Patients in Yorkshire set to benefit from revolutionary medical imaging due to University of Sheffield fundraising campaign

University of Sheffield | December 2018 | Patients in Yorkshire set to benefit from revolutionary medical imaging thanks to £2 million fundraising appeal

A campaign launched by the University of Sheffield in 2017 has raised £2million to make possible a revolutionary scanner in Yorkshire.  During the last 18 months, staff, current  students, alumni and members of the public and local business community, and friends of the University have supported the Sheffield Scanner campaign.

The high-tech scanner will provide unprecedented views of inside the human body by combining the power of both MRI and PET images in a single scan. It will help leading scientists and medics tackle some of the most devastating diseases facing millions of people including dementia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease (MND).

The facility will also bring more clinical trials to the region, giving patients in Yorkshire access to ground-breaking new innovative treatments that are being developed. The scanner will be the only MRI-PET scanner in Yorkshire, the new Sheffield Scanner Facility will be attached to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Dame Pam Shaw, Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health at the University of Sheffield, and Director of the Sheffield NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience, said:

“The combination of these two imaging techniques – MRI and PET – in one machine will let us detect extremely small abnormalities very accurately. We are hoping, and expecting, this will allow us to diagnose medical conditions much earlier. We will also be able to monitor how new innovative treatments are working much more nimbly than we have in the past.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The success of this fundraising campaign is a fantastic achievement and marks the beginning of an exciting journey for the University, the Sheffield city region and beyond. I am extremely proud that Sheffield will now be home to one of only eight MRI-PET scanners in the UK.”

(Source: University of Sheffield)

Robotics in Social Care

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology | December 2018 | Robotics in Social Care

A new POSTnote (from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) introduces robotic technology and the main ways it has been developed for use in social care. It reviews evidence on the impact of robotics on the costs and quality of social care and its workforce, and explores the main ethical, social and regulatory challenges to its use in social care.

Image source: researchbriefings.files

Themes in the POSTnote:

  • Technology is expected to be a theme in the Government’s upcoming policy paper on adult social care.
  • A wide range of robotic technologies can be used in social care from automated vacuum cleaners to robots resembling humans or animals. Few are currently used in social care and further research is needed to assess their impact in practice.
  • Robotics can provide physical, social, and cognitive assistance and a small number of studies report positive impacts on users’ mobility, mental health, and cognitive skills.
  • Using more robotics may save up to £6 billion through automating (mainly administrative) tasks, but there are concerns about affordability, and effects on the quality of care and staffing.
  • Ethical, legal, and regulatory issues include impacts on users’ autonomy and privacy and questions over the use and ownership of data.

Download the briefing 

Benefits of digital technology in maternity services

A new report shows for the first time how digitally ‘savvy’ maternity services in England are – and aims to drive up the better use of technology | NHS Digital

The majority of maternity providers are making a good start at using digital technology, according to the Maternity Digital Maturity Assessment report, produced by NHS Digital.

Greater use of digital technology will help maternity staff and services to provide better care for patients and more effectively use resources.

All 135 maternity providers completed an assessment of their progress in adopting digital technology, such as providing electronic health records, sharing information digitally and giving patients access to online resources. The assessment also looked at how much investment was being made in software, equipment and infrastructure.

Providers were assessed according to their level of digital maturity with the results helping organisations identify their strengths and gaps in the use of digital services and highlighting common challenges faced by maternity providers and potential solutions which could help them improve their digital maturity.


Recommendations include encouraging greater collaboration, so that the more digitally mature maternity providers share their expertise with the handful who had low maturity levels. The report also reinforces important messages around the need to identify and support digital leaders at all levels throughout maternity services.

Full detail: Insight into digital uptake in maternity services aims to bring benefits of technology to mums | NHS Digital

Full report: Maternity Digital Maturity Assessment report | NHS England

Primary mental health care

Filling the chasm: reimagining primary mental health care | Centre for Mental Health

This report explores local initiatives which bridge the gap between primary care and secondary care mental health services, supporting people have more complex needs, don’t meet secondary care thresholds, or present with multiple or medically unexplained symptoms.

