News round-up 8 April

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8th April 2022 about a 4 minute read

Covid may not be in the news as much, but its hold is as strong as ever, with figures for March showing that rates of infection in older age groups had risen to the highest level yet. Families are being asked to help discharge Covid patients, as hospitals buckle under the combined pressure of rising Covid cases and high staff shortages. An international benchmarking study has found that in Britain, a third of cancer patients don’t have their cancer diagnosed until they go to A&E.

Latest Covid wave may have peaked in young

The latest wave of Covid infections may have peaked in children and be plateauing in younger adults, Imperial College’s React study has found.

Rates of Covid infection in the older age groups, however, have risen to the highest level recorded in the pandemic. Using evidence from swab tests taken from a random sample of 109,000 individuals between 8 and 31 March, the React study showed that during that period 6.37% of people in England had the virus – a steep increase from the previous month’s 2.88%.

The Imperial researchers said data from mobile phones and other sources suggested there had been a rise in socialising and mixing in recent weeks.

New strategy for NHS Blood and Transplant will use genotyping and analytics

NHS Blood and Transplant, the body that manages blood donations and organ transplants, has set out a new strategy for modernising its operations.

The strategy, which covers the period 2022 to 2026, includes a pledge to make greater use of data and to respond to emerging technologies. Genotyping will be used to match blood donors more effectively with patients, with the aim of improving clinical outcomes.

In order to increase the number of donors, and match them more effectively with patients, the service will make greater use of digital technology. To measure whether the new interventions are effective, the service will build and analyse national data sets to track the impact of different interventions over time.

More than a third of British cancer patients are diagnosed in A&E

More patients are diagnosed with cancer in A&E in Britain than in other comparable high-income countries, a study published in Lancet Oncology has found.

The International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) looked at data for eight major cancers and linked hospital admissions in 14 regions in six countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway and the UK.

More than a third of patients in England, Scotland and Wales only find out they have the disease once they are in hospital, the study found – ranking  lower than all other regions and countries in the study except New Zealand, where the rate was 43%.

NHS asks families to help them discharge Covid patients in response to heavy demand

Family members have been asked to help discharge their loved ones from hospitals, even if they have Covid-19. NHS bosses have said that the service is under “enormous strain”, as the result of a combination of heavy demand, severe staff shortages and soaring Covid cases.

Dr Derek Sandeman, of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, revealed that almost every hospital in the two counties was full, and said that 650 people with Covid-19 were being cared for in hospitals across the area – more than 2.5 times higher than in early January. He revealed that 2,800 staff working for local NHS organisations were off sick, half with Covid-19.

Six hospitals in Yorkshire issued a joint warning for people to stay away from emergency departments unless they were in “genuine, life-threatening situations.” High demand had left some patients waiting for up to 12 hours.

Dorset health care trust rolls out AI chatbot

Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust is to offer Wysa, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, to patients needing mental health support.

From this month, any patient on the waiting list for an NHS therapist will be given access to the chatbot for mental health support. The hope is that by talking to the chatbot about their symptoms, patients’ mental health will not deteriorate while waiting for treatment.

Patients using Wysa will be taken through an interactive version of the questionnaires needed to access NHS talking therapies. The AI chatbot will then be able to guide users through interactive self-care exercises, taken from a library of evidence-based intervention exercises.