News round-up (22 January)

man looking at online news headlines
22nd January 2021 about a 3 minute read
Here are some stories on the health and social care sector that caught our eye this week. The pandemic continues to dominate the agenda and despite the optimism sparked by the vaccine, the pressure on services shows no sign of abating

Health charities and the NHS. A vital partnership in peril?

A new study reveals how the Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed the vital contribution of health charities to the NHS.

It argues that strategic engagement with the charities by health policy makers has declined in recent years and that substantial benefits for the health service as a whole would come with a reaffirmation of this partnership.

The report by Dr Tony Hockley from the LSE and Professor Alison Leary from London South Bank University, commissioned by the National Garden Scheme, highlights the crucial services and leadership that healthcare charities provide for the NHS, both of which have been shown to be critical throughout the current pandemic.

National consortium to study threats of new SARS-CoV-2 variants

A new national research project to study the effects of emerging mutations in SARS-CoV-2 will be launched with £2.5 million funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The ‘G2P-UK’ National Virology Consortium will study how mutations in the virus affect key outcomes such as:

  • how transmissible it is
  • the severity of COVID-19 it causes
  • the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments

More than 75% of ambulance staff are at COVID breaking point

A survey of over 2,000 ambulance staff has revealed that three quarters of ambulance staff are at breaking point, with morale at an all-time low.

The GMB union found that 93% of respondents supported an upgrade to PPE, with 61% saying current PPE was unsafe.

Two-thirds of respondents said that the current situation was much worse than March. And 76% said colleagues were at breaking point, whilst 75% said morale was at an all-time low.

All Party group publish Medicines and Medical Devices report 

 The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Medicines and Medical Devices has published a report looking at access issues around the availability of medicines and medical technologies on the NHS in England.

The APPG examined specially manufactured unlicensed medicines known as ‘specials’. The inquiry was set up after concerns were raised over the high costs of specials prescribed in the community and some patients struggling to access them.

Likelihood of severe and ‘long’ COVID may be established very early on following infection

Research supported by the National Institute for Health Research suggests that the likelihood of ‘long’ COVID may be established very early on following infection.

Researchers supported by NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre set out to increase understanding of the relationship between the immune response and COVID-19 symptoms by recruiting individuals who tested positive COVID-19 into a cohort of the NIHR BioResource.

The research, published on MedRXiv, specific molecular ‘signatures’ produced in response to inflammation in patients admitted to hospital. They say that these signatures could potentially be used to predict the severity of a patient’s disease, as well as correlating with their risk of COVID-19 associated death.