Report on progress to address COVID-19 health inequalities

The Government has released a report summarising work undertaken on COVID-19 disparities since the publication of COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes.

The quarterly report looks at several areas, including how to 'strengthen and improve' public health communications to ensure they can reach all communities.

Work which has already taken place includes an ethnic minority influencer programme and key messages being translated into local community languages.

The report also highlights where there are further opportunities for improvement in public health communication. These include:

  • Building on the existing communications programme with respected third party voices to improve reach, understanding and positive health behaviours.
  • A more streamlined approach across government and locally to improve local translations.
  • More emphasis on promotion of existing NHS guidance on minimising transmission within households, sharing these messages widely and in the range of languages and formats needed.

It says further work is also needed to dispel myths, reduce fear and build confidence among ethnic minority people. Click on the link below to read the report in full.

HM Government

Protecting ethnic minorities from COVID-19 inequalities

A joint paper by the IPPR and Runnymede Trust calls for immediate action to protect ethnic minorities from a second wave of COVID-19.

It says the extra risk of death in minority ethnic groups is one of the starkest health inequalities in recent times.

Analysis carried out with CF healthcare consultancy estimates more than 58,000 additional deaths from COVID-19 would have occurred if the white population had experienced the same risk of death as the black population.

The analysis also found underlying health conditions like diabetes, failed to explain the inequalities.

IPPR and Runnymede Trust say, while inequalities cannot be resolved overnight, a comprehensive government strategy is needed to mitigate ethnic inequalities this winter. 

Their research suggests this strategy should tackle two key inequalities:

  • Almost all minority ethnic groups are more likely to get COVID-19. The government must put in place measures to better protect these communities and support people to isolate.
  • The consequences and harms associated with COVID-19 for most minority ethnic groups are more severe. The government must ensure minority ethnic groups have better access to treatment than they currently do.


New draft standards to integrate people's health and social care

The Professional Records Standards Body (PRSB) has published a set of draft standards to help integrate health and social care by ensuring important information is shared.

The draft standards were produced with the support of more than 1,000 frontline professionals, carers and patients. 

There are five draft standards:

  • 'About me' – the personal details a person would like to be recorded about themselves
  • Information shared in care homes
  • Information shared by local authorities
  • Social care referrals after a hospital stay
  • Urgent information needed when a person is transferred to hospital from a care home

The new draft standards for information shared by local authorities and ‘about me’ will be incorporated into PRSB's existing shared record standard, known as the core information standard. 

The other standards will be published separately.


Patient Noun Adjective: understanding the experience of waiting for care

National Voices has published a report into patients' experiences of waiting for care.

Patient Noun Adjective aims to understand how waits, delays and cancellations impact on people and their families, particularly those living with long-term, multiple and chronic conditions.

The findings offer insights into issues around communication, receipt of referral, contacting health and care teams, estimations around length of wait, updates on delays, access to support and self-management.

Based on the findings, National Voices recommends that, alongside the effective management of waiting times and pathways, policy leads, commissioners, and providers:

  • Understand the importance of improving the experience of waiting
  • Invest in developing patient-centred information and communication
  • Support people while they wait by: providing and supporting self-management and shared decision making; monitoring routinely and providing clear pathways to specialist advice; exploring potential for carefully-delivered virtual healthcare; and partnering with and signposting to voluntary, community and peer support.

National Voices

Reducing health inequalities for people living with frailty

A new resource shares practical recommendations and examples of how to reduce health inequalities for people with frailty.

It is aimed at commissioners, service providers and health, care and support staff.

The project was delivered by organisations working on behalf of people experiencing deprivation, people who are homeless, people experiencing substance misuse, people with learning disabilities, LGBT people, people with mental health needs, people from Gypsy and Traveller communities, and vulnerable migrants. 

Friends, Family and Travellers

Patients’ views on GP premises during COVID-19

An investigation by the Patients Association explores how patients feel about their GP surgeries and whether they would be confident returning to them.

It found ongoing high levels of confidence about visiting GP premises, and a strong expectation among patients that they would feel welcome, confident and safe on future visits.  

Survey responses also shed further light on patients’ access to GP services during the pandemic.

Many were offered phone consultations but relatively few got online video calls. 

