This week's Friday Five: 18/11/22


Steve Barclay outlines his priorities for the NHS


This week, Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care delivered a keynote speech at the annual NHS Providers conference. In the speech he outlined his immediate priorities for the health and care system. These are:

  • Supporting the workforce by boosting NHS 111 and 999

  • Focusing on elective recovery and emergency care

  • Tackling delayed discharge

  • Improving access to primary care

  • Maintaining momentum on the new hospital programme

  • Investing in technology to improve patient outcomes

His speech also announced that ICBs and local authorities can expect to receive their share of the £500m adult social care discharge fund in the next few weeks.

He said: "We face the twin threats of COVID-19 and flu, external pressures around energy and cost of living, and we enter the colder months without the breathing space that we might have usually had due to COVID-19 pressures over the summer."


Watch his speech here.


New blood test system cuts waits for mental health patients

South London and Maudsley NHS Mental Health trust has begun using an innovative new system which can analyse patient's blood tests in seconds, a process that could previously take days and lead to delays in care and treatment.

Mental health patients taking certain medications, such as antipsychotics, require routine blood tests to ensure the optimal dose is given based on their symptoms. A new finger-prick blood test, developed by Saladex Biomedical, makes this process much faster as results are given within minutes. This may even cut down the length of inpatient bed days due to reduced delays when waiting for test results.

Stuart MacLellan, chief information officer at South London and Maudsley, said: “This new blood testing system has the potential to significantly reduce the length of inpatient stays. This is invaluable given the significant demand for NHS mental health services now."

Read more at Digital Health.


GPs now able to fast track cancer scans

A scheme beginning this month will allow all GPs in England to refer suspected cancer patients for diagnostic tests and scans without the need to see a specialist first.

The initiative is designed to speed up diagnosis, especially for patients presenting with more vague symptoms who don’t immediately meet the criteria for a rapid referral. It is hoped that this will cut waiting times for diagnosis down to four weeks.

NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said: “By sending patients straight to testing, we can catch and treat more cancers at an earlier stage, helping us to deliver on our NHS long term plan’s ambitions to diagnose three-quarters of cancers at stages one or two when they are easier to treat.”


Read more at The Guardian.


Clinical trial of Evusheld opens to UK patients

Eligible UK patients will now have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials for the anti-COVID-19 injection Evusheld, the first FDA-authorised treatment to prevent COVID-19 in high-risk people who aren’t adequately protected by vaccination alone.

Evusheld is MHRA and FDA approved and available in 32 countries, but it is not currently available on the NHS due to lack of information around its efficacy against new variants. It is hoped that the clinical trials will provide the evidence required for the treatment to be offered to eligible NHS patients.

Professor Martin Eve, the leader of the Evusheld for the UK campaign said: "Our campaign is unchanged by this development. As we have stated from the outset, we exist for one purpose: To get this drug introduced in the UK with access for all those who need it by Christmas. We continue to believe that the only equitable route is via full NHS availability, free at the point of use."


Read more at Medscape.


Quote of the week:

Yesterday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivered the Autumn budget statement. The announcement included increasing the NHS budget by £3.3bn in each of the next two years, and allocating an additional £1bn to social care. He also called for a focus on tackling waste and inefficiency in the health service.

He said: "We want Scandinavian quality alongside Singaporean efficiency - both better outcomes for citizens and better value for taxpayers".


Read more at BBC News.