People with medical conditions and disabilities among worst affected by digital exclusion

Digital exclusion is affecting millions of UK people, a House of Lords committee has warned.

As services go digital at great speed, many do not have the money and skills needed to get online.

The Lords communications and digital committee report says:

  • People with medical and disability challenges are among the worst affected
  • Half of people over 75 lack basic digital skills
  • The cost-of-living crisis has made things worse
  • Up to 1 million people have cut off their broadband for financial reasons.

It says government intervention to improve digital access is needed, including to improve public health.

Recommendations for action include:

  • Accessibility and exclusion audits of public services’ digital plans and offerings
  • Better resources for public libraries to help upskill people
  • More affordable internet access
  • Improved broadband and mobile data infrastructure
  • Government showing leadership in tackling digital exclusion.

The full report can be seen on the UK parliamentary publications website here.

Tackling inequalities tops the agenda for public health charity

The Royal Society of Public Health has published a new strategy outlining its plan to tackle health inequalities.

Planned actions include:

  • Providing high-quality education to the public health workforce
  • Championing better health outcomes
  • Innovating and influencing through its research programme.

Download the report from the RSPH website here.

Steps to ‘iron out’ health inequalities  

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor has set out steps to ‘iron out’ health inequalities across the four nations of the UK.

Speaking before a discussion event organised by the Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care, he said achieving this required:

  • Placing health and care at the heart of the political negotiations to help prioritise a collective new approach to health and care
  • Sustained and increased investment – Northern Ireland health and care funding is currently falling behind the rest of the UK
  • Empowering patients to manage their own health through a new culture of trust and with technology.

Read more of Matthew’s comments via the NHS Confederation release here.

Digital health checks coming for adults in England

A digital NHS health check is to be rolled out across England from spring 2024, the government has announced.

The current NHS health check is done face-to-face, mainly in GP surgeries.

It is offered to adults in England aged 40 to 74. The aim is to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.

From spring 2024 the new digital check will run alongside the existing system. 

People will complete an online questionnaire. Results and tailored advice will be available online.

Referrals to GPs will only be made if further tests and treatment are needed.

Read more via the GOV.UK website here.

ONS updates local authority health data

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has updated its interactive Health Index score search.

The tool can be used to see how health changed in each local authority area across England between 2015 and 2021.

Overall, health scores in England partly recovered in 2021 following the first year of the pandemic but remained below 2019 levels.

Find out more on the ONS website here.

Study: Author distribution in top medical journals

A study published by BMJ Global Health explores representation from low and middle-income countries in medical education journals.

Analysis revealed a dominance of first and last authors from 5 countries: the USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands and Australia. 

Of the 195 countries in the world, more than 80 were not represented by a single publication. 

Authors concluded academic publishing continues to be a colonised space that advantages those from wealthy and English-speaking countries.

Read the full study results via the BMJ Global Health website here.

NHS 75th birthday prompts priorities report

An independent report released to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS says it should focus on three core areas:

  • Preventing ill health
  • Personalising care
  • Delivering more co-ordinated care closer to home.

The NHS Assembly consulted staff, patient groups, carers, charities and partners in the health and care sector to write The NHS in England at 75: priorities for the future.

Visit the NHS Long-Term Plan website here to find out more.

Wales to limit promotion of high sugar, salt and fat foods

A new law in Wales will restrict the ways foods high in fat, sugar or salt can be promoted.

The law, which will be rolled out by 2025, is part of the Welsh Government commitment to improve diets and help prevent obesity.

New measures will include restrictions on:

  • Volume-based promotions, such as multi-buys
  • Where products high in fat, sugar or salt can be displayed
  • Temporary price promotions and meal deals.

Read more on the Welsh Government website here.

New treatment choice for migraine on horizon

Draft NICE guidance recommends a new oral preventative treatment for migraine.

Up to 145,000 people could have access to Rimegepant on the NHS if the guidance is finalised.

Currently, NICE-recommended preventive treatments for migraine include only injectable drugs or drugs used for treating other conditions, such as beta blockers.

During consultation on the new guidance, patients described migraine as an ‘invisible disability’ that affects all aspects of life.

View the full NICE announcement here.

Cancer vaccines could be UK’s pandemic ‘silver lining’ 

Experts from a think tank round table are urging more investment in cancer vaccine research.

They say the expertise, speed and success of COVID-19 vaccination research in the UK paves the way for trials into life-saving new cancer treatments.

The report on the round table discussion marks the start of Public Policy Projects proposed Cancer Care Delivery Plan. Key points include: 

  • The UK should aim to repurpose technology for coronavirus vaccines to make cancer vaccines
  • Doing so could cement its reputation as a life sciences superpower
  • The MHRA can help to speed up clinical trial processes for cancer vaccines.

Download the report from the Public Policy Projects website here.