Published Mon, 2011-08-15 09:32; updated 4 years ago.

Health Information News August 2011

This newsletter is intended for staff who provide health information to the public across the West Midlands to keep informed of latest news and resources available in the Health Information field. These newsletters will now be archived on the NHS local website under the section for EQUIP newsletters - you would like to submit a news item – email



Transforming Public Health Bulletin - DH has launched ‘Transforming Public Health Bulletin, Issue 1, July 2011’. It will be essential reading if you are interested in or will be affected by the public health reforms. Each issue will bring you the latest updates on delivering the new locally-led public health arrangements and the transition to Public Health England - plus views, articles, dates, timelines and more.

Open Public Services White Paper - The Cabinet Office has published the ‘Open Public Services White Paper’. High-quality public services are the right of everyone and the White Paper sets out how the Government will improve public services. By putting choice and control in the hands of individuals and neighbourhoods, public services will become more responsive to peoples’ needs. The White Paper sets out the government’s approach to public services by applying five key principles:

  • Choice- wherever possible we will increase choice
  • Decentralisation- Power should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level
  • Diversity- Public services should be open to a range of providers
  • Fairness- We will ensure fair access to public services
  • Accountability- Public services should be accountable to users and taxpayers.

See also the Open Public Services website and a Parliamentary Statement from Oliver Letwin, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office. There is also a BBC News report and a brief summary from the Local Government Group.

Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and Way Forward - DH has published 'Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and Way Forward'. This policy statement reaffirms the Government's vision for a new public health system. It sets out progress already made, and a timeline for completing the operational design of this work through a series of Public Health System Reform Updates. The Government states that at a time when obesity rates and sexually transmitted infections continue to rise, the new Public Health Service will tackle the inequalities that exist in health today, and help people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Communities will play a key role in the new system, which will have a clear focus on prevention and reducing inequalities and will work across Government to address the wider social determinants of health. There is also a DH press release. The NHS Confederation has published its briefing for members in response to this latest Public Health way forward policy paper, and NHS Employers also has some useful material.

Behaviour Change report - nudge is not enough - The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee has published its 2ndreport of Session 2010-12 entitled ‘Behaviour Change’. The main conclusion of the report is that ‘nudging’ on its own is unlikely to be successful in changing the population’s behaviour. The report, the culmination of a year-long investigation into the way the Government tries to influence people’s behaviour using behaviour change interventions, finds that “nudges” used in isolation will often not be effective in changing the behaviour of the population. Instead, a whole range of measures – including some regulatory measures – will be needed to change behaviour in a way that will make a real difference to society’s biggest problems. There is also a press release from the British Heart Foundation. There is also a BBC News report which features video footage of the Committee Chair, Baroness Neuberger.

Important Role of Health Visiting - The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has published ‘The RCN’s UK position on health visiting in the early years’. The briefing provides strong evidence for health visiting as a means of improving public health in a challenging time for the NHS. The principles position statement sets out core values to guide the development of health visiting across the UK and the important role that health visitors play in the lives of children and families.

Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people - The NHS Information Centre has published 'Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2010'. This report contains results from an annual survey of secondary school pupils in England in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15). 7,296 pupils in 246 schools completed questionnaires in the autumn term of 2010. The survey report presents information on the percentage of pupils who have ever smoked, tried alcohol or taken drugs. The report also explores the attitudes and beliefs of school children towards smoking and drinking and from where and from whom children obtain cigarettes and alcohol. Relationships between smoking, drinking and drug use are explored along with the links between smoking, drinking and drug use and other factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and previous truancy or exclusion. Other information, including an executive summary, is also available, as is a BBC News report.

UK physical activity guidelines - DH has published ‘Start active, stay active: a report on physical activity from the four home countries' Chief Medical Officers’. This UK-wide report presents guidelines on the volume, duration, frequency and type of physical activity required across the lifecourse to achieve general health benefits. It is aimed at the NHS, local authorities and a range of other organisations designing services to promote physical activity. The document is intended for professionals, practitioners and policymakers concerned with formulating and implementing policies and programmes that utilise the promotion of physical activity, sport, exercise and active travel to achieve health gains. This is the first time guidelines have been produced in the UK for early years (under fives) as well as sedentary behaviour, for which there is now evidence that this is an independent risk factor for ill health. This report suggests that physical activity should be encouraged across the population. Additional material is also availableto download. There is also a BBC News report.

eHealth portal is an eHealth portal that has been developed for the NHS in order to put patients at the centre of their own care. Patients access an electronic Personal Health Plan where they can update their medical history, monitor the parameters of their conditions as well as limiting the people who see their personal health data. The portal provides relevant data and suggests new sources of information by automatically analysing the patient’s conditions, medications and communications. It is now being piloted in the East of England and will soon be available for patients and professionals across the UK. Read more

The future of NHS Direct -NHS Direct has published its business plan for the next five years, outlining a strategy to compete to deliver remote and virtual healthcare in the new NHS landscape.  The period of the five-year business plan will see radical changes to NHS Direct’s existing services. The Government has announced that NHS Direct’s 0845 4647 phone number will be superseded by the new NHS 111 service when it has been completely rolled out in every part of England. They are also developing a suite of online patient decision aids that help patients make informed choices, in consultation with their health professional, between alternative treatment options. Read more

Changes on DH website - You may have noticed some changes this week on the Department of Health’s website.  You can find out more about these changes here.

