As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, I hope that in another 58 years there will be similar celebrations and appreciation when its research arm, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), turns 70.
In a recent BMJ poll marking the 70th anniversary of the NHS, ‘research’ came last out of a top 10 NHS achievements. However, competition was stiff, ‘being free at point of use’ coming top. As a GP and NIHR post-doctoral fellow, I felt conflicted: should I vote for general practice or research? I admit to voting for the former – primary care needs every plaudit it can get currently – 90% of contacts in the NHS, for less than 9% of the NHS budget, and all that.
So, if the adolescent NIHR, as progeny of the NHS, is to survive … Read more
There is good agreement about the sort of care that people with multimorbidity need. But can it be delivered in the busy setting of general practice, and does it improve outcomes? In this blog we discuss the results of the 3D trial, the largest study of an intervention for multimorbidity published to date.
Managing multimorbidity is a litmus test for modern health care systems. Patients with many long-term conditions face major challenges in managing their conditions and need significant support, which means that these patients are often associated with high costs.
Despite the complexity of caring for these patients, there is also significant agreement about what sort of care they need. Many authors have highlighted that patient-centred care is crucial, … Read more
When, alongside clinical academic colleagues, I began to think about setting up a process to establish the top research priorities for heart failure, I was intrigued by the thought that I had no idea what people living with heart failure would choose as their priorities.
As a doctor interested in heart disease, I have worked with many people who have heart failure. I feel I have a good sense of the medical aspects of the condition, and, to some extent, the patient experience. And yet, when I thought about what patients and their families might identify as the main problems that … Read more
Around one in five children in the UK have been exposed to domestic violence or abuse between their parents or caregivers. When adults are involved in an abusive relationship, their children bear the consequences.
The effects of domestic violence on a child can range from emotional and behavioural problems to physical injury and death when children are caught up in the violence between adults.
Even when not directly involved, children’s exposure continues through witnessing and being aware of the violence – and through its health, social and financial consequences.
Health and social care workers are often the first professionals to have contact with a child experiencing these situations. This could be when the abused parent seeks help, or when children undergo health checks. It can happen during assessments for emotional or behavioural problems, or when social services, … Read more
Treatment burden is the perceived effort of looking after one’s health and the impact this has on day-to-day life. It includes everything that the patient has to do to look after their health including: ordering, collecting and taking medicines; coordinating and arranging transport for, and attending, health appointments with multiple health professionals; monitoring blood sugar or blood pressure levels; learning about own health conditions; and taking on lifestyle advice.
To understand how new health care interventions impact on treatment burden, we need to be able to measure it. A recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine highlighted treatment burden as one of the core … Read more
Over a billion NHS prescription medicines are issued by pharmacists in England every year – at a cost of over £9 billion. Many of these are prescribed by GPs to manage long-term health conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
The current “repeat prescription” system allows patients to request a further supply of medicines without the inconvenience of another doctor’s appointment.
The UK Department of Health advises that the frequency of repeat prescriptions should “balance patient convenience with clinical appropriateness, cost-effectiveness and patient safety”.
However, it does not recommend a specific time period. As a result, local health service commissioners have developed their own guidance, with many encouraging GPs to issue short-term supplies of repeat medications, typically 28 days in length. This is supported by … Read more
Person-centred healthcare is accepted as desirable on moral grounds and because it potentially leads to better health outcomes, greater efficiency and less waste. It means both involvement of individuals in their healthcare and individualisation of care.
The NHS has been chasing the goal of person-centred care planning for several years and there are many good examples of innovation. The ‘House of Care’ describes what it might mean in practice for people with long-term conditions. At its heart is personalised care planning, taking account of patients’ expressed needs and priorities. The national new models of care programme, involving 50 vanguard sites, is also pursuing this goal and recently reported on lessons learnt. Many of the vanguards have invested in health coaching and communication skills training for clinicians.
I recently worked on a large research project, … Read more
Clinician intuition and gut feelings are often talked about in health care but are largely mysterious. Clinicians describe just knowing that there was something wrong with a patient but not exactly how they came to that conclusion.
In a recent study we aimed to unpick how clinicians form their gut feelings, how they use them to influence treatment decisions, and whether their gut feeling was good at predicting whether a child with infectious cough would get sicker in the 30 days after seeing them.
Using gut feeling to predict outcome in children with infectious cough
Infectious cough in children is the most common problem managed by health services internationally. Although the majority of children get better on their own, a small proportion end up hospital with a serious illness. Clinicians do not always find it easy to … Read more
As winter continues, so does the usual soul searching about the state of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Images of ambulances backing up outside emergency departments and patients lying on trolleys in corridors haunt politicians and the public alike.
Demand on the NHS, which is always high, increases over the coldest of seasons, when threats to health are greatest. Generally, more than 20,000 extra deaths occur from December to March than in any other four-month period in England and Wales. That number varies considerably, however – from 17,460 in 2013-4 to 43,850 in 2014-5 (which was not even a particularly cold winter). And there has been no evidence of a decreasing trend since the early 1990s, despite the national flu immunisation programme.
The percentage increase in deaths seen each winter in England and Wales … Read more
“How important are informal supporters of women experiencing domestic violence?”: “Very” – a simple answer to a complicated question. The bottom line, in terms of statistics, is that if survivors disclose their situation to anyone, it will most likely be to informal supporters (friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues) rather than professionals.1 And this is true across the world, with research indicating that sometimes a disclosure to an informal supporter happens alongside a disclosure to a professional, but frequently this is not the case.2-5 In addition, it is not unusual for informal supporters to witness abusive behaviours, but commonly they are uncertain about what exactly it is that they are seeing, in particular, what it means, and what their role in the situation should be.6 ,7