News round-up 5 November

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4th November 2021 about a 4 minute read

The government has been busy this week, announcing the pilot of a new app to incentivise people into adopting healthy behaviours, and the launch of a campaign to encourage more people to consider a career in social care. Meanwhile, NHS England has advertised for a chair who can fulfil the role of “critical friend’.

Campaign launched to recruit more people into social care

The government has launched “Made with Care”, a recruitment campaign in England to encourage people into a career in social care. It will run for five months over broadcast and social media

The government says that people will have the opportunity to be part of the biggest reform in social care for a generation, as record funding is invested to support a new social care sector. This will include £509m to support training and development for carers.

By 2035, there will be almost 500,000 extra job opportunities in adult social care and more than 105,000 vacancies needing to be filled. Gillian Keegan, minister for care, said this was “an exciting time to join the workforce and play an important role in helping to develop a world-leading social care system.”

UK startup is using big data help it develop vaccines

Baseimmune, a biotech spin-off from Imperial College, is using big data and a design algorithm to help it develop future-proofed vaccines for a number of diseases including Covid-19, malaria and African swine fever.

Most vaccines use antigens based on a single pathogen component. The Covid-19 vaccines, for example, stimulate the body’s immune system to recognise and attack the virus’s spike protein. But this limits a vaccine’s effectiveness if the virus develops a new variant.

The Baseimmune technology, however, is based on a design algorithm that uses deep learning. By analysing vast amounts of genomic, epidemiological, immunological, clinical and evolutionary data, it is able to predict the direction that a pathogen will take. This will enable the company to create vaccines several steps ahead of the pathogen.

New information standard to improve sharing of allergy data in England

NHS Digital has published a new information standard to improve the sharing of data relating to allergies and medication intolerance.

The aim is to standardise the content of medication messages, so that prescription information can be transferred safely across health and care settings in England. Standardising the information will help reduce errors relating to medication and improve patient safety. 

The standard will enable information to be shared between different NHS and social care organisations – from hospitals and GP practices to care homes and pharmacies, for example. It will be particularly helpful in reducing medication errors when patients transfer between care locations.

NHS looking for ‘critical friend’ in chair role

The government has advertised for a new chair for NHS England which specifies that it is looking for a “critical friend” who will hold the organisation to account.

According to the role description, the candidate should be able to make sure that NHS England’s strategic direction is “aligned to wider government and health and social care policy.” The new chair will also “play a crucial role in holding the organisation to account to deliver improvements in patients’ care, value for money and broader health reforms.” The closing date for applications is 16 November 2021.

Government launches wearable app to encourage healthy habits

The government is to pilot a new app aimed at encouraging people to engage in healthy habits such as exercising more and eating fruit and vegetables. The app, which will be available on wrist-worn devices from January 2022, will generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing step count or decreasing portion size.

Users who make the positive changes recommended will be given points which can then be converted to rewards, such as food vouchers or discounts for cinema tickets.

The contract for developing the app has been given to HeadUp Systems. The government is providing £3m to fund the rewards.