News round-up 18 February

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17th February 2022 about a 4 minute read

A new review of research has found “overwhelming” ethnic inequalities in the NHS in areas such as maternal health and mental health, and recommends that the NHS takes urgent steps to address the problem. The number of Covid stories has started to fall at last, but the government has announced it will offer the vaccine to children between the ages of 5 and 11. It will also introduce a pilot scheme to begin recycling the amount of personal protective equipment generated by the pandemic, which was previously going straight to landfill.

NHS has ‘overwhelming’ ethnic inequalities, report finds

A new report says that radical action is needed to tackle health inequalities amongst ethnic minorities.

The report, commissioned by the NHS Race and Health Observatory, found that the health of black, Asian and minority ethnic people in England has been adversely affected by racial discrimination and barriers to accessing health care. Reviewing academic research over a 10-year period, it said that the “vast” and “widespread” inequality was harming the health of millions of patients.

The review, which was led by the University of Manchester, found evidence of inequality in five areas: mental healthcare; maternal and neonatal healthcare; digital access to healthcare; genetic testing and genomic medicine; and the NHS workforce. It urged “critical action” to be undertaken by NHS England, NHS Improvement and NHS Digital.

England to offer Covid jab to five to 11-year-olds

The government has announced it will offer a low-dose Covid vaccine to children in England aged between five and 11.

The decision is based on advice by the scientists on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Weighing up the evidence for immunising five to 11-year-olds, it recommended that vaccination should go ahead to prevent a “very small number of children from serious illness and hospitalisation” in a future wave of Covid. On the whole, children are much less likely to become severely ill from a Covid infection than older groups.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said the roll-out would be “non-urgent”.

Government to explore ways of recycling PPE

The government has said it will look at ways of recycling medical grade face masks, which could be used to make curtains or mattress covers after use. It is also looking at recycling the materials in Covid testing kits.

Health minister Edward Argar said that the government was “reviewing the potential of reusable Type IIR masks in acute settings, using existing laundry services to reduce the need for single-use products.” He also said that it planned to pilot reusable eye protection, and that the government had already recycled 22 million visors to make plastic containers for storing food items.

A study published last year found that more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste associated with the pandemic have entered the world’s oceans.

Integrating health and care records: new report makes recommendations

A new report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has made five recommendations to improve the interoperability of health and care records.

Entitled “The Digital Advantage – Realising the benefits of interoperability for health and social care in England,”  the report says that the government should:

  • Introduce legislation to underwrite agreed national data standards, mandating NHS organisations and social care bodies to use them for patient records
  • Extend the 2024 deadline for NHS trusts to achieve a “core level of digitisation”
  • Publish a technology implementation plan for health and care that sets a budget with clear milestones and measurable actions
  • Provide seed funding for accelerated trials of the Trusted Research Environment model to address questions such as how to accredit participating researchers
  • Commission a data security team to help NHS trusts meet the Cyber Essentials Plus standard

App linking primary and secondary care launched in Rotherham

An app that enables patients to see hospital and primary care information in a single place has been rolled out across Rotherham.

The Rotherham Health app allows patients to check their symptoms, view their health record, book appointments with health professionals, order prescriptions, send admin requests to their GP surgeries and complete health questionnaires.

The Rotherham Health app was developed by Substrakt Health and was rolled out by Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to every GP practice in the town.

According to local GP Dr Richard Cullen, patients have been able to self-refer to maternity services through the app since last year. This has already saved hundreds of hours of admin time by reducing unnecessary appointments and the paperwork associated with the referrals.