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Concept: National Health Service


The aims of this study were to describe the key features of acute NHS Trusts with different levels of research activity and to investigate associations between research activity and clinical outcomes.

Concepts: The Association, The Key, National Health Service, Sunshine pop


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for ensuring the quality of healthcare in England. To that end, CQC has developed statistical surveillance tools that periodically aggregate large numbers of quantitative performance measures to identify risks to the quality of care and prioritise its limited inspection resource. These tools have, however, failed to successfully identify poor-quality providers. Facing continued budget cuts, CQC is now further reliant on an ‘intelligence-driven’, risk-based approach to prioritising inspections and a new effective tool is required.

Concepts: Health care provider, Scientific method, Quality, Illness, National Health Service, Tool, Inspection, Care Quality Commission


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the effectiveness of treatments for acute whiplash injury. We aimed to estimate whether training of staff in emergency departments to provide active management consultations was more effective than usual consultations (Step 1) and to estimate whether a physiotherapy package was more effective than one additional physiotherapy advice session in patients with persisting symptoms (Step 2). METHODS: Step 1 was a pragmatic, cluster randomised trial of 12 NHS Trust hospitals including 15 emergency departments who treated patients with acute whiplash associated disorder of grades I-III. The hospitals were randomised by clusters to either active management or usual care consultations. In Step 2, we used a nested individually randomised trial. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either a package of up to six physiotherapy sessions or a single advice session. Randomisation in Step 2 was stratified by centre. Investigator-masked outcomes were obtained at 4, 8, and 12 months. Masking of clinicians and patients was not possible in all steps of the trial. The primary outcome was the Neck Disability Index (NDI). Analysis was intention to treat, and included an economic evaluation. The study is registered ISRCTN33302125. FINDINGS: Recruitment ran from Dec 5, 2005 to Nov 30, 2007. Follow-up was completed on Dec 19, 2008. In Step 1, 12 NHS Trusts were randomised, and 3851 of 6952 eligible patients agreed to participate (1598 patients were assigned to usual care and 2253 patients were assigned to active management). 2704 (70%) of 3851 patients provided data at 12 months. NDI score did not differ between active management and usual care consultations (difference at 12 months 0·5, 95% CI -1·5 to 2·5). In Step 2, 599 patients were randomly assigned to receive either advice (299 patients) or a physiotherapy package (300 patients). 479 (80%) patients provided data at 12 months. The physiotherapy package at 4 months showed a modest benefit compared to advice (NDI difference -3·7, -6·1 to -1·3), but not at 8 or 12 months. Active management consultations and the physiotherapy package were more expensive than usual care and single advice session. No treatment-related serious adverse events or deaths were noted. INTERPRETATION: Provision of active management consultation did not show additional benefit. A package of physiotherapy gave a modest acceleration to early recovery of persisting symptoms but was not cost effective from a UK NHS perspective. Usual consultations in emergency departments and a single physiotherapy advice session for persistent symptoms are recommended. FUNDING: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Hospital, Randomized controlled trial, Efficacy, Urgent care, National Health Service, Trauma center, Emergency department


To document the range of web and smartphone apps used and recommended for stress, anxiety or depression by the National Health Service (NHS) in England.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Public health, Health, Illness, National Health Service, Massachusetts


BACKGROUND: The study of length of stay (LOS) outliers is important for the management and financing of hospitals. Our aim was to study variables associated with high LOS outliers and their evolution over time. METHODS: We used hospital administrative data from inpatient episodes in public acute care hospitals in the Portuguese National Health Service (NHS), with discharges between years 2000 and 2009, together with some hospital characteristics. The dependent variable, LOS outliers, was calculated for each diagnosis related group (DRG) using a trim point defined for each year by the geometric mean plus two standard deviations. Hospitals were classified on the basis of administrative, economic and teaching characteristics. We also studied the influence of comorbidities and readmissions. Logistic regression models, including a multivariable logistic regression, were used in the analysis. All the logistic regressions were fitted using generalized estimating equations (GEE). RESULTS: In near nine million inpatient episodes analysed we found a proportion of 3.9 % high LOS outliers, accounting for 19.2 % of total inpatient days. The number of hospital patient discharges increased between years 2000 and 2005 and slightly decreased after that. The proportion of outliers ranged between the lowest value of 3.6 % (in years 2001 and 2002) and the highest value of 4.3 % in 2009. Teaching hospitals with over 1,000 beds have significantly more outliers than other hospitals, even after adjustment to readmissions and several patient characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: In the last years both average LOS and high LOS outliers are increasing in Portuguese NHS hospitals. As high LOS outliers represent an important proportion in the total inpatient days, this should be seen as an important alert for the management of hospitals and for national health policies. As expected, age, type of admission, and hospital type were significantly associated with high LOS outliers. The proportion of high outliers does not seem to be related to their financial coverage; they should be studied in order to highlight areas for further investigation. The increasing complexity of both hospitals and patients may be the single most important determinant of high LOS outliers and must therefore be taken into account by health managers when considering hospital costs.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Patient, Hospital, Arithmetic mean, National Health Service, Teaching hospital, Diagnosis-related group


