27 Apr

Sugar Cut-down to help health industry

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Out of the people admitted to hospital, a large number is due to preventable factors, such as smoking and obesity. Sugar is now a number one concern for health worldwide as consumption is higher than ever with children likely to consume three times more sugar than they should per day. Around one in five children are overweight or obese when they start primary school and by the time they start secondary school that rises to one in three. Sugar leading to obesity has become a global problem but measures are now being put in place to curb it.

The higher consumption of sugar is largely due to the high percentage found in common foods and snacks. In light of this, Public Health England is now challenging the major food companies to reduce the amount of sugar in their snacks. If guidelines to cut 20% of sugar from products are followed, it could lead to a reduction of around 200,000 tonnes of sugar from the UK market by 2020.

Cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets, ice cream, puddings, yoghurts and breakfast goods sold by big companies as well as cafes, will have recommended sugar limits for products. This may mean a reduction in size or change in taste to meet targets, although Nestle recently found that a reduction of 10% did not change the taste. Alongside the sugar tax on the UK soft drinks industry, this measure hopes to dramatically reduce the everyday consumption of sugar.

These guidelines will be challenging to enforce and changing attitudes will be a long-term solution but specialists say these measures are essential, not only to the health of individuals within the UK but also to reducing costs and pressures on the NHS and the wider economy.

 

27 Apr

Solving Mental Health online

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Figures have shown a huge rise in the amount of online appointments for mental health issues. The NHS’s new mental health scheme offers online therapy to those suffering with depression and anxiety. This comes after officials flagged the need for greater attention to mental health issues due to rising numbers of people suffering in the UK, and following Theresa May announced extra funding for digital mental health services in January.

There has been a significant rise in the number of appointments that are carried out over instant message and webcam through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme. Reports have also showed that a large number of assessments where therapists make a judgement on the best form of treatment for the patient are being conducted over the phone. Access to mental health services online is expected to grow as initiatives for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy apps are being put forward.

The focus on alternatives to face-to-face help has been criticised by some professionals who say that it removes the human level of interaction, which is something that many people suffering from mental health issues avoid. It has been suggested that webcam or messenger appointments work to distances patients further from human interaction, making them counter-productive

Despite the criticism, these alternative methods for helping those with mental health issues aim to make access easier for everyone. For example, many men do not seek help due to the stigma attached and therefore providing an alternative to face-to-face appointments hope to encourage more people to seek help. Offering a service whereby more individuals will come forward and begin to address their problems, is certainly a positive for tackling mental health in the UK.

27 Apr

How to retain talent in the NHS

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Staffing issues in the NHS are at an all time high at the moment as external factors continue to cause disruption. To ensure that medical professionals remain committed and motivated in their roles they need to have the necessary resources, support and structures in place. A number of factors are being considered and managed within the medical workplace to help attract and retain talented medical professionals, from ensuring strong leadership to enhanced workforce planning.

Strong and compassionate leadership is more important than ever within the medical world. Outside pressures affecting workers have meant that performance targets have become more difficult to achieve along with increased stress and longer hours. It is unsurprising that a number of professionals are struggling under mounting pressure, however, more attention is being paid to care for medical staff. The kings Fund, for example, are managing a programme for developing compassionate leadership through mindulfness, and other steps are being taken to ensure that staff receive strong support in their roles.

Improved workforce planning is another area that will help to fill the skills gap and bring more talent in to the medical profession. As recruitment professionals, TNA Medical plays a key role in this by communicating with medical organisations and continuing our work to place talented medical professionals in the right roles. Continuing collaboration between staffing agencies and medical organisations for specific requirements and resources is essential to attracting and retaining staff in the medical world.

Ongoing training will also ensure that more medical professionals continue their roles in the UK. Individuals need constant support and training to ensure that they are confident and able in their positions of responsibility. TNA Medical professionals receive on-going training throughout their contracts with opportunities within all medical areas. Improving skills and offering progression is key to maintaining a strong medical workforce in the UK.

27 Apr

£2bn Extra for Social Care in the UK

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Last week’s budget announcement has led to strong criticism of the government, with accusations that Phillip Hammond’s ‘shady’ reform plans are pushing the NHS towards privatisation.

Mr Hammond promised the NHS a total of £425 million over the next three years; however the way the budget funds are allocated is likely to lead to a vast amount of closures throughout the NHS hospitals, A&E and practises. According to these claims, the money that is supposedly being put towards the NHS is not affecting the areas needing it most, but to areas that no one has really heard of.

Most of the budget funding has focussed on the STP’s, which have received criticism since the government announced them in February. According to critics of the plan there is no structure in place to properly manage the funding and no clear representation or guideline for improvements.

Despite these claims the government has assured that they are a party for the NHS, as Mr Hammond announced a further £2bn for social care with an aim to ease pressures across healthcare services. £100m of that will be given to A&E departments to combat the issues of over-crowding, which the government has suggested is due to a large number of patients visiting hospitals where they could see a GP.

Critics are saying that this is not enough to bridge the huge funding gap in the NHS and tackle the numerous issues facing healthcare services today. Fortunately, more officials and professionals within healthcare services are stepping forward to have their say on government actions concerning the NHS. Having side-stepped the issue for too long, the government need to ensure strong communication with medical professionals to highlight the issues from the inside and target areas which are most in need.