Healthy life expectancies in England, Northern Ireland and Wales

The Office for National Statistics has released data on the number of years people are expected to spend in different health states in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Healthy life expectancy (HLE) at birth was highest in England and lowest in Wales.

HLE in England in 2020 to 2022 was 9.3 months lower than in 2011 to 2013 for males and 14 months lower for females. 

Because minimal change was seen up to 2017 to 2019, it is likely the coronavirus pandemic contributed to this decrease.

Disability-free life expectancy at age 65 years was highest in England and lowest in Northern Ireland.

Get the full report via the ONS website here.

WHO unveils a digital health promoter harnessing generative AI

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the launch of S.A.R.A.H., a digital health promoter prototype with enhanced empathetic response powered by generative artificial intelligence (AI).

S.A.R.A.H. is a Smart AI Resource Assistant for Health that can engage users 24 hours a day in eight languages.

It is trained to provide information across major health topics, including healthy habits and mental health.

The aim is to help people optimise their health and well-being journey and realise their rights.

Read more about the launch via the WHO website here.

Study: GP attitudes to patient online record access

A survey of GPs has revealed only a third think online patient record access is a good idea.

More than 9 in 10 GPs believed patients would worry more and more than 8 in 10 thought patients would find their records more confusing than helpful. However:

  • 6 in 10 believed patients would find significant errors in their records
  • 7 in 10 believed online records would help patients to better remember their care plan
  • 6 in 10 believed patients would feel more in control

Almost 9 in 10 said online record access would increase, or had already increased, the amount of time spent answering patient questions outside of consultations.

More than 7 in 10 said they would be, or already were, less candid in documentation.

Researchers say the results contribute to a growing body of research demonstrating clinicians are sceptical about online record access despite multiple apparent benefits for patients.

Read the full study via BMJ Open here.

Political action on public health

In this article for PIF member The King's Fund, Toby Brown says politicians are becoming bolder when it comes to public health.

However, he says what they are proposing is still far from what is needed to turn around the nation's poor health and polling shows public support for additional policy interventions. For example, more than 6 in 10 people support requiring companies to reduce the salt, sugar and fat in their products.

Toby argues, while mistrust of a "nanny state" is real, so too is public eagerness for policies that will improve the health of the nation.

Read the full article and polling results via The King's Fund website here.

HSJ Awards 2024 open for entries

The HSJ Awards 2024 are now open for entries. 

There are 25 categories to enter this year, including a new category: Early Intervention and Prevention for Children, Young People and Families Award. 

Find out more and apply here.

Long Covid is still shattering lives in Scotland

In this article,  Jane-Claire Judson from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland discusses the ongoing impact of Long Covid.

A survey of almost 2,000 people living with with chest, heart and stroke conditions and Long Covid, found:

  • 4 in 10 people living with Long Covid were unable to work at all due to their condition
  • More than 7 in 10 people with Long Covid are unable to access the support they needed
  • Almost 4 in 10 said their doctor was unable to provide guidance on available support

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is calling for the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to improve care pathways for Long Covid and prioritise coordination with third sector organisations.

Read the full article via the ALLIANCE website here.

Study: Patient and public involvement in the development of health services

A new study explores how underserved populations were engaged in a quality improvement programme for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A community-based approach was taken to engage with leaders and members of underserved groups across 11 workshops.

This included representation by Roma people, Afro-Caribbean people, people of African descent and the wider black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, Muslim women, refugee community members, deprived areas of South Yorkshire, LGBTQ+ and deaf populations. 

Findings demonstrated several barriers to healthcare access and use, including language accessibility, staff attitudes and awareness, mental health and stigma and continuity of support.

There were also practical factors such as ease of service use and safe spaces. 

Identified barriers were used as a lever to co-produce service changes.

Read the study findings in full via the Wiley Online Library here.

NHS App to target prevention and increase messaging

NHS England officials have said the NHS App is likely to focus increasingly on preventative tools and greater use of the platform for messaging.

Plans for the App were discussed at Digital Health Rewired24 last month.

Three quarters of UK adults had registered for the NHS App by the end of 2023. In December alone, 3.4 million secondary care appointments were viewed..

Nearly two thirds of over 65s accessed the app in the past three months.

NHSE is “steadily and iteratively” looking to bring more into the NHS App experience, including adding more to the delivery of test results, adding more visual imagery and ensuring patients have more data at their fingertips. 

Read more about plans for the NHS App via DigitalHealth here.

Study: Analysing pandemic fatigue for infodemic insights

A new study aims to explore and report on key narrative themes associated with expressions of pandemic fatigue by users on digital platforms.

It identifies six main themes relating to expression of pandemic fatigue, and one theme of counter narratives against pandemic fatigue. 

Pandemic fatigue was interlaced with issues of trust, preventative measure acceptance and uptake, misinformation and being overwhelmed with multiple or sustained emergencies.

Authors argue better understanding the implications of the information environment on users' perceptions, questions, and concerns regarding pandemic, and more broadly emergency, fatigue is vital in identifying relevant interventions.

Read the full study via Springer Link here.