Tessa Coombes – PhD student in Social Policy, University of Bristol
The emphasis of this post is a bit of a departure from my normal topics, but related in a number of different ways to issues about housing, homelessness and social mobility. It has come about as a result of a number of things that have influenced me over the last few weeks. Some of those influences have been comments made in talks and discussions, whilst others have been the result of me opening my eyes and seeing what is around me. All too frequently we walk around the places we are familiar with without seeing what is right in front of us, without thinking about why something is the way it is.
In the last couple of months I have been to a whole load of talks about housing, mental health, health and wellbeing, social mobility and inequalities. I’ll write elsewhere about some of the consistent policy strands that came through many of these talks, but my focus here is on homelessness and social ‘immobility’.
Men visiting their GP with symptoms of anxiety or depression are more likely to have experienced or carried out some form of behaviour linked to domestic violence and abuse, according to a new University of Bristol study. Researchers say the findings highlight the need for GPs to ask male patients with mental health problems about domestic abuse.
The study, led by Professor Marianne Hester OBE, and involving Dr Emma Williamson from the School, and published in BMJ Open, aimed to find out whether there is an association between men who have experienced or carried out domestic violence and abuse with men visiting their GP with mental health problems or who are binge drinking and using cannabis.
Prof. Dave Gordon, Professorial Research Fellow in Social Justice
A copy of the research paper is available at: <http://www.poverty.ac.uk/editorial/uk-living-standards-pse-election-briefing>
The change in UK living standards is one of the key contested issues in the May 2015 General Election. The Coalition government argues that living standards have increased since it came to power in 2010. The Labour Party and other opposition parties claim that living standards have fallen.
In March 2015, the Chancellor George Osborne presented evidence in his final Budget that living standards have increased. This evidence is misleading. Research from a range of reputable academic studies has shown that average income has fallen over the past five years and poverty has increased. Continue reading
By Alyson Huntley
Provision of primary health care is always in the headlines and is a priority for all the political parties. Of particular concern is the number of GPs and nurses in practice, and patients’ real and perceived access to them. Expansion of primary and community health as an alternative to A&E is hotly debated as resources are carefully allocated. An ageing population coupled with high expectations of the general public mean that timely and appropriate primary health care provision is a major issue for any potential government.
All the five main parties pledge improved NHS health care personnel provision in their manifestos. Whilst there is mixed evidence that the number of GPs in practice influences A&E attendance, we do know that care from the same GP (continuity of care) does help reduce it.1 However, there is a very clear association of lower socio-economic status and lower educational attainment with greater emergency care use within a primary care practice population. So if the Liberal Democrats do have the opportunity to follow through with their aim of encouraging more GPs into deprived areas this is likely to improve patients’ satisfaction and potentially reduce use of emergency care.
The 2008 financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures have seen the most sustained decline in household incomes since the 1930s. In this post, Eldin Fahmy examines their impacts on public perceptions of minimally adequate living standards, and on the extent of deprivation. Based upon analysis of survey data for 1999 and 2012, it seems that as households have been forced to ‘tighten their belts’, perceptions of minimum living standards have become less generous. At the same time the extent of deprivation has increased dramatically.
The 2012 UK Poverty and Social Exclusion survey (2012-PSE) is the latest and most comprehensive in a series of household surveys conducted since the early 1980s adopting a ‘consensual’ approach to poverty which reflect public views on minimally adequate living standards. Since our last survey in Britain in 1999, public perceptions of what constitute the ‘necessities of life’ have become less generous. Nevertheless, the proportion of adults in Britain deprived of these necessities has increased substantially since 1999.
There is increasing interest in the role of bystanders in preventing gender-based violence. You the Man is a 35 minute theatre- production combined with workshop that promotes bystander engagement addressing the themes of: promoting equal and respectful relationships between men and women; promoting non-violent social norms and reducing the effects of prior exposure to violence (especially on children); and improving access to resources and systems of support. The project has been used internationally in the fields of education, workplaces, local government, health and community services and the community.
Dr Pauline Heslop, Reader in Intellectual Disabilities Research, Norah Fry Research Centre
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recently been consulting on the scope of proposed guidelines on multimorbidity. Multimorbidity is, in summary, the co-occurrence of two or more chronic medical conditions in one person. Yet the proposed scope of the guidelines will not, in their current form, offer guidance on multimorbidity in people with learning disabilities. So is this a problem that needs attention? Yes.
The recent Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities (CIPOLD) and other national and international studies suggest that people with learning disabilities have a greater number of health problems than others, and a greater variety of healthcare concerns than those of the same age and gender in the general population. This would suggest that particular attention must be paid to this population in any NICE Guidelines. Indeed, recommendation 3 of the CIPOLD report was that NICE Guidelines should take into account multimorbidity in relation to people with learning disabilities.
David Abbott, Professor of Social Policy, School for Policy Studies
How long are we ‘supposed’ to live for? ‘Three score and ten’ was a phrase I used to hear growing up (70 in new money). Our cultural ideas about life course and life span and who should die when are deeply ingrained. Parents should never bury their children, right? But what if you are born with or develop a condition which means that from a relatively young age your life span is destined to be much shorter than the norm and that without a dramatic medical breakthrough, very little will change that.
Boys (and it’s nearly always boys) diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are one such group. Duchenne (or DMD) is an inherited neuromuscular disease and the average age of death used to be 19 but during the last few years, with significant improvements in the ways DMD is managed, has risen to around 27 years. There is currently no cure for DMD.
The challenges of providing a responsive GP service in the face of greater demand, a shortage of GPs and diminished available funding have been highlighted in the media over the past few months. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has advocated for the greater use of telephone consultations to improve access to GPs by patients, but a new report published in the Lancet this week suggests that this does not reduce pressure on practices or save money, and may indeed increase workload. Yet some patient groups face greater barriers than others in accessing GP services. In recognition of this, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has now selected autism as a clinical priority from April 2014-March 2017. The work, to be led by Bristol GP Dr Carole Buckley, will aim to improve access to primary care for people with autism and their families, and to enhance their health outcomes.
Food, Activity and Bodies (FAB) Kids is a school outreach project based on the importance of healthy lifestyles. It’s a free, fun and educational workshop aimed at encouraging children to think critically about their lifestyle choices (with regards to nutrition and physical activity in particular).
The project, led by Dr Mark Edwards, is being delivered by research staff in the University of Bristol’s Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences (ENHS). We do a lot of research into physical activity and nutrition, and much of this research is conducted in primary schools in Bristol and the surrounding counties. FAB Kids is our way of thanking the schools and children who take part in our research.