Blog

The healthmatters blog; commentary, observation and review

Era 3 – A Better Care System; Design Principles and Assumptions

Posted by on Mar 26, 2018 in ERA 3 | 0 comments

Era 3 – A Better Care System; Design Principles and Assumptions

A “Vision” might be an overstatement but there has to be a clear statement of aims – to improve care for all – to develop (over 2 terms) into a care system designed to increase population well being through prevention, early intervention, excellent primary, secondary and tertiary planned and emergency care and long term support. The system should be delivering outcomes comparable with the best in the world, reducing inequalities and being active in redistribution through public services provision.

The design should build on:-

  • Berwick’s 9 principles for a more moral system (Era 3)
  • Wanless’s 2002 fully engaged scenario ( the NHS will remain viable if the population engages fully with it)
  • Care Act 2014 “I” statements (or the Patient Voices equivalent)

Core principles for healthcare need to be reinforced – comprehensive, universal, free at the time of need and tax funded. These principles can be extended to social care (and housing) over time. We can add new principles around accountability and quality. A strengthened Constitution will cover health and social care.

Health care will be fully integrated into the rest of the public sector within an overall system giving all the right to appropriate care and support – including public health, social care, housing and monetary support (through, for example, incapacity allowance, pensions and universal credit).

Care services will be planned and delivered based on a population approach with areas made up of one or more local authority areas. (not all STPs are coterminous now.) There will be local autonomy over the organisation of services within national frameworks.

There will be democratic accountability of the planning of services and resource allocation. Various permutations of health boards, care boards, joint integration boards and local authorities are all possible but will lead eventually to a single accountable body for each area (local authority).

Operational delivery of services will be accountable through public bodies with boards with NEDs including public, patient, staff and Local Authority representatives. Such bodies must be exemplars in terms of ethical behaviour, staff terms conditions and relations, and environmental impact.

Service design will be accountable through coproduction approaches. Service delivery will be through shared decision making (unless clinically inappropriate). Patients and communities will be increasingly involved in their care.

This is a “public” system; or rather a series of public systems. Services will not be delivered through legally binding contracts although SLAs and “NHS” contracts may be part of performance management. No part of the system will be “autonomous”. All parts of the health and social care system will be open and transparent and “commercial confidentiality” will not be recognised in respect of anybody getting public funds.

Entitlement will be National (social care isn’t now); service frameworks will be National; standards (targets) will be National; terms and conditions for staff will be National.

Making the Change

In our view essential structural requirements for change will include:-

  • greater levels of sustained revenue funding
  • new sources for capital funding
  • social care free at point of need, or cost-capped
  • new funding allocation models, and fund – pooling permissions
  • removal of markets and competition
  • reversing previous privatisation (and developing new models for ownership)
  • restoring powers to Secretary of State (ending autonomy).

There will be significant ongoing investment in:-

  • rebuilding the management skills and expertise to make a publicly managed system effective
  • developing the skills and expertise within local councils to take on new planning and oversight roles for the NHS
  • having NEDs, staff representatives and other system managers drawn from a more diverse and inclusive background, supported by training, development and peer support
  • increasing accountability and participation
  • building effective partnership working and workforce planning.

To avoid disruption and opportunity costs the changes necessary must not rely on top down reorganisation, disbanding and then creating hundreds of organisations, or changing local authority boundaries.

Existing organisations should be given some flexibility over form but any new organisation or mergers, acquisitions, takeovers would require Secretary of State approval. Secretary of State powers should be delegated to regional level.

Primary legislation should be used to remove barriers (such as market competition) to more integrated care or to widen opportunities for collaborative approaches (easier pooling of budgets).

The Care Act: ‘I’ statements

What are the ‘I’ statements?

