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Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

Health Bill passes first stage in Parliament – PRimage comment

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

As a specialist healthcare communications consultant, PRimage MD Judy Viitanen, has been following the progress and debate on the Government’s comprehensive reforms of the NHS. The Health and Social Care Bill is a complex and far reaching piece of legislation, reflecting the wide ranging nature of the Government’s programme of reform for the NHS in England.


PRimage is largely supportive of the potentially positive elements of the reforms – we believe giving clinicians greater responsibility for commissioning and shaping local health services, increasing public and patient involvement, and putting a greater focus on improving public health are to be applauded. And it must not be forgotten that the NHS needs to find efficiency savings of £20 billion by 2014-15!  In our view it is important that the Government ensures that the new GP consortia are not forced to promote competition between providers – and instead are able to work collaboratively across primary and secondary care boundaries in order to improve services for patients.

As a former District Councillor, Judy Viitanen welcomes the Government’s aim of increasing local democracy in health and that it recognises the importance of health services and local authorities working more closely together for the benefit of patients and the public. That can only be a win:win scenario.

In recent weeks there has been mounting criticism of the reforms from health professionals. For example, the BMA has warned that patients will become ‘internal medical tourists’, with the wealthy shopping round for consortia that offer expensive or rare treatments.

Despite a raft of warnings and concerns, the government’s controversial Health Bill has passed the first stage of its journey through Parliament – with MPs voting 321 to 235 in favour at its second reading. PRimage was interested to see that no coalition MPs voted against the Bill.

The influential cross-party Health Select Committee has already voiced concern and warnings, saying that the ‘surprise’ decision to abolish PCTs had already led to poor decision-making and additional costs in the NHS. But yesterday the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley dismissed their concerns.  And last month David Cameron revealed that GP frustration with the NHS, the profession’s desire to do more and be more involved is the core motivation behind the Health Bill.

If that is the case, PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, wonders why Doctor’s union, the BMA is stepping up its opposition to the reforms, and has voted for a special representatives’ crisis meeting to discuss the Health Bill.

Demand for automated health stations grows in U.S. health care sector

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Lifeclinic International – the world’s largest supplier of commercial, automated, blood pressure monitors and health stations – reports that while the national health care debate continues in the USA, the private sector is creating innovative ways of utilising health information technology to drive down costs, streamline processes and allow individuals to become more proactive in managing their own health.

Lifeclinic monitors accomplish all of these goals – and the company’s new product line of automated self-testing health stations are rapidly increasing in popularity among retail pharmacies, corporate worksites and medical clinics. The health stations not only measure blood pressure, they also offer a wide variety of other non-invasive tests, such as weight, body-fat, blood oxygen and BMI along with providing important health and OTC/Rx information based on testing outcomes; such as medication or food interactions, diabetes information, or healthy how-to interactive guides.

To find out more, contact: salesteam@lifeclinic.com

Day Lewis announces its commitment to the new Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Day Lewis, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy group, has today announced that they will for the first time pay the membership fee for their employee pharmacists, when the renewal for new Royal Pharmaceutical Society takes place at the end of February 2011.  This is a significant step for Day Lewis and signifies their support for the Society in its first 12 months as an independent professional body.

Day Lewis said that membership of the Society is important to encourage professionalism among its pharmacists and to ensure that they have access to the most up to date pharmacy information and guidance materials.  They recognize that their pharmacies need skilled, supported and motivated professionals to maintain Day Lewis’ commitment to helping people in the community to stay healthy and to feel better. Competitive advantage depends increasingly on quality services – and patients’ trust in the professionals delivering them and that trust helps to build customer loyalty.

Kirit Patel, CEO at Day Lewis Pharmacy told PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen:

“I passionately believe that it is important for pharmacists who want to see a ‘leading from the front’ organisation that they become part of the new professional body. I am clear about the benefits of joining the professional leadership body. I hope that other pharmacists will feel the same – and be aware of its value in enhancing their professional kudos and reputation.

