Hot topics in the NHS?

This is a page mainly for prospective medical students. The aim is to provide basic simple updates on what is being talked about in the world of Medicine and to reflect on why these things may be perceived to have a positive or negative effect on how we practice as Doctors. This will be in a simple easy to understand format  for prospective students. We will pick at least one interesting topic each month to discuss.

February Hot topics:

The Topol Review:

We cannot really talk about the month of February without acknowledging the much acclaimed and much looked forward to Topol Review. It is work carried out by a large group of various Health care Professionals and patients under the leading of Dr Eric Topol. It is quite a large document which we are still working our way through( we hope to post a blog article on this). An overall simplistic summary is that it is a series of recommendations based on information received from experts about how the NHS is going to move forward digitally. Specific mention is made about how we could use Artificial Intelligence, Genomics and other technological advancements to helps us in our day to day management and running of NHS services. Here is a link to the review:https://topol.hee.nhs.uk/

Others News: Our main hot topic for this month that we felt could demonstrate positive and negative influence on the care we provide for patients can be found below. 

1) By 2021 GP's are expected to communicate by default with their patients via email. Matt Hancock the Health Secretary has stated at an NHS conference(13th Feb).

The article and link: Send patients email not letters, GP's told https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-47215799

There has been a myriad of various views about this across the news websites, some people are furiously for it and others appreciate that it may be a good idea but are rightly concerned about how this would be safely put into practice without compromising patient safety and also without excluding people who do not have access to emails from communicating effectively with their GP.

Background to the story: Matt Hancock (The Health Secretary) argues that NHS staff and patients are frustrated with having to deal with outdated technology. In addition to this, he states that as a result of this patient safety is put at risk, reference is made to letters going missing in the post which contain vital information as being the difference between life and death.

Argument for email being the default option:

  1. Emails are easier to send , patients receive them instantly, therefore reducing delays to patient care.

  2. Patients have access to the emails and can print them out as a letter if they wish to.

  3. The world is becoming more technologically advanced and the NHS ought to be moving with the times in order to provide an efficient and safe service for patients.

  4. Concerns have been expressed about the elderly , however some would argue that  the older population have become more Tech savvy so realistically it is not something they would reject.

Argument against email being the default option:

  1. The theory of using less paper and moving with the times is honorable,  but realistically how can this be facilitated? Who will be funding the new computer systems and providing training to staff?.

  2. Patient confidentiality is a big concern, how do we ensure that patients data is secure, in addition to this  some of us will remember what happened a few years back when NHS services were brought to their knees by a cyber attack. In these kind of situations, it's simple technology like fax machines which save the day.

  3. Others would argue that there are various generations who do not use email and by making email default we are cutting these people off from receiving vital health services.

  4. Emails can end up in spam boxes, how do we ensure that patients receive the emails and what if people do not check their emails regularly and therefore miss urgent messages.

March Hot topics:

Cervical Screening:

 

The basics:  Firstly, the cervix is part of the female reproductive system. This area of the female reproductive system can undergo changes which can lead to cervical cancer.

 

For who:

Cervical screening is for women in the UK with a cervix aged between 25 and 64.

 

Why?

By attending screening, the cells which undergo changes in the cervix can be treated before they become cancerous. Over the last few years, it has been noted that the number of women attending screening has fallen. During the month of March this has been something which has featured on the News and various forms of social media. In addition to this, there is a public health campaign which has been on TV encouraging women to go for screening.

View the advert here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKWtJZgGF9o

This is the first cervical screening advertisement of it’s kind.

 

Additional Hot Topics:

Cease therapy for children with Autism:  This is a very controversial subject and various parents and their vulnerable children, have been subjected to alternative therapies which claim to cure Autism. However all of these therapies have been found not to actually cure Autism and rather seem to cause more harm than any benefit.

 

Hot Topic in Depth

 

Vaccinations was a hot topic in March. There were specific issues pertaining to the fact that increasing numbers of children were not being vaccinated against deadly childhood diseases. As a result of this, there had been a series of outbreaks of conditions such as Measles. The response by some health authorities in various countries was to ban non vaccinated children from not attending school.

 

Links to articles:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47536981

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-47613881

 

Arguments for:

 

1.By preventing children from attending school , those who are more vulnerable/immunocompromised and not able to keep up to date with their vaccinations are being protected.

 

2.Some would suggest that this action forces parents to take responsibility for the actions and may help them to reflect on why vaccinations are important.

 

Arguments against :

 

1.Children are being made to pay for the decision that their parents have made. Whilst it may be hoped that doing this would force parents to vaccinate their children. It might actually have the opposite effect.

 

2.Better efforts should be made to try to explore why parents do not want to vaccinate their children. Banning their children from school breaks down the lines of communication and no one wins.