Trusts slow to sign up to an important public health deal

A public health no-brainer

More than 200 major companies have signed up as partners to the government’s public health responsibility deal. However, sign-up among NHS organisations has been slow. Private companies are lapping it up and it is about time the NHS caught on to this opportunity.

The NHS knows that health and wellbeing is good for staff, good for patients and good for business. To date only a dozen NHS trusts have pledged their support for the deal, yet all NHS trusts are promoting staff health and wellbeing - it’s enshrined in the NHS constitution.

Becoming a partner is not onerous, it’s free, it demonstrates your commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of your staff and patients and provides the trust with publicity. NHS trusts should receive recognition for what we are doing anyway - often better than the private sector. I would urge all trusts to sign up - it’s a no-brainer.

Professor John Harrison, director, NHS Plus Network

Dr Ursula Ferriday, chair, NHS Health at Work

Brief mention

I write regarding your story on the future structuring of community services in East Anglia and the brief mention afforded to Anglian Community Enterprise despite my lengthy conversation with your reporter (HSJ Local Briefing, page 13, 10 May).

You attribute me conceding our organisation is just not big enough to do some things as economically as larger ones. I did not concede this at all. What I said was that because we are not as big as other organisations, we have to look at different ways of achieving results as economically as others.

As also mentioned to your reporter but not covered in the article (though plentiful mention was made of similar contract wins by Central Essex Community Services), ACE has in the past few months won significant contracts outside our north east Essex “home” area: health trainers in west Essex, diabetes services in Suffolk and mobile NHS health checks in mid and west Essex.

I think it is important that when compiling a feature such as this which is largely “comparative” in its content, that organisations which have been considerate enough to talk to you are all given fair crack of the whip when it comes to coverage.

Nicola Carmichael, director of operations, Anglian Community Enterprise

Uncomfortable facts on diabetes

The recent State of the Nation report 2012, published by Diabetes UK, shows that in some areas only 6 per cent of diabetes sufferers receive the NICE recommended regular checks and services and fewer than half of diabetes sufferers receive basic minimum care. The report makes for tough reading but was clear in its suggestion that better information management could go a long way in providing a variety of benefits.

With 10 per cent of the NHS budget swallowed up treating complications of diabetes arising from missed patient check-ups, it is paramount that adequate measures are taken to accurately record patient information, manage checks and assess patient needs, in order to reduce preventable complications and improve patient care. Furthermore, with the report also showing a wide variation of care regionally and industry bodies calling for the implementation of a national plan to provide healthcare that can help prevent further complications associated with diabetes, technology provides the best opportunity for clinicians to strengthen resources and tackle diabetes management head on.

Implementation of information systems can play a major role in improving services for the condition - acting as an essential tool in providing information to the National Diabetes Audit, enabling healthcare professionals to benchmark and demonstrate their performance against national guidelines and in the process improve efficiencies, enhance the patient experience and drive better health outcomes.

Moreover, the best practice tariff for paediatric diabetes presents a major opportunity for childhood diabetes specialists to attract important funding for what are currently under-resourced services. In order to capitalise on the opportunity, clinicians must create a clear evidence base that demonstrates they are meeting national guidelines and delivering best practice. Its introduction is encouraging more diabetes specialists to consider the valuable role technology can play in enhancing service delivery. For those that have already embraced it, the results are better for the NHS, better for healthcare professionals and, most important of all, better for patients.

John Sanderson, director, Hicom