News round-up (13 November)

man looking at online news headlines
16th November 2020 about a 3 minute read

Here are some of the stories that caught our eye this week…


Local government: Councils warn of insolvency risk without big cuts

Many of England’s largest local authorities have warned they could be forced into “damaging” cuts to services next year to remain solvent.

Social care could be among the areas to suffer, the County Councils Network said, unless the government stepped in.

Its survey found 56% said they were planning to reduce access to social care packages or introduce new charges for services.

Public Accounts Committee report on Digital Transformation in the NHS

The reports authors comment: “We are concerned that patients and local health and care systems could be left behind if some less digitally-advanced trusts are unable to invest in the technology and skills they need to catch-up.”

Mobility network models of COVID-19 explain inequities and inform reopening

A paper in the Lancet on a US study mapping the movement of 98million people predicts a small number of ‘superspreader’ locations, like restaurants or religious establishments, account for most COVID-19 infections. 

Researchers found that disadvantaged groups were not able to reduce mobility and the places they visit are more crowded and therefore higher risk.

Top 25 ‘thought leaders’ in healthcare robotics predict telesurgery as the next major trend

A total of 82% of ‘thought leaders’ surveyed believed surgical robotics will be the sector facing the biggest growth over the next ten years.

“Based on our specialised understanding of health tech dynamics, we foresee healthcare robotics as a major enabler for the healthcare vision 2030″, said Faisal Ahmad, Co-Founder and CEO, BIS Research.

Should we all be using ‘sniff tests’ to screen for COVID-19?

Tim Spector writes in the Conversation that one of the best ways of containing the spread of COVID-19 is to rapidly identify people infected with the coronavirus and prevent them from passing it to others.

Temperature checks are now being used as a public screening tool for identifying people with COVID-19, but it’s unreliable, he says. 

Data from his ZOE COVID Symptom Study app shows many participants report loss of smell as a symptom of COVID. But he concludes ‘sniff tests’ are problematic as many people have a reduced sense of smell anyway.

COVID oximetry and virtual wards

As COVID-19 patients at risk of poorer outcomes can be identified by reduced oxygen saturation levels, the ability to recognise early decreases in blood oxygen levels before the patient becomes symptomatic is vital.

COVID virtual ward models use pulse oximeters to safely monitor and support patients at home, providing an opportunity to detect a decline in the patient’s condition that might require hospital review and admission. 

Early experiences of implementing this approach have been linked to reduced mortality, hospital length of stay, and the number of patients requiring intensive care admission and ventilation

Why trust and transparency are vital in a pandemic

The Office for Statistics (OSR) has published a statement outlining its expectations on how government should make the evidence supporting its decisions available to the public.

Mary Gregory, Deputy Director for Regulation at the OSR says when a government minister or spokesperson quotes data in statements or  briefing, the supporting information should be accessible to everyone at the time.

Tech firms to deliver ground-breaking selfie app that measures vital signs

Two AI-driven tech firms, Lifelight and Karantis360, have joined forces to roll out new technology that allows contactless measurement of vital signs in 40 seconds using a selfie taken on a standard smartphone or tablet, with no additional hardware.