What will the UK’s experience of Covid teach us about future management of the disease – and other pandemics? Opening a new enquiry, Baroness Hallett has promised that lessons will be learned about the UK’s handling of the pandemic. A new report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, meanwhile, argues that the government should set up a national command centre with responsibility for managing Covid and future crises. The long-awaited Women’s Health Strategy was also launched this week, with a commitment to improving access to fertility treatment and to creating new one-stop clinics for women’s health needs.
Baroness Hallett, chair of the Covid enquiry and a former High Court judge, has said that lessons will be learned about the UK’s handling of the pandemic before the next one strikes.
She said she would conduct the inquiry as quickly as possible, but did not give a timeframe for its completion.
Those who had suffered the most deserved to know if more could have been done, she said: “Every person has had their life changed to some extent.Those who have suffered the most will want to know if any more could have been done to reduce their suffering.”
Doctors in England will receive mandatory training in women’s health conditions.
The Women’s Health Strategy for England, published this week, makes a number of commitments to closing the gender gap in health. These include expanding free access to fertility treatment on the NHS, and £10m in funding for mobile breast cancer screening. The government will also introduce a pregnancy loss certificate in England to provide legal recognition that a baby has died within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The strategy says it will encourage the expansion of dedicated women’s health hubs so maternity, gynaecology and sexual health services can be accessed in a single one-stop clinic.
Wales is to introduce a new multi-vendor framework for electronic prescribing.
Digital Health and Care Wales will establish a framework agreement where NHS organisations on a local basis can call off their requirements. The scope will include software and the ongoing development, upgrade and maintenance.
Solutions must demonstrate three core capabilities: auditable prescribing decision-making support; the ability to record and monitor the issuance and administration of pharmaceuticals; and the capacity to interface with local and national systems, as well as with patient administration and pharmacy stock control systems.
The value of the programme is up to £100million, and is expected to start 1 November 2022 and run to 31 October 2026.
A new report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change says that NHS leaders have been “shouting into the void” when speaking about their fears that the health service will be overwhelmed by Covid.
The report makes a number of recommendations for both short-term and long-term actions to deal with Covid, including speeding up and extending the current vaccination booster programme and bringing back more free testing. It argues that the government should set up a national command centre with overriding responsibility for managing Covid and future crises.
NHS Digital plans to run trials to explore how wireless technologies can support the delivery of better health and care.
The Wireless Centre of Excellence trials will enable NHS organisations to access funding for wireless technology that has the potential to improve connectivity in health and care settings.
The scheme is now open for application and although designed as a one-year programme, longer trials will be considered. Patrick Clark, NHS Digital’s director of infrastructure services, said that wireless technologies would play an important role as the NHS continued to implement “new models of care to allow patients to receive treatment at home or in mobile health settings.”