How many patients does the private sector treat on behalf of the NHS?

The newspapers regularly carry headlines warning about the ‘privatisation of the NHS’. So how much patient care is being outsourced? The respected health think tank, the King’s Fund, has looked at the figures.

In the seven years since 2006-7, the proportion of NHS patients treated by non-NHS hospitals as in-patients has risen from around 0.5% (73, 000) to 2.6% (471, 000) of all in-patients (which totalled over 18 million in 2013-14). For outpatient care, the proportion treated by non-NHS providers has risen faster – from 0.2% (123,000) to 5.5% (4.5 million).

Orthopaedics (hip and knee replacements) tops the type of in-patient activity carried out by non-NHS providers, accounting for around one in eight episodes of care. If rates of growth since 2006-7 continue over the next 20 years, non-NHS providers could account for one in five of all outpatient attendances and approaching one in ten inpatient episodes paid for by the NHS.

Would this matter? Surely it is the quality of patient care and the efficiency with which it is delivered that counts?

Thousands at risk of asthma attacks from unsafe prescribing

A lot of people suffer from asthma, and an analysis of over 500 GP practices by Asthma UK suggests that over 22,000 of them have been prescribed medicines – long-acting reliever inhalers – in a way that is unsafe.

Asthma inhalers

The report also shows that almost 100,000 asthmatics have been prescribed too many short-acting reliever inhalers (more than 12 in a year) without national clinical guidelines being followed.

Asthma medication is safe, but it is dangerous to use a long-acting reliever inhaler alone, without a steroid preventer inhaler or as a combination inhaler. This is because a long-acting reliever inhaler helps to keep the airways open but does not treat the underlying inflammation. This leaves the airways of people with asthma inflamed and more likely to react to triggers such as pollen or pollution, putting them at risk of having a potentially life-threatening attack.

If someone with asthma is prescribed more than 12 short acting reliever inhalers in a year (using it more than three times each week) it is a key indicator that they are not managing their condition and that their treatment needs reviewing.

If you are worried about your asthma inhalers, speak to one of our pharmacists and ask for a medicines use review.

Glaisyer & Kemp pharmacy 8/10- our mystery patient success

Our Glaisyer & Kemp pharmacy in Hove was recently visited by a mystery patient to check the quality of our service. We are pleased to say we achieved a 8/10. Congratulations to all the staff who work day in, day out to maintain such a high quality of service.

Glaisyer & Kemp, 24 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2FN

The visit was conducted by The Pharmacist magazine and in summary, they reported:

“I received reassuring news about my eczema and honesty about not being able to be given stronger treatment over the counter. The pharmacist checked what I was currently taking before offering any more advice.”

Come pay us a visit!

Contact details and opening hours here:

Daily weigh-in the secret of weight loss

Weighing yourself frequently and plotting your progress on a weight chart every day is an effective way to lose a modest amount of weight and, just as importantly, to keep it off, according to a recent study in the Journal of Obesity.

Weighing scales

Standing on the bathroom scales regularly forces you to be aware of the link between your weight and what you eat, it appears, although the researchers found this method seems to work better for men than for women.

In the two year study, participants who lost weight in the first year were able to keep it off through the second year. This is significant because around 40% of weight lost through dieting is often put back on within a year, and within five years, all of it is regained.

As little as 5% weight loss has been shown to be clinically significant in overweight people, so keeping the weight off is worth working for.

Men’s health in focus

Men’s Health Week recently took place Since men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol to hazardous levels and be overweight or obese the focus is on leading a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy dad

The sad fact is that one in five men don’t make it to retirement age. The biggest single cause of death in men is cancer, and 75% of premature deaths from coronary heart disease among men.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital for avoiding these sorts of diseases, yet men are more likely than women to smoke and drink alcohol at hazardous levels. Over 65% of men are overweight or obese. Participation in activity amongst men declines with age: 83% of men aged 16-24 met the recommendations for physical activity, compared with 57% aged 65-74.

Think about this next time you grumble about the failing NHS. Are you part of the problem?

Head lice don’t take summer off

Head lice can be awkward to treat due to the time-consuming and precise nature of treatment and high re-infestation rate.

Head lice

The insecticide products that were used to treat lice infestations have largely replaced with silicone and oil-based preparations which have a physical rather than a chemical action.

After a head lice infestation has been confirmed you can treat the lice at home by wet combing the hair with a head lice comb or by using a lotion or spray that’s designed to kill head lice.

However, neither will protect against re-infestation if head-to-head contact is made with someone with head lice during the treatment period.

You can get a fine toothed comb suitable for wet combing from your local pharmacy. Your pharmacist will also be able to recommend an over-the-counter lotion or spray and advise you about how to use it correctly if this is your preferred option.

Don’t forget your smear test!

Across the UK 22% of women fail to turn up for cervical screening (or smear test), according to figures from the NHS Screening programme, rising to one in three of 25-29 year olds.

Smear test

The smear test involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix which is then examined for cancerous abnormalities. Regular screening provides a high degree of protection from cervical cancer.

Screening is not a test to find cancer. It detects abnormalities at an early stage so that preventative action can be taken. Without screening about one in 60 women will develop cervical cancer. Screening can prevent the cancer developing in around seven out of 10 cases.

How often you are invited for screening (ladies only!) depends where you live:
• England, Wales and N Ireland
Women aged 25-49 every 3 years
Women aged 50-64 every 5 years
• Scotland:
Women aged 20-60 every 3 years

If you have missed a test recently see you GP. If you get summoned, please go! To find out more about cervical cancer go to

Online assessment for coeliac disease launched

Coeliac UK has launched the UK’s first online assessment to help the half a million people in the UK thought to be living with undiagnosed coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease

The assessment tool is part of a two year campaign highlighting the most common symptoms of coeliac disease and prompts people with these symptoms to ask themselves: ‘Is it coeliac disease?’ A website at hosts the assessment and provides information about the disease.

Coeliac disease occurs when the body’s immune system damages the lining of the small bowel after gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is eaten. There is no cure and no medication: the only treatment is a gluten-free diet for life. Gluten free foods are likely to be sold at your local pharmacy – otherwise check the packaging carefully.

Key symptoms include: frequent bouts of diarrhoea, stomach pain and cramping, regular mouth ulcers, fatigue, lots of gas, nausea and vomiting, and unexplained anaemia. One in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease, with the prevalence rising to one in ten for close family members.