Discharge summary implementation toolkit - NHS Connecting for Healthhas published ‘Discharge Summary Implementation Toolkit’. This toolkit was produced to enable trusts to implement work locally in a consistent manner, learning from the experiences of other trusts. In the long term, this could improve the information provided to patients and create a better way of patients and GPs working together in an informed manner, and in turn could result in a reduction of readmissions.

New Pharmacy and Public Health Forum Launched – Health minister Lord Howe has announced that Professor Richard Parish, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, has been appointed chairperson to lead the establishment of a new pharmacy and public health forum. The forum will lead on expanding the role of pharmacy in the government’s drive to improve public health and will report to the Public Health England Programme Board.

Behaviour change e-learning course -The National Social Marketing Centre have this week launched an online e-learning course, A social marketing approach to behaviour change. Over seven modules, it follows the whole social marketing planning process from beginning to end. It guides you through how to scope, develop, implement, evaluate and follow-up an intervention to change or maintain behaviour. Modules include those on researching your audience and turning insight into action. Read more

More choice for NHS patients- NHS patients will have more freedom to choose where they go for their healthcare from April 2012, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced. More choice will mean that when patients are referred for selected services, usually by their GP, they should be able to choose from a range of qualified providers who meet NHS quality, prices and contracts. These providers could be NHS providers, independent sector providers, or voluntary or third sector organisations. Following advice from patient groups, clinicians and voluntary organisations, there are eight services that have been recommended as the most suitable. These include back pain, hearing loss and diagnostic tests.

Research: Low health literacy and health outcomes -Approximately 80 million Americans have limited health literacy, which puts them at greater risk for poorer access to care and poorer health outcomes. The purpose of this research was to update a 2004 systematic review and determine whether low health literacy is related to poorer use of health care, outcomes, costs and disparities in health outcomes among persons of all ages.  Low health literacy was consistently associated with more hospitalisations; greater use of emergency care; lower receipt of mammography screening and influenza vaccine; poorer ability to demonstrate taking medications appropriately, and a number of other health outcomes.  Read more

Making shared decision-making a reality -'Making shared decision-making a reality, No decision about me, without me', is a new publication from the King's Fund, written by Angela Coulter and Alf Collins. It clarifies what is meant by the term shared decision-making and what skills and resources are required to implement it and it also outlines what action is needed to make this vision a reality. This includes informing patients about their condition, about the treatment or support options available, and about the benefits and risks of each.

Changes to Driving Licence Applications – Organ Donor Register - From this week, people will have to answer questions about organ donation before they can complete their driving licence application through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website. Expanding on an existing scheme with the DVLA which has seen more than 8.5 million people sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, the Government now hopes to increase registration even further through a number of prompter questions urging people to consider joining up.

Weight Loss You Can See Guide -NDR-UK (formerly SNDRí) is delighted to announce the publication of Weight Loss You Can See! A food portion picture guide for a calorie-controlled diet. This resource has been developed by expert dietitians for those working in the area of obesity, is based on evidence and has been tested with peers and patients. Patients commented that the resource was…’Clear, helpful, informative and great for getting the balance right’ and that the resource is…‘Very helpful to actually visualise portion sizes, full-fat and reduced-fat varieties and cooked and uncooked information. Read more

Mental health briefing papers - Following the publication of the Government’s mental health strategy in February 2011 'No Health without Mental Health', the Centre for Mental Health has launched two briefings in conjunction with the Mental Health Strategic Partnership, aimed at general practice and community organisations.

  • 'No Health without Mental Health: a Guide for General Practice'- This 4-page guide outlines the steps that primary care staff can take to ensure that mental health problems are identified early, and that people suffering from mental health problems are given support to stay in work. The briefing also underlines the importance of treating the physical as well as mental health of people with a mental illness.
  • 'No Health without Mental Health: a guide for community organisations'- This 4-page guide explains how community groups and voluntary organisations can work together with services to promote good mental health and tackle the inequalities in mental health service provision faced by marginalised and vulnerable groups.

