News round-up (May 28)

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28th May 2021 about a 3 minute read

The headlines this week have been dominated by Dominic Cummings and his much anticipated appearance before the Commons health, science and technology committees.

But as always there’s plenty going on behind those headlines and this week is no exception. Here’s a selection of stories we thought might be of interest…

Government report shows improving vaccine confidence among ethnic minority groups

Latest data shows vaccine confidence has steadily increased, with 93% of adults reporting positive sentiment towards the vaccine. 

However, some groups are still less likely to get the jab and 30% of Black or Black British adults reported vaccine hesitancy, the highest compared with all ethnic groups.

The third report on COVID-19 disparities urges that NHS England’s published data on vaccination uptake by ethnicity should be further disaggregated to provide percentage uptake by vaccine priority group cohorts and sex.

More than 75% of pharmacies can digitally check patients’ eligibility for free NHS prescriptions

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that the Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) scheme allowing pharmacies to digitally check if patients are exempt from prescription charges is now being used in more than three quarters of community pharmacies in England.

Ahead of the scheme’s launch in February 2019, the government said the scheme could halve the current amount of prescription fraud, which costs the NHS £256m each year.

RTEC was expected to prevent up to £300m being lost to fraud by April 2020.

Self-driving vehicles to be trialled in Cambridge

The BBC has an item on self-driving electric vehicles which can carry up to 10 people and are to be trialled in Cambridge.

The ‘Auto-Shuttles’ can travel up to 20mph and have a range of 100miles. A trial of three of the wheeled vehicles, which will travel alongside other transport, will start next month.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) said the vehicles had the potential to “transform travel” in the city.

MHRA Patient Involvement Strategy consultation

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are seeking views from patients and the public on how they engage with them.

The organisation says it is aiming to make a “step-change” in the way it involves patients in its work.

Responses must be in by the deadline of June 28.

Singapore provisionally approves 60-second COVID-19 breathalyser test

Singapore authorities have provisionally approved a COVID-19 breathalyser test that aims to show whether someone is infected with the coronavirus in under a minute, according to the local startup that developed the product.

Breathonix, a spin-off company from the National University of Singapore (NUS), said it is now working with the health ministry to run a deployment trial of the technology at one of the city-state’s border points with Malaysia.

The breath analysis will be carried out alongside the current compulsory COVID-19 antigen rapid test.

And, in case you missed it from earlier this month…

Refreshed Evidence Standards Framework for Digital Health Technologies and an increased focus on digital health for NICE

Earlier this month NICE released an updated version of the evidence standards framework for digital health technologies which includes several user-led improvements.

The evidence standards framework (ESF) is designed to be used for digital health technologies that are being considered for commissioning in the UK health and care system.

The new version of evidence standards framework includes updates such as renaming the evidence tiers to avoid confusion with the MHRA classification system for medical devices, improving the clarity of advice on which digital health technologies belong in which category, and on the naming of the functional categories.