Friday Five

Major changes to NHS app, GP shortages forecast, new blood plasma trial for COVID-19 patients and medical training using holograms – This week’s Friday Five

Major changes to NHS app announced

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care announced their plan for ‘digital revolution’ in the NHS.

The ambitious plan sets out a rapid expansion of the use of technology in the NHS, with a focus on virtual wards and remote monitoring. The paper also outlines plans to overhaul the NHS app. The app will give users the opportunity to access their medical records, receive notifications directly from their GP, have virtual consultations, and even be able to access relevant clinical trials.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said “We are embarking on a radical programme of modernisation that will make sure the NHS is set up to meet the challenges of 2048 – not 1948, when it was first established.”

Read the full story in BBC News.

 

Research predicts that 25% of GP posts could be empty by 2032

New research by The Health Foundation forecasts that the current shortage of 4,200 full time GPs will rise to 10,700 by 2032.

This follows a recent survey from the Royal College of General Practitioners which found that almost 19,000 GPs plan to leave the NHS in the next 5 years, citing reasons such as retirement, stress and burnout. The Health Foundation’s report states that the effect of shortages could be mitigated through policy changes. They call for the introduction of policies to improve the recruitment and retention of GPs and support the integration of allied health professionals such as pharmacists and physiotherapists into practice teams.

Anita Charlesworth, from the Health Foundation, said: “England’s GP services are under huge pressure. It’s sobering that over the next decade things are set to get worse, not better, with a growing shortage of GPs and practice nurses.”

Read the full article in The Telegraph, and read the Health Foundation’s full report here.

 

Trial to treat immunocompromised COVID-19 patients with ‘super donor’ blood plasma opens in UK

A previously closed COVID-19 treatment trial has been re-opened after finding that treatment was particularly successful in immunosuppressed COVID-19 patients who received transfusions of plasma containing extraordinarily high levels of antibodies.

The Remap-Cap trial sought to test whether treating COVID-19 patients with blood plasma from ‘super donors’ who produce higher than normal levels of antibodies had a beneficial effect on treating the virus. Initially they found that the plasma had no beneficial effect on patients. However, after closer analysis of the data it was revealed that plasma from ‘super donors’ had a particular benefit for patients with pre-existing immunodeficiencies, for example cancer or organ transplant patients.

Professor Lise Estcourt, head of NHS Blood and Transplant’s clinical trials unit says “It could also be of particular use in the developing world, where access to more expensive treatments is limited.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

World-first immersive hologram technology used to train UK medical students

Medical students at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge are the first in the world to be trained with mixed reality holograms.

This technology enables teaching and learning with life-like holograms. Students wear a mixed reality headset where they can see both the realistic holographic patients as well as other students. Teachers and instructors are also able to provide guidance and introduce discussions via the headset. It is thought that this method of teaching can make consistent, high level, immersive and relevant training more accessible across the world.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England says that this technology “could enhance the learning experience of our next generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, by creating new environments to practice medicine in real time, while improving access to training worldwide.”

Read the full story in The Cambridge Independent.

Quote of the week

Theresa Whitfield shares how listening to Deborah James encouraged her to seek help for her symptoms which later turned out to be stage 2 bowel cancer. This story follows the tragic passing of Dame Deborah James, who died this week after being diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer 5 years ago.

“Without Deborah James, I wouldn’t have gone to the doctors, I want people to know that I was told I was too young to have bowel cancer; that I was deemed too fit and healthy; that there was apparently nothing wrong with me. I had to have three doctor’s appointments before I was diagnosed… if I can just encourage people to not take no for an answer, then that’s a positive.”

Read the full story in The Telegraph.