Riga Roadmap Agreed Among Key European Health Leaders

Key stakeholders in the European health environment have just announced the publication of the Riga Roadmap.

These critical documents represent an action plan intended to ensure that European Union health systems remain sustainable, equitable and representative in the coming years.

The roadmap has emanated from the Universal Healthcare Conference, held in Riga on 28th and 29th June, during which numerous signatories agreed on the content of the roadmap, which will play a critical role in the direction of European healthcare.

Organisations involved in the creation of the Riga Roadmap are the European Generic and Biosimilar medicines Association, EGA; the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EFPIA; the European Patients’ Forum, EPF; and the European Public Health Alliance, EPHA.

Signatories of the Roadmap have called for specific action from major European political institutions such as the European Union, the European Council, the European Parliament, and the European Commission.

In particular, the guidelines outlined in the documents are intended to successfully implement four key principles of European health in the immediate future, namely prevention, promotion, protection, and participation.

There are a wide range of objectives outlined in the Riga Roadmap, but its key points can be summarised thus:

– Identify appropriate and smarter ways of preventing ill health and avoidable costs to the system;

– Create frameworks for meaningful patient involvement across the innovation chain in collaboration with the relevant parts of the EU Commission and stakeholders;

– Include calls for systems and organisational innovation (e.g. integration of care, participatory medicine, patient involvement, culture change) under future EU programmes in order for healthcare to better meet patients’ needs;

– Support the use of real world evidence, to better understand opportunities to advance patient care, while promoting efficient policies that balance support for innovation and the needed uptake for generic and biosimilar medicines to ensure access to medicines for all;

– Implement a regular EU Health literacy survey across all EU Member States to collect comparative data, based on the validated EU Health Literacy Survey (HLS), and invest in health literacy interventions under various financial instruments (e.g. Health Programmes, Structural Funds).

Speaking on the aims of the Riga Roadmap, Richard Bergstrom, Director General of EFPIA, stated: “There is a need for a long term political agenda at European level regarding efficient healthcare systems that focus on outcomes, supported by a variety of stakeholders. The Riga Roadmap underscores the continued efforts of the research-based pharmaceutical industry to forge partnership with stakeholders across Europe to support the sustainability of national health services and increase access to innovative medicines for the benefit of patients.”

Nina Renshaw, Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance, added: “Austerity policies are making our health services less sustainable and less accessible, at a time when Europe is facing an explosion of chronic diseases. We have joined together to call on European governments and the EU institutions to take action, particularly on prevention and health promotion. Investment in our health is a win on every level, including growth and jobs.”

Renshaw’s comments underline the fact that economic instability has had a serious impact on European health systems.

With infrastructure issues still impacting upon the Eurozone, there will be serious challenges for European political leaders in implementing the Riga Roadmap.

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Survey Outlines Shocking Level of Data Loss in Pharma Sector

Considering the sensitivity of data protection and related topics in the existing client, a new survey provides a damning indictment of the pharmaceutical sector.

According to the Crown Records Management / Censuswide Survey, 60 per cent of pharmaceutical companies have lost important data, and nearly one-in-four have been successfully breached by hackers.

The survey which quizzed IT decision-makers at UK companies which boast more than 200 employees will of serious concern, particularly owing to how imperative privacy is in the healthcare sector.

Companies in a wide variety of industrial sectors have been subjected to cyber-attacks, with the Carphone Warehouse and Ashley Madison recently hitting the headlines.

The importance of keeping data safe under lock and key was succinctly underlined by the 2013 data breach at US retailer Target; considered to be the largest successful cyber-theft in history.

As a result of the breach, which saw American computer hacker Albert Gonzalez sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, Target ultimately reached a deal with Visa to pay its card issuers up to $67 million.

The Crown Records Management Survey discovered that data in the industry is not being inappropriately accessed on an occasional basis, but instead this undesirable state of affairs appears to be a regular occurrence.

12 per cent of companies in the pharma sector that responded to the survey conceded that they have lost data between seven and nine times, while 8 per cent admitted that data had been jettisoned inadvertently on at least 13 occasions.

Speaking on this issue, Ann Sellar, Business Development Manager at Crown Records Management, indicated her view that these figures should be considered extremely serious.

Sellar warned: “These survey results should be a wake-up call for UK businesses, and especially those in the pharmaceutical sector, because the importance of protecting customer data is higher than ever. Not only because of potential fines for data breaches (which will soon increase when the EU General Data Protection Regulation is ratified) but also because of growing public awareness.

“It takes on average 20 years to build a reputation but just five minutes to ruin it with a data breach and then up to two years to rebuild it. So businesses need to look at the way they protect their information, understand where the threats are and start putting robust processes in place to protect their customers. If they don’t I can only see the number of data breaches increasing in the next few years.”

Although hacking is clearly a major source of difficultly for companies, Sellar also emphasised that the majority of data loss occurs due to human error, and reiterated the importance of companies treating this issue with due seriousness and gravity.

