• Evaluation of a ‘drop box’ doorstep assessment service to aid remote assessments for COVID-19 in general practice

      Irving, Greg; orcid: 0000-0002-9471-3700; Lawson, David; Tinsley, Adele; Parr, Helen; Whittaker, Cheryl; Jones, Hayley; Cox, Stephen (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-03-28)
      COVID-19 is an established threat whose clinical features and epidemiology continues to evolve. In an effort to contain the disease, the National Health Service has adopted a digital first approach in UK general practice resulting in a significant shift away from face-to-face consultations. Consequently, more consultations are being completed without obtaining objective recording of vital signs and face-to-face examination. Some regions have formed hot hubs to facilitate the review of suspected COVID-19 cases and keep their practice site ‘clean’ including the use of doorstep observations in avoiding the risk of face-to-face examination. To support the safe, effective and efficient remote assessment of suspected and confirmed patients with COVID-19, we established a doorstep assessment service to compliment telephone and video consultations. This allows physiological parameters such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation to be obtained to guide further triage. Quality improvement methods were used to integrate and optimise the doorstep assessment and measure the improvements made. The introduction of a doorstep assessment service increased the proportion of assessments for patients with suspected COVID-19 in routine care over weeks. At the same time we were able to dramatically reduce face-to-face assessment over a 6-week period by optimising through a range of measures including the introduction of a digital stethoscope. The majority of patients were managed by their own general practitioner following assessment supporting continuity of care. There were no adverse events during the period of observation; no staff absences related to COVID-19. Quality improvement methods have facilitated the successful integration of doorstep assessments into clinical care.
    • Evaluation of a ‘drop box’ doorstep assessment service to aid remote assessments for COVID-19 in general practice

      Irving, Greg; orcid: 0000-0002-9471-3700; Lawson, David; Tinsley, Adele; Parr, Helen; Whittaker, Cheryl; Jones, Hayley; Cox, Stephen (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-03-28)
      The COVID-19 is an established threat whose clinical features and epidemiology continues to evolve. In an effort to contain the disease, the National Health Service has adopted a digital first approach in UK general practice resulting in a significant shift away from face-to-face consultations. Consequently, more consultations are being completed without obtaining objective recording of vital signs and face-to-face examination. Some regions have formed hot hubs to facilitate the review of suspected COVID-19 cases and keep their practice site ‘clean’ including the use of doorstep observations in avoiding the risk of face-to-face examination. To support the safe, effective and efficient remote assessment of suspected and confirmed patients with COVID-19, we established a doorstep assessment service to compliment telephone and video consultations. This allows physiological parameters such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation to be obtained to guide further triage. Quality improvement methods were used to integrate and optimise the doorstep assessment and measure the improvements made. The introduction of a doorstep assessment service increased the proportion of assessments for patients with suspected COVID-19 in routine care over weeks. At the same time we were able to dramatically reduce face-to-face assessment over a 6-week period by optimising through a range of measures including the introduction of a digital stethoscope. The majority of patients were managed by their own general practitioner following assessment supporting continuity of care. There were no adverse events during the period of observation; no staff absences related to COVID-19. Quality improvement methods have facilitated the successful integration of doorstep assessments into clinical care.
    • National Health Service interventions in England to improve care to Armed Forces veterans

      Bacon, Andrew; Martin, E; Swarbrick, R; Treadgold, A (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-03-19)
      Armed Forces veterans (AFVs) are first and foremost citizens of the UK and are therefore—like all UK residents—entitled to universal healthcare, free at the point of need. This means that AFVs have nearly all their healthcare needs met by the NHS, which provides access to a full range of generic services. However, since 2013 there has been an Armed Forces team that can also support veterans. This review is an assessment of the work of this group over the last eight years. The health needs of AFVs have been investigated and are not significantly different from those of their demographically matched peers. However, due to their demographics, selection at recruitment and their roles, AFVs compared with the general population are more likely to be male, white and old and have fewer pre-existing or hereditary conditions. However, they do suffer from higher rates of musculoskeletal injury, different patterns of mental health illness and have historically been higher users—and abusers—of alcohol and tobacco. In addition to supporting mainstream services used by AFVs, the NHS in England commissions a bespoke range-specific ‘Priority’ NHS services such as those for mental health or for rehabilitation of veterans using prostheses. New interventions are continuing to be developed to improve AFVs’ healthcare and are aligned to the NHS Long Term Plan and the restoration and recovery plans after the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Nutritional parameters and outcomes in patients admitted to intensive care with COVID-19: a retrospective single-centre service evaluation

