The Coffee Break 69

News updates this fortnight cover improvement, health and social care, mental health and innovation. The coffee break is split into sections so you can easily scroll through each area of interest.

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Firstly this fortnight, an article from the BMJ looks at how improvement techniques and interventions have been adapted into healthcare from industries as diverse as nuclear power, car manufacturing and aviation. Translating and adapting improvement techniques from industry has had varied results. “Initial enthusiasm for oversimplified, large scale attempts to apply a new improvement technique often quickly gives way to confusion, complication and criticism.” Despite this, the article argues that there is still a lot of value at looking at other industries for inspiration but that the analysis should take a more sophisticated and nuanced approach.


Health and Social Care

Published last year, the reportWhat makes us healthy” by The Health Foundation is a valuable resource in understanding health and wellbeing within our society. The guide begins with the question – “What causes heart disease?” The report outlines the cause is much more complicated than blocked arteries: issues include unhealthy food, lack of exercise, stress levels and an individual’s circumstances. The report looks at the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live and work which are described as the ‘social determinants of health’.

An article by NHS England welcomes the efforts the English Football League are taking to improve the lives of people in the catchment area of the League’s football clubs. Activities address inclusion, homelessness, education and health. Sheffield United, for example, held a walking football session as part of the ‘Fans Fighting Cancer’ project. At Portsmouth FC, their ‘Men’s Kitchen’ is running a cookery course for men who have never cooked and who maybe experiencing mental ill health or isolation. NHS England welcomed these initiatives by football clubs to improve the nation’s health. The NHS Long Term Plan sets out measures to support individuals and communities to prevent ill health with social prescribing offering an alternative ways of treating people.


Mental Health

Moving on, the Kings Fund published, “Outcomes for mental health services: what really matters”. The report examines outcomes of mental health services through over 100 conversations with stakeholders involved in mental health services in England, including past and present service users. Measuring outcomes in mental health services is notoriously difficult with professionals and service users having very different perspectives. The report discusses how frameworks for measuring outcomes are generally focused on clinical outcomes rather than what really matters to people with mental health problems.



Antibiotic resistance is a growing danger, and the NHS is aiming to cut antibiotic use by 15% by 2024. In parallel, the government is offering incentives to drug companies to develop new antibiotics. In an interesting article, the Guardian examines current research that suggests fish slime could be the key to the development of new antibiotics.

Hunting for new antibiotics continues the tradition of antibiotic development. Many of our current antibiotics were originally developed from soil-based microbes. While fish slime itself helps protect fish from harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, a team at Oregon State University are interested in its collection of microbes – the so-called microbiome – and the substances it produces.