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Patients Association Weekly News
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Welcome to The Patients Association Weekly News
House of Lords to examine the long-term sustainability of the NHS and want your thoughts
A Select Committee in the House of Lords which has been established in order to examine the long-term sustainability of the NHS is seeking written evidence and The Patients Association want your opinions to help us better represent the patient voice.
The inquiry comes at a time when the NHS faces its biggest challenges in its 68 year history. Providers face an annual deficient of £1.85bn, along with an ageing population with more complex health needs.
Lord Narendra Babubhai Patel who chairs the Committee said “It seems that on an almost daily basis we hear stories of one NHS crisis or another, but we have not yet had a robust long-term analysis of the challenges it faces.” The enquiry seeks to look at the challenges the NHS will face within the next twenty years and beyond.

The Committee began public hearings in July 2016 and will report to the House of Lords with recommendations by March 2017. This report will then receive a response from Government and will be debated by the house. We are seeking your opinions on a number of key issues for the NHS these include how to manage NHS resources and how engagement with the public should be developed.
READ MORE ABOUT NHS SUSTAINABILITY
HAVE YOUR SAY IN OUR SURVEY
The University of East Anglia discover that pill organisers could cause adverse effects among elderly
The University of East Anglia have undertaken new research into the effects on older people who switch to using pill organisers and it has revealed that these patients could experience adverse effects and even hospitalisation. The investigation showed that people who switch from usual medication packaging to a pill organiser are more likely to become unwell than those not using them.
 
The research team say that patients should consult their GP or pharmacist before switching to a pill organiser. Lead researcher Dr Debi Bhattacharya, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy, said: “A lot of people use pill organisers to help them take the right medication at the right time of the day. We found that on average, when patients who had previously taken their medication sporadically were switched to a pill organiser, they took all of their medication and became unwell, whilst those who remained on usual medication packaging did not have any adverse effects.
 
Dr Bhattacharya concluded: “The fact that using a pill organiser could cause patients to experience adverse effects from their medication sounds rather counterintuitive. It is likely that because the patients had been taking their medication sporadically, they weren’t getting the expected health improvements. The doctor may therefore have increased the dose of the medication to try to get the desired effect. When these patients were switched to a pill organiser and suddenly started taking more of their prescribed medication than previously, they experienced normal side effects of the medication.”
 
The research team studied people aged over 75 from six medical practices who were prescribed three or more types of medical tablets. Over a third of the 288 people surveyed were found to be already using a pill organiser of some kind and nearly a quarter showed signs of not taking their medication as prescribed on purpose. Of the remaining patients, nearly half were not taking their medication as prescribed by mistake.
 
These 80 patients, who did not already use a pill organiser and who were unintentionally not taking their medication as prescribed, were chosen to take part in the trial. Some patients were excluded – for example those with a life expectancy of less than 12 months or with severe mental health problems. A total of 29 participants were eligible to take part in the trial. They were monitored for eight weeks – with half continuing to take their medication direct from the packet, and half switching to a pill organiser.
 
Of those using a pill organiser, five adverse events were recorded, compared with none in the usual packaging group. The adverse effects comprised three falls, one hypoglycaemic episode (low blood glucose) and one temporary incapacitation (patient felt unwell; was unable to get out of the bath for 12 hours until rescued).
 
Dr Bhattacharya said: “The results of this trial are encouraging as they suggest that pill organisers do help patients to take their medication as prescribed.  However, when switching from usual packaging to a pill organiser, we recommend that patients speak to their GP or pharmacist to check that the doses of their medication are appropriate. People who are already using a pill organiser without any ill effects should not stop using it as – they do seem to help some patients take their medication as prescribed. It’s the switching stage which appears to be the danger.”
 
‘The feasibility of determining the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of medication organisation devices compared with usual care for older people in a community setting: systematic review, stakeholder focus groups and feasibility randomised controlled trial’ is published by the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) on June 22, 2016.
UEA SCHOOL OF PHARMACY
All Party Parliamentary Groups Relaunched for 2016-17
Dr Philippa Whitford MP (left) with Andrea Jenkyns MP (right)
Officer and Chair of the APPG for Patient Safety
This past week has been very busy for our public affairs team who relaunched our two political groups with Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords. 

