Asthma self-management programmes can reduce unscheduled care

Pinnock H, Parke HL, Panagioti M, et al; PRISMS and RECURSIVE groups. Systematic meta-review of supported self-management for asthma: a healthcare perspective. BMC Medicine. 2017;15(1):64. | via National Institute for Health Research

People with asthma who receive supported self-management are less likely to attend A&E or be admitted to hospital. The interventions are unlikely to increase overall costs for healthcare services. Those who self-manage are also likely to have more controlled asthma and a better quality of life.

This extensive overview of systematic reviews included evidence from 270 randomised controlled trials exploring the effects of asthma self-management on healthcare utilisation and costs. Self-management programmes were slightly more expensive, but this cost was likely to be offset by reducing unplanned medical visits and improving patient quality of life.

Trials covered different self-care education programmes delivered in a range of contexts. However, programmes which included written action plans supported by regular professional review were found to be most beneficial.

These findings are in keeping with current guideline recommendations and emphasise that supported self-management programmes for asthma should be prioritised.

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Sustainability and Transformation Plans: What, why and where next?

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs): what, why and where next

The NHS is facing one of the most challenging periods in its history, with a funding gap of more than £22 billion over the coming years. And the pressure on the social care system is more acute than ever, with many councils raising eligibility thresholds and making cuts to social care budgets.

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Image source: http://www.ippr.org

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) – which are local health and care reform plans, authored jointly by NHS and local government leaders to improve outcomes and drive greater efficiency in their local area – are one of the government’s main responses to this problem. These plans rightly focus on decentralising power within the NHS, investing in leadership and relationships to drive improvements, and on local health and care organisations coming together to overcome the silos created by the 2012 Health and Care Act.

This report looks at the most promising reform solutions that have been identified by STPs, and also sets out the range of challenges that stand in the way of them realising their vision for improved health and efficiency.

Download summary here or full report here

 

Improving the management of digital government

Improving the management of digital government argues that the digitisation of public services in the UK is happening too slowly | Institute for Government

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It says that appointing a minister responsible for digital government would help drive change and advance standards. Digital improvements would make government cheaper, more effective and more secure. The report points to the recent NHS cyberattack as an example of the fragility in some systems being used in the public sector.

The report warns that the Government Digital Service (GDS), the Cabinet Office unit responsible for leading digital transformation of government, faces resistance from many corners of Whitehall. Without a strong minister in charge, GDS is not able to drive digital improvements in a way that meets citizens’ expectations. It sets standards for digital government, but these need to be improved and extended throughout the civil service, and with IT contractors.

The report also makes several recommendations for both GDS and Whitehall departments on how they can work better together. The Government needs to organise services around people’s needs and to urgently clarify which system citizens should use to securely identify themselves online.

 

Tackling variations in clinical care: Assessing the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme

The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme aims to bring about higher-quality care in hospitals, at lower cost, by reducing unwanted variations in services and practices | The King’s Fund

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Image source: The King’s Fund

It uses national data to identify the variations and outcomes, shares that data with all those concerned with a service – not only clinicians, but also clinical and medical directors, managers and chief executives – and monitors the changes that are implemented.

The programme began with orthopaedics and is now being rolled out to 32 different surgical and medical specialisms across the English NHS. Through an informal assessment of the programme, this paper sets out what the programme is, why it is needed, what is different about it, what it has achieved, what challenges it faces and what potential it has. It also contains vignettes illustrating hospitals’ experiences of the programme.

Getting research into policy in health – The GRIP-Health project

For many, the idea that health policy should be informed by evidence is an obvious goal. And indeed, the global health community has widely called for increased use or uptake of research and evidence, in health policymaking | LSE Health and Social Care Blog

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However, a vast majority of these calls have been made without explicit recognition of the decidedly political nature of policymaking, and without consideration of how this may affect the use of evidence to inform decisions.

Indeed, calls for ‘evidence-based’ policymaking have become ubiquitous in recent years, applied in social sectors such as health, education, crime prevention and many others. Many have seen these calls deriving from the successes of the ‘evidence based medicine’ movement – a movement that has helped to ensure that clinical practice is informed by rigorous assessments of evidence of effects of different treatment options.

The GRIP-Health research programme was funded by the European Research Council to bring an explicitly political lens to the study of evidence use for health policymaking in low, middle and high income countries. It draws particularly on policy studies theories to consider how the nature of the policy process, the politicised features of health decisions, and the existing institutional arrangements for policymaking in different countries all can work to shape which evidence is utilised, and how it is utilised to inform or shape health policy decisions.

Why UK hospital staff find it difficult to make improvements based on patient feedback

Patients are increasingly being asked for feedback about their healthcare experiences. However, healthcare staff often find it difficult to act on this feedback in order to make improvements to services | Social Science and Medicine

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This paper draws upon notions of legitimacy and readiness to develop a conceptual framework (Patient Feedback Response Framework – PFRF) which outlines why staff may find it problematic to respond to patient feedback.

A large qualitative study was conducted with 17 ward based teams between 2013 and 2014, across three hospital Trusts in the North of England. This was a process evaluation of a wider study where ward staff were encouraged to make action plans based on patient feedback.

Through the development of the PFRF, we found that making changes based on patient feedback is a complex multi-tiered process and not something that ward staff can simply ‘do’.

  • First, staff must exhibit normative legitimacy – the belief that listening to patients is a worthwhile exercise.
  • Second, structural legitimacy has to be in place – ward teams need adequate autonomy, ownership and resource to enact change. Some ward teams are able to make improvements within their immediate control and environment.
  • Third, for those staff who require interdepartmental co-operation or high level assistance to achieve change, organisational readiness must exist at the level of the hospital otherwise improvement will rarely be enacted.

Case studies drawn from our empirical data demonstrate the above. It is only when appropriate levels of individual and organisational capacity to change exist, that patient feedback is likely to be acted upon to improve services.

Full reference: Sheard, L. et al. (2017) The Patient Feedback Response Framework – understanding why UK hospital staff find it difficult to make improvements based on patient feedback: A qualitative study. Social Science & Medicine. 178. pp. 19-27.

 

NHS England has issued a call for the world’s best healthcare innovations

The NHS Innovation Accelerator has already improved the uptake of pioneering ideas, equipment and technology such as ventilation tubes that reduce cases of pneumonia and new approaches to mental health care | NHS England

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The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) has already successfully helped transform patient care across the NHS by fast-tracking the uptake of pioneering ideas, equipment and technology such as ventilation tubes that reduce cases of pneumonia and new approaches to mental health care.

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has now confirmed a further round of the programme which will focus on the clinical priorities outlined in the Next Steps Five Year Forward View plan including mental health, primary care and urgent and emergency care.

The initiative, supported by England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and hosted at UCLPartners, has to date helped support the uptake of ground-breaking concepts in 469 NHS organisations. The aim is to provide innovators with a package of tailored support – including access to a 2017 bursary fund totalling £240,000 and mentoring from a team of experts – in order to help their ideas gain uptake across the NHS.