News round-up 24 December

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24th December 2021 about a 3 minute read

Government launches vision for women’s health

The government has set out its ambition to close the gender health gap. Its document, the Vision for Women’s Health, states that it wants women to feel comfortable talking about their health, to be able to access services that meet their needs across all life stages and to have access to high quality information and education.

It also announced that it will appoint a women’s health ambassador to push women’s health to the top of the agenda.

The vision was published in response to an analysis of nearly 100,000 responses to a consultation this summer, which found that more than eight in 10 women felt they were not listened to by health professionals.

Scotland publishes refreshed digital strategy and plans new data strategy

NHS Scotland has published an updated digital strategy, which has a stronger focus on digital inclusion. The document states that it recognises the problems that come from digital exclusion and that “digital inclusion, now more than ever, must be at the heart of what we do.”

The strategy sets out its ambition “to improve the care and wellbeing of people in Scotland by making best use of digital technologies in the design and delivery of services”.

There will now be a wider engagement programme in three stages: information-gathering through workshops and meetings; testing of messages through follow-up workshops and meetings; and a formal online consultation accompanied by face-to-face or virtual workshops with those who do not want to participate online.

NHS staff off work because of Covid

Increasing numbers of NHS staff in England are off work because of Covid, according to data from NHS England.

Nearly 19,000 NHS staff were absent for Covid-related reasons on 19 December – an increase of 54% on the previous week. In London, there were 3,900 staff absences as a result of Covid – more than double the number a week earlier.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said that the NHS workforce was “already under pressure before Omicron came along.” He added: “There is increased pressure in many workforces at the moment, especially if someone needs to isolate if they have a positive case.”

NHS plans little Nightingales to cope with Covid surge

NHS hospitals have been asked to host temporary field hospitals – mini Nightingales – in their car parks if Omicron admissions continue to rise. These would effectively be large tents, with beds for up to 100 patients. Hospital canteens and meeting rooms could also be converted to wards if the need arises.

NHS England has told hospitals to be ready to create “major incident capacity” in January as it prepares itself for the possibility of a major wave of Covid cases needing inpatient care.

The original Nightingales, large field hospitals in major cities, were built during the first Covid wave in 2020. They were not widely used, however, and were wound down earlier this year.

NHS launches new framework for commissioning communications technology

NHS Shared Business Services has created a new framework to help NHS organisations commission communications technology for engaging with patients and staff.

The Patient/Citizen Communications and Engagement Solutions framework replaces the previous Communications, Appointments, Reminders and Alert agreement. It has been designed to respond to the need for better communications pre- and post-appointment within the NHS to deal with the backlog of urgent appointments.

It also aims to improve care pathways, support effective clinical care and enhance the patient journey.