BACKGROUND: Following implementation of Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) in the UK, potential radiology trainees must decide on their career and apply sooner than ever before. We aimed to determine whether current trainees were sufficiently informed to make an earlier career decision by comparing the early radiology experiences of Traditional and Foundation Trainees. METHODS: 344 radiology trainees were appointed through MMC in 2007/08. This cohort was surveyed online. RESULTS: Response rate was 174/344 (51%). Traditional Trainees made their career decision 2.6 years after graduation compared with 1.2 years for Foundation Trainees (57/167, 34%). Nearly half of responders (79/169, 47%) experienced no formal radiology teaching as undergraduates. Most trainees regularly attended radiology meetings, spent time in a radiology department and/or performed radiology research. Many trainees received no career advice specific to radiology (69/163, 42%) at any point prior to entering the specialty; this includes both formal and informal advice. Junior doctor experiences were more frequently cited as influencing career choice (98/164, 60%). An earlier career decision was associated with; undergraduate radiology projects (-0.72 years, p = 0.018), career advice (-0.63 years, p = 0.009) and regular attendance at radiology meetings (-0.65 years, p = 0.014). CONCLUSION: Early experience of radiology enables trainees to make an earlier career decision, however current radiology trainees were not always afforded relevant experiences prior to entering training. Radiologists need to be more proactive in encouraging the next generation of trainees.

Concepts: Medical imaging, Radiology, Experience, National Health Service, Career, Formal, Senior house officer, Modernising Medical Careers


An ‘Information Centre’ has recently been established by law which has the power to collect, collate and provide access to the medical information for all patients treated by the National Health Service in England, whether in hospitals or by General Practitioners. This so-called ‘’ scheme has given rise to major and ongoing controversies. We will sketch the background of the scheme and look at the responses it has elicited from citizens and medical professionals. In Autumn 2013, NHS England set up a website where citizens could record their concerns regarding the collection of health-related data by the Information Centre. We have reviewed all the comments on this website up until June 2015. We have also analysed the readers' comments on the coverage of the scheme in one of the main national UK newspapers. When discussing the responses of citizens, we will make a distinction between the problems that citizens detect and the solutions they propose. The solutions that are being perceived as the most relevant ones can be summarized as follows: citizens wish to further the common good without being manipulated into doing it, while at the same time being safeguarded against various abuses. The issue of trust turns out to figure prominently. Our analysis of reactions to the scheme in no way pretends to be exhaustive, yet it provides various relevant insights into the concerns identified by citizens as well as medical professionals. These concerns, moreover, have a more general relevance in relation to other contexts of medical data-mining as well as biobank research. Our analysis also offers important pointers as to how those concerns might be addressed.

Concepts: Health care, Patient, Physician, United Kingdom, Medical research, National Health Service, England


The number of visits to hospital emergency departments (EDs) in England has increased by 20% since 2007-08, placing unsustainable pressure on the National Health Service (NHS). Some patients attend EDs because they are unable to access primary care services. This study examined the association between access to primary care and ED visits in England.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Health insurance, Hospital, Illness, National Health Service, Emergency department


Young people (aged 16-24 years) with long-term health conditions can disengage from health services, resulting in poor health outcomes, but clinicians in the UK National Health Service (NHS) are using digital communication to try to improve engagement. Evidence of effectiveness of this digital communication is equivocal. There are gaps in evidence as to how it might work, its cost, and ethical and safety issues.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Public health, Health, Clinical trial, Medical ethics, National Health Service


The previous article in this law column considered a patient’s right to give a real consent before a district nurse could proceed with care and treatment. This article considers the district nurse’s rights and responsibilities when considering withdrawing or withholding clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration. It focuses on recent cases in the Court of Protection, M v A Hospital [2017] , and High Court, NHS Trust v Mr Y & Mrs Y [2017] , and on the need to bring such cases to court before treatment is withdrawn.

Concepts: Hospital, Law, Human rights, Concepts in ethics, National Health Service, Withdrawal, Rights, Civil and political rights