Social media companies and Government team up to tackle vaccine disinformation

The UK Government and social media companies have agreed a package of measures to reduce online vaccine disinformation.

At a virtual roundtable to address the growth of vaccine disinformation, Facebook, Twitter and Google agreed to:

  • Commit to the principle that no user or company should directly profit profit from COVID-19 vaccine mis/disinformation. This removes an incentive for this type of content to be promoted, produced and be circulated.
  • Ensure a timely response to mis/disinformation content flagged to them by the government.
  • Continue to work with public health bodies to ensure that authoritative messages about vaccine safety reach as many people as possible.
  • Join new policy forums over the coming months to improve responses to mis/disinformation and to prepare for future threats.


Inadmissible Evidence report published

The Patient Experience Library has published a report asking why healthcare seems unable to accept patient feedback as a valid form of evidence.

Inadmissible Evidence says NHS strategies emphasise the importance of person-centred care and, at a one-to-one level with patients, staff offer deeply personal and compassionate care. 

However, recent high profile examples of avoidable harm in healthcare, including the Ian Paterson report and Cumberlege review, are signs of an institutional culture that finds it hard to hear concerns raised by patients.

The report points to a double standard which takes medical research seriously, while dismissing the experiences of patients as anecdotal. 

It calls for steps that would strengthen evidence-based practice and ensure the patient voice is better heard. 

These include better research prioritisation, improved analytical tools and a professional learning infrastructure for patient experience work.

The Patient Experience Library

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities

A review into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has called for immediate action to protect people this winter as well as changes to a 'broken system' that has left ethnic minorities exposed.

An Avoidable Crisis by Baroness Doreen Lawrence was commissioned by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer earlier this year.

It makes a series of short and long-term recommendations including that the Government should remove linguistic, cultural and digital barriers to accessing public health information and work with all relevant bodies, including faith and community groups, to identify effective channels to disseminate information and provide support.

The report also makes recommendations aimed at reducing health inequalities. These include:

  • Suspend the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule during the pandemic and initiate a review on its impact on public health and health inequalities.
  • Implement  a national strategy to tackle health inequalities, with ministerial accountability and targets.
  • Equality impact assessments should be used much more effectively to shape and inform policy, and policymakers should seek to tackle structural racism with their decisions.

Click on the link below to read the report in full.

An Avoidable Crisis

5 things patient advocates want pharma to know

Health Union has published five key messages to come out of its work exploring what patients want pharma to know during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

The messages were developed following a virtual content series, The COVID-19 Effect: How Pharma Can Adapt to the Evolving Patient Experience.

Patient advocates living with multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraine and lung cancer shared their personal accounts of life with a chronic condition.

Presented alongside Health Union’s trusted survey data from tens of thousands of respondents, these live conversations shed light on what is important to patients.

  • Recognising and treating the whole person can ultimately impact compliance
  • When determining the success of treatment consider each patient's unique needs
  • Be aware that ads might impact an outsider's perspective on a chronic condition and act responsibly
  • Use words that people living with chronic conditions would use
  • Patients deserve better options and awareness of those options

Click on the link below to read the five themes in more detail and access recordings of the series.

Health Union

Funding boost for research to tackle impact of COVID-19 on mental health

Six new research projects have been funded by the NIHR and UKRI to investigate and reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.

The projects will focus on reducing the negative effects of the pandemic on the mental health of three at-risk groups: healthcare workers, children and younger people, and those with serious mental health problems.

The largest of the six new projects, worth £0.5 million, seeks to understand and mitigate the psychosocial impact of the pandemic on NHS staff in England. 


A pandemic of lockdown loneliness and the role of digital technology

In this article for JMIR, the authors explore lockdown loneliness – loneliness resulting from social disconnection as a result of enforced social distancing and lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They also explore the role of digital technology in tackling lockdown loneliness during the pandemic. 

The article suggests the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people who are more prone to lockdown loneliness are provided with access to digital technology so they can connect socially with their loved ones and others. 

It says key issues such as access to and knowledge of digital technology tools must be considered and the involvement of all key stakeholders – family and friends, social care providers, and clinicians and health allied professionals – should be ensured.


Does communication skills training improve cancer care?

In this blog, Liz O’Riordan reflects on the Cochrane Review Communication skills training for healthcare professionals working with people who have cancer.

She offers her perspective as both breast surgeon and someone with recurrent breast cancer.

She speaks about her own experiences of going to clinics with 'a list of questions that I never got around to asking' and her realisation of how damaging seemingly well-chosen words can be.

Evidently Cochrane

Face covering exemption cards launched

The Scottish Government has produced a face covering exemption card, to support those who are unable to wear one to feel more confident and safe when accessing public spaces and using public services.

The face covering exemption card is branded with the Healthier Scotland and NHS Scotland logos under the FACTS for a Safer Scotland campaign.

A physical card can be requested from Disability Equality Scotland to wear on a lanyard or hold in a wallet, while a digital card is also available to be displayed on a phone, tablet or other device.

The move was welcomed by PIF member Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland.

Scottish Government

Translated advice on wearing a face covering if you have a lung condition

The European Lung Foundation has now translated its advice on wearing a face covering if you have a lung condition into 11 languages.

The information, initially available in English, is now also available in languages including Arabic, Romanian and Portugese.

The advice is free to download from the ELF website.

European Lung Foundation

Communicating with people with mild memory loss

In her latest blog, Helen Osborne from Health Literacy Consulting discusses how to communicate with patients with mild memory loss or other cognitive challenges.

Her tips include connecting new information to old, chunking and writing down important information.

Health Literacy Consulting

Consultation: NICE reviews methods for health technology evaluation

NICE is consulting on proposed changes to its health technology evaluation.

The consultation document includes a proposal for removing the current modifier for life-extending treatments at the end of life and suggests adding alternative modifiers for disease severity and health inequalities.  

It also proposes accepting a greater degree of uncertainty and risk in some circumstances.

For example, for innovative treatments or conditions where evidence generation is complex and difficult, such as rare diseases.

The methods review consultation is open until Friday 18 December. 

NICE is also holding a consultation event on Wednesday 25 November, 4pm to 5pm, to discuss the proposals and answer any questions.


New Help Us, Help You resources added

Public Health England has added new free-to-download resources to its Help Us, Help You campaign.

Specific resources are now available for maternity and abdominal symptoms of cancer.

All resources are available via the Campaign Resource Centre.

Public Health England

Study: Participant experience of accessing a weight management programme via group video

A study has examined whether videoconference can be used to help overcome low engagement with conventional weight management programmes.

Adults with obesity referred to an NHS dietetics service in Wales, were offered a group videoconference weight management programme as an optional alternative to in‐person groups.

Ten themes were identified, three relating to service engagement and seven relating to behaviour change facilitation. 

Key themes in engagement included ‘reduced burden’, described as saving time and travel and ‘reduced threat’ as participants perceived joining a group from home as less daunting. 

Despite reporting some initial technical difficulties with establishing video and audio connection, participants described beneficial peer support.

Wiley Online Library

Event: Introduction to digital accessibility

AbilityNet is holding a free introduction to digital accessibility workshop on Thursday 26 November. The session will:

  • Present the legal, moral and commercial case for ensuring websites, apps and documents are accessible to all
  • Demonstrate how people with disabilities use assistive technology or customise their experience in order to access digital products and services
  • Introduce the principles of digital accessibility and the international standards used to assess if content will be accessible to all users

For more information, and to book, click on the link below.