      Eden, Timothy; McAuliffe, Shane; orcid: 0000-0002-7166-4299; Crocombe, Dominic; Neville, Jonathan; Ray, Sumantra (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-08-05)
      Background: COVID-19 is an inflammatory syndrome caused by novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms range from mild infection to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring ventilation and intensive care. At the time of data collection, UK cases were around 300 000 with a fatality rate of 13% necessitating over 10 000 critical care admissions; now there have been over 4 million cases. Nutrition is important to immune function and influences metabolic risk factors such as obesity and glycaemic control, as well as recovery from acute illnesses. Poor nutritional status is associated with worse outcomes in ARDS and viral infections, yet limited research has assessed pre-morbid nutritional status and outcomes in patients critically unwell with COVID-19. Objectives: Investigate the effect of body mass index (BMI), glycaemic control and vitamin D status on outcomes in adult patients with COVID-19 admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). Methods: Retrospective review of all patients admitted to a central London ICU between March and May 2020 with confirmed COVID-19. Electronic patient records data were analysed for patient demographics; comorbidities; admission BMI; and serum vitamin D, zinc, selenium and haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) concentrations. Serum vitamin D and HbA1c were measured on admission, or within 1 month of admission to ICU. Primary outcome of interest was mortality. Secondary outcomes included time intubated, ICU stay duration and ICU-related morbidity. Results: Seventy-two patients; 54 (75%) men, mean age 57.1 (±9.8) years, were included. Overall, mortality was 24 (33%). No significant association with mortality was observed across BMI categories. In the survival arm admission, HbA1c (mmol/mol) was lower, 50.2 vs 60.8, but this was not statistically significant. Vitamin D status did not significantly associate with mortality (p=0.131). However, 32% of patients with low vitamin D (<25 IU/L) died, compared with 13% of patients with vitamin D levels >26 IU/L. Serum zinc and selenium, and vitamin B12 and folate levels were measured in 46% and 26% of patients, respectively. Discussion/conclusion: Increased adiposity and deranged glucose homeostasis may potentially increase risk of COVID-19 infection and severity, possibly relating to impaired lung and metabolic function, increased proinflammatory and prothrombotic mechanisms. Vitamin D deficiency may also associate with poorer outcomes and mortality, supporting a possible role of vitamin D in immune function specific to pulmonary inflammation and COVID-19 pathophysiology. There are plausible associations between raised BMI, glycaemic control, vitamin D status and poor prognosis, as seen in wider studies; however, in this service evaluation audit during the first wave of the pandemic in the UK, with a limited data set available for this analysis, the associations did not reach statistical significance. Further research is needed into specific nutritional markers influencing critical care admissions with COVID-19.
    • Nutritional parameters and outcomes in patients admitted to intensive care with COVID-19: a retrospective single-centre service evaluation

