Consultation: Government plans to reform public health system

A new policy paper sets out reforms to the public health system in England, including the closure of Public Health England (PHE).

The new paper, which is open for consultation until 26 April, follows publication of The future of public health: the NIHP and other public health functions in September 2020.

It includes plans to combine the health protection capabilities of PHE and NHS Test and Trace into a new UK Health Security Agency. 

The UKHSA previously had a working title of the National Institute for Health Protection.

Current health improvement, prevention and healthcare public health functions of PHE will transfer to new homes within the health system. 

A new Office for Health Promotion will be created in the Department of Health and Social Care, under the leadership of the Chief Medical Officer.


Impact of data-driven technologies on inequalities

New research explores how the accelerated adoption of data-driven technologies and systems during the pandemic may have affected inequalities.

The Data Divide was published by The Ada Lovelace Institute as part of a partnership with The Health Foundation.

It says, while symptom-tracking apps, contact-tracing apps and consumer-facing mental and physical-health apps have been of immense use and value during the pandemic, particularly for health purposes, they have not been experienced equally.

Other key messages in the report include:

  • The digital divide has an onward effect on who can be represented by, and has agency to shape, data-driven technologies. The longer-term consequences are disenfranchisement of those excluded digitally.
  • Vaccine passports in particular engender concern among minority ethnic communities.
  • The majority of the UK public is concerned about the potential discriminatory impact of vaccine passports.

Ada Lovelace Institute

Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report – health

A new report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities includes a chapter on health.

The chapter looks at how to understand disparities in health, with specific sections on life expectancy, conditions including cancer and diabetes, maternal mortality, mental health and targeting campaigns.

It says an analysis of available evidence into health disparities has shown how inappropriate it is to consider these issues under the term BAME as there are deep differences in the prevalence and outcome of some health conditions both between and within ethnic groups in the UK.

The report includes links to several evidence sources on health disparities.

Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

Getting UK health services back on track

The BMA has published a report outlining a 'realistic approach' to tackling the backlog of non-COVID care.

Rest, recover, restore: Getting UK health services back on track calls for five actions to ensure services resume safely both for patients and those providing care:

  • All governments and system leaders to have an honest conversation with the public about the need for a realistic approach to restoring non-COVID care.
  • Health, safety, and mental wellbeing of the workforce to remain a top priority.
  • Additional resourcing to help tackle the backlog.
  • Measures to expand system capacity.
  • Measures to retain doctors and expand the medical workforce.


Update on Macmillan Publications Directory and Mac Voice

Macmillan has announced it is closing its online Publications Directory as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously known as the Directory of Information Materials, it hosted records of all quality-assured cancer information produced by Macmillan and other organisations in the UK.

Cancer information produced by Macmillan is still available at or on the website.

Macmillan is also streamlining the information it delivers to professional audiences.

This means the Spring 2021 issue will be the last edition of Mac Voice. Click on the link below to download the magazine.


Study: Public attitudes on social media towards COVID-19 vaccines

An observational study has used artificial intelligence to analyse public attitudes on Facebook and Twitter towards COVID-19 vaccines in the UK and USA.

More than 300,000 social media posts related to COVID-19 vaccines were extracted.

Overall positive, negative, and neutral sentiments were at 58%, 22%, and 17% in the United Kingdom, compared to 56%, 24%, and 18% in the United States.

Authors concluded artificial intelligence-enabled social media analysis should be considered for adoption by institutions and governments alongside surveys and other conventional methods of assessing public attitude. 

Such analyses could enable real-time assessment of public confidence and trust in COVID-19 vaccines, help address the concerns of vaccine sceptics, and help develop more effective policies and communication strategies to maximise uptake.


Bilingual play explores COVID-19 experience

A bilingual play about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on a South Asian family when one of its members gets COVID-19 is set to screen via Zoom this weekend.

CORONA – Umeed naa khona! (CORONA – Don’t lose hope!)  is performed in Urdu and English.

Following a successful first screening, it will be available to watch on Zoom from 7pm-7.30pm on Saturday 10 April.

The play will be followed by Q&A session with consultant in public health Dr Harsh Duggal and Bradford-based GP Dr Uzma Qureshi.

Click on the link below to join the Zoom screening on Saturday.

Personalised care and support guidance for local maternity systems

NHS England has published new personalised care and support planning guidance for local maternity systems.

The guidance identifies criteria to define personalised care planning and sets out what local maternity systems need to do to ensure personalised care planning is embedded into service delivery.

It also includes an audit tool.

NHS England

Self Care Week 2021 resources available now

The theme for this year's Self Care Week, which takes place from 15-21 November, is Practise Self Care for Life.

As well as the usual Self Care Week logos, including web buttons, a poster, TV screen and pop-up banner images, updated resources include an eight-point plan and a communications document.

Self Care Week

Consultation: Patient Safety Commissioner for Scotland

The Scottish Government's Programme for Government 2020-21 commits to establishing a Patient Safety Commissioner for Scotland. 

A current consultation paper seeks views on what the role should like look like, who the commissioner should report to and how they should interact with existing legislation, policies and other health organisations.

The decision to establish the commissioner role came about as a result of recommendation 2 in the First Do No Harm review published in July 2020.

The consultation closes on 28 May, 2021.

Scottish Government

Event: Digital design for dementia

A free webinar will offer tips on designing websites for people with dementia.

The AbilityNet event will cover design, language and structure, with many of the tips helping to make websites more accessible for all.

The webinar starts at 1pm on 18 May. Click on the link below to register.