Higher COVID-19 death rates in deprived areas

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest people living in deprived areas are more likely to die of COVID-19 than those in affluent places.

When adjusting for size and age structure of the population, there were 36.2 deaths involving COVID-19 per 100,000 people in England and Wales.

However, the age-standardised mortality rate of deaths involving COVID-19 in the most deprived areas of England was 55.1 deaths per 100,000 population.

This was compared with 25.3 deaths per 100,000 population in the least deprived areas.

In Wales, the most deprived areas had a mortality rate for deaths involving COVID-19 of 44.6 deaths per 100,000 population.

This was almost twice as high as the least deprived area of 23.2 deaths per 100,000 population.

The figures were based on deaths occurring between 1 March and 17 April.

Office for National Statistics

Communication for people with sensory loss

New guidance has been published to help healthcare staff communicate effectively with people with sensory loss and complex communication support needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ALLIANCE has worked alongside a range of Scottish and UK-wide third sector organisations and specialist charities to develop the guidance for healthcare staff.

Click on the link below to view the guidance.


NICE publishes latest rapid COVID-19 guidelines

NICE has published its latest COVID-19 rapid guidelines.

The first of the guidelines published this week covers the care of children and young people who are immunocompromised.

The second is on antibiotics for pneumonia in adults in hospital.

NICE has also updated some of its previously issued guidelines following feedback from stakeholders.


UK firm pioneers technology to help communication in hospitals

A new business has developed a collection of digital flashcards to address the problems healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) were having in transferring vital information to deaf, blind and critically-ill coronavirus patients.

CARDMEDIC, founded by NHS anaesthetist Dr Rachael Grimaldi while on maternity leave, launched at the beginning of April and is already available in 10 languages. 

The communication aids can be used in electronic format on phones, tablets, smart devices or desktops. 

As well as the visual aspects, CARDMEDIC also includes a read-aloud option.

The communication flashcards, which are free to download, have been accessed by more than 7,800 users in 49 countries since launching on 1 April.


Resources for online consultations

A new video animation and printable guides to online consultations have been published by Design Science.

The resources were developed with Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and Barts NHS Trust.

The project was funded by The Health Foundation, National Institute for Health Research, Higher Education Innovation Fund and Wellcome.

Resources are free to download and use. For more information, click on the link below.

Design Science

Knock-on effects of coronavirus on access to healthcare

A new report summarises the findings from interviews with people whose healthcare has been disrupted due to COVID-19.

The lived experience research includes interviews with people who had chosen not to seek care as well as people whose appointments had been cancelled or postponed.

Across the board, researchers found people were patient, grateful and understanding of the pressures on the NHS.

However, there was also evidence that people were avoiding seeking necessary treatment.

This was due to concerns about their own safety and, more often, because of a reluctance to further burden the health service. 

There were also recurring themes around uncertainty, anxiety and gaps in communication for people whose care was disrupted, and worries about the long-term impact for mental health service users and pregnant women in particular.


The quiet crisis of Britain’s missing patients

This article argues falling heart attack, cancer, stroke and other hospital admissions could spell disaster for doctors across the country.

It includes quotes from specialists who fear long-term health implications for people failing to seek prompt medical attention for conditions including heart attacks and strokes.

New Statesman

Video: Children and young people ask their COVID-19 questions

In this video, Mat Shaw, chief executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital, answers questions from children and young people about COVID-19.

The questions, submitted by GOSH patients and their siblings, are asked by Grace, chair of the GOSH Young People's Forum.

At the start of the video Mat says he is going to try to answer the questions in the 'best way possible' using simple words and language – something he acknowledges hospitals are not always great at.


NIHR launches Centre for Engagement and Dissemination

The National Institute for Health Research has launched a Centre for Engagement and Dissemination.

The centre brings together its activities in patient and public involvement, engagement and participation with its strengths in research dissemination.

Building on the work of the NIHR Dissemination Centre and NIHR INVOLVE, the new centre will lead NIHR’s work to make health and care research representative, relevant and ready for use.

It is hoped the Centre for Engagement and Dissemination will enhance NIHR's engagement with patients, service users, carers and the public, providing coordination and thought leadership across the health and care system.

National Institute for Health Research

Study: Improving understanding of patient-driven healthcare innovation

A new paper aims to introduce a theoretical discussion for better understanding of the potential of online health communities for health care organisations, particularly patient empowerment.

The literature review study analysed 56 articles using the Braun and Clarke thematic analysis approach.

Authors identified five salient themes: 

  • Communication extension
  • Improved health literacy for patients and health care organisations
  • Communication transparency with patients
  • Informational and social support for patients
  • Patient empowerment in self-management

The most frequent theme was communication extension. 

This theme reported that an extension of communication between patients, caregivers, and physicians and organisations led to new opportunities to create value with minimal time and cost restrictions. 

Improved health literacy and communication transparency with patients were the second and third most frequent themes, respectively. 

Their frequency indicated the use of online health communities to generate new knowledge from patients’ interactions helped health care organisations customise treatment plans and establish transparent and effective communication. 


Study: Comparing approaches for involving patients in research prioritisation

A qualitative study of participant experiences has compared three approaches for involving patients in research prioritisation.

The authors argued, by participating in priority-setting activities in research, patients and members of the public help ensure important questions are incorporated into future research agendas. 

However, while surveys, focus groups, and online crowd-sourcing are increasingly used to obtain input, little is known about how they compare for prioritising research topics. 

To address this gap, researchers evaluated participant satisfaction with the engagement experience across three prioritisation activities: online crowd-voting, in-person focus groups using nominal group technique, or two rounds of a mailed survey.

The authors found activities yielded similar priorities but differing perceptions of experience. 

Focus group participants rated their experience highest, in both the evaluation and interviews.