News round-up 16 September

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16th September 2022 about a 5 minute read

The bank holiday on Monday has led to routine operations and appointments being cancelled in NHS hospitals, causing further disruption at a time when the service already faces lengthy backlogs. It’s perhaps no surprise that, according to a new survey, the majority of people believe that the standard of health care in the NHS has declined over the past year. In another sign of the times, a decision by government to review its anti-obesity strategy in the light of the cost-of-living crisis has been met by dismay with campaigners, who believe it will be counter-productive in the long run.

WHO joins call for global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty

Almost 200 health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), have called for a global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

The call to action urges governments to agree a legally binding plan to phase out fossil fuel exploration and production. This would be similar to the framework convention on tobacco, negotiated under the WHO’s auspices in 2003.

“The modern addiction to fossil fuels is not just an act of environmental vandalism. From the health perspective, it is an act of self-sabotage,” said the WHO president, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Climate change anxiety is having an adverse impact on people’s mental health

Climate change is already having a considerable impact on people’s mental health across the UK, a report by the Mental Health Foundation has found. The report, based on a community participation event held at COP-26, found that participants expressed “fear, anxiety, hopelessness, anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, worry and concern” about climate change.

Attendees also expressed concern that the transition to a net zero economy has the potential to negatively impact the life chances and standard of living of those who can least afford it.

Finally, they expressed frustration at the perceived inadequate scale of response from local and national governments.

In the view of participants, the report says, tackling climate change itself is the “most important way of reducing its negative mental health effects and only through local and central government prioritising this issue, will the mental health effects of climate change in the UK be mitigated.”

Public is pessimistic about state of NHS, report finds

The majority of people (55%) think the standard of health care in the NHS has got worse in the past 12 months, according to a new survey by the Health Foundation.

The report, Public perceptions of health and social care: What the new government should know, found that the public’s top priorities for the NHS are improving waiting times for routine services (38%), addressing the pressure on or workload of NHS staff (36%) and increasing the number of staff in the NHS (36%). Just over one in five (22%) cited improvement to mental health services as a priority.

Compared with other countries, the report said, the British were “relatively positive about the quality of our health care, but also the most likely to think the health system is overstretched.”

The report also found pessimism about adult social care, with the majority (56%) thinking standards have got worse over the past 12 months. Looking ahead, 43% think standards will deteriorate further.

Routine hospital care postponed for Queen’s funeral

Thousands of scheduled operations and appointments will be cancelled on Monday, the day of the Queen’s funeral.

Routine operations such as planned caesarean sections and hip replacements have been postponed because of the bank holiday. A number of hospitals told the BBC there would be some disruption to services, and that patients would be contacted.

Emergency care services will run as normal, as will Covid vaccination clinics.

Government reviews anti-obesity strategy in response to cost-of-living crisis

The government is to review its anti-obesity strategy for England, including its plans for a ban on TV advertising of junk food before 9pm.

The tax on high-sugar content soft drinks, introduced in 2018, could also be reviewed.

The decision is being carried out in the light of the cost-of-living crisis. Restrictions on the placement of less healthy products at checkouts and store entrances are currently still due to go ahead in October, however.

Katharine Jenner, director of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 40 organisations, said that the proposals to axe some of the measures would “not help the cost of living crisis in the short term, and in the long term would lead to serious consequences for our health, our economy and our NHS”.

East Kent maternity staff warned of ‘harrowing’ care standards review

Publication of an independent investigation into maternity care at East Kent has been postponed from 22 September to an unspecified date in October.

Staff at the trust have been warned that the report, which covers maternity care during the period 2009-2020, will be a “harrowing read” with a “profound and significant impact”. The investigation has been led by Dr Bill Kirkup, who also led the investigation into maternity care at Morecambe Bay, published in 2015.

An email sent to staff at East Kent last week and seen by HSJ said publication would place “significant focus on the trust and all of our services”, and that the trust would make support available to staff as well as former, current and potential patients.