HCL Issue 10 - Page 36

36 NEWS Media Watch Valeria Fiore takes an irreverent look at some of the biggest health stories in the media since starting his role in July 2018, but only three care homes. The health and social care secretary, who forgot to add ‘social care’ to his title when he tweeted about taking the role last year, seems to need a reminder of how important social care is. NHS loyalty card, anyone? If you are wondering what this is, don’t worry, you haven’t been living under a rock. There’s no such thing – at least not yet. Speaking at the Royal Society of Medicine following the publication in February of the Topol Review – which explored the use of technology to improve the NHS – Matt Hancock said ‘Tesco has more sophisticated and efficient systems than the NHS’. Using the groceries giant as a good example, he said Tesco knows its customers’ preferences ‘through loyalty cards, where they shop through store IDs, and what they buy through the items scanned at the checkout’. Mr Hancock has surely raised a few fair points on the use of technology, which he said has the potential to make NHS services safer and more efficient. He added that Tesco uses the information it collects on its customers to make deliveries and ‘market their goods to shoppers with personalised discount vouchers’, saying that ‘in the NHS, Matt Hancock believes the NHS could learn from Tesco’s systems for understanding customers Healthcare Leader 2019 Issue 10 we don’t have anything like that’. We’d like to point out the obvious to Mr Hancock and tell him that another thing the NHS doesn’t have is enough staff. The NHS workforce is already overstretched – we are missing over 40,000 nurses, to mention just one figure. How much more can we ask our existing workforce to do? Before introducing new technology, the Government should make sure there are first enough staff to guarantee patients’ safety. Get your five a day – if you can As if we didn’t already have enough temptations luring us away from making healthy food choices, hitting our recommended ‘five a day’ could become even more difficult in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In January, Matt Hancock told the Health and Social Care Committee that the supply of medicines will be prioritised over ‘vital food’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, his statement came after researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Liverpool, and the Medical University of Gdañsk warned that the UK is particularly reliant on fruit and vegetable imports from the European Union – importing 84% and 48% respectively in 2017. In a study published in the journal BMJ Open in January, researchers also said that the intake of fruit and vegetables – which is already low in the UK – will fall further under all possible Brexit scenarios. Rising fruit and vegetable prices could be the cause of 12,400 extra deaths from heart disease and stroke over the next decade, the researchers found. Maybe the Government should reconsider its position on this issue. Providing better access to healthy food could reduce the need for medicines for many of us, after all. As the saying goes, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Social care green paper: unconfirmed ETA Yet another paper we have been waiting to see is the adult social care green paper and apparently it’s due soon, but let’s not hold our breath. According to a recent Local Government Association (LGA) newsletter, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has said he is committed to publishing the green paper ‘before April’. The LGA said Mr Hancock attended its Community Wellbeing Board meeting on 29 January and thanked the LGA for ‘keeping this vital issue in the public eye’ through the publication of its own green paper on social care. In all its past attempts to publish this paper, the Government has never been very specific about when it is actually due to come out. The green paper was initially scheduled for summer 2017, was then postponed to the end of that year, and then postponed again to summer 2018. We were later told it would come out with the NHS long-term plan ‘in the autumn’, which then became ‘before the end of 2018’. Now we’re told the green paper will be published as a ‘sequel’ to the long- term plan. We can’t help but think of the use of the term ‘Cinderella service’ to describe social care. And Mr Hancock has visited 22 hospitals