For a substantial minority of patients, online contact was not sufficient to resolve their issue, and they needed to make an in-person visit. 

Patients Association

CQC State of Care report

The Care Quality Commission's annual State of Care Report highlights how digital innovations during COVID-19 have led to some people being excluded.

It says the crisis has accelerated innovation that had previously proved difficult to mainstream, such as GP practices moving rapidly to remote consultations. 

While the changes have proved beneficial to, and popular with, many they exclude people who do not have good digital access and some have been rushed into place during the pandemic.

The report also says the pandemic is having a disproportionate effect on some groups of people, and is 'shining a light' on existing inequality in the health and social care system. 

The CQC says it is important that learning and innovation seen during the pandemic is used to develop health and social care for the future. 

New approaches to care, developed in response to the pandemic and shown to have potential, must be fully evaluated before they become established practice.


Sensory guidance for COVID-19 lockdown

New cross-sector guidance to support people living with sensory loss during the COVID-19 lockdown has been published.

PIF member the ALLIANCE is working closely with Scottish Government and partner organisations from across the third sector to produce guidance and information to support people living with sensory loss and their communication partners as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions vary across the country.

The guidance outlines key advice on how necessary measures can be safely observed for people living with sensory loss, and how to support people to access vital services such as shopping, travel and medical appointments safely.


Guidance explains different types of tests and testing kits

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has published information for the public, patients, professionals and industry about COVID-19 tests and testing kits.

The information includes details on how they work, the different types of tests and the specifications manufacturers need to follow.


BMA Patient Information Awards

Applications are now open for the BMA PLG (patient liaison group) patient information awards.

The awards encourage excellence in the production and dissemination of accessible, well-designed and evidence-based patient information.

Applications submitted to the suspended 2020 round are still eligible and will be considered for the 2021 awards.

Applicants may also submit new applications for resources published in 2020.

The deadline for online applications is 30 November. Click on the link below for more information on how to apply.


The impact of COVID-19 on older people’s mental and physical health 

Age UK has released the results of a study exploring the impact of COVID-19 on older people's mental and physical health.

It shows that, while staying at home may protect older people from the virus, it can lead to other serious problems including loss of function, pain from untreated medical conditions and increases in anxiety and depression.

The report highlights that those with long-term health conditions, particularly those advised to shield, were some of the hardest hit.

Many reported struggling to  manage their conditions, with worsening symptoms, reduced ability to complete day-to-day activities and an increase in pain. 

Age UK

Thousands of kidney patients need more support

A report by Kidney Care UK says the Government needs to take immediate and long-term action to protect the wellbeing of around 70,000 vulnerable kidney patients.

Out of sight, out of mind; the continuing impact of COVID-19 on people living with kidney disease comes shows the majority of kidney patients have been expected to return to work.

Nearly two thirds of respondents (63%) said they were concerned for their safety but had to return regardless. 

More than a third of patients (36%) were struggling with their mental health and almost half (49%) experienced disruption to their care – a fifth (22%) had surgery or appointments cancelled.

As a result of the survey, Kidney Care UK has called for a number of immediate actions and long-term plans, including asking NHS leaders to ensure no kidney patient is denied access to the care or information they need.

Kidney Care UK

Impact of COVID-19 on cardiovascular services and patients

In this article, Rachel Hutchings takes a closer look at what the disruption to NHS services during COVID-19 has been like for people living with heart disease.

The article draws on 2,000 anonymous posts from the British Heart Foundation’s online forum.

Many shared experiences of cancelled appointments even after being told they were a priority. 

Face-to-face services like cardiac rehab were either suspended or moved remotely. 

Despite providing an alternative, people felt they were missing out on peer support with others with the same condition.

Rachel stresses the importance of understanding patients’ experiences as we head towards winter with a second wave underway.

Nuffield Trust

New fact sheets for self care week

The Self Care forum has published new and updated fact sheets ahead of Self Care Week 2020 (16-22 November).

They include a new 'venous disease – looking after your legs' resource to help clinicians conduct a self care aware consultation and shared discussion with individuals showing signs of venous disease for the first time.   

There is also a new factsheet in the COVID-19 series on boosting your mood.

Updated resources include: sore throat, fever in children, cough, common cold and otitis media (middle ear infection).

Self Care Forum