Our first industry round-up for 2021 includes news that Jackie Shears, programme director at NHS Digital, has been awarded an OBE and a surge in demand for Health Education England’s online training.

Programme director at NHS Digital awarded OBE

Jackie Shears, programme director at NHS Digital, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to patient care.

Jackie has worked in a variety of clinical system and services posts, both at NHS Digital and across the NHS for 30 years, and most notably played a key role in the NHS Pathways team.

She is currently on secondment to the Our Future Health Research Programme, which brings together the NHS, industry and third sector to build the UK’s largest ever health research programme.

“I am still amazed to have received this honour. I am accepting it on behalf of every single person in the NHS Pathways team, past and present, as the award mostly relates to the vital role that the system has played in the Covid-19 response,” she said.

“This is an acknowledgement and recognition of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in NHS Pathways, including the in-house NHS clinicians and specialists. I knew the system was fit for purpose, but seeing it succeed in the way we intended in the pandemic has been truly extraordinary.”

Online training with Health Education England skyrockets

The number of session launches in one day on the Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare Hub (HEE e-LfH) has reached its highest figure ever.

In the second week of January the HEE e-LfH Hub saw a record 211,452 session launches in a single day, with health and care professionals accessing a variety of e-learning sessions from the free e-learning programmes available, of which there are more than 350.

A year ago on the same day, 7 January 2020,  there were 23,806 sessions launched on the hub. The surge this year equates to a 788% increase on year-on-year usage.

During 2020, e-LfH saw more than 22 million session launches on the hub throughout the year. To date there have been more than 770,000 session launches of the e-LfH Covid-19 vaccination e-learning programme alone.

Dr Neil Ralph, head of technology enhanced learning at Health Education England, said: “e-LfH learning resources are being accessed by all professional groups working in health and care and the growth in numbers can be seen across all e-learning programmes confirming the need for consistent, high quality online learning has never been greater.”

Wellsky expands in Ireland in partnership with Brennan and Company

WellSky International has announced a new distributor relationship in Ireland with leading distributor of medical devices and equipment, Brennan and Company.

WellSky is the UK’s leading provider of hospital medicines management systems including pharmacy stock control, electronic prescribing medicines administration (EPMA) and chemotherapy.

Rob Tysall-Blay, chief executive of Wellsky, said: “We are delighted to be working with Brennan and Company in introducing our solutions to the Irish market.

“Coupled with Brennan and Company’s experience in Ireland and the pharmacy automation business, we are excited at being able to deliver fully closed loop medicines management solutions to Ireland which will offer increased patient safety, operational efficiency and regulatory compliance.”

Gregory Brennan, group managing director of Brennan and Company, added: “With this partnership Brennan and Company can offer the best in class solutions required to supply a complete closed loop system for the safe management and regulation of medicines and pharmacy supply products.

“Our years of local experience in the supply of leading-edge technological solutions to hospitals throughout Ireland gives us the confidence that we can deliver the right solutions. Together we look forward to developing a strong partnership, offering first class service.”

Over 50s fail to access NHS digital services

Less than one in three people aged over 50 accessed a digital consultation with a healthcare professional between March and August 2020, according to a survey commissioned by online digital health platform Visiba.

In a survey of more than 1,000 Brits it was found just two in five people had an online consultation – defined as any kind of contact with healthcare services online via video chat or messaging – between March and August in 2020.

The results show that middle-aged and older adults used online consultations less often, with nearly three quarters (73%) of women aged over 65 and just under two thirds (63%) of men admitting that they had not used an online consultation during the first nationwide lockdown or over the summer months.

The figures highlight a reversal in usual healthcare patterns where young people tend to access healthcare the least and contact with healthcare professionals increasing with age.

Richard Cullen, chair Rotherham CCG and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS digital lead, said: “We must develop systems that work easily so that people who are not used to using digital technology to manage their health and healthcare needs can start to gain access.

“Those that need these services the most must be given the right support so that they can understand and use online consultations, and those consultations and interactions must be user-friendly from the beginning.”

Graham Kendall, director of the Digital Health Council, added: “It is important that we are able to fully understand and analyse what has happened over the course of the past year so that our health services can address the issue of digital health uptake.

“Having a clearer idea of patient demand for online healthcare consultations, and more generally for digital health services, along with an accurate picture of what’s available to patients, means we can start to develop a true system-wide digital transformation.”

Doctor Care Anywhere adds mental health services to repertoire

Doctor Care Anywhere (DCA) has partnered with Koa Health, Koa Health, a digital mental health care provider, and Kooth, a leading online mental health platform, to develop new best-in-class mental health services.

The collaboration will mean DCA GPs will be able to identify and advise on complex physical and mental health conditions for their patients, as well as provide them with access to additional and specialist support as part of an integrated mental health solution.

Koa Health will provide a range of programmes, including audio clips, meditations and games designed to enhance sleep and relaxation and combat depression, while Kooth will provide access to an online peer community on an anonymous basis.

Dr Bayju Thakar, founder and chief executive of Doctor Care Anywhere, said: “So often, mental health symptoms can be substantially alleviated by early, thoughtful and sensitive interventions, by taking an integrated, holistic approach to treating both physical and mental health conditions.

“We are, therefore, pleased to be working with colleagues at Koa Health and Kooth, who share our vision and passion for providing excellent care, as we enhance our pathways of mental health and wellbeing services, allowing us to continue providing patients with appropriate and timely care.”

Tim Barker, chief executive of Kooth, added: “Demand for mental health services is stronger than ever and digital services play a crucial role in getting mental health support to people at the right time.”