After Brexit, the NHS will have to home-grow its people

The NHS was never going to get an extra £350m a week from Britain leaving the European Union. Boris Johnson, who spent the last few weeks on a bus pushing this claim, is a political corpse. But missing out on this money will not be the health service’s biggest Brexit challenge.

It looks likely that a post-Brexit Britain will control immigration more tightly than it has as part of the EU. As NHS England head Simon Stevens said during the referendum campaign, the health and care sectors depend heavily on 135,000 EU staff, about 5% of the total workforce. Continue reading “After Brexit, the NHS will have to home-grow its people”

What makes tumours tick? Genomics pave the way for tailored treatments

Advances in genetic testing are enabling healthcare professionals to personalise treatments for diseases and conditions including cancer, diabetes and HIV

It’s remarkable how genomics is being used in NHS healthcare, particularly in cancer, where tests now look at the DNA of actual tumours rather than patients. As I have covered previously for ComputerWeekly.com, lung cancer is being targeted through the National Lung Matrix Study. It’s now the case that 15-20% of lung cancer patients can receive targeted treatment based on genomics.

Gary Middleton, professor of medical oncology at the University of Birmingham and chief investigator of the National Lung Matrix Study, put it this way in my new article on this for Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network:

Lung cancer used to be a very simple disease. There were very few treatments and patients did very poorly. It’s really quite complicated now. Keeping on top of the new drugs and the new indications is difficult.

Continue reading “What makes tumours tick? Genomics pave the way for tailored treatments”

Ending 50 years of NHS IT hurt

It was fun to write a piece for Computer Weekly’s 50th anniversary on NHS IT from 1966 to the present, but a depressing pattern emerged. One part of the NHS brings in some state-of-the-art computing; most of the rest of the NHS carries on regardless; progress is not, on the whole, made. The National Programme for IT showed that imposing complicated IT systems from the centre tends to fail, but so has letting the local NHS do its own thing. Continue reading “Ending 50 years of NHS IT hurt”

Guardian articles on home dialysis and community records

Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network has recently published two pieces by me, one on home dialysis and the other on shared community electronic health records. The first was based on a recent visit to the dialysis service at Nottingham City Hospital, which is piloting the Quanta SC+ dialysis machine.

The trial is taking place in the ward, but the machine is designed for home dialysis – it is a fraction of the size and weight of most. In the photo below, it’s to the left of Ian Hichens, who usually uses home dialysis but was using the ward so he could play the Sugar Plum Fairy in a panto. Continue reading “Guardian articles on home dialysis and community records”

Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects

ComputerWeekly.com has published my article on Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s problems bringing in eHospital, a £200m IT system based around software from Epic and hardware from HP. While the trust initially reported all was going well, eHospital has recently been fingered by Monitor and the Care Quality Commission as contributing to the trust’s problems.

I spoke to a number of people with knowledge of eHospital, including this former IT employee of the trust who spoke on condition of anonymity: Continue reading “Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects”