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Drop in public satisfaction with NHS, type 1 diabetes gadget and new rules on free Covid tests &#821

Public satisfaction with NHS drops to 25-year low

The British Social Attitudes poll, seen as the gold standard measure of public opinion, has found that public satisfaction with the NHS has dropped to its lowest level for 25 years after a sharp fall during the pandemic. 36% of the 3,100 asked were satisfied in 2021 which is a drop from 53% the year before – the largest fall in a single year.

Only once have satisfaction levels been lower since the poll started in 1983. The fall in satisfaction was widespread across all age groups and income groups, with political party support having no bearing. More people – 41% – said they were dissatisfied than satisfied. Satisfaction in social care, which is run by councils, was even lower – just 15% said they were satisfied – with more than half dissatisfied.

Dan Wellings, senior fellow at the King’s Fund, described them as “extraordinary”. “People are often struggling to get the care they need. These issues have been exacerbated by the extraordinary events of the past two years, but have been many years in the making following a decade-long funding squeeze, and a workforce crisis that has been left unaddressed for far too long.”

Read the full story in BBC News.

Social media may affect girls’ mental health earlier than boys’, study finds

According to research that raises the prospect of windows of vulnerability in adolescence, social media may affect the wellbeing of girls and boys at different ages. Psychologists found that girls who increased their time on social media between the ages of 11 and 13 were less satisfied with their lives one year later, with the same trend playing out in boys aged 14 to 15.

The researchers found no link between social media and wellbeing at other ages, except at 19 years old, when higher usage was again followed by a drop in life satisfaction for both sexes.The researchers embarked on the work in the hope of shedding light on whether the rise of social media has played a role in increasing levels of mental health problems in young people. According to the charity Young Minds, the number of children aged five to 16 with a suspected mental health problem rose by 50% between 2017 and 2021, suggesting about five children in every classroom are now affected.

Prof Yvonne Kelly, an epidemiologist at UCL who was not involved in the study, said the findings confirmed what she and others had shown “One of the big challenges with using information about the amount of time spent on social media is that it isn’t possible to know what is going on for young people, and what they are encountering whilst online. To advance the science, and importantly to make changes to improve young people’s wellbeing, we need more detailed, nuanced data about people’s online experiences. It is this kind of information, including that held by social media companies, that will help us better understand any causal processes, for better or worse, that are at play.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

All type 1 diabetes patients in England to be offered ‘transformational’ wearable tech

All patients with Type 1 diabetes in England are to be offered wearable technology to monitor their blood sugar levels in seconds. The gadget, the size of a £2 coin, sits on a patient’s arm and constantly checks their glucose levels. With an app, the user can scan the monitor in a second and get a reading which tells them whether or not their blood sugar levels are at an appropriate level.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition which cannot be prevented and accounts for about 8% of all diabetes cases. So-called flash monitoring helps to improve blood glucose levels in sufferers and also has a positive effect on their quality of life, according to a study presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2022 this week.

Diabetes UK said the decision was “transformational” for people with the condition. The chief executive Chris Askew, said: “What we are seeing today is a key shift in thinking – a move to recognising that technology is an integral part of diabetes management, not simply an added luxury.”

Read the full story in Sky News.

Rules on free lateral flow and PCR Covid tests published

From 1 April, most people will have to pay for a lateral flow test in England. It is part of the government’s ‘living with Covid‘ plan, although levels of the virus are high, with an estimated one in 16 people infected in the UK. The general public has been discouraged from stockpiling test packs ahead of the change, but since ministers announced the end of the free testing programme for most of the population it has been difficult for many to access them.

The government says the end of universal free testing is possible because vaccines, along with antiviral drugs, are doing a good job of protecting people against severe Covid. Although infections and hospitalisations with the virus have been rising in recent weeks, more than half of the patients in hospital who test positive are there for something else, rather than Covid.

Dame Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “As we learn to live with Covid, we are focusing our testing provision on those at higher risk of serious outcomes from the virus, while encouraging people to keep following simple steps to help keep themselves and others safe. The pandemic is not over and how the virus will develop over time remains uncertain. Covid still poses a real risk to many of us, particularly with case rates and hospitalisations on the rise.”

Read the full story in the BBC News.

Quote of the week

Stuart Middleton has undergone two operations to receive new kidneys from donors. But the 46-year-old was shocked when he woke up after the second procedure and was told that all four kidneys were still inside his body. The father-of-two had assumed that the failed organs would be removed – but says he is just happy to be alive.

“Load me up with kidneys, as I want to live longerI was shocked and surprised when I found out, I had no idea they had left the old kidneys inside me too. The hospital said I had 9% kidney function and they didn’t know how I was still able to walk. All I could think about was would my body reject the kidney and she would have gone through all this for nothing. The guilt was incredible”

Read the full story in BBC News.

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