Published Mon, 2011-07-18 09:51; updated 4 years ago.

Health Information News July 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


Focus on…  Early years

Infant Feeding Survey 2010 shows breastfeeding increase - The NHS Information Centrehas published 'Infant Feeding Survey 2010: Early Results'. The main aim of the survey is to provide estimates of the incidence, prevalence and duration of breastfeeding and other feeding practices adopted by mothers from the birth of their baby up to around ten months. The survey also collects information about the smoking and drinking behaviour of mothers before, during and after pregnancy. The figures show that the proportion of new mothers who breastfeed their babies has risen in the past five years from 76% to 81% across the UK. The infant survey found an increase in England, Wales and Scotland, although not in Northern Ireland. The figures indicate that those women with professional and managerial jobs and higher levels of education are most likely to begin breastfeeding. There is also a BBC News report.

Body mass index in children - The National Obesity Observatoryhas published 'A simple guide to classifying body mass index in children'. This paper provides a guide to how body mass index (BMI) can be used to assess the weight status of children. It describes the different methods that can be used to interpret BMI in children and young people, explains how the methods differ and where each method is commonly used.

Obesity data - The National Obesity Observatoryhas published the following slide sets:

These PowerPoint slides present key data and information on child and adult obesity in clear, easy to understand charts and graphics.

Obesity epidemic - paranoia or evidence-based? - The Bow Groupthink-tank has published ‘Obesity epidemic - paranoia or evidence-based’?This report assesses current predictions indicating that 60% of the UK population will be classified as clinically obese by 2050 and recommends action to reduce this risk. Supported by a foreword from Professor David Haslam (Chair of the National Obesity Forum) the paper establishes the facts surrounding the obesity debate by reviewing the existing evidence base. To help inform the Government's forthcoming policy document on obesity, the paper proposes recommendations to improve Government policy targeted at dealing with obesity in the UK. 

Marketing of food and drink to children - The National Health Forumhas published ‘An analysis of the regulatory and voluntary landscape concerning the marketing and promotion of food and drink to children'.  The analysis, commissioned by DH, comprised 4 activities: A mapping exercise of marketing practices, regulations, policies, commitments and proposals relating to food marketing to children; Consultations with corporate stakeholders; Consultations with children, young people and parents; and an analysis of the Marine Stewardship Council as a case study from which to draw transferable learning for developing principles of good practice.

Young people, alcohol and influences - The Joseph Rowntree Foundationhas published 'Young people, alcohol and influences'.  This report presents the findings from a major study of young people and their relationship with alcohol, and explores the wide range of influences on their drinking.  It examines circumstances surrounding young people's first time drinking, their current drinking patterns (including levels of consumption), and their experiences of drunkenness; and develops an understanding of what really influences young people's drinking patterns by identifying the domains and indicators that have the strongest relationship with their behaviour. Other information, including technical appendices and a Summary, is also available. There is also a press release from Alcohol Concernand a BBC News report.

Adolescent health in the UK today: where next? - The Child and Maternal Health Observatory has published ‘Adolescent health in the UK today: where next’?This paper examines trends in adolescent health and looks at the main policy themes of the last decade as well as issues for service delivery relating to adolescent health.

Children, Families and Maternity e-bulletin' - DH has published the latest issue of the 'Children, Families and Maternity e-bulletin, June 2011’. It includes news items on topics including maternity, healthy child programme and early years, child health, vulnerable children, ill and disabled children, and child and adolescent mental health service.


Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and way forward - The Government has published a response to the public health white paper consultation and NHS Listening Exercise. Download ‘Healthy Live, Health People’

Government to publish new data on health, schools, courts and transport  - The Prime Minister has committed to publishing key data on the NHS, schools, criminal courts and transport, as part of the Government’s continuing commitment to open public services in advance of the Open Public Services White Paper.  The new data will include comparative clinical outcomes of GP practices, hospital complaints and staff satisfaction statistics by NHS provider. Read more about the Open Space White Paper

Patient decision aids on medicines -The National Prescribing Centre has developed a series of patient decision aids to help support difficult decisions in which patients need to consider benefits versus risks. The PDAs cover a range of different medicines including HRT, statins, oral contraceptives and antibiotics. A series of short videos is now also available which show real GPs using some of the most popular PDAs in realistic, unscripted consultations with simulated patients.

