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3 Key Medical News Stories: 6th December 2018

Medical news, mental health check parents

Welcome to this week’s medical news round up! In our latest edition, we bring you the healthcare topics that have been under the microscope over the past week, just in time for your med school applications. 

Joining us this week: mental health checks for new parents, elderly care services and unhealthy lifestyles.

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Mental Health Checks

NHS England launches a new health initiative, offering mental health checks to partners of new or expectant mothers with depression or anxiety.

Figures show 1 in 5 women experience mental health conditions during pregnancy and postnatally, and 1 in 10 men experience mental illness during the first 6 months after a baby is born.

The new initiative recognises that partners of mothers experience mental illness postnatally and that the wellbeing of mothers is hugely influenced by the ability of partners to support them.

Ensuring the partners of mothers are suitably supported is a way of encouraging every family to have the best start.

Future plans for the NHS include expanding community perinatal mental health services and the number of mother-and-baby unit beds for severely mentally unwell mothers.

What can we learn from this?

Awareness of pregnancy and postpartum impact on mental health is growing and services seeking to provide support for families continue to be improved.

Although many members of the public are aware of the prevalence of mental health issues in new and expectant mothers, few are aware of the impact on their partners or the possibility of partners experiencing mental health issues themselves.

Question to think about- there is an increasing demand for mental health services, how would you improve the current services?

Read: NHS Hot Topics: Mental Health


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Elderly Care Services

Funds for elderly care services have been cut by a quarter per head since 2010, leaving many families struggling.

The Alzheimer’s Society state that thousands of families have found themselves struggling to get the care and help that they need. Typically, dementia care costs £100,000, but can reach up to £500,000 during the patient’s lifetime in care.

Due to financial cuts and failings in the system, many families pay this cost with little help from the system that they’ve paid into throughout their working lives.

Dementia care is notoriously expensive, difficult to access and of poor quality, meaning family members often play a huge role in caring for their relatives.

Age UK state that 1.4 million over-65s do not receive the help that they need. This is unacceptable but unfortunately unsurprising due to funding cuts.

What can we learn from this?

Social care for the elderly has posed a challenge for many years. The demand is increasing due to an ageing population, services are severely underfunded and there is little integration between social care and the NHS.  

Failings in social care have a huge knock-on effect on families and the NHS.

Failings in social care can lead to clinically fit patients being confined to hospital beds waiting for care after discharge. This then leads to headline stories of hospitals reaching ‘full capacity’ and critical waiting times.

Question to think about- discuss the idea of the NHS and social care coming together to provide an integrated care system.

Read: NHS Hot Topics: Ageing Population

Unhealthy Lifestyles

A national survey finds that 9 in 10 adults are at risk of a premature death due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Data from the Health Survey for England show 90% of adults have at least one unhealthy trait. 50% of adults have two or more unhealthy habits. The unhealthy traits include smoking, drinking more than the recommended amount, not eating five a day, obesity or low levels of exercise.

The survey included 8,000 adults and 2,000 children, which allowed for comparison of lifestyles between children and their parents.

According to the data, children of obese parents are three times more likely to be obese than those of healthy weight parents.

Positive findings include excessive alcohol consumption is decreasing and cigarette use has decreased by 10% since 1993.

As shown by this latest medical news, unhealthy daily habits may be generating the rise in levels of diabetes, coronary disease and risk of premature death. They are therefore a cause for concern and a focus for health intervention.

What can we learn from this?

Attempts to improve public health and lifestyle are ongoing, with a specific focus on habits such as smoking, exercising and diet.

Many of these habits contribute to comorbidities such as high blood pressure and diabetes, consequently increasing pressure on health services.

However, the data shows some positive findings, suggesting public health campaigns are beginning to make an impact on the choices people make in regards to their health.

Question to think about- give some reasons behind the increased pressure on primary health care services.

Read: NHS Hot Topics: Primary Care Pressures

Words: Katie Burrell

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