Realising the potential of community pharmacy assets for improving the public’s health

A new report published by RSPH and Public Health England, has identified a number of opportunities and challenges for community pharmacy teams to further support the public’s health

Image source: RSPH

The report identifies a clear appetite among pharmacy teams to support the public’s health further – almost three-quarters (74%) of pharmacy team respondents said that the sector is underutilised – and points to some challenges. Pharmacy team respondents in non-HLPs are more likely to say they are being under-utilised (82%), compared to HLPs (63%).

Read the overview here

Read the full report here


Screening newborns for muscle wasting condition not recommended

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) finds babies should not be screened for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

B0003724 Nerve in skeletal muscle, showing dystrophin location
Image source: Prof. Peter Brophy – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image shows nerve in skeletal muscle, showing dystrophin location.

Newborn babies should not be screened for the muscle wasting condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, according to the UK’s independent expert screening committee. The current test available for the condition incorrectly identifies some babies as having the condition and misses others who go on to develop the disease.

Read the full over view here

Long-term effects of the school-based Active for Life Year 5

Anderson, E.L. et al. (2016) BMJ Open. 6:e010957


Objective: To investigate the long-term effectiveness of a school-based intervention to improve physical activity and diet in children.

Participants: Primary school children who were aged 8–9 years at recruitment, 9–10 years during the intervention and 10–11 years at the long-term follow-up assessment.

Intervention: Teacher training, provision of lesson and child–parent interactive homework plans and teaching materials.

Conclusions: School-based curriculum interventions alone are unlikely to have a major public health impact on children’s diet and physical activity.

Read the full abstract and article here

A Structured Transition Program Among Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes

Pyatak, E. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: November 23 2016


Purpose: We identified and treated young adults with type 1 diabetes who had been lost to follow-up during their transfer from pediatric to adult care, comparing their clinical, psychosocial, and health care utilization outcomes to participants receiving continuous care (CC) throughout the transition to adult care.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that, for young adults with a history of lapses in care, a structured transition program is effective in lowering A1C, reducing severe hypoglycemia and emergency department utilization, and improving uptake of routine diabetes care. Loss to follow-up and psychosocial concerns remain significant challenges in this population.

Read the full abstract here

Is NHS guidance on substance misuse fit for purpose?

Hamilton, I. Mental Elf Blog | Published online: 25 November 2016

2007 was the last time the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE, 2007) published guidance on psychosocial interventions for substance misuse.

A recent review by the NICE project team concluded that:

Image Source: The Mental Elf Blog

So is guidance published a decade ago fit for purpose in 2016? First it’s important to consider what’s happened with drug use and which drugs people have developed problems with. Back in 2007, opiates such as heroin accounted for the majority of new treatment presentations, but since then cannabis has become the main drug that people present with.

Summary: When reviewing their guidance, the teams at NICE invite individuals and organisations to submit comments and evidence. The consultation for this review attracted only two stakeholder contributions, but one notable stakeholder did disagree with the NICE decision not to update the guidance: Public Health England.

The overall lack of engagement with NICE on its consultation could be a reflection on the state of the treatment sector. Most drug treatment providers and the specialist staff working in them are subject to frequent retendering exercises. The sector has faced savage cuts in the last decade which have resulted in a rapid turnover of providers and staff. An environment that doesn’t lend itself to engaging with NICE on treatment guidance when survival is the priority.

Read the full blog post here

Changing risk behaviours and promoting cognitive health in older adults

A summary of reviews supporting the commissioning of interventions across a range of health behaviours for older adults. | Public Health England

This resource is intended for local authority and clinical commissioning groups to identify what types of interventions they should focus on to help the uptake and maintenance of healthy behaviours and promote cognitive health among older adults living in the community.

It is also intended for providers of lifestyle behaviour change programmes to support the development of evidence-informed prevention packages for older adults.

It is produced in a way that makes it accessible to public health managers and practitioners working in the public, private and third sector.

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Producing a joint strategic needs assessment for mental health

The Centre for Mental Health has published Meeting the need: what makes a ‘good’ joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA) for mental health or dementia?

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This report explores how five local councils across England went about understanding the mental health needs of their communities, and taking action to meet them more effectively.

The report finds that JSNAs for mental health and dementia can help to direct investment, improve services and help local agencies work together more effectively. To have the biggest impact, they need a clear purpose, effective leadership and advocacy, and partnerships that continue after the JSNA is completed to ensure that they lead to action.

Report author Andy Bell highlights eight key success factors behind the creation of an effective and impactful needs assessment:

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