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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 31 May 2019

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Dear everyone

Taking tobacco out of the NHS

Every day thousands of people are being admitted to hospital because of smoking-related conditions, with one in four hospital beds occupied by a smoker. It cannot be right that it is more acceptable to smoke at the front door of some hospitals than it is outside a pub. Today on World No Tobacco Day, results of a new PHE survey have been published, showing that more NHS Trusts are smokefree than ever before, but one in three have not yet enforced a smoking ban. Many patients or visitors will be going through difficult times, but while smoking remains England’s biggest preventable killer, we must do all that we can to take smoking out of the NHS.

Really helpful towards this is the commitment in the NHS Plan to offering NHS-funded tobacco treatment services to all patients who smoke, regardless of why they are in hospital and this will be rolled out starting next year. England is making good progress but the whole system must remain focused to ensure this continues.

Shining a light on NHS prevention

This week NHS England has been promoting its practical commitment to the prevention strand of the NHS Plan through a week of content across their social media channels including on reducing alcohol harm, which sees millions of people admitted to hospital each year suffering with associated illnesses such as liver disease, heart conditions and stroke.

We know that one way to make a difference is through having alcohol care teams (ACTs) embedded within hospitals. These teams can make a big difference to the lives of people being harmed by their drinking and their families and the LTP commits to introducing them in the hospitals in the top quartile of admissions, with the aim of preventing 50,000 of these and almost 250,000 days spent in a hospital bed over five years.

Professor Peter Kelly, Centre Director for PHE North East, has blogged on how we can best work together as a single system to tackle alcohol harm and to ensure ACTs are as effective as possible, with the right number of staff and appropriate training to provide specialist treatment for dependent drinkers.

Annual flu report for 2018/19

Around 3 million children, which is more than ever before, received the flu vaccine in the last season and protection for those aged over 65 receiving the newly introduced adjuvanted vaccine was approximately 60%. You can learn more in our annual flu report which was published this week. One interesting reflection is that getting the flu vaccine reduced the likelihood of visiting a GP because of flu by about 44%. This is public health in action and again demonstrates the value of vaccines.

International Health Regulations

This week a team from PHE has been in Nigeria supporting the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control with two days of workshops on effective management and presentation of surveillance data. This is part of our wider International Health Regulations (IHR) Strengthening project, which aims to improve the lives and livelihoods of people around the world and enhance global health security. You can read more about our IHR work in Nigeria in our blog.

Tropical Diseases

Congratulations to PHE’s Imported Fever Service (IFS) team who, along with NHS partners from specialist tropical disease centres at University College Hospital London and Royal Liverpool Hospitals, won an award this week from the Royal College of Physicians.

This is in recognition of the educational value of the weekly IFS Clinical Teleconference and the value this brings to improving patient care. The IFS provides a round-the-clock clinical advisory and specialist diagnostic service for medical professionals to access when managing travellers who have returned to the UK with fever and complex infections.

Best wishes


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