Eyesight and What Effect is Your Environment Having

You might have seen this reported on BBC’s Breakfast News last week, but I thought it was worth highlighting here. There is growing pressure on hospital eye services which is endangering patients’ eyesight, warned the President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Carrie MacEwen. She noted that there has  been ‘an increase of up to 30% in eye clinic attendances over the last five years’, explaining that ‘over 100 million outpatient appointments were made in England alone during 2013-14, of which 10% were for eye care.’ Reasons for the increased demand included the ageing population (of course), coupled with the fact that many common eye conditions which were previously untreatable, such as age related macular degeneration, can now be treated successfully. What she found particularly concerning was the fact that much of the increased demand for eye clinic appointments comes from patients with chronic eye diseases, who are the most vulnerable and at the greatest risk of irreversible loss of vision. To see her full report go to:



Also published in the last week was a report from the WHO called “Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments”. The WHO have undertaken an analysis that indicates that 23% of global deaths (and 26% of deaths among children under five) are due to modifiable environmental factors. Young children and older people bear the brunt of the environmental risks, the report finds, with children and under-fives and adults aged 50 to 75 most impacted. So what environmental factors are we talking about and just what diseases can be linked to our environment?

To get some insight into this fascinating topic see:




Dementia in BME Groups

 This week I am going to draw your attention to a new group that has been created called Race Against Dementia. Race Against Dementia is an alliance of groups currently providing information and support to people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the UK. Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups and the views that they have of dementia and dementia care receive very little attention in this country so any group prepared to bring the issues of minority communities to the fore is most welcome.
To find out more about this alliance visit their website which is very new at
On the website is a link to their good practice guidance. As their campaign develops I am sure more resources will be added.
On the theme of healthcare for BME groups you may find the following interesting video called “Dementia Does Not Discriminate”
and an older video by the Runnymede Trust called Race and Dementia:

Integrated Care in the UK



Integrated care has become the become the new mantra in older people’s care and rightly so. It is enshrined within law in Scotland and most UK public healthcare services are expected to embrace it. Integrated care has been described as ‘person-centred coordinated care’. The three important features of integrated care are:

  • Services working together across the health and social care sectors.
  • People’s control over the planning of their care.
  • Achieving the results that are important to people who use services, their families and their carers.

(CQC 2015)

At the end of last year the Care Quality Commission (for England) began a review looking at care for older people. It will explore how different services are organised and coordinated, and how this affects the quality of care that people receive. Details of their project can be found at:


The reason for highlighting this to you is not so much the projects, as the resources about integrated care that they have brought together on this page. So yes, please take a look at what they are doing, but take a look at what else you can access from here and you will get a really good idea where we are with integration. If you need something similar with more of a Scottish focus you can look at http://www.ccpscotland.org/hot-topics/integration-health-social-care/

The Healthcare Professionals Shortage in England, Wales and NI


I am not sure if you will have seen these news items from last week before as they slipped under the radar in between all the stuff on the USA election and the EU refugee crisis. However in response to an FOI request from the BBC, the following figures were released rather quietly. The data that the BBC were given shows that  on 1 December 2015, the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had more than 23,443 nursing vacancies – equivalent to 9% of the workforce. In fact in some areas, for example emergency departments in England and Wales, there were 1,265 vacancies for registered nurses – about 11% of the total. (No wonder NHS staff feel stressed, and overworked… that’s because they are trying to paper over the gaps!)

This is despite the findings of the Francis Report into the scandal at Stafford Hospital which identified that a shortage of nurses was a key factor in the poor care of patients.

So what is being done about it? Are we hiking up training numbers hugely? It appears not, we continue to poach staff from some of the poorest healthcare systems in the world. 2/3rds. (i.e. 69% ) of all NHS trusts and health boards are seeking staff overseas.

For more details about this see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35667939

and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35687873

NHS Scotland’s numbers have still to be released. I await them with interest.