Misinformation in the COVID-19 infodemic

A new report calls on the government to make a final decision on the appointment of an independent online harms regulator immediately.

Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic, a report by the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, found online misinformation about COVID-19 was allowed to spread across social media.

The report details a range of harms caused by this, from dangerous hoax treatments to forgoing of medical treatment all together.

The committee says proposals for 'online harm' legislation would impose a duty of care on tech companies and give a new online harms regulator investigatory and sanction powers.

However, it raises concerns about the pace of the legislation. 

The Online Harms White Paper was published in April 2019 and the Government has not produced a final response to its consultation which closed more than a year ago.

House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Practical learning for remote service delivery

COVID-19 forced most organisations to start delivering some services digitally or by phone, often for the first time. 

This article includes ten key things to consider when looking at delivering information, advice and support services differently post-lockdown.

It is based on learning from providers of well-established helplines and advice lines.

The detailed advice covers areas including making sure the service is needed, putting quality and safeguarding measures in place and creating information resources which complement the work.

Community Fund

Investment in projects investigating higher COVID-19 risk among ethnic groups

Six new projects to improve understanding of the links between COVID-19 and ethnicity have been funded by the NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).  

These projects will seek to explain and mitigate the disproportionate death rate from COVID-19 among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, including health and social care workers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The projects, which total £4.3 million worth of funding, will:

  • Explore the impact of the virus specifically on migrant and refugee groups
  • Work with key voices within Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to create targeted, digital health messages
  • Introduce a new framework to ensure the representation of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in clinical trials testing new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19
  • Create one of the UK’s largest COVID-19 cohorts


'Living in poverty was bad for your health before COVID-19'

A new long-read report from the Health Foundation looks at the link between health and income.

It explores the impact of several economic shocks, both before and during COVID-19, on health.

The report says the government's 'levelling up' agenda must include investment to improve the health of the whole population and level up health outcomes.

Health Foundation

Coronavirus: the equality response

The Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland has raised concerns about COVID-19 and the responses being taken to it.

It says the pandemic may be having a direct and disproportionate impact on some groups, making existing inequalities worse.

The commission highlights the need for obligations under the Equality Act 2010 to be incorporated into guidance to support frontline staff. 

In particular, it underlines that assessment tools, such as the Clinical Frailty Scale, must not be used to make decisions about access to critical care in a way that results in unlawful discrimination.


Podcast: COVID-19, racism and the roots of health inequality

A new podcast from The King's Fund asks how COVID-19 is repeating patterns of existing health inequalities.

It asks what factors are driving the disproportionate impact on the health of ethnic minority populations and what needs to happen next.

The podcast can be listened to by clicking on the link below. Please note, the podcast is only available subscription free for one month.

The King's Fund

Excess weight and COVID-19

A Public Health England report brings together evidence from UK and international studies on the impact of excess weight on COVID-19 outcomes.

Outcomes covered include: laboratory confirmation, hospitalisation, admission to intensive or critical care and treatment, and risk of mortality.

It offers insights into the prevalence, causes and risks of being overweight as well as information regarding food and drink purchases and physical activity during the lockdown. 


Online antenatal care during the coronavirus pandemic

In this JMIR Publications article, the authors discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic brings not only opportunities for the development and popularisation of online antenatal care but also challenges.

It says, while online antenatal care could help diminish health care inequality, it is important to establish the quality and safety of such care.


COVID-19 rapid guideline updated

NICE has updated its COVID-19 rapid guideline on haematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

This includes amended recommendations on advice and testing for COVID-19 for patients and donors.

Recommendations on deferring treatment for some patients have been removed to reflect changes in the risk of infection and capacity in services after the initial peak of COVID-19 prevalence.


Guidance on patients presenting with respiratory symptoms

The Primary Care Respiratory Society (PCRS) has issued guidance for clinicians on patients presenting with respiratory symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance includes a position statement and recommendations for diagnostic work up.


Integrated child health information system

The health records of 355,849 children living in Liverpool and Sefton have been consolidated into a new, single child health information system.

The deployment of System C’s CarePlus  means care professionals will be able to track children through to their transition to adult services, with access to all the relevant information to provide suitable care.  

Liverpool and Sefton Child Health Information Services have also joined up with neighbouring Cheshire, which is sharing the same CarePlus system, to provide an integrated service.  

System C

Study: Digital behaviour interventions for children with chronic conditions

A systematic review has examined digital interventions for children aged five to 12 years old with chronic conditions.

The review aimed to identify effective digital interventions, report the characteristics of promising interventions, and describe the user’s experience.

It found, of eligible interventions, those for anxiety and obesity had the most promise.

The authors said using qualitative methods during digital intervention development and evaluation may lead to more meaningful, usable, feasible, and engaging interventions.

The review suggests a model for improving the conceptualisation and reporting of behavioural interventions involving children and parents.


Accessibility statements: your questions answered

Following its recent webinar on public sector body accessibility statements, AbilityNet has published a list of responses to the main queries.

The list covers a wide range of practical considerations and concerns about accessibility statements and what they need to contain ahead of the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations deadline of 23 September 2020.

A recording of the webinar is also available.