Léa Legraien takes an irreverent look at some of the biggest health stories in the media
Did you say technology?
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two months, you probably know what health and social care secretary Matt Hancock is passionate about. No? Here’s a hint: ‘Tech transformation is coming’.
Since Mr Hancock was appointed to his new role on 9 July, he has said the word ‘technology’ no fewer than 116 times, in just six announcements.
But this is about more than just sharing his passion for technology. Mr Hancock has lots of tech plans up his sleeve, designed to make the NHS the ‘most advanced health system in the world’.
And the wave of change has already started: a new NHS app, Skype GP consultations and an end to paper prescriptions by 2020/21 are just a few of his initiatives. So forget about fax machines and long waits at GP practices.
With a tech-savvy health secretary in charge, behold a future where patients are given barcodes to be ‘easily tracked’ by staff, as Mr Hancock put it. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of living in a society where they can be monitored day and night? Aldous Huxley must be green with envy in his grave. A brave new world indeed.
To integrate or not to integrate
In September, a BMA survey revealed that almost eight in 10doctors (78% of 7,887 participants) had not been involved in their local STP over the past year.
In case the name isn’t self-explanatory, NHS England describes an STP as a local area where NHS organisations and councils work in partnership to draw up plans to improve patient health and care. You can also find STPs in the integrated care section on the NHS England website.
Earlier this year, NHS England and NHS Improvement revealed that all STPs are set to become integrated care systems.
So, to sum it all up, we have the terms ‘partnership’, ‘integration’ and ‘integrated care system’.
But does the nature and structure of STPs live up to the significance of the words used to characterise them? It would seem not.
Luckily, Healthcare Leader is kind enough to remind you what integration means, with some help from the Cambridge Dictionary: ‘The action or process of successfully joining or mixing with a different group of people’.
How can the NHS hope to end a ‘fractured care system’ across the country, as NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens put it, if important stakeholders including doctors are not involved in drafting local proposals?
As front-line staff, doctors are ideally placed to know what is best for their patients and how policies should be designed to fully respond to population needs. So there you are, STPs; you have no more excuses for drawing up plans behind closed door.
Get your flu jab or be grounded!
In a bid to reduce flu incidences in the workforce this winter, NHS England and NHS Improvement made it clear in September that all hospital staff should be vaccinated.
As a warning, NHS Improvement wrote in a statement that those who did not wish to co-operate would be ‘redeployed to other areas where this promotes the overall safety of patients’.
In other words, hospital staff who refuse to be vaccinated against the flu could be banned from treating patients. Even if you disregard the fact that some people have a fear of needles, there are others who for allergy reasons cannot be given certain flu vaccines – made with eggs. One jab can cause a life-threatening reaction in people who are seriously allergic to eggs.
Now for everyone else, go and get your flu jab or you’ll face the naughty corner, oh rebellious ones.