Government pledges to reduce overprescribing of medicines

The Government has said will take action to prevent medicines being prescribed unnecessarily in England.

The announcement followed the publication of a review into overprescribing led by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Keith Ridge.

It found 10% of prescription items dispensed through primary care in England are inappropriate for that patient's circumstances and wishes or they could be better served with alternative treatments.

Overprescribing is when people are given medicines they do not need or want, or where potential harm outweighs the benefit of the medication. 


Mental health consultation raises issue of digital exclusion among older people

A consultation event to discuss older adults’ experiences of mental health and social care services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted issues of digital exclusion.

The event was organised by the ALLIANCE, Age Scotland, See Me, and Voices Of eXperience (VOX).

It found, as services moved online, many older people struggled to receive support.

Some participants felt there was a lack of awareness around how to help people get online and how to provide support for those who were new to the technology.  

For many, another major barrier was the cost of buying new equipment, paying for broadband, and paying for mobile phone data. 

Issues of loneliness, isolation and access to services were also raised at the event.

Findings will  be shared with the Scottish Government to help inform policy.


Study: Association between eHealth literacy and satisfaction with shared decision making

A new study aims to investigate the association between patients' eHealth literacy and their satisfaction with shared decision making (SDM) and wellbeing.

It found patients with a high level of eHealth literacy are more likely to experience optimal SDM and improved capability wellbeing. 

However, patients’ depressive status may alter the relationship between eHealth literacy and satisfaction with SDM.


Safety, equity and engagement in maternity services

A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlights continued concern about the variation in the quality and safety of England’s maternity services.

It calls for a series of improvements to ensure safer care for all mothers and babies including:

  • Ensuring all women and their families have information and support allowing them to make choices about their care.
  • Listening to individual women and fully explaining choices, in an accessible way, throughout the pregnancy journey.
  • Improving how local maternity services engage with, learn from and listen to the needs of women, particularly women from black and minority ethnic groups.
  • Using ethnicity data to review safety outcomes for women from black and minority ethnic groups, and take action in response to risk factors.
  • Working with black and minority ethnic women to personalise care and reduce inequality of outcomes.


Campaign calls for more members of the black community to donate blood

A coalition of mothers and charities is urging more members of the black community to donate blood.

Bonded by Blood was set up in memory of Richard Okorogheye. 

Richard had sickle cell disorder and needed regular blood transfusions to stay well.

He appeared in the national news in April after disappearing from his home but sadly his body was found two weeks later. 

A series of special blood donation sessions are being held in Richard's memory across London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.

They began in September to mark World Sickle Cell Awareness Month and continue throughout Black History Month this October.

NHS Blood and Transplant

Factsheet offers advice on creating accessible documents

AbilityNet has published a free factsheet with advice on creating accessible documents.

It includes tips on improving the accessibility of publications for both print and online.

Areas covered include headings, writing in plain language, point size, images and converting to PDF.


Barts Health designs new app to help people with learning disabilities

PIF member Barts Health, with support from UCL Partners, has released an app to improve quality of care for adults with a learning disability.

Hear Me Now is an app and content-sharing remote web service designed for and with people with cognitive disabilities.

It allows information to be recorded in word, photo, audio, or video format.

Information is then stored in easy-to-organise 'boxes' which can be shared with healthcare staff or carers, either in person or using the internet-based sharing platform.

Barts Health

People with dementia need more involvement in decisions about long-term care

NIHR research has found people with dementia often have their views or wishes overlooked, even when they are able to express their opinions clearly.

The study authors make several recommendations to better meets the needs of people with dementia and their families including:

  • Better assessments of whether someone can understand information and use it to make a decision.
  • Improved Information-sharing.
  • Earlier and consistent involvement of people with dementia and their families in decisions about future care arrangements.
  • More support for staff to put these strategies into practice.


Personalisation in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities

Think Local, Act Personal has published a report summarising good examples of personalised care and community-based support for people from ethnically diverse communities.  

It features 14 organisations around England offering services for different cohorts of people.

All examples demonstrate support which is person-centred and highly sensitive to people’s identities, background and beliefs, using staff and volunteers rooted in their communities.


Directors of public health and the COVID-19 pandemic

A report by The King's Fund highlights key learnings from the experiences of directors of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It found directors of public health had been responsible for a wide range of health protection activities.

However, a key challenge was public health teams not being engaged by central government on major elements of the COVID-19 response. 

The King's Fund

Entries open for Our Health Heroes Awards

Nominations are now open for the Skills for Health Our Health Heroes Awards.

This year's headline sponsor is Health Education England and there are 11 new categories.

The deadline for entries is Thursday, 14 October.

Skills for Health

Accelerating Innovation in social prescribing

National voluntary organisations are being invited to join the Accelerating Innovation programme.

The programme, which has a Community of Practice at its heart, will support voluntary organisations to develop their social prescribing ideas.

It is a partnership between National Academy for Social Prescribing, Royal Voluntary Service and NHS England and NHS Improvement.   

Applications to join the community of practice should be submitted by 3 October.

National Academy for Social Prescribing

NHS population screening: identifying and reducing inequalities

Public Health England has updated its guidance to support providers and commissioners in reducing screening inequalities.

The guidance, which was originally published in March, was updated on 23 September.