I am a great believer that only through one unifying, strong voice will pharmacy ever be recognised and excel. For many years I have long held the opinion that we needed a robust, influential, supportive and unifying professional body that provided comprehensive leadership, and was recognised by its membership and external stakeholders as a leader and visionary in pharmacy affairs. am proud to join the new professional body – and I am confident that it will respect members’ views and aspirations, and support them professionally and educationally.”

Helen Gordon, Society Chief Executive said: “Pharmacists who work for Day Lewis will benefit from Society support and development.  This will ensure they have the knowledge and skills to provide the level of quality needed to encourage patient trust in pharmacy services. Day Lewis have shown a commitment to the profession by supporting pharmacist employees in this way and it is a great endorsement of how being a member of the Society is a fundamental part of a pharmacist’s professional identity.”

The 2011 membership year will start on 1 March.

NHS Bill: Sound bites round-up

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

PRimage has been busy assessing reactions from various healthcare bodies to the NHS Bill, announced this afternoon … Lansley has had to contend with a huge amount of criticism of his NHS reforms, much of it dramatically expressed, by many of they key organisations representing doctors and other NHS organisations. Public supporters have been hard to find amongst the host of warnings and reservations! Judy Viitanen especially enjoyed the Titanic analogy used by Unison, who said that the Health Bill is a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’ and which threatens to sink our NHS”

Here’s a listing of top line sound bites …
RCGP
‘makes sense’ for health professionals to be involved in the planning of services, but the proposals risk ‘destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’

‘we must guard against fragmentation and unnecessary duplication within a health service that is run by a wide array of competing public, private and voluntary sector providers, that delivers less choice and fewer services, reduces integration between primary and secondary care and increases bureaucratic costs’.

Patient choices as outlined in the Bill ‘run a risk of destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’. The RCGP has also yet to receive sufficient evidence to be reassured the plans would prevent this from happening.

BMA
The BMA said ploughing ahead with the reforms at the speed proposed was a ‘massive gamble’.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: ‘The BMA supports greater involvement of clinicians in planning and shaping NHS services, but the benefits that clinician-led commissioning can bring are threatened by other parts of the Bill.’

‘Forcing commissioners of care to tender contracts to any willing provider, including NHS providers, voluntary sector organisations and commercial companies, could destabilise local health economies and fragment care for patients.

‘Adding price competition into the mix could also allow large commercial companies to enter the NHS market and chase the most profitable contracts, using their size to undercut on price, which could ultimately damage local services.’

Royal College of Physicians
Supports the shift towards putting clinicians and patients in the driving seat but is concerned the Bill doesn’t require specialists to be at the heart of commissioning.
‘The scale and pace of change – and the challenge of unprecedented efficiency savings – should not be underestimated. Neither should the risks if we get this wrong.’

Unison
The public sector union, called the Health Bill a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’. Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: ‘This Titanic health bill threatens to sink our NHS. The only survivors will be the private health companies that are circling like sharks, waiting to move in and make a killing.

‘Lansley has turned his back on the warnings from across the medical establishment that these changes are unnecessary, undemocratic and unlikely to deliver improvements in patient care. We need a U-turn from the Government.’

Unite
Bill is ‘a charter for private profit at the expense of patients care’.
‘It is clear that one of the biggest influences on Tory ideology regarding health policy has been the massive and insidious lobbying by the  private healthcare companies, which have opened their cheque books for David Cameron big-time.’
‘The GP consortia, the supposed vanguard of this so-called reform programme, will be juggling financial decisions with the help of the private healthcare companies they will buy-in, versus the needs of their patients – this is a stark conflict of interest. Patients should always come first.’

The Nuffield Trust
Reforms are ‘broadly in the right direction’ but they will have to be judged on the extent to which they deliver – with minimum disruption – sustained improvements to patient care during a period of major financial challenge for the NHS.