Micro-volunteering app- BrightWorks is a micro-volunteering app that allows charities to get projects and tasks completed for free online by a global volunteer community, in an effective, simple-to-use and easy-to-get-started way. Bright Works, is currently in beta (pre-release stage). Once fully operational, voluntary organisations will be able to submit tasks taking up to 4 hours to complete, which can then be selected and actioned by volunteers.  Read more

Food labelling to help consumers 'make more informed decisions' -The European parliament overwhelmingly adopted legislation to improve the clarity and degree of information provided on food packaging across the European Union. For the first time, a nutritional declaration concerning energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugar, and salt levels will be compulsory. The information must be expressed per 100 g or 100 ml, making it possible to compare different products. Labels will also have to contain data on the item’s ingredients, 'best by' or 'use by' dates, any specific conditions on use of the product, and clear signalling of the presence of any substances with scientifically proved allergenic effects. Read more

UK-wide advice on activity and fitness levels- New advice as to how people of all ages can maintain fitness levels and stay or get healthy, was launched today as part of the first UK-wide physical activity guidelines by the four nations’ Chief Medical Officers. A key new element is a more flexible approach for adults to get their 150 minutes of activity a week. The guidelines build on previous advice but reflect the growing body of knowledge about physical activity levels and links to reducing the risk of serious diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Provision of health information for all -This editorial piece in the British Medical Journal this week calls for a major organisation to support global efforts to improve access to high quality health information. The article discusses the formation and work of Health Information for All 2015, the reasons why health information is so poorly supported globally, and discusses the scale of the problem, cultural barriers to valuing information and the low profile that funding information has, compared to funding drug development or vaccines. The authors conclude by calling for funders to ‘recognise that improved health information is fundamental to global health improvement and development.’

Attitudes to Mental Illness, 2011 - The NHS Information Centrehas published ‘Attitudes to Mental Illness, 2011 survey report’. The survey suggests that public opinion on a number of mental health issues has become more positive, but some less favourable views still exist. Findings from the survey, carried out for the first time in England 17 years ago, suggest more people now view mental health as an illness like any other. But less favourable views on some issues still exist, for example, one in six people believe a main cause of mental illness is lack of self discipline and will-power, about the same level as first reported in 1994. Of the 1,741 adults interviewed in February and March 2011 for the survey:

  • 77% said ‘mental illness is an illness like any other' compared to 71% in 1994.

  • 70% would be comfortable talking to their family and friends about their mental health, compared to 66% in 2009 (the first year this question was asked)

  • 43% would be uncomfortable talking their employer about their mental health, compared to 50% in 2010 (the first year this question was asked).

Other information including appendices is also available. See also the NHS Confederation’s policy digest summary related to the survey findings.

A festival goers guide to staying well -Evidence from many festivals shows that most visits to the medical tents or first aiders are for minor ailments including sunburn, heat stroke, sprains, coughs, colds and the occasional case of gastrointestinal illness - but there are occasionally reports of sexual health problems as well as other more serious illness such as heart attacks and respiratory illness. Dr Mark Salter, a consultant in communicable disease control from the HPA's Health Protection Unit in the South West has been attending festivals, including Glastonbury, for 20 years to offer health protection advice and has devised top tips to help people to stay safe.

Central Office of Information (COI) scrapped - Following a Government reviewinto communications, it has been announced by Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, that the Central Office of Information (COI) is to be closed. The agency, which commissions public information films (including ones on health matters) and government advertising and publicity campaigns, was set up in 1946. The decision follows the introduction of spending controls on advertising and marketing spend in June 2010, which has led to a 68% reduction in external spend through COI from £532m in 2009/10 to an estimated £168m in 2010/11. Government departments have reduced their number of in-house communications staff by around a quarter, and their budgets by half. The reforms are designed to consolidate those reductions, while ensuring that the remaining spend and activity on advertising and marketing is better coordinated and executed.  There is also a BBC News report.

Older People urged to drink less - The Royal College of Psychiatristshas published its latest College Report (CR165) entitled ‘Our Invisible Addicts’. The report states that the NHS must wise up to the “growing problem” of drug and alcohol misuse among older people and warns that not enough is being done to tackle substance misuse in our aging population, making them society’s “invisible addicts”. There is also a BBC News report.

Mindful Forum - The Mental Health Providers Forumhas launched Mindful Forum, an interactive new website for providers and users of mental health services. The site aims to be a platform for all mental health stakeholders to generate discussion and profile and promote ideas for practical improvement to services. The Forum wants to capture those ideas that highlight what well thought out mental health service delivery looks like, from policy through to delivery. The forum space will feature full length articles and shorter pieces giving a quick overview of innovative ideas that have been put into practice.

Information for people with learning disabilities and their carers - The Royal College of Psychiatrists' Faculty of the Psychiatry of Learning Disability and the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust have produced a new series of accessible information for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities. The leaflets cover anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, challenging behaviour, dementia, depression, epilepsy, psychosis, and specific medications. All the materials have been written and tested with people with learning disabilities and their carers.

