There has been extensive outsourcing of hospital cleaning services in the NHS in England, in part because of the potential to reduce costs. Yet some argue that this leads to lower hygiene standards and more infections, such as MRSA and, perhaps because of this, the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish health services have rejected outsourcing. This study evaluates whether contracting out cleaning services in English acute hospital Trusts (legal authorities that run one or more hospitals) is associated with risks of hospital-borne MRSA infection and lower economic costs. By linking data on MRSA incidence per 100,000 hospital bed-days with surveys of cleanliness among patient and staff in 126 English acute hospital Trusts during 2010-2014, we find that outsourcing cleaning services was associated with greater incidence of MRSA, fewer cleaning staff per hospital bed, worse patient perceptions of cleanliness and staff perceptions of availability of handwashing facilities. However, outsourcing was also associated with lower economic costs (without accounting for additional costs associated with treatment of hospital acquired infections).
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in the UK is declining; however, CVD burden comes not only from deaths, but also from those living with the disease. This review uses national datasets with multiple years of data to present secular trends in mortality, morbidity, and treatment for all CVD and specific subtypes within the UK. We produced all-ages and premature age-standardised mortality rates by gender, standardised to the 2013 European Standard Population, using data from the national statistics agencies of the UK. We obtained data on hospital admissions from the National Health Service records, using the main diagnosis. Prevalence data come from the Quality and Outcome Framework and national surveys. Total CVD mortality declined by 68% between 1980 and 2013 in the UK. Similar decreases were seen for coronary heart disease and stroke. Coronary heart disease prevalence has remained constant at around 3% in England and 4% in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Hospital admissions for all CVD increased by over 46 000 between 2010/2011 and 2013/2014, with more than 36 500 of these increased admissions for men. Hospital admission trends vary by country and CVD condition. CVD prescriptions and operations have increased over the last decade. CVD mortality has declined notably for both men and women while hospital admissions have increased. CVD prevalence shows little evidence of change. This review highlights that improvements in the burden of CVD have not occurred equally between the four constituent countries of the UK, or between men and women.
Women born around 1940 in countries such as the UK and USA were the first generation in which many smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life. Hence, only in the 21st century can we observe directly the full effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on mortality among women in the UK.
Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure is higher among lower socioeconomic status (SES) children. Legislation restricting smoking in public places has been associated with reduced childhood SHS exposure and increased smoke-free homes. This paper examines socioeconomic patterning in these changes.
no research has investigated how older people’s use of NHS Direct, the 24-h telephone health advice and information service in England and Wales, varies according to geographical location and deprivation.
Surveys in various countries suggest 17% to 80% of doctors prescribe ‘placebos’ in routine practice, but prevalence of placebo use in UK primary care is unknown.
Chronic pain is highly prevalent and a significant source of disability, yet its genetic and environmental risk factors are poorly understood. Its relationship with major depressive disorder (MDD) is of particular importance. We sought to test the contribution of genetic factors and shared and unique environment to risk of chronic pain and its correlation with MDD in Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS). We then sought to replicate any significant findings in the United Kingdom Biobank study.
Increasing walking and cycling, and reducing motorised transport, are health and environmental priorities. This paper examines levels and trends in the use of different commute modes in England and Wales, both overall and with respect to small-area deprivation. It also investigates whether commute modal share can serve as a proxy for travel behaviour more generally.
We investigated the impact of a short intensive language course on attentional functions. We examined 33 participants of a one-week Scottish Gaelic course and compared them to 34 controls: 16 active controls who participated in courses of comparable duration and intensity but not involving foreign language learning and 18 passive controls who followed their usual routines. Participants completed auditory tests of attentional inhibition and switching. There was no difference between the groups in any measures at the beginning of the course. At the end of the course, a significant improvement in attention switching was observed in the language group (p < .001) but not the control group (p = .127), independent of the age of participants (18-78 years). Half of the language participants (n = 17) were retested nine months after their course. All those who practiced Gaelic 5 hours or more per week improved from their baseline performance. In contrast, those who practiced 4 hours or fewer showed an inconsistent pattern: some improved while others stayed the same or deteriorated. Our results suggest that even a short period of intensive language learning can modulate attentional functions and that all age groups can benefit from this effect. Moreover, these short-term effects can be maintained through continuous practice.
Orkney, north of mainland Scotland, has the world’s highest prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS); vitamin D deficiency, a marker of low UV exposure, is also common in Scotland. Strong associations have been identified between vitamin D deficiency and MS, and between UV exposure and MS independent of vitamin D, although causal relationships remain to be confirmed. We aimed to compare plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in Orkney and mainland Scotland, and establish the determinants of vitamin D status in Orkney. We compared mean vitamin D and prevalence of deficiency in cross-sectional study data from participants in the Orkney Complex Disease Study (ORCADES) and controls in the Scottish Colorectal Cancer Study (SOCCS). We used multivariable regression to identify factors associated with vitamin D levels in Orkney. Mean (standard deviation) vitamin D was significantly higher among ORCADES than SOCCS participants (35.3 (18.0) and 31.7 (21.2), respectively). Prevalence of severe vitamin D deficiency was lower in ORCADES than SOCCS participants (6.6% to 16.2% p = 1.1 x 10-15). Older age, farming occupations and foreign holidays were significantly associated with higher vitamin D in Orkney. Although mean vitamin D levels are higher in Orkney than mainland Scotland, this masks variation within the Orkney population which may influence MS risk.