News round-up (12 March)

man looking at online news headlines
12th March 2021 about a 4 minute read
Another busy news week… Lots of stories linking to International Women’s Day and of course COVID-19 continues to dominate the headlines.  Here’s a selection of items that caught our eye…

US women are opting out of the technology sector, so bring them back

The International Women’s Day website features a concerning article about the exodus of women from IT jobs in the US.

The attrition rate for women in technology is more than double that of men, it says, and half of US women in IT depart the profession entirely by their thirteenth year.

Most said they would have stayed if the IT workplace was “an equal landscape”.

Local government finance in the pandemic

The National Audit Office has published a new report on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. It examines the approach to local government finance in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In particular it considers whether the Department assessed and funded the costs of new services which local authorities have been asked to deliver. 

It also examines whether the Department fulfilled its responsibilities in securing financial sustainability across the sector:

Government releases COVID vaccine video

A film clip released by Downing Street on twitter called ‘A Beacon of Hope: The UK Vaccine Story’, caused quite a stir this week.

Billed by some as a blockbuster trailer, dismissed by others as propaganda, the documentary short film, featuring the Prime Minister, Sir Chris Whitty and Jonathan Van Tam, tells of the “Extraordinary. Unexpected. Fantastic” effort behind the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

How a hug from a special doll can help with dementia

The BBC website has a clip from a One Show item highlighting how many people have missed having a hug during lockdown. 

Cardiff Metropolitan University has come up with a new ‘hug’ device that could help. It’s like a large cuddly toy and it has a beating heart. 

Trials found that 87% of people with dementia testing the dolls reported an increase in wellbeing. “It makes you feel loved” commented one woman.

PTSD, depression and anxiety in UK frontline health and social care workers during COVID-19

A new study has identified predictors of clinically significant distress during COVID-19. It also highlights the need for reliable access to PPE and calls for further investigation of barriers to communication between managers and staff.

Published in The European Journal of Psychotraumatology  the research found nearly 58% of 1194 UK frontline health and social care workers met the threshold for a clinically significant disorder.

“Unimaginable” cost of Test & Trace failed to deliver central promise of averting another lockdown says PAC

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a report on the NHS Test and Trace (NHST&T) system set up last May with a budget of £22 billion. 

Since then it has been allocated £15 billion more: totalling £37 billion over two years.

The PAC says that while NHST&T had to be set up and staffed at incredible speed, it must now “wean itself off its persistent reliance on consultants”. 

It adds that it’s not clear whether Test and Trace’s contribution to reducing infection levels – as opposed to the other measures introduced to tackle the pandemic – can justify its “unimaginable” costs.

Surgical technology platform receives additional FDA clearance

Asensus Surgical, a medical device company that is digitising the interface between the surgeon and patient in Performance-Guided Surgery, has received additional US Food and Drug Administration clearance.

The technology platform uses augmented intelligence to improve patient outcomes through machine learning. It provides surgical assurance through haptic feedback, eye-tracking camera control, and 3D visualisation.

It is the first platform to offer 3mm instruments (the smallest instrument available on a robotic surgical platform).

Innovation Collaborative aims to support transformation

Matthew Gould, the CEO of NHSX and National Director for Digital Transformation at NHSE/I took to Twitter to invite NHS staff to join the National Innovation Collaborative.

The network was set up in partnership with the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). It offers a place to seek advice and share learning and good practice in digital transformation across the NHS and social care.