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Health stories of the year

Looking back at the health highlights over the year



In January the REACH Pregnancy Programme, which involves researchers from City, University of London and other institutions across the capital, was shortlisted for the prestigious Royal College of Midwives Innovation Award.

The project aims to improve access, value and experience of antenatal care (ANC) for socially disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities who experience some of the worst birth and infant outcomes in the UK.

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At the start of February, the School of Health Sciences welcomed the first cohort of Nursing Associates, with 32 students starting at City. While the City test site is led by Barts Health NHS Trust, the students will work across several trusts including Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, East London Foundation NHS Trust and along with Barts.

Together, this well-established partnership will give trainee Nursing Associates a rounded experience, including mental health, community health and acute secondary care, with a focus on public health as well as illness.

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Research by Professor Stanton Newman and colleagues found that exposure to low oxygen environments, or hypoxia, can have significant consequences for our brain and body.

The research, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that although individuals’ responses varied when at altitude, cognitive decline was seen in nearly all tasks.

In particular, it was seen that tasks associated with verbal ability/language; learning; and executive functions, which help us plan, organise and focus, were significantly affected. Those looking at memory and coordination were also impacted. The study, which is the largest to investigate the impacts of environmental hypoxia on cognitive ability, could have significant implications for health care.

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In April. City launched its EPSRC-funded SCAMPI (Self-Care Advice, Monitoring, Planning and Intervention) Research Project.

Involving Professor Julienne Meyer from the School of Health Sciences, the SCAMPI project will develop a new form of digitalised toolkit that will allow someone living in their own home with a chronic condition, together with their relatives, carers and healthcare professionals, to self-manage both their care of the condition and life with it, sometimes in novel and creative ways.

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Research by Professor John Barbur and colleagues established that many people with congenital deficiency who wish to become pilots, air traffic controllers, train drivers or electricians may be able to work safely in such professions due to a test developed by researchers at City, University of London.

Currently many people with such colour vision issues are stopped from doing so, even when they can carry out the colour-related, visually-demanding, occupational tasks as effectively as people with normal colour vision.

But the new Colour Assessment and Diagnosis (CAD) test - and accompanying new Colour Grading System - developed by researchers at City, University of London can help solve these problems and ensure safety in such professions by accurately assessing the severity of colour vision loss.

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In May, Professor Debra Salmon was also appointed as the new Dean of the School of Health Sciences. Read more


Research by Professor Lucy Henry and colleagues found that the use of intermediaries during police interviews with vulnerable witnesses - such as children - may significantly increase the recall of correct details.

The researchers found that with the assistance of a Registered Intermediary (communication specialists who facilitate vulnerable witnesses to give evidence during police investigations and at trial), typically developing primary school-age children mentioned over 60 per cent more correct details compared to comparable children who received a police interview in line with current best-practice, without any intervention. The study is the first to measure the positive impact of intermediaries on recall levels in child witnesses.

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In June, the School also celebrated educational excellence in the School with their ‘Health Has Got Talent’ event. In an extremely high-quality field the winning project was created by Bernard Camilleri, Dr Paul O’Sullivan and Richard Thorne. The project, called ‘Ask the Experts – A Workshop with people who stammer and people who have had laryngectomy for Speech and Language Therapy and Radiotherapy Students’, introduced a clinic for Speech and Language and also Radiotherapy students to meet people with a communications disorders in order to better understand their experiences.

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Research by Dr Mauro Laudicella found that end of life hospital care for cancer patients in the most deprived areas of England costs the NHS an extra £4.6million every year, according to new research by City, University of London and the Economic and Social Research Institute, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The study, released today in Health Affairs, analysed data from England’s National Cancer Registry on 250,000 people and found that people with the four most common cancers (breast, bowel, prostate, and lung cancer) living in the most deprived parts of England are more likely to be admitted to hospital as an emergency in the last 6 months of their lives, which is increasing the cost of their care. Cancer patients from the most deprived areas also spend longer in hospital following an emergency admission.

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A cross-national study by Professor Alan Simpson and colleagues which looked at mental health care provision in acute inpatient settings found that much positive practice is taking place within acute inpatient wards in England and Wales, with evidence of a widespread commitment to safe, respectful, compassionate care underpinned by strong values.

The NIHR report - which is authored by researchers from City, Cardiff and Swansea Universities in Wales - found that when wards were seen as focused on the person’s recovery, the quality of care was viewed highly, as was the quality of therapeutic relationships.

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A new Football Association report co-authored by City researcher Dr Marisa Rodriguez-Carmona also highlighted that every male football team statistically contains at least one colour-blind player, with many more watching from home or at the match.

With colour blindness affecting 1 in 12 males and 1 in 200 women, a new FA report co-authored by a City, University of London optometry researcher and former footballer, offers guidance around colour blindness in football.

The report discusses many issues, such as kit clashes, and also highlights the importance of ensuring that the game is as inclusive as possible, and that kit clashes and other aspects are minimised for those with colour blindness or colour vision deficiency.

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Research by Dr Mauro Laudicella and colleagues found that the remarkable improvements in the survival rates of patients with acute conditions, including heart attacks and strokes, are driving the increase in emergency admissions to NHS hospitals.

The study, which is published in the journal of Health Services Research, found that 37 per cent of the increase in emergency admissions and their cost can be explained by the success of hospitals in saving the lives of patients with acute life threatening conditions.

The researchers recommend that increased support for those with acute conditions after their first admission may be an effective way to reduce A&E demand in the future and ease the strain on struggling NHS hospitals. The research is the first to look at the impact of survival rates on future care.

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Research by Professor Julienne Meyer CBE and colleagues found that healthcare provision to residents in care homes across England is often ‘erratic and inequitable’.

The Optimal study - which is published in the NIHR journal of Health Services and Delivery Research - found a narrow focus by NHS decision makers on care homes as a drain on resources, rather than as a solution, can result in short-term interventions that compromise relationships between NHS and care home staff, and affect care home staff confidence in being able to meet residents’ health needs.

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Research by City’s Professor John Lawrenson and colleagues found that eye care provided by Enhanced Eye Care Service Schemes (ESS) and community optometrists are safe, clinically effective and also provide good value for money.

Led by Professors John Lawrenson and Dave Edgar at City together with Dr Robert Harper from the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the research has been influential in providing an evidence base for the development of enhanced primary care services provided by community optometrists.

Launched in 2012, the Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project (ESEP) was funded by the College of Optometrists with the aim of evaluating community-based eye care service models in order to better understand the impact of the organisation of services on clinical effectiveness; cost effectiveness; and patient safety.

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