Right Care and Patient Decision Aids Update- Right Care is one of thirteen national workstreams in the DH Quality Innovation Productivity and Prevention programme (QIPP). It is an enabling programme focused on increasing value and improving quality. As one of its work streams Right Care focuses on Shared decision making, setting out the benefits to clinicians and commissioners, and highlighting the development of NHS Directs online decision aids- 15 of which are due to be developed over the next 2 years. Read more

PiF (Patient Information Forum) is delighted to announce that we will be working with NHS Electto pilot and develop tools and resources to help NHS Trusts transform their provision of information to patients. NHS Elect was created in 2003 to encourage innovation and best practice and help their member organisations succeed in the evolving NHS market. They work with over 40 NHS members to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, create a strong culture of marketing and patient experience and benefit from new models of healthcare provision and commissioning. NHS Elect and PiF, working together on pilot projects in two NHS Elect member Trusts, will develop a consultancy package and suite of supporting tools. Following the pilots, the package will be made available to a wider group of NHS Elect member Trusts on an ongoing basis and the tools will be available to PiF members. We will be looking for PiF members, working in NHS Trusts with a robust and high quality information service, to join us as part of an advisory board for the project. If you're interested in taking part in the project, please contact Sarah Smith

NHS information strategy delayed- The much-anticipated NHS information strategy may not be published until "the autumn" the government's detailed response to the Future Forum has indicated. In a section on choice, the detailed response says: 'we recently consulted on proposals for extending patient choice and for improving information and support - key companions of meaningful choice. We will respond to those consultations in the autumn. In our responses, we will set out which services will be prioritised for greater patient choice and how a revolution in the quality of information available to patients will enable them to exercise their ability to choose.'Read more

Smoking cessation support delivered via text- Smoking cessation programmes delivered via mobile phone text messaging show increases in self-reported quitting in the short term. Researchers assessed the effect of an automated smoking cessation programme delivered via mobile phone text messaging on continuous abstinence. Smokers willing to make a quit attempt were randomly allocated to a mobile phone text messaging smoking cessation programme (txt2stop), comprising motivational messages and behavioural-change support, or to a control group that received text messages unrelated to quitting. Continuous abstinence at 6 months was significantly increased in the txt2stop group.Read more

Google pulls Google Health -Google has announced that it will stop providing its Google Health online personal health records service on 1 January 2012, due to “limited usage”. The company said on its official blog that it had taken the decision because Google Health “didn’t catch on the way we would have hoped”, with adoption remaining low after three years.

Online resource to help people return to work after mental illness -The Royal College of Psychiatrists has launched a new online resource offering information and guidance about returning to work after a period of mental ill-health. The Work and Mental Health website is divided into four main parts, and is aimed at workers, carers, employers and clinicians. The website explains how work can be good for people’s mental health and well-being – and can play a positive part in people’s recovery. It shows how employers may provide effective support at work for people with a history of mental ill-health, and how clinicians can support people returning to

The voluntary and community sector in health -'The voluntary and community sector in health: Implications of the proposed NHS reforms' is a new report from the King’s Fund. It considers the main opportunities and challenges facing the sector. It discusses what needs to happen to ensure the sector can flourish in the new system and what it needs to do to grasp new opportunities. As an existing provider of services and of knowledge about local needs, the voluntary and community sector can develop its role in helping the NHS deliver better, more efficient care. But the likely impact of the reforms is uncertain. The report includes a series of recommendations aimed at the sector, policy makers and local bodies.Read more



West Midlands now has 27 pathfinder commissioning groups -five more groups of West Midlands GP practices have been named as ‘pathfinder’ clinical commissioning groups by Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley. These pathfinders will play an increasing role in commissioning health services for their local population. There are now 27 pathfinder consortia in the West Midlands, and 257 nationally. In the West Midlands, 809 of the region’s 962 GP practices are now part of pathfinder commissioning groups. Read the full list here:

2011 Health Profiles published- The sixth annual local Health Profiles were published on 28 June and demonstrate key advances in the nation’s health.  People in the West Midlands can expect to live longer lives than ever before, but the difference in outcomes between the most affluent and most deprived areas remains. You can get the full health profiles for local authorities at NHS local has produced an interesting ‘mash’ of the data, showing the link between physical activity and diabetes levels.  You can find this here.

New organisations -  we have two new community trusts in the region:

This means that we now have 46 NHS organisations in the region (not including the Strategic Health Authority or West Specialised Commissioning):

  • 19 acute trusts, including specialist trusts (nine of which are FTs)

  • Six mental health trusts(three of which are FTs)

  • 17 PCTs(in five clusters)

  • Three community provider trusts(plus Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Partnership, expected to get approval later in the year)

  • One ambulance trust

For more local health news stories visit NHS Local –



27th July – 31st August -One Body One Life is a Family Healthy Lifestyles Programme, run by the Health Development service at Coventry City Council. We will be running a 6 WEEK FAMILY PROGRAMME through the summer holidays at Ernesford Grange School & Community College starting on Wednesday 27th July 10:00 -11:30 and finishing on Wednesday 31st August. The programme is completely FREE to the families who access it. The programme is 6 free 1 hour 30 minute sessions split into 2 parts: Healthy Eating Workshop and Fun Family Games & Activities. For more information please contact: Martyn Rubery -Health Development Service, Health & Physical Activity Leader (South), West Orchard House, 2nd Floor, 28-34 Corporation Street, Coventry CV1 1GF Direct Line - 02476 832482

4th August 2011 & 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

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/training.organd 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

EQUIP has a wider list of events that is regularly updated - 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 the docs folder.

Voluntary Action Coventry Newsletter -

Health News can be 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 -