News round-up (August 6)
Data has been big news this week, kicking off with the launch of NHS Digital’s new Data Uses Register, and including an independent report calling for the creation of a Government data application centre of excellence – a recommendation which the Cabinet office is reported to have accepted!
A report, Organising for Digital Delivery, which will inform decisions in the government’s next Spending Review, has found that of the £4.7 billion a year that it spends on IT, £2.3 billion goes toward keeping old systems going.
It states that whilst “significant sums” are spent on data storage, little use is made of the data to influence decisions, it is hard to access, and does not meet cyber-security standards. Computer systems performance is also not monitored as is standard practice in big organisations. Efforts made to retire legacy systems have made no progress.
While calling for the creation of a Government data application centre, top of its eight recommendations is: “Build mechanisms to put the citizen at the heart of all design decisions.”
A blood test developed by a Scottish firm that can detect brain tumours earlier has been hailed as transformative for patients and doctors.
It is hoped that the ability to identify tumours quicker can reduce harms from surgery and fast-track patients into brain-imaging scans for better survival outcomes. At present diagnosis can take more than eight weeks, requiring several GP visits, with delays common due to non-cancer diagnoses, experts say.
Blood samples from 177 patients with varying sizes of brain tumours were analysed using patented technology by Dxcover, a Glasgow-based health-tech firm, which used spectroscopic analysis under infrared light and then machine learning software. The findings are reported in the journal Cancers.
The team of researchers found that a set of biomarkers – measures taken in routine blood tests – could be used to predict future health and health related quality of life up to five years later.
Approximately one quarter of UK adults are currently diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions, often referred to as multimorbidity. Multimorbidity is concentrated in lower socioeconomic groups.
It is projected to increase over the next 15 years and becomes more common with age. Around two thirds of over 65s have two or more chronic conditions.
During PMQ Sarah Owen (Labour, Luton North) asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care what steps he is taking to ensure that UK residents vaccinated against Covid-19 whilst overseas with an a) Pfizer, (b) Oxford-AstraZeneca and (c) Moderna vaccine are able to be certified as vaccinated by the UK.
Nadhim Zahawi (Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon), Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment, on 30 July 2021 replied:
“We are currently undertaking work to agree which regulators from around the world have similar stringent standards as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. This will be finalised in due course and will allow recognition of vaccines administered abroad. Once a decision has been made, NHSX will provide access to an NHS COVID Pass for those eligible.”
A new Health Service Journal report looks back at the successes in the last two years and challenges ahead for primary care networks.
PCNs: Two Years On, finds while the pandemic has created challenges – not least in terms of workload – many clinical directors cite the vaccination programme as a catalyst for collaboration and other improvement.
It points out PCNs’ place as an integral part of the system is clear in the way they use technology and the improvements they have made to services to patients. All parts of the system have rapidly adapted technological solutions to tackle Covid-19, particularly in primary care and it has been broadly positive.