The NHS appeared to be heading into an autumn crisis, with hospitals and ambulances in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland calling on the army to provide additional medics and drivers as they looked to cope with the kind of pressure normally seen in the winter. In England, clinicians warned of dangerous pressure and staff shortages and some care homes warned they were on the brink of collapse.
Oddly, NHS England and its digital agencies picked this moment to publish a digital clinical safety strategy. In more positive news, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust chose CliniSys WInPath Enterprise to modernise its labs as part of a wider digital strategy. And Digital Health announced that Rewired will be back live next March.
As more English hospitals moved to Opel 4 or ‘black alert’ and Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths ticked up again, prime minister Boris Johnson unveiled his Plan A for controlling the pandemic this autumn. Plan A is to keep up the vaccination drive. But there is a Plan B. Following the announcement, Johnson reshuffled his cabinet. Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid stayed put.
In health tech news, there was an interesting trial of augmented reality technology, a patient flow deployment to support an outpatient clinic in a department store, and a report showing that virtual appointments really do save huge amounts of travel and carbon emissions
Really, there was only one thing in the news this week, and that was prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to introduce a new tax, initially via an increase in National Insurance contributions, to fund the NHS and, eventually, social care. This newsletter special outlines the proposals and initial reaction from the NHS, social care, and health tech.
However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that health is a devolved matter, and Scotland has its own spending and social care plans. This week, first minister Nicola Sturgeon recommitted her government to the big task of setting up a National Care Service to drive standards, accountability, and integration with the NHS.