Image source:

It finds that primary care services in many areas of England have developed a number of different approaches to addressing mental health needs that other services do not meet. The report describes promising approaches in eight local areas.

The report calls on NHS England to make primary mental health care a central strand of the long-term NHS plan, due to be published later this month. The NHS needs to identify effective models of primary mental health care and invest in local services to help them meet the needs of their communities. The report also calls on Health Education England to invest in the workforce for primary mental health care.

The report identified some key elements for future primary care developments:

  • Identifying the opportunities for prevention and promotion of mental health – including in the perinatal period; with children and young people; and through providing information and resources
  • Maximising social interventions for mental health – moving away from anti-depressants and therapy as the only solutions, improving awareness of community resources
  • Culture change – embracing the holistic approach – valuing social support and linking to physical health initiatives
  • Empowering the person – moving ‘from patient to person’ – enabling people to make their own decisions about what they need to focus on, addressing social factors and causes of mental health problems
  • Bridging the gap between primary and secondary care – co-locating services, employing senior staff to provide consultancy and supervision

Full report: Filling the chasm. Reimagining primary mental health care | Centre for Mental Health


Understanding new models of integrated care

Integrated care is not quick, or cheap, but new systematic review finds sufficient evidence that it is a goal worth pursuing 

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has published Ways of integrating care that better coordinate services may benefit patients. This systematic review, part of the NIHR Signal series, looks at international literature to understand how new care models may affect patients, providers and systems. It includes a qualitative review of attitudes, barriers and enablers of integration and finds new integrated care models can increase patient satisfaction, perceived quality of care and improve access to services. It is less clear whether there may be effects on hospital admissions, appointments or healthcare costs.

Baxter S, Johnson M, Chambers D et al. Understanding new models of integrated care in developed countries: a systematic review. Health Service Delivery Research. 2018;6(29).

Making NHS data work for everyone

This report from Reform looks at the access and use of data held by the NHS for product and service development purposes by the private sector.


The report suggests that benefits can emerge from the NHS partnering with the private sector to develop healthcare technologies. The private sector can provide skills and know-how to develop data-driven tools whilst the NHS makes the data available alongside medical expertise – described as the “value exchange”.

• Engaging with the public on how data about them is used within the NHS is crucial. However, no public-sector models exist that allow patients to participate in the conversation about what a fair value exchange might be. The report recommends that this should change.
• The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) needs to create a national strategy, which provides a framework for the array of possible models that will not have an adverse effect at the national level. The report presents the first table of commercial models that could be explored.
• The paper suggests that transparency over data quality could be increased. It also suggests a way in which access to data could be sped up without compromising individuals’ privacy.
• The report recommends that the DHSC should invest in creating a new independent unit to help NHS organisations negotiate fair and proportionate partnerships.

Full report: Making NHS data work for everyone | Reform

Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies, published

NICE | December 2018 | Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies

A working group that includes NICE, Public Health England, MedCity and DigitalHealth. London, has published Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies.

The aim of these standards is to make it easier for innovators and commissioners to understand what good levels of evidence for digital healthcare technologies look like, while meeting the needs of the health and care system, patients, and users.


The evidence standards framework comprises 2 sections:

  1. Evidence for effectiveness for intended use.
  2. Evidence for economic impact.

Both parts of the framework have a proportional approach to defining evidence standards. This recognises:

  • the sparsity of available evidence in the field of digital healthcare
  • the challenges of developing traditional clinical trials for digital health technologies
  • the significant opportunities offered by digital health technologies to collect real world data to inform effectiveness judgements (Source: NICE).

 Download the evidence standards framework for digital technologies

You can share your views on the evidence standards framework, by completing a short survey. The survey will close on Monday 7 January 2019.

Full details at NICE