‘I’ statements are an assertion about the feelings, beliefs and values of the person speaking. In the case of ‘Making it Real’, the ‘I’ statements are what older and disabled people, carers and citizens expect to feel and experience when it comes to personalised care and support. They are grouped around six key themes:

1. Information and Advice: having the information I need, when I need it

I have the information and support I need in order to remain as independent as possible
I have access to easy-to-understand information about care and support which is consistent, accurate, accessible and up to date
I can speak to people who know something about care and support and can make things happen.
I have help to make informed choices if I need and want it
I know where to get information about what is going on in my community

2. Active and supportive communities: keeping friends, family and place

I have access to a range of support that helps me to live the life I want and remain a contributing member of my community
I have a network of people who support me carers, family, friends, community and if needed paid support staff.
I have opportunitie to train, study, work or engage in activities that match my interests, skills, abilities
I feel welcomed and included in my local community
I feel valued for the contribution that I can make to my community

3. Flexible integrated care and support: my support, my own way

I am in control of planning my care and support
I have care and support that is directed by me and responsive to my needs
My support is coordinated, co-operative and works well together and I know who to contact to get things change
I have a clear line of communication, action and follow up

4. Workforce: my support staff

I have good information and advice on the range of options for choosing my support staff
I have considerate support delivered by competent people
I have access to a pool of people, advice on how to employ them and the opportunity to get advice from my peers
I am supported by people who help me to make links in my local community

5. Risk enablement: feeling in control and safe

I can plan ahead and keep control in a crisis
I feel safe, I can live the life I want and I am supported to manage any risks
I feel that my community is a safe place to live and local people look out for me and each other
I have systems in place so that I can get help at an early stage to avoid a crisis

6. Personal budgets and self-funding: my money

I can decide the kind of support I need and when, where and how to receive it
I know the amount of money available to me for care and support needs, and I can determine how this is used (whether it’s my own money, direct payment, or a council managed personal budget)
I can get access to the money quickly without having to go through over-complicated procedures
I am able to get skilled advice to plan my care and support, and also be given help to understand costs and make best use of the money involved where I want and need this

Online assessment helps people understand their risk of Colorectal Cancer

Posted by on Mar 22, 2018 in Blog, Public Health | 0 comments

Online assessment helps people understand their risk of Colorectal Cancer

A free online ‘risk assessment’ from a leading U.S.-based hospital is helping people around the world take positive steps to reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer, and giving doctors more data on the risk factors associated with the disease.

A Free Five-Minute Questionnaire from the United States’ Cleveland Clinic Analyzes Lifestyle and Family History to Check Whether Risk is Low, Medium or High, and Recommends Next Steps for Prevention

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, according to World Health Organization figures, responsible for the deaths of an estimated 774,000 in 2015, the most recent year for which data has been published. Yet, according to physicians at Cleveland Clinic, it is also one of the most easily treated if detected early enough.A five-minute web-based questionnaire, which can be found at clevelandclinic.org/preventcoloncancer, aims to help people get that early diagnosis. The free assessment asks respondents about age, gender, ethnicity, height, weight, dietary factors, smoking history, physical activity, personal and family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, and adherence to screening.

After completing the survey, participants get a score of average, or above average at low, medium or high risk of colorectal cancer based on reported personal and family history of colorectal cancer, polyps or both. They also receive a family tree showing the relatives reported to be affected with colorectal cancer or polyps and a call to action outlining what age to start screening and how frequently it should be done.

“Our hope by providing this online assessment is that individuals could take it, print out the results with the call to action and take it to their physicians to start the colorectal cancer screening conversation,” says Carol A. Burke, MD, a Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist, and past president of the American College of Gastroenterology.

“In turn, physicians can start the discussion with the patient about the importance of colorectal cancer screening,” adds Dr. Burke.

Dr. Burke and colleagues developed the online survey to provide patients with information about their colorectal cancer risk based upon self-reported personal and family history of colorectal cancer and polyps. The survey generates suggestions for each participant to modify risk factors through screening as well as lifestyle and dietary changes.

In 2017, analysis of more than 27,000 responses from around the world found that individuals who exercised more, followed a healthy diet and did not smoke were less likely to have a personal history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps. The analysis also highlights the modifiable risk factors, such as diet and lifestyle behaviors, reported by patients without a personal history of colorectal cancer and polyps.

The research was presented at Digestive Disease Week 2017. The investigators, Drs. Burke and Dornblaser, also found that less than 10 percent of all respondents stated they ate five or more servings of fruit, vegetables and grains per day, and only about 25 percent undertook at least 30 minutes of exercise four times per week. They additionally found that only 36 percent of respondents were up to date with current colorectal screening, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines.

“Colon cancer is a preventable disease. These results emphasize the known modifiable factors that can alter the risk,” says Dr. Burke. “Colon cancer has had significant decline in the U.S. since 1980 when colorectal cancer screening was first introduced, but these results show screening for the disease – and adherence to a healthy lifestyle – appear woefully underutilized.”

