This week and last, the media has been widely reporting major incidents being declared at hospital A&E departments up and down the country – and a state of affairs normally associated with rail crashes, riots or sinking ferries is now presented nightly on TV as massive over demand for emergency healthcare services and the forced closure of many leading hospitals leading to new admissions. Patients are being seen waiting and sometimes dying in corridors and on trolleys because the hospital just hasn’t got the resources to care for them.
We all know that going to casualty can mean hours waiting to be seen and treated – it’s one of the reasons numbers attending have remained manageable for so many years. If you don’t want to sit on a hard seat being serenaded by the local town drunk into the early hours, you do all you can to be seen during office hours at your local GP surgery. So why now is the system suddenly unable to cope?
The truth is that today’s overloads are the result of many years of mismanagement of local health and social services by successive governments.
The first nail in the emergency department door was when the Labour government scrapped out-of-hours work for GPs and gave them a new contract AND a lot more money. Whereas in the past you could call out your own doctor if you had a pain in the tummy at 3 o’clock in the morning, now that’s simply no longer an option. General practice is increasingly acting as a mere staging post for a longer and frequently pointless journey to the local hospital.
With demand increasing, the second hammer blow has come from recent cuts in social services provision for the elderly in the community; if you are in hospital and want to come out, there’s often no place to go if you are old and infirm with no nearby relatives. That means the bed is blocked – and those teaming masses in Casualty won’t get access to it for days or even weeks.
And with the worst of the winter weather still to hit us, it seems unlikely that anything is going to get any better any time soon.
The temptation for any new government formed after the General Election in May might be to reverse some of the changes introduced in the past – or worse, to introduce yet another major reorganisation of primary care. But although seemingly sudden in their appearance, the issues at the root of these major incidents will be anything but quick to fix.
In truth some of the solutions are already on the drawing board and contained in the recent Five Year Forward View announced before Christmas by NHS England. Trusts and CCGs must be given the ability to integrate in a far more effective way than they are at the moment. But for now the answer must lie in better communications and public health education – a role in which all UK health stakeholder organisations can play a part.
Like so many crises, this one may represent a unique opportunity for state and independent commercial health groups to get some fundamental messages across about disease, risk and good management.
Dr. Martin Godfrey
Managing Director 3 Monkeys Health + Wellness
Ten and a half million viewers, 14 hours and two X Factor final contestants later, I can now officially say that I have ‘done’ Wembley.
It’s fair to say that when my choir – The London International Gospel Choir – was confirmed to perform at the final last week, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The X Factor is even madder and more circus-like in the flesh than you’d ever imagine from TV, and it seems nothing is too OTT for Simon.
Here’s a backstage look at when the London International Gospel Choir (@LIGChoir) joined one of the biggest TV phenomena of the past decade…
I frequently moonlight as a singer across the capital – but while all 20 of us from the London International Gospel Choir are used to playing big venues, Wembley is a whole new type of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We arrived last Sunday to a very huge and, at 8.30 in the morning, very deserted Wembley, so naturally our day begun by taking hundreds of photos with us spinning around on the judges chairs and shouting ‘HELLO WEMBLEY’ from the stage at the top of our lungs.
The entire day was completely surreal, from casually bumping into Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood in a corridor (prior to his performance that night with One Direction) to watching runners pretend to be judges throughout the day while wearing massive name labels identifying them as ‘Simon’, ‘Cheryl’, ‘Mel’ and ‘Louis’.
Our first (and only) run through rehearsal of the day was led by Kylie’s dance choreographer Sisco Gomez, where we were immediately threatened with the wrath of Brian Friedman (famous for choreographing Beyonce, Britney and Maria). At which point our normal step-and-click suddenly went into turbo-charge mode.
Once dismissed we watched host Dermot O’Leary run through his ad lib banter for around two hours, followed by dress rehearsals for pop royalty Demi Lovato, Olly Murs and Sam Smith, accompanied by his army of 200 singers dressed in very skinny white jeans. Every now and then one of our clan would remind us all that “this is all totally mad” and we’d all go back to predicting how long until they’d decide we were imposters.