‘The NHS is at a fork in the road. It embarks on this period of reform with much strength but the pressures it faces over the next four years will continue to rise. ‘Given the reforms over the past 20 years the Government’s decision to devolve more responsibility to the front line is logical. However, this approach carries significant risks in today’s financial climate and needs to be managed very carefully.’

General Healthcare Group
The UK’s largest private hospital group, welcomed the proposed reforms and said it was ‘only right’ the NHS, private and third sector providers worked together in austere times.
‘In our view, the challenge for instituting these reforms will be about maintaining the pace of change and how instability during the period of transition is minimised.’

The King’s Fund
The Bill signals the biggest shake-up of the NHS since its inception
‘But, while the government’s reforms have the potential to improve the NHS, they will be implemented against the backdrop of the biggest financial challenge in its history. ‘Finding the £20bn in efficiency savings needed to maintain services must be the overriding priority, so the very real risk that the speed and scale of the reforms could destabilise the NHS and undermine care must be actively managed.’

NHS Confederation
Urged MPs to ‘forensically analyse’ the Health Bill.

‘We support the objectives behind this legislation but there are huge risks and major uncertainties associated with it. ‘The system is already geared up for change and we can not afford for these reforms to fail – the public will not forgive us. The focus in parliament has to be on making this work on behalf of patients.’

CBI
‘We support the Government’s plans to modernise the NHS, because this will lead to better services for patients, and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. ‘Allowing the best provider to deliver healthcare services, whether they are a private company or a charity, will spur innovation and choice. But bidders must be able to compete for contracts on a level playing field.’

Can GP-consortia learn from US experience?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The UK influential and independent health think-tank, The Nuffield Trust, certainly thinks so – and PRimage finds their new report on the US experience and insights from American medical organisations makes for fascinating reading: http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/

The report sets out the lessons that the nascent GP consortia in England will need to learn from the experience of groups of doctors in some parts of America, which have been commissioning healthcare for patients, with a budget to match, for up to 20 years. It suggests that these new groupings of family doctors will need excellent leadership, management and IT support if they are to work well, and that there are ‘clear risks of introducing GP commissioning in England when the Government has placed such a strong emphasis on reducing management costs.’

NHS Bill – A Healthy Prescription?: PRimage comment

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As PRimage see it there are pros and cons for this radical overhaul of the NHS. It’s a huge risk – and yes, of course it will bring massive organisational upheaval – but we should remember that the Govt needs to find 4% NHS efficiency savings a year for 4 years to keep up with rising demand!

The new policies will mean ministers essentially giving up day to day management of the service – opting instead to set annual priorities and measures of improved health outcomes for a national commissioning board. This board will performance-manage consortia of GPs to whom it will have to hand well over half the English NMS’s £100bn budget, with which to commission care locally. The worry is that this commissioning board will simply be a substitute DoH – but without a public health remit.

PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, is a former District Councillor – and strong supporter of localism – so she’sencouraged by the policy to transfer much of public health to local authorities, who in turn will get strengthened scrutiny powers over GPs’ plans. And as a healthcare communicator and lobbyist, she is hoping that increased NHS investment in clinical care, and a focus on proactively improving health outcomes will help the treatment of cancer and other serious conditions – and ultimately bring swifter and better care closer to patients.

Ask Your Pharmacist! says PRimage

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

With client’s in the community pharmacy sector, Judy Viitanen was pleased to see this great feature profile on the valuable role that pharmacist’s play in keeping the nation healthy!

