Developing infectious disease services for the future in England

NHS England is responsible for nationally commissioning specialised services to deal with a range of infectious diseases (ID). Some of the more common diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis C have separate policies, so we are currently reviewing how we manage care for patients who have one of the other serious and rare infectious conditions, to ensure that people receive high quality, appropriate care while safeguarding against the spread of disease.

Currently there are a number of specialist ID centres in hospitals across the country who deal with less common and more serious cases, depending on the specialist diagnostic facilities and clinical expertise available in individual units. They are critical in ensuring national resilience and emergency preparedness in the event of an outbreak. They are mainly staffed by specialist doctors and nurses, supported by diagnostic services, microbiologists and virologists. The multidisciplinary ID team co-ordinates a rapid and effective evaluation of any potential infection and the risk of transmission and provides appropriate diagnostic and medical management on a 24 hour basis.

Specialised infectious diseases include a range of over 100 infections. These include, for example;

  • tuberculous meningitis
  • dengue haemorrhagic fever
  • rabies
  • viral haemorrhagic fever
  • leishmaniasis

Although there are a relatively small number of confirmed cases of these diseases in England each year, services have to deal with the much higher number of people who may have one of these conditions. Many people are admitted to hospital with symptoms that could be serious, and require specialist care such as isolation facilities until they are diagnosed.  Fortunately the majority of people turn out to have nothing to worry about. The number of people presenting with a potentially serious infection hasn’t really changed over the past few years, but we need to be prepared to manage higher numbers should there be an outbreak.

If you are interested in being kept informed about the review and finding out about opportunities to get involved, please sign up as a registered stakeholder for the Infectious Diseases CRG (Clinical Reference Group), which forms part of the Blood & Infection Programme of Care. We are currently recruiting for additional PPV (Public & Patient Voice) representatives to the group. People who have direct experience of living with an infectious disease are particularly welcome, however we would be pleased to hear from anyone who feels that they could offer useful insights from a ‘lay person’ perspective.

To find out more please contact england.voice-crg@nhs.net and we will send you further details and an application form.