UK BOSSES RISKING WORKFORCE STRESS BURNOUT 

Posted by on Mar 19, 2018 in Blog, Public Health | 0 comments

UK BOSSES RISKING WORKFORCE STRESS BURNOUT 

UK BUSINESSES are in danger of having their workforces experience burnout through stress, as despite a huge number feeling stressed at work, few bosses are doing anything to help.

  • 45% of UK businesses do nothing to help alleviate workers’ stress 
  • Despite 25% of workers being less productive when stressed
  • Hospitality, leisure and transport bosses least likely to offer ways for staff to manage stress levels

For those British adults in employment, work is by far the most common cause of stress (59%). Yet almost one in two (45%) of British businesses do not offer anything to help alleviate this, according to a study of 3,000 UK workers carried out by 2018 UK Workplace Report.

This is despite the fact that 1 in 4 (25%) struggle to be as productive at work when stressed, and almost the same number find themselves disengaged with work as a result.

Indeed, at least 1 in 10 (10%) of us will call in sick due to stress, while 7% will look for a new job.

Businesses within the hospitality industry are the least likely to provide any kind of guidance or aid to help employees deal with stress, with as many as 64% of workers in this industry claiming that this is the case.

This was closely followed by the leisure sector – where 63% of businesses are guilty of doing nothing to help.

More than 1 in 2 (55%) bosses within transport – where employees experiencing high levels of stress and burn out can be particularly risky – leave employees to manage work stress with no guidance or assistance.

The plumbing and construction (54%), healthcare and education industries (both 45% respectively) completed the list of the top five sectors which are least likely to see employees offered help or assistance with managing levels of work-related stress.

Chieu Cao, CMO & Co-Founder at Perkbox, said: “It’s worrying to see how few businesses seem to be considering stress levels within their workforce their problem. And it is particularly ironic to see that almost 1 in 2 workers within the healthcare industry say their bosses do not do offer anything to help them alleviate stress levels.

Chieu continues: “This can have hugely damaging effects on morale, productivity and sickness absence – all of which ultimately contribute to a company’s overall success – and it is important for bosses to recognise the contribution that work makes to employee stress levels.

“Introducing measures that help to reduce stress or encourage positive coping methods need not be particularly involved or expensive – even free things as simple as introducing flexible working, considering requests to work from home from time to time, or enforcing 1-2-1s with managers, to allow employees to discuss concerns and motivations, can go a long way to help. But ultimately, measures which tackle staff stress head-on work best – including gym membership or exercise classes, discounted or complimentary counselling and mental health services and even spa vouchers.”

To find out more, click here to view or download the 2018 UK Workplace Stress Report.

Which industries are the least likely to offer measures to help staff deal with their stress levels?

  1. Hospitality – 64%
  2. Leisure industry – 63%
  3. Transport – 55%
  4. Trades (e.g. plumbing, construction) – 54%
  5. Health and education (joint) – 45%

The launch of WeMa Life: Connecting health and care providers with consumers

Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 in Blog, NHS | 0 comments

The launch of WeMa Life: Connecting health and care providers with consumers

On 27 February 2018, WeMa Life officially launched its online marketplace and app, which aims to connect care in the community.

For the vast majority of people, there is nothing more important than their health or their loved ones’ wellbeing. However, while so many aspects of our day-to-day lives have benefited from the proliferation of new, easy-to-use and affordable technologies, the world of healthcare has almost been left behind.

Fortunately, the growth of the Global HealthTech Market in recent years has started to change all that. New digital solutions are emerging that make it easier for people to manage or improve their health. And WeMa Life has been created to help drive this movement forward further still.

WeMa Life’s multi-service platform offers benefits to both consumers and businesses. For people seeking health, care and wellbeing services – either for themselves or someone close to them – WeMa Life makes it easy to source, book and pay reputable providers.

Services available through the online marketplace and app include: social care; domiciliary care; nursing; domestic help; personal care and hygiene; massages; yoga and Pilates instructors; nutritionists; physiotherapists; personal trainers; and more. Users can book one-off and on-going sessions, as well as services from multiple providers in one transaction.

From young people wanting regular fitness sessions to people in their 50s responsible for looking after elderly parents, WeMa Life has a broad appeal. It also has significant benefits for individuals needing to arrange care before or after clinical treatment, removing stress and complexity from an already difficult situation.

