News round-up (15 January)

man looking at online news headlines
15th January 2021 about a 4 minute read

Here are some of the stories that caught our eye this week.

It’s hard to get away from news about the pandemic, but we managed to find a couple of non-COVID articles…

What’s the next frontier of technology in mental health?

Spoiler alert: According to the Health Tech Digital website, one answer is mental wellbeing apps; but though they have their place, it’s important to recognise their limitations when it comes to tackling mental health problems. 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, estimate 70-75% of people with diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all. 

The organisation says the onus is on the HealthTech sector to demonstrate the advantages of digital solutions to help patients and overworked GPs. But they may well have a place.

Is IT investment sufficient to sustain a long-term digital health revolution beyond Covid-19?

Laing & Buisson’s latest tech market report points out that the average UK health organisation spends just 2% a year on IT.  This figure is closer to 8% in the US and most of Northern Europe. 

The report notes that while there has been investment in video consultations and data gathering and analysis, as well as the contact tracing app, there was a downturn in 2020 on spending on technology not related to the pandemic.

Covid deaths in prisons in England and Wales rise by 50% in a month

The number of prisoners in England and Wales who have tested positive for coronavirus and died has risen by 50% in a month as cases behind bars surge, the Guardian reports.

In December, 24 prisoners died either having tested positive for Covid or where there was a clinical assessment that the virus was a contributory factor in their deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 71.

According to weekly statistics, about 2,400 prisoners have tested positive since the start of December, bringing the total number of positive cases since the start of the pandemic to 4,800, a rise of about 70% in a month.

Flu vaccine uptake among over 65s highest on record

Over 80% of those aged 65 and over in England have received the flu vaccine so far this year – the highest uptake ever achieved.

Despite the complexities of rolling out the largest national NHS flu immunisation programme during a COVID-19 winter, NHS staff have vaccinated a record 80.3% of those aged 65 years and over in England against flu so far this year.

Uptake in 2 and 3 year old children is also the highest ever recorded, at 54.0% and 56.5% respectively.

Flu vaccine uptake rates are higher than the same time last season for all other eligible groups.

New strategy to accelerate diagnosis and improve treatment of rare diseases

Millions of people with rare diseases, like Huntington’s disease or cystic fibrosis, will benefit from a new framework to raise awareness, speed up diagnosis and improve care and treatment.

The UK Rare Diseases Framework, signed and agreed by all four nations of the UK, builds on the successes of the previous strategy and was developed in consultation with those living with rare diseases following the National Conversation on Rare Diseases.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine data leaked by hackers

Healthcare IT News says the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has reported that some of the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that was stolen during a cyber-attack in early December 2020 was released online illegally shortly after the attack.

The leak was discovered during an investigation into the attack by the EMA and law enforcement officers.

It is claimed that evidence of the stolen data was found on various hacking forums as early as 31 December. The EMA stated that action against the culprits is being taken by the authorities.