Tuesday, 4 January 2011

UK health hot spots for 2011

Happy New year to you all!

Here are my predictions on the hot topics that will be at the forefront of healthcare in the UK this year.

Swine Flu: Is rearing its ugly head again in the UK and is spreading faster here than any other European country. The government is revitalising an advertising campaign encouraging the most at-risk groups to have the vaccination.

State of flux for the NHS: Will be the overriding theme in the public sector. Just before Christmas (nice timing), many employees received their notice of consultation period (meaning that their jobs have been officially placed at risk). This period of uncertainty is like a creeping interloper invading every branch of the NHS. As people fear for their jobs and managers are tasked with increasing cuts, their effectiveness is sure to be reduced. My main concern is that it is not the talented, effective and efficient who go.

GP Consortia: This will be a particularly fascinating element of the healthcare landscape in 2011. I wonder if there will be enough GPs wanting to take on the extra burden of commissioning and whether there will be any cost savings or increased efficiencies to be made.  Especially as I suspect that they will need to buy in expertise from commissioners currently working in Primary Care Trusts, and source additional administrative support from the private sector.

Incentives: The Department of Health will continue to look for ways to encourage the general public to lead more healthy lifestyles. Corporate wellness incentives will also be used to help reduce private medical insurance premiums.

Private medical insurance: Will continue to be perceived as a highly valued employee benefit and companies will be working more closely than ever with their providers and brokers in efforts to reduce premiums. This will include creative ways of limiting benefits packages, wellness incentives designed to reduce risk of claims and higher levels of employee contribution. Self funded healthcare trusts will remain the option of choice for many large corporates.

Public private partnerships: As the private income cap is removed from NHS Foundation Trusts, independent providers will be exploring opportunities to expand the services they offer to patients in the public sector

Bariatric medicine: Specialises in the treatment of obese patients and health conditions associated with obesity. As the obesity epidemic in the UK grows, we will hear far more about this branch of medicine and the special challenges faced in treating massively overweight patients. Just the logistics of transporting them have significant cost implications – a bariatric ambulance must be expensively adapted to carry patients over 20 stone, and patients weighing over 35 stone require special CT scanners with extra wide bores.

‘The five domains’: ‘Liberating the NHS’ white paper outlines five key domains where transparency in outcomes are expected. These are:
1. Preventing people from dying prematurely
2. Enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions
3. Helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
4. Ensuring people have a positive experience of care
5. Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting  them from avoidable 

Long tern conditions - Dementia and Diabetes: As life expectancy continues to rise, Dementia and Diabetes will be the long term conditions at the top of a packed agenda.

Political posturing and professional protectionism: Where there is health there will always be politics.

It’s going to be a busy year….


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