CLAHRC PhD student Ryan Palmer enjoys success at the Health Services Research UK conference

CLAHRC PhD student Ryan Palmer enjoyed success at the recent prestigious Health Services Research UK conference in Nottingham.

Ryan (pictured above) is a Health Foundation Improvement Science PhD Student working under the primary supervision of Professor Martin Utley.

His research, part of our Methodological Innovation theme, focuses on patient flow between community and hospital services and he won one of the runner up prizes for best oral presentation held at the conference, which brings together researchers and NHS organisations, alongside third sector bodies, professional groups and private sector associates.

Ryan’s poster (below) and oral presentation focused on patient flow within community healthcare.

Ryan is based at one of our CLAHRC partner organisations – North East London NHS foundation Trust – where is he is helping the Trusts leaders and managers model patient flow and referral patterns so they can better design and plan services.

GP-based testing for HIV is cost-effective in areas of high prevalence and should be rolled out in 74 local authorities

New CLAHRC research published in The Lancet HIV has found that offering HIV testing to people on registration with a new GP in areas of high prevalence of the disease is cost-effective and will save lives.

Researchers based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) carried out the study in areas with high prevalence of HIV – involving 86,000 people from 40 GP surgeries.

The promising results prompted CLAHRC researchers to call for a roll-out of HIV screening to all 74 high HIV prevalence local authorities in England (those with more than two diagnosed HIV infections per 1,000 adults).

HIV treatment is expensive, particularly when diagnosis is late. Early diagnosis means earlier intervention and treatment, saving the NHS money.

Building on earlier research from a trial in Hackney – a socioeconomically deprived inner London borough with an HIV prevalence rate of 8 per 1000 adults – the trial involved 40 general practices where they tested the effect of rapid fingerprick HIV testing as part of the standard health check during registration. They found it led to a four-fold higher HIV diagnosis rate.

Using a mathematical model that includes all the costs associated with HIV testing and treatment, the team now show that primary care HIV screening in high prevalence settings becomes cost-effective in 33 years (according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] criteria).

The CLAHRC North Thames study was carried out in partnership with NHS City and Hackney and involved University College London, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, University of Warwick, and University of British Columbia.

Dr Werner Leber from QMUL said: “We’ve shown that HIV screening in UK primary care is cost effective and potentially cost saving, which is contrary to widespread belief. This is an important finding given today’s austerity. Financial pressures, particularly within local authority’s public health budgets, mean that the costs of HIV testing are under intense scrutiny, and in some areas investment in testing has fallen.”

Read the full paper

Rebecca F Baggaley, Michael A Irvine, Werner Leber, Valentina Cambiano, Jose Figueroa, Heather McMullen, Jane Anderson, Andreia C Santos, Fern Terris-Prestholt, Alec Miners, T. Déirdre Hollingsworth, Chris J Griffiths.

Cost-effectiveness of screening for HIV in primary care: a health economics modelling analysis.

The Lancet HIV. DOI:10.1016/S2352-3018(17)30123-6

Changing general surgery procedures could improve care for patients and save the NHS millions

The Getting it Right First Time (GIRFT) programme has completed a review of general surgery and stated that the NHS could see a significant reduction in the amount of people unnecessarily admitted for emergency general surgery if more acute hospitals introduced consultant-led surgical assessments at their ‘front door’.

Analysis by the GIRFT team shows this change could lead to up to 30% fewer general surgery emergency admissions a year where no operation is delivered, and could cut the NHS’s annual cost for this (£361million) by £108m.

CLAHRC North Thames is evaluating the planned changes to orthopaedics, to identify lessons to inform future efforts to improve the organisation and delivery of services.

Quality of life in dementia: do staff and family share the same beliefs in care homes?

Sarah Robertson is a PhD student with funding from the NIHR Collaborations in Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care. Sarah is currently supervised by Professor Gill Livingston, Dr Claudia Cooper & Dr Juanita Hoe.

The MARQUE project

In 2012, the UK government announced that in the face of “one of the biggest health challenges ever” that it was time to “fight back” against dementia. In response, the ESRC & NIHR pledged £9 million towards “Improving Dementia Care”. One of the projects funded by this initiative is the Managing Agitation Raising Quality of LifE (MARQUE) project at UCL led by Professor Gill Livingston. MARQUE began in 2014 and aims to improve our understanding of agitation in care homes and improve the quality of life of people with dementia. Sarah has been working as part of the MARQUE team at UCL and this work inspired her thesis comparing the perspective of paid and family carers in quality of life.

Proxy rated quality of life

Measuring quality of life in dementia presents unique challenges. With the stakes so high, it is important that we understand what we are actually measuring to know whether our interventions to enable people to live well are successful. Many people with dementia in care homes cannot provide ratings on their own quality of life so we rely on the perspectives of people close to them. We call these proxy reports. These reports differ to self-reported quality which has raised questions about the validity of this outcome. However, we do not know how staff and family proxy reports compare.

How do staff and family ratings compare?

MARQUE collected the perspectives of both staff proxies and family proxies from 86 care homes across England; providing 1,054 pairs of proxy ratings in the largest sample to date. For the first time, we used mixed method to explore staff and family ratings.

Our results suggest that staff and family proxies think differently about the quality of life of the same individual with dementia. Quantitative data from this study reveals that staff generally perceive the quality of life as better than family. Staff and family are affected by their own understandings of dementia and their experiences with care. Staff often viewed quality of life as synonymous with quality of care, whereas, family were more influenced by their past experiences.

Many relatives found that the person with dementia had changed. For some, this change centred on loss which they felt evidenced a poor quality of life. Other relatives felt that quality of life is simply not possible living in a care home. Transitioning into a care home is not only stressful at the time, it may leave a lasting impact on how relatives view the quality of life of a person with dementia in the future. Relatives need support to think about how the person with dementia feels in the present moment, focusing on their enjoyment of life with an acceptance of the current situation. Better communication and transparency in care routines helped facilitate relative involvement within care homes, establishing trust which improved perceived quality of life and reduced family carer stress.

What does this mean for dementia research?

  • Proxy reports provide valid measures of perceived quality of life.
  • Proxy raters are influenced by their own context and experiences.
  • Proxy ratings by different raters cannot be used interchangeably.
  • Different proxy ratings may be differently sensitive to interventions.
  • The different opinions of all key stakeholders should be considered.

What does this mean for clinical practice?

  • Within care homes, there are context specific factors that influence resident quality of life.
  • Psychological interventions that target loss, focus on acceptance and enable proxies to find meaning could improve perceived quality of life.
  • Improving the relationship between staff & family could improve perceived quality of life.
  • There may a link between perceived quality of life and carer quality of life.

 Contact –      Email: sarah.robertson@ucl.ac.uk                  Twitter: @1SarahMae, @MARQUEproject