Good feature profile on the role and value of community pharmacists: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/wellbeing/role-of-pharmacists.htm

“12 months to save the NHS” – PRimage comment

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Public services reforms is the headline media story today – as David Cameron defends NHS reform plans, saying: ‘doing nothing will end in tears’ – http://bit.ly/e6T5VU
The key is for Education Secretary Michael Gove and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to win over their sternest critics and also win the hearts and minds of the public that these radical changes are what’s needed – and will get results. Everyone in this country faces difficult times ahead – and it’s crucial that that the Government  gets these issues right! …

The Government’s new health policies are aimed at improving NHS performance, reducing bureaucracy and improving the outcomes of treatment for patients. As a specialist healthcare communications consultancy, PRimage totally agree with this – but Judy Viitanen shares some of the concerns voiced by healthcare professionals that the radical shakeup of the NHS could lead to a two-tier health service.

This country certainly needs to tackle its health and social inequalities – and in our opinion the Dept of Health must start to focus on dealing with health inequalities that those members of the community who either aren’t registered with a GP, or see no value in accessing healthcare, continue to suffer. So in this era of NHS reforms it is critical that reducing inequalities becomes a key focus for frontline health providers: not just GPs, but also community pharmacists.

PRimage VIP Events: The 5 ‘musts’ for successful event planning

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Our years of experience in organising successful and impactful client events has made PRimage pretty sassy in understanding what’s needed for successful pre and post planning.

Before planning your event or meeting, Judy Viitanen and the team advise that you focus on these 5 core points:

1.    Why are we meeting;
2.    What do we want to accomplish;
3.    Who’s coming;
4.    Where are we going;
5.    When will we meet?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you get off to a good start!

More Tips:

Always ensure a thorough venue site visit before you book. Be sure to inspect the function rooms and amenities.  See if you can meet key staff while you’re there, including the sales manager or Meeting Director.

Become familiar your chosen venue’s facilities and the capabilities of its staff. And choose a venue partner you can trust to guide your decisions accordingly.

Be clear whether spouses and children are welcome at your meeting or event. If they are invited to join in the occasion, be sure to have activities for them and extra rooms lined up.

One week before your event, confirm your meeting schedule, number of attendees, room set-up, AV needs, meal and reception schedules, travel logistics and overnight accommodation requirements.

Don’t underestimate the importance of attractive and informative event and meeting literature and marketing collateral. Clearly organized, well-designed folders, programmes, binders, directional signs and ID badges reinforce the importance of the meeting.

Take a break

It’s also crucial to keep attendees’ attention at meetings. We have discovered the useful tip of developing themes for meeting breaks. A morning break, for instance, could be a health break, with healthy snacks and a stretching session led by a professional.  In our experience, meetings and seminar should not go longer than 2 hours without a break, or attendees will get restless, or worse still bored!

Location, location – and timing is everything!

This is crucial. Consider a few key points when choosing your event location: geography, accessibility for attendees, budget, amenities, facilities and nearby attractions. After all, you want attendees to enjoy themselves at your meeting, and travel with relative ease.

Logistics and robust schedules are vital. Determine the arrival time for most of your guests so you, as event co-ordinator and the venue staff are properly prepared. If you’re inviting speakers to your meeting, ask them if they have a preference for room set-up. Some may prefer theatre seating; some may like roundtable. It depends on what they have to say and how they like to say it.

PRimage VIP Events ensure your events exceed expectations

Contact us today for more information: 01727874137 Or 07717691845

email: judy@primage.org

New year = new positive working ….

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage plan to take inspiration from this collection of time management quotes in order to make the most of our working day and manage our time more effectively. Our mission is to get a good work/life balance in 2011. Make that yours – and ensure that this year you play hard AND work hard!

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr

“How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most”
Stephen R. Covey

“A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.”
Charles Darwin

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau

“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”
M. Scott Peck

“Never leave ’till tomorrow which you can do today.”
Benjamin Franklin

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
Michael Altshuler

“One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.”
Stephen R. Covey

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”
Auguste Rodin

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
Muhammad Ali

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
William Penn

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”
Napoleon Hill

“Do we need more time? Or do we need to be more disciplined with the time we have?”
Kerry Johnson

“The bad news is time flies.  The good news is you’re the pilot.”
Michael Althsuler