Meanwhile, the tools available through the online portal and mobile app enable businesses to improve the management and delivery of their services. As well as opening them up to communities of potential customers across the nation, WeMa Life lets health and care providers roster staff, arrange appointments, communicate with customers, accept payments and enhance efficiency.

WeMa Life is a family business; it was founded by myself, the COO, along with my parents Rajal Patni (CFO) and Rohit Patni (CEO). We were inspired to develop a tech-based solution after experiencing first-hand how difficult it is to find and book reputable healthcare providers for an elderly relative.

What’s more, research commissioned by WeMa Life to coincide with its launch, which was carried out independently among more than 2,000 UK adults, showed just how common these experiences are and therefore how great the need is for new digital tools to take the pain out of booking health, care and wellbeing services.

Our study found that 15% of UK adults currently act as informal carers, each spending on average 13 hours a week taking on duties such as cooking, cleaning and caring for someone close to them. More than half (53%) say the role has had a significant emotional impact on them, with 30% falling out with friends or family because of tensions around their responsibilities. Furthermore, 46% find it difficult to source suitable providers and two thirds (66%) want to see an online solution to make it easier to source and book healthcare services.

Empowering individuals to better manage their own is at the heart of WeMa Life’s proposition. But, as stated, the multi-faceted HealthTech solution also stands to improve how healthcare professionals – from individual, self-employed carers through to businesses providing wellbeing services – can connect with new and existing customers.

WeMa Life is constantly seeking new service providers to join its platform – to find out more or to register interest in doing so, click here.

Vivek Patni, COO and co-founder, WeMa Life

Cardiff scientists create world’s first synthetic, non-biologic vaccine 

Posted by on Mar 13, 2018 in Blog, Public Health | 0 comments

Cardiff scientists create world’s first synthetic, non-biologic vaccine 

The non-biologic influenza vaccine, which can be delivered orally, could herald a revolution in vaccine delivery.

Stable at room temperature, the new type of vaccine, which could be given in pill form, does not require refrigeration – a process that can account for most of the cost of delivery of many current vaccines.

Vaccines that do not require refrigeration can be transported more easily and are more suitable for developing countries where it can be difficult to keep things cool.

Professor Andrew Sewell, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, who led the study, said: “There are many benefits to oral vaccines. Not only would they be great news for people who have a fear of needles but they can also be much easier to store and transport, making them far more suitable for use in remote locations where current vaccine delivery systems can be problematic.”

As the first synthetic and stable vaccine,  the new form of preparation was made in a very novel way, by using ‘mirror images’ of the protein molecules that make up life.

Standard vaccines usually work by introducing a safe form of a germ, or a harmless part of that germ (often proteins) into our bodies. These foreign proteins stimulate our immune cells which then remember it and launch a stronger attack if they encounter it again. Normal germs or proteins would usually be digested if eaten. The new work shows that stable ‘mirror image’ forms of parts of such proteins can also induce a protective immune response. These ‘mirror image’ molecules cannot be digested, opening up the possibility for stable non-biologic vaccines to be supplied in pill form.

Professor Sewell explained: “The carbon molecules that form all proteins on Earth are left-handed molecules,  but they also have a non-biologic, right-handed form. Even though these two forms of a molecule look identical at first glance they are actually mirror images of each other, just like our right and left hands, and cannot be superimposed on each other. The left-handed forms of proteins are easily digested and do not last long in nature. The unnatural, right-handed forms of these molecules are vastly more stable.

“Our demonstration that unnatural molecules, like these mirror image molecules, can be successfully used for vaccination opens up possibilities to explore the use of other unnatural, stable molecular ‘drugs’ as vaccines in the future.”

This new work provides proof-of-concept in a laboratory setting. A lot more research will be required to develop such approaches for the entire population and other diseases. It is likely to take several years before a non-biologic vaccine could be tested in humans.

Divya Shah, from Wellcome’s Infection and Immunobiology team, said: “This is a very exciting first proof of concept study that could provide a potential route to make vaccines that are thermostable and be administered orally. This could reduce the cost and increase accessibility across the globe, however much more research is needed to translate the findings into real-world vaccines.”

 

The Research was funded by Wellcome and BBSRC and is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Why is life expectancy in England and Wales ‘stalling’?

Posted by on Mar 13, 2018 in Blog, Public Health | 0 comments

Why is life expectancy in England and Wales ‘stalling’?

