Report highlights persistent inequalities for pregnant women

A report from the MBRRACE-UK collaboration highlights persistent inequalities and continued inequitable care for pregnant women.

Saving Lives, Improving Mothers' Care examines the care of all women who died during, or up to one year after, pregnancy between 2017 and 2019 in the UK.

It found women from black ethnic groups are four times more likely to die in pregnancy than women from white groups. Women from Asian ethnic backgrounds are almost twice as likely.

Pregnant women living in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to die than those living in the most affluent areas.

The maternal mortality rate is almost four times higher for women aged 40 or over, compared with women aged 20-24 years. Other key findings include:

  • Heart disease remains the largest single cause of all maternal deaths during or up to six weeks after pregnancy.
  • Maternal suicide remains the leading direct pregnancy-related cause of death over the first year after pregnancy.
  • The number of teenage suicide deaths has increased: 11 per 100,000 teenagers giving birth, up from 2.5 in 2014-2016.


High intensity use of A&E is a health inequalities issue

A new report from the British Red Cross says high intensity use of A&E is fundamentally a health inequalities issue.

Its new report, Nowhere else to turn: exploring high intensity use of accident and emergency services, shows people from the most deprived areas of the UK are more likely to be in poor health and most likely to attend A&E most frequently.

'High intensity use' applies to a patient who attends A&E more than five times a year. Key findings from the report include:

  • People who frequently attend A&E make up less than 1% of England’s population but more than 16% of A&E attendances.
  • Some people end up at A&E more than 300 times a year.
  • People who attend A&E frequently often make use of other health services too.
  • Frequent use of GP services can be an ‘early warning sign’ of high intensity use.

The report makes three recommendations including more dedicated High Intensity Use services across the country, improving access to community-based support and taking action to address health inequalities.

British Red Cross

NHSX and NHS Digital to merge with NHS England and NHS Improvement

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced NHSX and NHS Digital are to merge into NHS England and NHS Improvement to accelerate digital transformation.

The merger is one of a series of recommendations made by Laura Wade-Gery, non-executive director at NHS England and Chair of NHS Digital.

NHSX and NHS Digital will become part of the Transformation Directorate.


Study: The relationship between official and social information about infectious disease

A new study aims to simultaneously evaluate the effect of public health campaigns and the effect of socially-communicated health information on learning about diseases.

It found exposure to official public health information increases individuals’ knowledge of the spread and symptoms of a disease. 

Socially-shared information facilitates the learning of both accurate and inaccurate information, though to a lesser extent. 

Although the effect of official information persists, preliminary results suggest it can be degraded by persistent contradictory social information over time.


Many people with mental illness did not seek help during first lockdown

New research suggests fewer people asked their GP or hospital for mental health support during the first lockdown despite an increase in the number of people with mental health problems.

Researchers are concerned the fall in help-seeking means people’s needs were not met.

This is thought to be the first population-based study of help-seeking during the pandemic. It found help-seeking fell most among adults of working age, women, younger people and those living in deprived areas.

This suggests existing inequalities grew wider.

Researchers say ensuring people can promptly access mental health support, diagnosis, and treatment should be an urgent priority for the NHS. 

Public health messages need to address any long-term reluctance to seek help.   


Consultation on safe prescribing and withdrawal management of dependence-forming medicines

There are just a few days left to take part in a consultation on draft NICE guidelines on safe prescribing and withdrawal management of dependence-forming medicines.

The draft guidance calls for healthcare professionals to use shared decision making best practice to highlight the risks of medicines associated with dependence.

The consultation closes at 5pm on 2 December.


Pregnant women urged to get COVID-19 vaccine following new UK safety data

Pregnant women are being urged to get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible following new data published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The data shows good birth outcomes in vaccinated women who had their babies up to August this year.

There were no consistent differences between vaccinated women and all women in the figures for stillbirths, low baby birthweights and premature births.

This is in contrast to those who catch the virus, with unvaccinated women at far higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Around one in five women hospitalised with the virus need to be delivered preterm to help them recover and one in five of their babies need care in the neonatal unit.


Experiences of bereavement support in later life

PIF member Independent Age has published a new report, Grief Encounters: Experiences of bereavement support in later life.

It found signposting to support options is not happening systematically, especially for people who have not accessed hospice care. 

Even where people know what support is available, there can be challenges accessing it.

Independent Age says information about bereavement support needs to be given proactively.

Beyond professionals, information should be readily available in all those places where people already spend time, such as supermarkets, libraries, hairdressers and faith centres.

Independent Age

Survey: Young patients' involvement in patient organisations

The European Patients Forum (EPF) Youth Group has shared a survey which aims to collect key information on the importance and impact of young patient's involvement in patient organisations.

The EPF Youth Group wants to hear from organisations both with and without experience of involving young patients in their work.

Findings will be used to better understand the barriers patient organisations face when it comes to involving young patients in their work.

EPF Youth Group

Co-production in the Scottish Borders

In this blog Matthew Hilferty discusses the ALLIANCE’s recent partnership work in the Scottish Borders and the importance of co-productive approaches.

He says it is crucial that the third sector is viewed as an equal partner in the design and delivery of health and social care in Scotland.


Study: Involvement of adolescent representatives and coresearchers in mental health research

A collaborative project between a researcher and 10 adolescent co-researchers has led to a series of recommendations for involving adolescents in mental health research.

Recommendations include providing appropriate training and support for adolescents, building a good collaborative relationship and reducing power differentials.

Authors also say there is a need to expand researchers' knowledge and competence about working with adolescents.

Wiley Online Library

Free phone line launched to help drugs users stay safe

A new anonymous phone service sees trained staff stay on the line while people are using drugs to ensure they remain safe.

The Never Use Alone phone line is run by the charity We Are With You, backed by £100,000 funding from the Scottish Government.

The service, which began in November, is the first of its kind in Europe and will initially be trialled in Glasgow and North and South Ayrshire. 

These areas have been chosen so the system can be assessed in both urban and rural areas.

Scottish Government