January 2021.

The updated guidance accompanies the Department of Health and Social Care’s initiative to offer a free four-month supply of vitamin D supplements.

Click on the link below to view the updated guidance.


Case study: Tackling digital exclusion and supporting mental health

A joint project is helping tackle digital exclusion and supporting people's mental health.

NHS Camden and Islington Foundation Trust (NHS Candi) moved its specialist Traumatic Stress Clinic online during COVID-19.  

The service identified 20 users who were digitally excluded and unable to engage with remote therapy.

Helpforce secured 20 tablets donated by ASDA which NHS Candi sent to its users. However, it was crucial to ensure users also had an affordable internet connection and the skills to use both.

Jangala provided the connection through its Get Box – a paperback-sized internet connectivity device that connects to mains power and provides instant Wi-Fi and access to 4G data for a low monthly fee.

AbilityNet provided free specialist technology support from its network of more than 300 volunteers. 


The rising tide of COVID-19 infections in prisons

This Nuffield Trust Chart of the Week looks at recent data showing coronavirus infections rose more rapidly across the prisoner population in December than they did across the general population.

Dr Miranda Davies and Eilís Keeble look at this trend in context and consider the burden the pandemic is placing upon this already vulnerable population.

Nuffield Trust

Scotland launches vaccination information campaign

A new campaign encouraging people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible has launched in Scotland.

The Roll your sleeves up campaign emphasises the importance of the vaccine and its safety, as well as the prioritisation list set out by Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to ensure those most at risk are vaccinated first.

Scottish Government

Prioritising lung cancer after COVID-19

A report drawn up by the World Economic Forum says governments must act to restore damage done to lung services during the pandemic to avoid further preventable deaths.

The report, produced in partnership with Lung Ambition Alliance, highlights patient information and communication as one of three key enabling factors.

It says there is a need to ensure appropriate patient information and communication throughout a patient’s treatment, not only with regards to the treatment they are receiving but also their wider health and how they can manage their risk of COVID-19. 

World Economic Forum

Present your work: Community is the best medicine

The King's Fund is looking for projects to present at its upcoming conference, Community is the best medicine.

Projects which fits one or more of the following themes should apply before 12 February:

  • Strengthening community resilience
  • ‘Working with’ communities rather than ‘doing to’
  • Sharing power and resources with communities to drive better health
  • Working with diverse communities to tackle inequalities in health

Click on the link below for more information on how to apply and details of the conference which will be held from 21-24 June.

The King's Fund