News in Brief – new NHSE Chair confirmed, lab opens, RCN appointment

Our weekly round-up returns, featuring the new Chair of NHS England, an appointment update for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the latest research, and much more.

Find out what’s being going on in the world of healthcare, below…

New NHSE Chair confirmed

Earlier this week, Richard Meddings CBE was confirmed as as the new Chair of NHS England (NHSE).

Mr Meddings is a non-executive director at Credit Suisse and previously served on HM Treasury’s board and as Chair of TSB Bank.

The position of NHSE Chair is a four-year role, and one which Meddings is due to begin in March 2022.

He will replace the current Chair, Lord Prior, who has held the post since October 2018.

Richard Meddings CBE said: “It is a great honour to have been appointed as Chair of NHS England.

“It is clear that there are a number of significant and long-running challenges to address, many of which have been made sharper by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, but, as I commence the role, I am humbled by and pay a huge tribute to the people of the NHS for their heroic work and their continuing commitment.”

RCN appoints permanent Director for England

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced Patrician Marquis as its permanent Director for England.

Patricia has been the Acting Director for RCN England since last June, supporting staff across nine regions.

An orthopaedic nurse by training, Patricia has been a member of the RCN staff for over 25 years, holding a number of roles.

Patricia said: “It’s a privilege to represent nursing and members particularly as they face the toughest times in their careers. I’m proud of what they have delivered, humbled by their experiences and am determined to fight with and for them on every level, especially in ensuring safe staffing and fair pay.

“I look forward to maintaining the momentum to influence change and support my nursing colleagues throughout 2022 and beyond.”

Study finds seeing the same GP improves treatment for people with dementia

A study led by the University of Exeter has found that ‘people with dementia who see the same GP each time have lower rates of health complications and fewer emergency hospital admissions’.

The research, which was published in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), analysed more than 9,000 anonymised patient records in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. 

The team found that those patients who had consistency in care over the course of one year were ‘given fewer medicines’ and ‘less likely to be given medicines that can cause problems’ such as incontinence, drowsiness and falls.

Furthermore, those seeing the same GP were 35 per cent less likely to develop delirium, a state of confusion often experienced with dementia.

Lead author Dr João Delgado, of the University of Exeter, said: “Treating people with dementia can be complex, because it often occurs together with other common diseases. Our research shows that seeing the same general practitioner consistently over time is associated with improved safe prescribing and improved health outcomes. This could have important healthcare impacts, including reduced treatment costs and care needs.”

100k per day blood testing laboratory opens

A new blood testing laboratory – which can run up to 100,000 tests a day – has opened at St Helier Hospital.

It’s hoped the opening will mean that patients across south west London will receive quicker results from both common and specialists blood tests.

The open-plan laboratory can test urgent samples from A&E and in-patient ward samples, as well as outpatient and GP samples. The system can also automatically prioritise work, so that the most urgent samples are tested first.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Group Chief Executive for Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, says: “Patients will benefit from this new laboratory by getting quicker results from common and more specialised blood tests. This will allow our clinicians to make prompt and accurate decisions about patient care.”

UCLH expands Airways Matters course

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) has partnered with Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) to create a new module for its Airway Matters, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

The new module will be available later this month and includes multimedia content dedicated to ‘airway management in the pre-hospital setting’. 

Airway Matters explores the ‘technical and non-technical aspects that support the development of strategies for safe airway management’, covering concepts around safety, teamwork, and skills. It also includes a series of ‘bite-size’ steps and a discussion forum, and is free of charge to health professionals who care for patients with ‘compromised airways’.

The Airway Matters course runs over six weeks, with four flexible hours of learning per week. You can find out more about the course, here.

Study shows ‘significant reduction’ in ENT admissions due to COVID measures

A consultant from Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) has co-authored a report that shows a ‘significant reduction’ in hospital admissions with ear, nose, and throat (ENT) infections due to COVID-19 measures.

Mr Muhammed Shahed Quraishi OBE and colleagues found that ENT admissions due to infections have decreased by nearly 57.56 per cent, due to the physical interventions put in place during the pandemic.

The report, entitled ‘A multicentre retrospective cohort study on COVID‑19 related physical interventions and adult hospital admissions for ENT infections’ has been published in the European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology.

The multi-centre study, which took place in Doncaster, Sheffield and Nottingham, was performed in conjunction with specialists Natasha Quraishi, Meghna Ray, Rishi Srivastava, and Jaydip Ray.

They covered a sample population of about two million people, comparing adult admissions with conditions such as acute tonsillitis, glandular fever, acute mastoiditis, parapharyngeal abscess, and many others, in a one-year period after the introduction of COVID-related physical interventions, and a one-year period before this.

Mr Quraishi explains:“In this study, there are 1,864 adult admissions in the 12 months before 23 March 2020. However, there were 791 in the 12 months after 23 March, which is a reduction of 1,073.

“Tonsillitis and peritonsillar abscess constitute nearly 70 per cent of ENT hospital admissions. This study shows that tonsillitis admissions reduced by 64.4 per cent and peritonsillar abscess reduced by 60.68 per cent, all because of the physical interventions related to COVID.”