Our dress rehearsal was brief to say the least. We were on stage for approximately four minutes as we ran through all the entries and exits which Sisco had taught us earlier that morning. Sheer terror was now the residing emotion painted on all our faces as the size of Wembley Arena was finally felt in full force – we were set to perform alongside both finalists Ben and Fleur as they separately performed the eventual winner’s single plus the finale…having not yet even heard the songs. It was deemed that ‘Take it to church’ would be sufficient instruction – good job we’re a gospel choir, eh?
Choreography and lyrical accuracy utterly incomplete, we resumed our place backstage for costumes. I was surprised to find out that absolutely everything is budget, from cellotaped microphones on the judges’ table to Primark accessories glued onto Primark clothing in the costume department. At one point we were given 20 wonderful white turtlenecks, which were cut at the last minute and upgraded to black leather jackets. I still thought we looked lovely…
With little under 10 minutes spent on stage practising, less than five track run throughs and a choir director watching from home with his heavily pregnant wife, we were suddenly live on national TV. Wembley Arena full to capacity is one of THE loudest eruptions of noise I’ve ever heard and it was surprisingly comforting as opposed to terrifying.
We were backing vocalists four times in total, front of stage for all and bashing out the most enthusiastic dancing LIGC has ever managed, complete with dry ice, confetti canons and fireworks. The fear just seemed to melt away when we got up there.
LIGC’s mantra is, ‘if your face doesn’t hurt you’re not smiling enough’ – and frankly I’ve never smiled so much in my life. What an experience and what a way for London International Gospel Choir to end 2014. I’m still not quite convinced it happened, and am pretty sure I’ll wake up soon…
Junior Account Executive
OK, maybe it’s not the most original of observations, but as 2015 heaves into view, it’s certainly true now more than ever before: the PR landscape is evolving rapidly – and so too are the skills that PR practitioners need in order to be effective in a competitive and fluid marketplace, whether they’re agency or in-house.
Across the industry there’s a markedly noticeable fundamental shift in what clients are expecting of us – at every level and through every channel old and new. We’re experiencing these changes first hand, and need to accommodate them by developing new products and training programmes, to boost our ability to deliver the most effective work.
All of which seemed like a great reason to team up recently with our friends at PR Moment, and host an event in our boardroom to discuss how in-house PR teams are evolving their skill sets and internal structures.
The aim of the morning session was to find out from in-house PRs exactly how they are currently witnessing the PR landscape changing, what they’ve seen changing already, and what they expect to see in the future.
Thanks to some excellent speakers and a full house, our event garnered some great discussion, while the research that preceded it has shown how in-house PR teams can become stronger…
Future Proofing In-House PR Teams from PRmoment on Vimeo.
Stephen Doherty, MD, Head of Corporate Communications at Barclays, talked about how in-house teams must become fluent in the language of business – and how it is important to elevate public relations up the value chain within the organisation, by focusing on the outcomes of your communications.
The influence of communicators has increased in recent years – and Doherty suggested that this had meant in-house PR people have become the barometers of the organisations that they represent. It’s therefore important that they have infectious enthusiasm to be effective.
Indeed, the impact of in-house communicators is so important because they have the advantage of always being in the room when the big decisions are being taken – and they therefore have an obligation to calibrate and put into context the activities of the business. Doherty advised in-house communicators to ask themselves every day what they have done to aid the business objectives of their organisations.
Tom Barton, Head of UK Communications at Capgemini, discussed how in-house teams must make the best use of the resources that they have available to them. He pointed out that media relations skills are no are no longer enough to excel in public relations – and that to be truly effective, PR people must embrace digital, to the extent that they understand more about social and digital channels than anyone else in their organisation.
Angie Moxham, CEO of 3 Monkeys then took to the floor to share our research, with some really interesting insights; we’d urge you to have a read.
If you would like to find out more about our report or events with 3 Monkeys, drop us a line or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading.
…but NHS England’s new ‘Five Year Forward View’ packs more of a punch than many weightier tomes written in the corridors of the Department of Health. And it’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to past DH Green Papers that were the harbingers of massive conflict-ridden reorganisation
Simon Stevens, the new chief executive of NHS England, has kept a low profile in his first six months in the job. He clearly wanted to craft a concise vision for the NHS which would make people sit up and take notice.
