Back to Blog


The Friday Five: Healthcare (17/11/23)

Welcome to another healthcare edition of the Friday Five. Here, you’ll find five of the most noteworthy news stories from the week to get your eyeballs on. So, without further ado, let the merry-go-round of news start spinning!  

1. New Health Secretary Announced

Following the sacking of (now former) home secretary Suella Braverman, Rishi Sunak took the opportunity to instigate a cabinet reshuffle. And so, the political whack-a-mole began with some current cabinet ministers popping up in different ministerial positions and some entirely new additions to the cabinet altogether.

One of whom is Victoria Atkins, who has taken over from Steve Barclay as the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This healthcare position is the first in cabinet that the former Financial Secretary to the Treasury has held. Before her political career, Atkins was a barrister specialising in fraud. 

2. NHS Struggling to Fill Staffing Gaps as Winter Approaches

The planned extra beds the government has allocated for the usual surge in winter demand might not be enough, according to NHS Providers, the BBC found 

With 75% of NHS trust bosses (in a survey in which over half of the country’s trusts replied) saying that they’re in a worse financial position than last year, and with staff vacancies at about 1 in 10, the situation is far from ideal.

3. World Diabetes Day this Week

World Diabetes Day was this week (on 14 November) and, as always, was held to raise awareness around diabetes mellitus. More than 4.3 million people in the UK are thought to have diabetes, so any efforts taken to enhance understanding of what can be a genuinely life-altering disease.  

Diabetes still brings with it an unfortunately high level of shame, stigma and stereotyping that needs to be addressed. Annual occasions like World Diabetes Day help shine a spotlight on the realities of the disease. Signs of undiagnosed diabetes can include:

  • Frequent peeing  
  • Fatigue/exhaustion  
  • Blurred vision  
  • Excessive thirst  

If you think you’re experiencing diabetic symptoms or have a family history of the disease, then get in touch with your medical professional.

4. Labour Makes Promise to Tackle Mental Health Care

Shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, spoke to Labour’s plans in the House of Commons this week, saying:  

“It is long past time that mental health was treated with the same seriousness as physical health. Labour will not only reform the Mental Health Act in our first King’s Speech, but recruit thousands more mental health professionals, provide hubs in every community, and set up mental health support in every school, so that young people can get the help they need when they need it.”  

This was in response to the omission of the Mental Health Act reform from the recent King’s Speech, which received widespread criticism from health leaders and opposition political parties alike.

5. Working from Home Can Increase the Risk of Depression and Dementia

It’s been suggested that sustained periods of remote working can lead to elevated risk of dementia and other illnesses like depression. Research carried out by the consultancy MindGym and reported on by the Telegraph found that remote working (mainly working from home) can “weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illnesses like depression … and dementia”.  

Over the past 12 months, there has been a steady increase in employers asking that their employees come back into the office, with negotiations leading to either hybrid work or a total return. On the evidence of the report from MindGym, this can be considered a positive.  

However, some still tout the benefits of home working, including improved work-life balance and saved costs on commuting, to name just a couple. Watching remote working trends over the next few years will undoubtedly be interesting. Will home-working ultimately be solely a pandemic-era phenomenon? Or will it remain present indefinitely?

Final Thoughts for this Week’s Healthcare Friday Five

There you are, then! Another healthcare Friday Five to peruse over the weekend with a pastry and coffee. We’ll see you next week for more news items, but until then, stay well and look after yourself!   

Carry on reading