Several independent analyses, by both epidemiologists and actuaries, have concluded that the previous rate of improvement of life expectancy in England and Wales has now slowed markedly, and at older ages may even be reversing. However, although these findings have led the pension industry to reduce estimates of future liabilities, they have failed to elicit any significant concern in the Department of Health and Social Care.

In this essay published in the British medical Journal, we review the evidence on changing life expectancy, noting that the problems are greatest among older women. We then estimate the gap between what life expectancy is now and what it might have been had previous trends continued. At age 85, the gap is 0.34 years for women and 0.23 for men.

We argue that recent changes cannot be dismissed as a temporary aberration. While the causes of this phenomenon are contested, there is growing evidence to point to the austerity policies implemented in recent years as at least a partial explanation. We conclude by calling for a fully independent enquiry to ascertain what is happening to life expectancy in England and Wales and what should be done about it.

The contributors to this essay are:

  1. Lucinda Hiam,
  2. Dominic Harrison
  3. Martin McKee
  4. Danny Dorling

Authors affiliations:

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ECOHOST, London, UK
University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Correspondence to: Professor Martin McKee, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, UK

NHS Staff Survey 2017 results

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Blog, NHS | 0 comments

NHS Staff Survey 2017 results

The results of NHS England’s latest Staff Survey 2017 are “challenging”, show that staff cannot absorb further work pressures, and show that investment is needed in health and social care services, according to NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer.

“Employers in the NHS have been anticipating worsening results from this most recent survey and sadly their concerns have been reflected in the outcome.

“The country needs to take these challenging results seriously. We cannot expect staff to absorb additional work pressures year on year without it having an adverse effect on their experience of work.  A long-term solution to sustainable investment in the NHS – and other vital public services – is clearly required.

“It’s disappointing but understandable that staff are less satisfied with the standard of care they are able to provide and that they are feeling more stressed.

“I am however encouraged that staff continue to be willing to recommend the NHS as a place to be cared for.

“The fact that more staff feel their managers and organisations support their health and wellbeing is positive and is a result of longstanding efforts by employers to address workplace health issues. The increasing focus on supporting staff through mental health issues is clearly having a positive impact and we are keen to share the lessons learnt from the NHS with other employers.”

* The NHS Staff Survey 2017 was published by NHS England on 6th March, 2018.

* Of the survey’s 32 key findings, 21 have worsened and 11 have improved in 2017 compared with 2016.

* Questions about staff satisfaction are valued on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 “strongly agree”.

* Participating staff are asked 30 mandatory core questions, with the option to answer more questions on patient experience, health and safety, leadership and development, and values. Staff in ambulance trusts have a separate optional questionnaire on patient experience.

* The Staff Survey has been conducted every year since 2003.

* Staff taking part in the survey are informed that their responses for the survey are treated with confidence, and that no one in their organisations will be able to identify individual responses.

News from Nowhere

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

News from Nowhere

News from Nowhere and its regular update on UK public health matters in general.

Revolving doors keep going round  

Former NHS Improvement chair Ed Smith will join a new board of senior government and NHS figures advising the private digital GP company ‘Push Doctor’, according to the Health Service Journal (March 2nd 2018). The board (see box below for its membership) will advise on regulation, governance and a strategy to “expand its digital health services”.

‘Push Doctor’ is one of a number of companies, such as ‘Babylon’ and ‘Now Healthcare’, which offer GP video consultation services. However, unlike Babylon,  ‘Push Doctor’ does not have much of a base in the NHS, and aims its’ services at self-funding users or subscribers. A ‘Push Doctor’ consultation costs £20 for 10 minutes and it charges an £8 administration fee for private prescriptions, which must be paid for by the customer. Board members are:

Ed Smith, former chair, NHS Improvement 

Nicola Blackwood, former health minister 

Christine Outram, chair, The Christie FT

Dr Kathryn Patrick, primary care director, Yeovil District Hospital

Dr Marc Farr, information director, East Kent Hospitals University FT

Michael Lennox, member of NHS England local professional network for pharmacy

Matthew Campbell-Hill, non-executive director, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Cut out the middle man

In November 2016, PWC asked YouGov Research to conduct a survey of the general public across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to understand three things:

  • if there was the appetite to engage with artificial intelligence (AI) and robots for healthcare;
  • the circumstances under which there would be greater or lesser willingness to do so; and,
  • the perceived advantages and disadvantages of using AI and robots in healthcare.