      Eden, Timothy; McAuliffe, Shane; orcid: 0000-0002-7166-4299; Crocombe, Dominic; Neville, Jonathan; Ray, Sumantra (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-08-05)
      Background: COVID-19 is an inflammatory syndrome caused by novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms range from mild infection to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring ventilation and intensive care. At the time of data collection, UK cases were around 300 000 with a fatality rate of 13% necessitating over 10 000 critical care admissions; now there have been over 4 million cases. Nutrition is important to immune function and influences metabolic risk factors such as obesity and glycaemic control, as well as recovery from acute illnesses. Poor nutritional status is associated with worse outcomes in ARDS and viral infections, yet limited research has assessed pre-morbid nutritional status and outcomes in patients critically unwell with COVID-19. Objectives: Investigate the effect of body mass index (BMI), glycaemic control and vitamin D status on outcomes in adult patients with COVID-19 admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). Methods: Retrospective review of all patients admitted to a central London ICU between March and May 2020 with confirmed COVID-19. Electronic patient records data were analysed for patient demographics; comorbidities; admission BMI; and serum vitamin D, zinc, selenium and haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) concentrations. Serum vitamin D and HbA1c were measured on admission, or within 1 month of admission to ICU. Primary outcome of interest was mortality. Secondary outcomes included time intubated, ICU stay duration and ICU-related morbidity. Results: Seventy-two patients; 54 (75%) men, mean age 57.1 (±9.8) years, were included. Overall, mortality was 24 (33%). No significant association with mortality was observed across BMI categories. In the survival arm admission, HbA1c (mmol/mol) was lower, 50.2 vs 60.8, but this was not statistically significant. Vitamin D status did not significantly associate with mortality (p=0.131). However, 32% of patients with low vitamin D (<25 IU/L) died, compared with 13% of patients with vitamin D levels >26 IU/L. Serum zinc and selenium, and vitamin B12 and folate levels were measured in 46% and 26% of patients, respectively. Discussion/conclusion: Increased adiposity and deranged glucose homeostasis may potentially increase risk of COVID-19 infection and severity, possibly relating to impaired lung and metabolic function, increased proinflammatory and prothrombotic mechanisms. Vitamin D deficiency may also associate with poorer outcomes and mortality, supporting a possible role of vitamin D in immune function specific to pulmonary inflammation and COVID-19 pathophysiology. There are plausible associations between raised BMI, glycaemic control, vitamin D status and poor prognosis, as seen in wider studies; however, in this service evaluation audit during the first wave of the pandemic in the UK, with a limited data set available for this analysis, the associations did not reach statistical significance. Further research is needed into specific nutritional markers influencing critical care admissions with COVID-19.
    • Prevalence of common mental health disorders in military veterans: using primary healthcare data

      Finnegan, Alan; orcid: 0000-0002-2189-4926; Randles, R; orcid: 0000-0002-7401-5817 (BMJ Publishing Group, 2022-01-18)
      Introduction: Serving military personnel and military veterans have been identified as having a high prevalence of mental disorders. Since 1985, UK patients’ primary healthcare (PHC) medical records contain Read Codes (now being replaced by Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine - Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) codes) that mark characteristics such as diagnosis, ethnicity and therapeutic interventions. This English study accesses a cohort profile of British Armed Forces veterans to examine the diagnosed common mental disorders by using PHC records. Methods: This analysis has been drawn from initiatives with PHC practices in the Northwest of England to increase veteran registration in general practice. Demographic data were collected including gender, age and marital status. Data were also collected on common mental health disorders associated with the Armed Forces. Result: 2449 veteran PHC records were analysed. 38% (N=938) of veterans in this cohort had a code on their medical record for common mental health disorders. The highest disorder prevalence was depression (17.8%, N=437), followed by alcohol misuse (17.3%, N=423) and anxiety (15.0%, N=367). Lower disorder prevalence was seen across post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (3.4%, N=83), dementia (1.8%, N=45) and substance misuse (0.8%, N=19). Female veterans had a higher prevalence of mental disorders than their male counterparts, while men a higher prevalence of PTSD; however, the gender difference in the latter was not significant (p>0.05). Conclusion: The SNOMED searches do not detail why certain groups had higher recordings of certain disorders. A future study that accesses the PHC written medical notes would prove enlightening to specifically identify what situational factors are having the most impact on the veteran population. The results from a sizeable English veteran population provide information that should be considered in developing veteran-specific clinical provision, educational syllabus and policy.