News round-up (July 2)

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2nd July 2021 about a 4 minute read

The challenges facing new Health and Care Secretary Sajid Javid have dominated the news this week.

But a range of reports have been published relevant to the sector including a survey showing a lack of digital skills in the workforce is a barrier to the digital transformation of the NHS.

Progressing digital transformation in Healthcare

A survey of 70 organisations across the NHS and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) reveals while digital transformation sits high on the healthcare agenda, staff identify considerable barriers to adopting technology.

Whilst cost is traditionally perceived as the biggest challenge in the public sector, the study indicates that concerns over cost (39 per cent) are far outweighed by a cultural resistance to new digital processes (60 per cent). It found:

  • 98 per cent of NHS staff have seen increased demand for remote health services in the past 12 months
  • 71 per cent are concerned that patients lack adequate skills and access to digital services.
  • 97 per cent of UK adults have used technology this past year to connect with the NHS, but only 18 per cent of health organisations currently use patient health apps


Adult social care given over £250 million extra to continue coronavirus (COVID-19) protections

People in care homes or those being cared for at home will benefit from an extra £250 million to continue to protect them from COVID-19 transmission.

Over a quarter of a billion has been given to extend adult social care coronavirus (COVID-19) support beyond June.

  • Funds will boost Infection Control Fund and vital COVID-19 testing.
  • It brings the total specific funding for the sector to over £2 billion.

Made up of £142.5 million Infection Control Funding and £108.8 million for testing, the fund will help protect people in adult social care by continuing to meet the cost of rigorous infection prevention and control measures, as restrictions in wider society are eased, and supporting rapid, regular testing of staff to prevent COVID-19 transmission.


 Hospitals could need almost 16,000 more beds this winter, says RCEM

New analysis from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has highlighted concerns in emergency departments across NHS hospitals in England about the number of beds available.

  • They found that during Q1 of 2020/21, the number of available beds decreased by 10,000 to comply with Infection Prevention and Control measures.
  • There have been some improvements but hospitals are still short of 6,000 beds compared to before the pandemic. Moreover, numbers pre-pandemic should not be seen as the standard, as bed occupancy levels were too high then.
  • RCEM has analysed a range of possibilities and found that, if the total number of beds needed this winter is the same as 2017/18, an additional 7,588 beds will be needed.
  • However, if it is the same as 2018/20, an additional 15,788 beds will be needed.
  • RCEM called for a safe restoration of bed capacity but emphasised that this cannot happen without addressing the staffing crisis and the challenges in the social care system.
  • NHS Providers agreed with the analysis and urged the government to commit to continuing permanent funding for discharge to assess.


Scientists call for an expansion of Covid symptoms list

A group of leading scientists have called for the UK’s official list of COVID-19 symptoms to be expanded to ensure all cases are accounted for.

The World Health Organisation and the US government guidance list symptoms which the UK’s list does not, like a sore throat and runny nose. The government have responded that the UK’s symptom list is under constant review.

Current NHS advice states people should self-isolate and get a test if they have a high fever, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste.

But the group of experts – including Prof Calum Semple, of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) – points out not everyone who catches Covid displays these classic symptoms.