Respondents in England identified four benefits of AI and robots in medicine:

  1. A quicker diagnosis was identified as the biggest benefit, with one in three (33%) UK consumers believing robots would reach a decision on their condition much faster
  2. As well as faster diagnosis, one in four (25%) British consumers believe they would get a more accurate diagnosis from AI
  3. A quarter of UK consumers (25%) said robot technology would mean they wouldn’t have to rely on booking an appointment with a GP,
  4. while 24% said the biggest benefit would be no longer having to take time off work to visit a doctor

NHS 111 enquiries will be handled by robots within two years, some believe. Source

Burrowing into a niche market

Commercial Healthcare company Fortius Clinic has linked up with Bupa to open a joint centre in London for carrying out hip and knee replacements using the latest robotic technology. MAKO robotic technology enables highly accurate placement of personalised knee or hip implants, smaller incisions, and faster recovery times. The latest evidence-based critical care pathways used at the new clinic aim to accelerate and improve all aspects of a patient’s recovery process following their surgery.

Mr Andy Williams, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and one of Fortius Clinic’s Founding Surgeons, says:  

The future of joint replacement surgery must focus on ensuring consistent outcomes – in recovery, performance and longevity. There is a wide variability of surgery outcomes and complication rates in current orthopaedic practice. This is why we need to shift our focus to further training on using new technologies within the field to improve patient outcomes.”

For more information visit: https://www.fortiusclinic.com/fortius-joint-replacement-centre

Joining forces, shaping up

The Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations (AIHO) and the NHS Partners Network (NHSPN) have announced that NHSPN will lead on representation of the private healthcare sector. The move reflects the fact that private players in in the health care market want industry representation to cover all private sector service delivery, including both NHS-funded and privately-funded services.

Traditionally AIHO was the trade association representing hospital members delivering privately-funded healthcare services and NHSPN was the trade body for independent providers of NHS-funded services, covering a range of sectors from acute to primary and community care as well as diagnostics and clinical home healthcare. As the healthcare economy has developed over recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of private healthcare organisations simultaneously delivering services for NHS patients and for private patients.

In the view of the industry this makes the time right for creating a single entity for the private healthcare sector covering all parts of the market. The newly expanded NHS Partners Network, which will remain part of the NHS Confederation group, will begin representing the interests of the entirety of the independent healthcare sector from 1st June 2018.

Source: www.aiho.org.uk/media-file/announcement-single-entity-created-to-represent-independent-healthcare-sector/

British ‘puts up’ with health symptoms and illness for more than five months before seeking help

Posted by on Mar 1, 2018 in Blog, Public Health | 0 comments

British ‘puts up’ with health symptoms and illness for more than five months before seeking help

The average adult ‘puts up’ with worrying or annoying health symptoms for more than five months before seeking help, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults found many are burying their head in the sand when it comes to their physical well-being – living with issues such as back pain or hearing problems for months, or even years, before they finally get them checked out.

More than one in twenty even admit to waiting at least a year before approaching a professional for advice.

Three quarters of Brits are currently putting up with a health concern they have ignored – with back ache the most common complaint.

Commissioned ahead of World Hearing Day (March 3), the study by high street hearing specialists Hidden Hearing, found many also ignore poor eyesight, headaches, hearing loss and digestive problems.

GP and medical broadcaster Dr Hilary Jones said: “It’s worrying to not only see how long people are leaving things before they seek help from a professional, but also that conditions such as hearing loss are on this list.

“This symptom now has strong links to other serious health conditions such as dementia, depression, heart health and diabetes.

“It’s important to get anything which is causing you concern checked out at the earliest opportunity.”

Emerging research has linked hearing loss with an increased risk of dementia, depression, heart health and diabetes – a relationship 57 per cent of Brits are unaware of.

And two in five admits to never having had a hearing test, despite worrying they could have a problem.

Almost half of those surveyed have held off on getting a check-up because they didn’t want to waste the health professional’s time, while 42 per cent confess to being in denial about issues when they arise.

But more than four in 10 admit that not dealing with a symptom as soon as it arose has led to the condition worsening before they finally got it treated.

And more than one in five say their reluctance to get things checked out has led to arguments with a loved one.

