Wanted: GPs who understand that evidence alone does not create policy

 

 

by Dr Jason Sarfo-Annin, Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Debate surrounding the future of general practice is usually rooted in the context of the primary care workforce, the introduction of new roles and developing practitioners with a new skill-mix.
Such solutions are rooted in the medical model of health. I share the Marmotian view that health care is just one dimension of improving individual and population health.

As GPs, we often consult with patients who cannot be helped by our services. We are also often unable to effectively signpost patients or help navigate them to services that can support them. Consequently, I believe the future involves working as part of a collaboration of services – delivered optimally by co-location. Provision of these services would be based on the geographical location of patients and include amenities already provided by local authorities … Read more

After the trial: how a programme to improve the health care response to domestic violence and abuse fares in the real-world NHS

 

 

 

By Dr Natalia Lewis, Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

A new paper by researchers from the University of Bristol and NIHR CLAHRC North Thames highlights the post-trial journey of an evidence-based domestic violence and abuse (DVA) intervention to the NHS front-line, and the human and contextual factors that influence how its effect is sustained over time.

IRIS (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) is a general-practice-based DVA training, support and referral programme. The programme develops DVA awareness and skills among general practice staff and provides a referral pathway to a named DVA advocate (IRIS advocate educator) based in a third sector agency. IRIS advocate educators provide IRIS training and ongoing support, consultancy to practice staff, and advocacy to referred patients.

Following a successful randomised controlled trial, IRIS has been implemented in over 30 local authorities in the UK. The trial … Read more

Help us identify the unintended consequences of digital health tools in primary care

 

By Dr Jeremy Horwood, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol and NIHR CLAHRC West, and Dr Andrew Turner, Senior Research Associate, NIHR CLAHRC West

Researchers from the DECODE study hosted a workshop late in 2018 to explore the unintended consequences of digital health tools used in primary care. The workshop was attended by members of the public, technology developers, GPs and key researchers in the field.

Digital health tools, such as health monitoring apps and online patient portals, are becoming commonplace, with NHS England supporting their use to improve patient access and care. But this increase in their use could lead to unintended consequences, both positive and negative. An understanding of these consequences is vital, so we can minimise the negative effects and harness the positive.

DECODE aims to improve how digital health tools are used in primary care by investigating … Read more

Can a programme of supervised exercise improve the quality of life of men with advanced prostate cancer?

Dr Eileen Sutton

 

by By Dr Eileen Sutton
Senior Research Associate, Qualitative Lead on the STAMINA Study
Centre for Academic Primary Care

STAMINA is a five-year study funded by the NIHR’s Programme Grants for Applied Research scheme and is led by researchers from Sheffield Hallam University, with collaborators from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, Queen Mary University London, University of Bristol, University of York, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh and Queen’s University, Belfast in partnership with Nuffield Health.

Why are we doing the research?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with around 47,000 cases diagnosed each year. Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is a standard treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer but it is associated with significant side-effects which include fatigue, depression, sexual dysfunction, impairment of memory and concentration, increased fat mass and loss of muscle strength. ADT also increases the risk … Read more

Medicines have revolutionised treatment in the NHS – can this progress be sustained?

Dr Rupert Payne

 

by Dr Rupert Payne
Consultant Senior Lecturer in Primary Health Care
Centre for Academic Primary Care

The seventieth anniversary of the NHS has made me reflect on how proud I am to have contributed to its work for over the past twenty-odd years. Founded on 5 July 1948, the service continues to this day to operate to the same three core principles – meeting the needs of everyone, free at the point of delivery, and based on clinical need.

Aside from providing comprehensive, high-quality healthcare services to virtually the entire UK population, the other thing that the NHS is known for is the constant political bickering that carries on in the background, with criticisms about chronic under-funding and stealth privatisation. However, these are not new issues, with medicines an important reason for the challenges the NHS now faces.

In a response to concerns about rising costs, perhaps the first … Read more

What will the NIHR look like at 70?

by Dr Matthew Ridd
Reader in Primary Health Care
Centre for Academic Primary Care
@riddmj

 

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

Repeat prescriptions are expensive and time consuming – it’s time for an NHS rethink

 

Dr Rupert Payne
Centre for Academic Primary Care
@DrRupertPayne

 

 

Dr Céline Miani
University of Bielefeld
@celine_miani

 

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 the UK’s Pharmaceutical Services Read more

Why the annual winter health crisis could be solved in homes, not hospitals

by Professor Richard Morris
Professor in Medical Statistics
Centre for Academic Primary Care
@richard2morris

 

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

Why healthcare services have a problem with gambling

Dr Sean Cowlishaw
Dr Sean Cowlishaw, Research Fellow at the Centre for Academic Primary Care

by Dr Sean Cowlishaw, University of Bristol

I have a problem with gambling. There’s not enough of it.

That was the admission from billionaire Steve Wynn, a major figure in the casino industry, speaking at a recent gambling research conference in (where else?) Las Vegas. And sure, it made for a good quote. But it’s also a rather glib dismissal of a serious issue that affects many thousands of people across the world.

The UK certainly has a problem with gambling. At least it has since 2007, when laws were changed to allow for huge growth in gambling opportunities and exposure. It has been hard to ignore the subsequent explosion in industry advertising, which increased by around 500% between 2007 and 2013. By contrast, you may have missed the increased numbers of high intensity electronic gambling … Read more

‘Researchers: To make an impact, write less and talk more!’

by Lesley Wye
Knowledge Mobilisation Fellow & Senior Research Fellow
Centre for Academic Primary Care

I have been a researcher for over two decades. In that time, lamentations about the limited influence of research evidence have grown. But I think we researchers are largely to blame. We steadfastly insist on disseminating our knowledge in ways that we know don’t work.

Researchers usually write scientific papers, because publication is a key career performance metric. But scientific papers are read and digested by other scientists, not those who can act on our findings. Our ethnographic study showed how and why research doesn’t reach policymakers, like healthcare commissioners.

We found that local healthcare commissioners cannot retrieve papers from many scientific journals, as they often do not have passwords or subscriptions. Although open access publication helps, commissioners usually use Google, where scientific papers often do not appear – even if open access. If a … Read more