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New Report Suggests Strong Link Between Poverty and Poor Health

Analysis published by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) suggests that the health of children in the UK is hugely dependent on geographical location.

The disparity between the experience and physical well-being of young people is so stark as to be reasonably defined as a ‘postcode lottery’.

This divergence in the health of children is perhaps best summed up by the fact that a child in a reception class in Barking and Dagenham is over 250 per cent more likely to be obese than a child of the same age in Richmond upon Thames. Yet only 18 miles separate these two areas.

In similar statistical indicators, a 5 year-old child in Leicester is over five times more likely to have tooth decay than a similarly aged child in West Sussex.

On a broader regional level, it is clear that the south east benefits from significantly above average health in UK terms. It is estimated, based on the NCB research, that over 15,000 case of ill-health could be prevented if children in the north west had access to the same level of health and development.

The study will undoubtedly raise questions about inequality in the UK, and particularly whether wealthier areas of the country benefit from superior services.

Data compiled by the NCB clearly indicates that young people who grow up in areas of relative deprivation are simply far more likely to suffer from ill health and poor development.

Children in the 30 most deprived local authorities were significantly more likely than those in privileged areas to suffer from obesity, tooth decay, accidental injuries and lower educational development.

While more research needs to be carried out in order to understand all of the reasons behind this, the National Children’s Bureau still concluded that there is an inextricable link between poverty and relatively poor health.

Speaking on behalf of the NCB, its Chief Executive, Anna Feuchtwang, had the following to say:

“It is shocking that two children growing up in neighbouring areas can expect such a wildly different quality of health.

“As these variations are closely linked to poverty, with those in areas with the highest levels of deprivation more likely to suffer from a range of health issues, we have to ask whether England is becoming a nation of two halves?

“The link between poverty and poor health is not inevitable. Work is urgently needed to understand how local health services can lessen the impact of living in a deprived area.

“We need local and national government to make the same efforts to narrow the gap in health outcomes across the country for under-fives as has been made to narrow the gap in achievement between poor and rich pupils in school. Government must make it a national mission over the next five years to ensure that the heath and development of the first five years of a child’s life is improved.”

Full regional and local health data from the report can be acquired online by clicking here.

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CMA Provisionally Clears NHS Trust Merger

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally cleared the proposed merger between two hospital trusts, following an extensive investigation.

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (ASP) and Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (RSC) will form a new organisation should the merger go ahead.

The two trusts previously provided clinical services in Ashford, Chertsey and Guildford.

Mergers in the NHS can be controversial owing to the fact that competition is considered one of the most important factors in providing quality services.

Thus, the merger of the two trusts was referred for an in-depth phase 2 inquiry in February after the initial CMA investigation concluded that the proposed acquisition could reduce healthcare competition.

Patients currently have the opportunity to choose which hospital to attend for consultant-led outpatient appointments.

This form of patient choice therefore has a positive knock-on effect on the quality of healthcare, as competing hospitals strive to provide a superior service in order to attract patients and, concurrently, funding.

However, the CMA examined evidence from ASP and RSC about the provision of healthcare services in the area of the merger, and found that the proposal will not result in a significant reduction in competition.

Speaking about the decision, Simon Polito, Chairman of the inquiry group, was keen to emphasise that the investigation had diligently considered the merger, owing to its importance for NHS care.

Polito stated: “Choice of hospital for patients and commissioners has an important role to play in the NHS, as do a number of other factors that help to maintain and improve the quality of services. Indeed, we have been struck throughout this investigation by the commitment and professional pride in the provision of high quality care for patients shown by the many different NHS representatives we have encountered.”

The Chairman was also keen to outline the methodology behind the decision-making process: “The impact of a hospital merger on competition will largely depend on the number and strength of alternative service providers in the local area. There are a number of hospitals nearby which currently attract significant numbers of patients from the local area. We consider that these are viewed as credible alternatives by patients and GPs.”

Concluding, Polito was adamant that the correction decision had been reached: “Against this background, and following a detailed investigation, we are satisfied that in each of the services where the hospitals overlap, the merged trust will face significant competitive pressures from other local hospitals.”

Tasked with carrying out investigations into mergers, the CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. Launched in 2013, it is an independent, non-ministerial government department.

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Commissioning Show 2015 gets underway in London

The Commissioning Show 2015, , kicks off today with the NHS Five Year Forward View and its ambitions for delivering integrated and new models of care at the top of the agenda.

Returning this year as part of Health+Care, the two-day Commissioning Show is the largest national event for health and care professionals.

Hosted at Excel in London, the event features a host of distinguished speakers this year including Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

As well as giving commissioners and providers the opportunity to seek out new ideas and solutions for improving local health and care systems, the Commissioning Show also features over 300 speakers delivering ‘live’ case studies, insightful debates and practical solutions to current healthcare challenges.

Additional speakers include Professor Michael Sharpe, Professor of Psychological Medicine,

University of Oxford and Royal College of Psychiatrists; Clare Max, President, Royal College of Surgeons; and Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information, NHS England; and Professor Heather Tierney-Moore OBE, Chief Executive, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust.


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