It’s not just ongoing symptoms people are putting off dealing with as half regularly delay or avoid getting a routine screening such as a smear test, eye test or hearing test.

But when it comes to daily hearing concerns, three in 10 have had to ask someone to repeat what they have said multiple times during a chat in order to understand what they are saying.

And an embarrassed one in five have even pretended to have understood what someone has said so they don’t have to ask them to repeat themselves.

Dr Laura Phipps from Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “We know that the brain plays a vital role in good hearing, and difficulties with hearing may be to linked to different types of dementia.

“The reasons behind this link are still being explored, but given the large number of people affected by hearing problems, it’s an important area of research.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK is funding a study to understand more about the link between hearing loss and dementia, and to understand whether supporting people in wearing their hearing aids could have wider benefits beyond just hearing.”

In response to this research, Hidden Hearing is supporting ‘The Campaign for Better Hearing’, which aims to encourage the public to take take care their hearing – just as they would look after their blood pressure, cholesterol or eye sight.

It also hopes to highlight the link hearing problems has with serious health issues such as dementia, heart health, depression and diabetes.

In association with this campaign, Hidden Hearing is donating up to five free pairs of hearing aids every month to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them – one for every 1,000 free hearing tests that they carry out.

The initiative is part of Hidden Hearing’s commitment to help everyone in the UK hear their best and live a happy, healthy life.

For more information on hearing loss or to book a free hearing test near you, visit here.

TOP 10 HEALTH ISSUES PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY PUTTING UP WITH:

1. Back pain
2. Poor eyesight
3. Lack of energy/ lethargy
4. Muscle aches
5. Headaches
6. Toothache
7. Stomach pain
8. Digestion issues
9. Hearing problems
10. Acne/ bad skin

 Gemma Francis

HOW DOES UK RATE IT’S WELLBEING? NEW ONS DATA

Posted by on Feb 26, 2018 in Blog, Public Health | 0 comments

What Works Centre for Wellbeing

Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released their estimates of personal wellbeing in the UK, with analysis by country, age and sex. David Tabor, from the ONS shares the key messages and calls for readers to take part in a survey on wellbeing inequalities.

Since 2011, we have asked personal well-being questions to adults in the UK. They provide insight into people’s feelings about their lives and surroundings which economic statistics (such as GDP) alone cannot provide. This information aims to support better decision making among policy-makers, individuals, communities, businesses and civil society.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Continued, but small, improvements: In the year ending September 2017, there continued to be slight improvements in the UK for average ratings of life satisfaction, feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile and happiness; there was no overall change in reported anxiety levels.
  • England driving wellbeing increase: The improvement was driven by England, which was the only UK country with any changes in average reported personal wellbeing over this period.
  • Low wellbeing remains proportionally same: The proportion of people reporting low ratings for measures of life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness remained unchanged since September 2016; there was also no change in those reporting high anxiety.
  • Women higher wellbeing, also anxiety: In the year ending September 2017, women reported higher life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness ratings compared with men but also reported higher levels of anxiety.
  • Specific age groups seeing continual improvements: There have been improvements for all measures of personal wellbeing for those aged 30 to 34, 40 to 59 and 65 to 69 years, since we began measuring personal wellbeing in 2011.

WHY DO WE REPORT THIS DATA?

It is important to consider a variety of aspects of life, such as people’s thoughts and feelings about their current situation, to explore if and how they could have an impact on people’s well-being.

The wellbeing dashboard is our current tool to display measures for the different areas of life that matter most to the UK public.

 

PERSONAL WELLBEING IN THE UK: OCTOBER 2016 TO SEPTEMBER 2017

Today’s figures provide the latest headline estimates of personal wellbeing in the UK. Average ratings of life satisfaction, feeling that the things we do in life are worthwhile and happiness have slightly increased in the UK.

Today’s update also provides a breakdown of personal wellbeing by age and sex. For example, in the year ending September 2017 figures have shown, as noted above, that women report higher life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness ratings compared to men but interestingly they also report higher levels of anxiety.

In addition to providing data on mean averages, it is also worth considering the distribution of the figures. As part of our personal well-being outputs, we provide analysis on ‘thresholds of personal wellbeing’, which look at those providing high and lower ratings of personal wellbeing. Our latest report has shown that, comparing the years ending September 2012 and 2017, fewer people have reported low levels of life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness over time. We have also seen a decrease in the number of people reporting high levels of anxiety.