How to Promote Your Charity Online -White Fuse Media have produced a free PDF Guide, "How to Promote Your Charity Online" which includes practical and targeted advice on using digital media to increase your reach, raise funds and reduce costs. The Guide includes sections on improving email campaigns, using social networking sites to win support and cutting paper based admin costs. The guide is free to download. Read more

Local HealthWatch pathfinders announced - 75 Local HealthWatch pathfinders were announced this week by Andrew Lansley.  The aim is that Local HealthWatch will provide a collective voice for patients and carers, and provide advice to Clinical Commissioning Groups.  The new pathfinders will pioneer plans ahead of their full establishment across the country in October 2012.  The full list is available here.

Three of the pathfinders are in the West Midlands:

  • Coventry City
  • Herefordshire
  • Shropshire


MRSA levels at a record low- The levels of MRSA bacteraemia across England are the lowest since records began, according to figures from the Health Protection Agency. There are 25 acute trusts across the country (including six across the West Midlands alone) which had no cases at all between June 2010 and June 2011.  The six trusts in the West Midlands are:

  • Birmingham Children's Hospital
  • Burton Hospitals
  • George Eliot Hospital
  • Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic & District Hospital
  • Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals
  • The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital

BID Services establishes new deaf cancer care programme with Macmillan - BID Services has established a new Deaf Cancer Care Programme, funded and supported through Macmillan Cancer Support. As a result of current gaps in services and communication barriers, many deaf people are denied the support they need, such as communication support, and inclusion in care and medical treatment programmes. As a result, they often lack a full understanding of what is happening to them, causing isolation, confusion and unnecessary fear.  The service, which supports patients who are profoundly deaf sign language users, as well as those who are deafened or hard of hearing, aims to close the gap in health inequality by ensuring that deaf patients have access to a full range of communications support, as well as advice and information to enable them to feel included in their care and medical treatment. A key aim of the service is to increase deaf awareness amongst health professionals, in particular, oncologists and cancer specialists and this will be achieved by offering deaf awareness training and guidance on how to use British Sign Language interpreters. BID Services will also collaborate closely with Macmillan to ensure their resources are available in a deaf friendly format.  Those who wish to receive further information about the Deaf Cancer Care programme should contact Sarah Treadwell-Baker, Cancer Care Coordinator on telephone 0121 246 6100, or email Sarah will take referrals to support deaf people directly or indirectly affected by cancer throughout the Birmingham and surrounding areas.

For more local health news stories visit NHS Local –



6th October 2011FREE Information Producer Training Days in Birmingham - These workshops are held in various locations across England. If you wish to book yourself onto a workshop please click and select which workshop and date you wish to attend from the drop down menu. Some of our members include charities, NHS Trusts, local authorities and private sector organisations. To view all our members please visit If you have any further queries regarding our training days please do not hesitate to contact The Information Standard: 01256 383 890

14th September & 19th October  - Sexual Health Free One Day Training -The “Let’s Talk About Sexual Health” seminars from the Royal Society of Public Health have been designed to assist in building awareness and understanding about key aspects of Sexual Health, as well as helping practitioners encourage young people and adults to voice their concerns and overcome “embarrassing” issues. The training is free and takes place in London 28 Portland Place, London, W1B 1LYon the 15th June, 14th September & 19th October. Places are limited. Read more

14-20 November 2011 -Dates for Self Care Week 2011 - Following on from the success of previous years, please note that Self Care Week 2011 will take place from 14-20 November 2011.  Make a note in your diary and pass this on to anyone else with an interest.  Further details will follow in due course, but you can keep up to date via the DH website (

Information Standard Workshops - a Department of Health initiative set out to improve the quality and standard of health and social care information produced for the public. So, for those who feel strong about giving the public clear, concise, trustworthy and reliable information on health and social care this will be of interest to you.  I like to make you aware of the free, that’s right FREE! workshops we are currently running. Even if your interest in the Information Standard is at an early stage we recommend attending one of these workshops so that you can learn more about The Standard and how to get certified under The Information Standard. These workshops are held in various location across England for individuals or organisations needs. If you wish to book yourself onto a workshop please click www.theinformationstandard/ and select which workshop and date you wish to attend on our drop down menu. If you have any problems or have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact The Information Standard. The Information Standard 01256 38 38 90 07585983482


EQUIPhas a wider list of events that is regularly updated - You can also add your own events to EQUIP using the online form -

Other online newsletters in the West Midlands:

Telford & Wrekin PCT Community Health & Enterprise Centre (CHEC) have a newsletter available at in the docs folder.

Voluntary Action Coventry Newsletter -

Health Newscan found on the NHS Birmingham East and North website at

Change 4 Life West Midlands Newsletter -

Reading Agency (is National but interesting newsletter about public libraries etc) -

Other links to health-related news -