The Patients Association act as the secretariat to the APPG on Patient and Public Involvement in Health and Social Care and the APPG on Patient Safety. Each parliamentary year, following the calls and emails we receive to the helpline, and alongside the campaigns and issues our members raise with us, we work with members of these committees to focus on a unique and specialised research project. 

This year the APPG on Patient and Public Involvement will be focussing on access to health and social care services in light on the changing face of the NHS and the devolution deals.

Whilst the APPG on Patient Safety will be investigating how to bring about a better understanding and awareness of how malnutrition affects patients across all areas of the health and social care in order to inform a single approach. 

NB - we are recruiting for a part-time Public Affairs Intern to help support the work of the APPGs. If you would like to find out more, then contact Victoria or visit our website to explore opportunities to join our public affairs team.
John Pugh MP
Chair of the APPG on Patient and Public Involvement in Health and Social Care
Contact Victoria
Plymouth PPG fights to keep surgery open
The Friends of the Cumberland Surgery are campaigning to prevent the closure of their GP surgery. Serving Devonport, which is the most disadvantaged area of Plymouth, this is no ordinary surgery. It was set up three years ago as a joint venture between the then

Plymouth Community Healthcare and Plymouth University to “work together to improve the health and wellbeing of the population, reduce health inequalities and address ill health through prevention, promotion and innovation via community services in ways that will transform the health status of individuals within their community.”

Many medical students have received training at the surgery, where they have discovered their passion to pursue GP as a specialty. We should be encouraging this, especially with the shortage of GPs. Furthermore the surgery participates in medical research that is important at a local and even international stage.

NHS England claims that the surgery is no longer sustainable, citing a range of arguments from low patient numbers to alternative GPs who are willing to accept additional patients. The PPG has opposed these arguments and believes that this move could lead to a decline in health care for many vulnerable patients, including homeless hostel residents served by the surgery. They have expressed their clear wish to continue having a choice of GP practices in their area and to continue to benefit from the new sense of community that has developed around the surgery. They also detect a lack of will to find a solution and recognition that the Cumberland Surgery is making a difference to the lives of its patients. 

The PPG will continue to deliver a clear message of concern alongside other representatives such as the local MP, Plymouth’s Director of Public Health, 1000 signatories of petitions, the Dean of the Medical School and the Patients Association. NHS England and Healthwatch Plymouth are currently running input meetings from stakeholders regarding the impact of closure, which will hopefully achieve some positive outcomes. 

Brian Roach, Chair, Friends of the Cumberland Surgery

If you have experienced any similar issues regarding your local GP surgery, please get in contact with us at The Patients Association as we are keen to keep a record of how services are changing by you.
Tell us your story
NEW INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES OPEN TODAY!
Over the past few weeks we have been recruiting to a number of new positions within our organisation, and today we are pleased to announce even more opportunities to join our expanding and ambitious team!

Do you have a passion for politics?  Are you confident, interested in changing health and social care policy at the very highest level of government and able to network with lots of different people? Then we would definitely recommend you take a look at the Public Affairs Internship!

On the other hand, maybe you are a budding communications professional who has enjoyed managing social media accounts for a community group, charity or business. Perhaps you have a skill for taking photographs, making hard-hitting vloggies or have a flair for image and video editing? Do you like creative writing, campaigning or getting technical with websites?  If you have any of these skills, then apply for the Communications role today - it may be that launch pad you need to your dream job!
Public Affairs Internship
Communication Internship

About Us

The Patients Association’s motto is ‘Listening to Patients, Speaking up for Change’. This motto is the basis on which we build all our campaigns. Via our Helpline, we capture stories about Healthcare from over thousands of patients, family members and carers every year. We use this knowledge to campaign for real improvements to health and social care services across the UK.
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