NHS to provide life changing glucose monitors for Type 1 diabetes patients

NHS England | November 2018 | NHS to provide life changing glucose monitors for Type 1 diabetes patients

Simon Stevens Chief Executive of NHS England  has announced that thousands of people with diabetes will be able to access Freestyle Libre; a wearable sensor that means those with the condition no longer need to rely on inconvenient and sometimes painful finger prick blood tests, as the device works by relaying glucose levels to a smart phone or e-reader.  This announcement marks an end to the current variation  some people in different parts of the country were experiencing. 



The pioneering technology should ultimately help people with Type 1 diabetes achieve better health outcomes and benefits for patients include:

  • Easily noticing when sugar levels are starting to rise or drop, so action can be taken earlier
  • Giving patients more confidence in managing their own condition
  • Not having to do as many finger-prick checks (Source: NHS England)

Read the full announcement from NHS England

In the media:

BBC News Diabetes glucose monitors ‘available to thousands more’


Instant messaging services a “vital part of the NHS toolkit” during a crisis

NHS England | November 2018 |Instant messaging services a “vital part of the NHS toolkit” during a crisis

New guidance from NHS England will help NHS organisations and staff to make a judgement on how and when to use instant messaging safely in acute clinical settings, taking in to account data sharing and data privacy rules.


Simple steps that staff should take include:

  • Only using apps and other messaging tools that meet the NHS encryption standard
  • Not allowing anyone else to use their device
  • Disabling message notifications on their device’s lock-screen to protect patient confidentiality
  • Keeping separate clinical records and delete the original messaging notes once any advice has been transcribed and attributed in the medical record.

Dr Helgi Johannsson, Consultant in Anaesthesia at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, set up a major incident instant messaging group to help coordinate his hospital’s response to Grenfell Tower after learning a key lesson during the Westminster attack.

Dr Simon Eccles, Chief Clinical Information Officer for Health and Care, said: “Helping people during a crisis like the Grenfell fire, demands a quick response and instant messaging services can be a vital part of the NHS toolkit. Health service staff are always responsible about how they use patients’ personal details and these new guidelines will help our doctors and nurses to make safe and effective use of technology under the most intense pressure.” (Source: NHS England)

Read the full release here 

Related:  NHS England  Information governance and technology resources

In the media:

The Telegraph  NHS tells staff to use WhatsApp to communicate during emergencies

Nursing Times  New NHS guidance sanctions use of WhatsApp by nurses in emergencies

Breast Cancer Care launches Alexa tool to help women spot key signs

Breast Cancer Care (BCC) has launched a virtual tool on Amazon’s Alexa which shares information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer | via Digital Health

The tool can help guide women through a breast check and highlight the eight most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look out for.

Addie Mitchell, clinical nurse specialist at BCC, told Digital Health News that she hoped the digital tool would help give women more confidence to check for breast cancer. She said: “It gives them the confidence and assurance of being able to check in their own home. Checking for symptoms of breast cancer can cause a lot of anxiety as they don’t know what to look for, but the Alexa tool can help by listing the eight common ones.”

Mitchell added that the Alexa tool will also prompt users who may think they have one or more of the symptoms to get it checked out by their GP.

Full story at Digital Health

Virtual reality treatment to be trialled for stroke patients

Virtual reality could be used to rehabilitate stroke patients if trials are successful thanks to work undertaken by experts at the University of Chester | viaDigital Health Age

The Medical Graphics team at the University of Chester, in partnership with the Countess of Chester Hospital and 3D scanning firm Cadscan, have developed a method of using virtual reality in order for patients to relearn certain tasks.

The project is currently at the start of its two-year funding period from Innovate UK. The first six months will be spent developing software prior to the trial and if the trial is successful then Cadscan could commercialise it and market it to the NHS.

Scenarios that have been developed so far include putting bread into a toaster, pouring water from a jug into a glass and applying toothpaste to a brush with scope for more.

A trial using 60 patients will take place that will last for 12 months involving a more professional version of the application they have currently developed. The aim is that virtual reality can be used to compliment other aspects of rehabilitation – with one of the knock-on effects potentially saving the NHS money.

Full story at Digital Health Age

Digital health solutions to help Parkinson’s patients

People with Parkinson’s may be able to manage their condition with help from apps and devices library launched by Parkinson’s UK and Our Mobile Health | via Digital Health Age

‘Tried and Tested’ aims to offer technological solutions for managing Parkinson’s symptoms, including speech problems, drooling and freezing – and could help up to 145,000 people in the UK.

So far six apps and devices have been approved for the library, with plans to grow it by reviewing existing apps and devices and encouraging new designs from developers.

All the tools featured in the library are designed to help people with Parkinson’s with everyday life. Parkinson’s can affect the voice and affect people’s ability to swallow – also the library features an app that records volume, pitch and speed of speech, with the results easily shareable with health professionals, and one called Swallow Prompt to help prevent drooling. smartphone-1184883_1920

Each app and device first goes through an independent review process used by Our Mobile Health to identify trustworthy digital health tools, before going into ‘real-life testing’ by people living with Parkinson’s.

People can now also try recommended and review apps to help them get some rest, as difficulty sleeping is a common problem for many living with Parkinson’s.

Our Mobile Health sourced the apps from developers and reviewed them against their rigorous quality assurance process, which identifies the ‘best of the best’ apps by reviewing them against ten key attribute areas.  An independent panel of expert reviewers looks at apps across a range of areas including patient safety, data security and indicators of effectiveness. Only apps which meet the standards required are put forward to the charity for real-life testing.

Full story: Apps and Devices library launched to help Parkinson’s patients | Digital Health Age

Social media boost for breast screening

More women attend for breast screening thanks to success of digital inclusion project | NHS Digital

An NHS project using social media to improve health by boosting digital inclusion has led to a 13 per cent increase in first time attendances for breast screening in Stoke-on-Trent over four years.

The local initiative saw information about screening posted on Facebook community groups, which empowered and enabled women to make appointments by reducing their anxiety around breast examinations. It also allowed them to communicate quickly and easily with health practitioners to ask questions about the screening process.


Through this project, the North Midlands Breast Screening Service promoted their Facebook page on local community groups which their target group – women aged over 50 – regularly visited.

The screening team posted information such as patients explaining about how the screening process works and how it has affected them, and videos showing the rooms where it takes place. Posts were designed to encourage women to share them and so spread the message about the benefits and importance of screening.

The service’s Facebook page also answered questions in the group and by direct messaging, enabling women to book appointments more easily.

Full detail: More women attend for breast screening thanks to success of digital inclusion project | NHS Digital

See also: Social media could help raise breast screening take-up | OnMedica

GP online services communications toolkit

NHS England has published a guide for GP practices to promote GP online services to patients 

This communications Support and Resource Guide (SRG) provides practical tools to help  communicate the benefits of GP online services. It is one of a range of guides, developed  to provide tools, tips, best practice and techniques to help the effective implementation and promotion of GP online services to patients and staff.

Other Support and Resources Guides include:

Full document: GP online services Communications Toolkit

Related video: Patient Online: How to promote GP online services to patients