He is signalling a big shift in the way the NHS in England is managed and organised, in some ways the most radical since the service was born in 1948.
Mr Stevens and his colleagues want to see barriers being removed and an end to the age-old divide between GPs with patients, and consultants with hospitals. Plus they signal a far bigger role for patients and carers.
There should, in his view, be no more top-down reorganisations, but instead the development of new models to suit local needs.
He believes some communities will want to expand the role of GP practices allowing them to provide a much wider range of care.
These practices might employ consultants and senior nurses with the aim of shifting most outpatient work away from hospitals.
Alternatively leading hospitals might open their own GP surgeries. Smaller hospitals could be preserved if taken under the wing of larger institutions.
The most radical option flagged up in the document is the development of “Accountable Care Organisations” similar to those in Spain and parts of the United States.
Translated from the jargon, this means a single organisation taking responsibility for all of a local population’s health needs.
This could be a major hospital trust doing everything in its area, employing GPs and community health staff as well as acute care.
Another important priority will be a radical upgrade in prevention and public health. The NHS will therefore now back hard-hitting national action on obesity, smoking, alcohol and other major health risks.
They will help develop and support new workplace incentives to promote employee health and cut sickness-related unemployment. And we will advocate for stronger public health-related powers for local government and elected mayors.
And last but not least, something we at 3 monkeys have been calling for for months – when people do need health services, patients will gain far greater control of their own care – including the option of shared budgets combining health and social care. The 1.4 million full time unpaid carers in England will get new support, and the NHS will become a better partner with voluntary organisations and local communities.
This is big picture stuff and the skeptics will argue that it will take years to develop these new models of care. But it’s certainly going in the right direction!
Managing Director – 3 Monkeys Health & Wellness
The Cancer Drugs Fund, a key part of David Cameron’s election campaign, is under threat.
The fund was set up in 2010 so that life-saving drugs considered too expensive for routine NHS use would still be available to patients who would benefit from them most. But now more than 40 drugs, around half the total, will be reviewed in mid-December as new rules on cost-effectiveness are introduced by NHS England.
Six of the drugs in danger of being removed from the list of accepted medicines are for breast cancer.
Caitlin Palframan, the senior policy manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “We’re deeply concerned that several very effective breast cancer drugs appear on the list of drugs at risk of de-listing due to their high price.
“The fund is the only way women in England can routinely access these drugs that can offer them months, or even years, of additional good quality life.”
Infographic from The Kings Fund – Click to learn more
Prostate Cancer UK said the fund was “on the brink” because of financial pressures, and called for government to find a better strategy for funding cancer drugs.
Owen Sharp, the charity’s chief executive, said “A long-term solution is urgently needed that delivers an overhaul of the way new cancer drugs are appraised.”
Prof Peter Clark, the chairman of the Cancer Drugs Fund and an oncologist, said: “The Fund has delivered major benefits to many patients, but if this is to continue we have to act now.
“We have got to make sure that the Cancer Drugs Fund delivers drugs, which offer good clinical benefit at reasonable prices so the Cancer Drugs Fund can treat the largest number of patients.”
Prof Peter Johnson, the chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said:”In the long run we still need a robust way of assessing new treatments to determine what the NHS can fund, so that cancer patients get the best, evidence-based treatments for their condition.”
NHS England says that a national Cancer Drugs Fund panel, to include patient representatives as well as doctors and pharmacists, will meet in mid-December, to decide which drugs should stay and which be dropped from the list. Their decisions will be published in the new year.
Dr. Martin Godfrey
Managing Director – 3 Monkeys Health & Wellness
This week we hosted a roundtable discussion with leading politico-economic magazine Prospect and some of the most important political and business leaders in the digital information space. In partnership with Beazley, the event was the third stage of our EU Data Regulation research campaign with Trend Micro, assessing business readiness and consumer awareness of the new regulation.
The new European Data Protection Regulation is a set of legislation that aims to comprehensively reform data protection, strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy.
The event created a discussion forum for UK leaders to look at how the regulation sits with policy makers and legal commentators. Under the banner ‘EU Data Protection: will it work, and how do we prepare?’, the event was inaugurated by Sir David Omand, former GCHQ Director, and chaired by New Statesman journalist Jon Bernstein.
The table sparked controversial debate from a host of governmental and industry bodies, including:
- Mary Honeyball – Labour MEP
- Charlie Edwards – Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
- Paul Hadly – Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
- Alexandra Renison – Institute of Directors
- Raluca Boroianu-Omara – Association of British Insurers
- Sietske de Groot – Federation of Small Businesses
The majority felt the regulation is a positive step in making businesses more responsible for protecting consumers who could be at risk of cyber-crime due to leaked data. However, it was largely intimated that there are still several issues to be ironed out before clarity of implementation and purpose would be achieved.
Some of the key points raised were:
Mark Brown, Executive Director, Ernst & Young, pointed out that the regulation could, paradoxically, drive perverse incentives not to notify people when a breach or data issue occurs; the avoidance of aggravation could seem preferable than to owning up to the error and the ensuing maelstrom of anger, blame and cost.
However, companies are setting up datacentres in Europe simply to comply with new regulation; so it’s a positive direction in that respect, stated Max Perkins of Beazley Insurance.
Mary Honeyball, MEP, emphasised the fact that without cultural harmony, in terms of consumer and business understanding of (big) data use and purpose, we will struggle to get comfortable with the times and the changing expectation of information management between parties. Honeyball echoed how the EU is already behind the times, and regulation understanding has to happen at a supra-national level.
We believe that there needs to be a continued proactive drive to educate all businesses on how the new EU Data Regulation will impact them and their customers, so that they’re fully prepared for when the Regulation comes into force – particularly in light of the recent wave of high profile data breaches.
Heartbleed is alleged to have affected over half a million secure servers when it was discovered in April 2014
We’re looking forward to observing how the regulation is adapted, and how the culture of information sharing and management will inform wider ethical debates on the possibilities and problems of data in today’s digital economy.
Senior Account Executive
It seems that every month we’re met by another piece of new technology from a start-up or an evolved product from a longstanding household name, many of which offer something valuable to us in their own particular way. But isn’t it frustrating that they don’t all work together in wonderful harmony? Each device battles for our attention, its value intrinsically linked to its ease of integration into our lives.
So what if there were a way of having your Fitbit talk to your GMail calendar to log activity, or your change in location control your home heating to save unnecessary spending? As science fiction as this may sound, there is a very simple solution – and despite its use of the term ‘recipes’ to describe its software commands, you don’t need to be a contender for the Great British Bake Off final. Meet IFTTT – which apparently rhymes with ‘gift’ – otherwise known as If This Then That.
IFTTT is a software platform that allows connections between websites, social platforms, and IP-enabled devices. These connections are known as recipes and contain a command to one channel or device that is triggered by an action on another.
My personal application of IFTTT has evolved as my tech usage has changed and online platforms have evolved. For instance, when Twitter stopped supporting Instagram images I turned to IFTTT to provide the answer. A simple recipe which creates a tweet with an image and posts it via my chosen account, every time I post to Instagram – handy!
Now imagine another scenario: your heating is set to come on at the same time each day – but your hectic work life does not conform to a routine; you’re not going to arrive home when the house starts warming up, as you’ve been caught in the office for an extra hour or two. By the time you’re due back, the water that had been heating up will be getting cool and the radiators have been heating an empty home – all wasting energy and money.
3 Monkeys’ client Honeywell has just announced that its evohome smart thermostat is now compatible with IFTTT: owners are able to put recipes in place to help manage this – and other – issues. For example:
- IF I exit a specific post code, THEN turn off my heating
- IF the temperature outside drops below 5°C THEN turn my heating on
- IF the temperature outside rises above 25°C, THEN turn off my heating
- IF it starts snowing THEN set my bedroom to 22°C
- IF my calendar says I am on holiday, THEN set my evohome to turn off the heating.
It’s early days for Honeywell’s IFTTT integration, but this is an amazing glimpse into the possibilities offered by the Internet of Things. We will undoubtedly see many more IFTTT applications which will change how all our devices and services connect to one another to make our lives simpler, more efficient and less stressful. Enjoy…
Digital Account Director