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Sometimes it seems that the hospital is the health system. Whether in popular culture, such as the American television series ER, in political and popular discourse, with its focus on opening and closing of hospitals, in statistical databases that give prominence to numbers of hospital beds, or in budgetary breakdowns, showing that the bulk of health service spending is concentrated in hospitals, it is clear that the hospital is seen as being at the heart of the health system (McKee & Healy, 2002). Even when the many other components of the health system are recognized, the hospital typically sits at the top of the pyramid. This is perhaps inevitable. Hospitals are highly visible. They are large buildings, well signposted, and adorned with the symbols of health care, such as red crosses. When politicians wish to make a statement on health services, they typically find a convenient hospital as a backdrop. Hospitals are also important for the public, not just when they are ill, but by providing reassurance that they will be cared for nearby if they become ill in the future. They play other roles too, as settings for the education of the next generation of health workers and through their contribution to the local economy. So even though they are only one part of the overall health system, they are an important part, and are recognized as such by almost everyone.
Almost every aspect of society today has been shaped by technological developments. Take the nature of the modern state. The historian Philip Bobbitt describes how the introduction of gunpowder to Europe rendered the medieval city states, protected by high walls, obsolete. Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, allowing for the cheap distribution of information to the masses, paved the way for the Reformation and later for revolutions. The discovery of magnetism, and thus the compass, made it possible to establish global networks, enabling exchange of people and ideas and, ultimately, the system of international trade that prevails today. The invention of the steam engine, powering both railways and mines, paved the way for the industrial revolution and, with it, the growth of major cities. These examples illustrate how technological advances have created huge societal changes that rippled out into further cycles of innovation, driving the shift from local feudalism to a global post-industrial society.
We evaluate the extent to which Coca-Cola tried to influence research in the Global Energy Balance Network, as revealed by correspondence between the company and leading public health academics obtained through Freedom-of-Information (FOI) requests.
US state FOI requests were made in the years 2015–2016 by US Right to Know, a non-profit consumer and public health group, obtaining 18 030 pages of emails covering correspondence between The Coca-Cola Company and public health academics at West Virginia University and University of Colorado, leading institutions of the Global Energy Balance Network. We performed a narrative, thematic content analysis of 18 036 pages of Coca-Cola Company’s emails, coded between May and December 2016, against a taxonomy of political influence strategies.
Emails identified two main strategies, regarding information and messaging and constituency building, associated with a series of practices and mechanisms that could influence public health nutrition. Despite publications claiming independence, we found evidence that Coca-Cola made significant efforts to divert attention from its role as a funding source through diversifying funding partners and, in some cases, withholding information on the funding involved. We also found documentation that Coca-Cola supported a network of academics, as an ‘email family’ that promoted messages associated with its public relations strategy, and sought to support those academics in advancing their careers and building their affiliated public health and medical institutions.
Coca-Cola sought to obscure its relationship with researchers, minimise the public perception of its role and use these researchers to promote industry-friendly messaging. More robust approaches for managing conflicts of interest are needed to address diffuse and obscured patterns of industry influence.
Hospitals today face a huge number of challenges, including new patterns of disease, rapidly evolving medical technologies, ageing populations and continuing budget constraints. This book is written by clinicians for clinicians and hospital managers, and those who design and operate hospitals. It sets out why hospitals need to change as the patients they treat and the technology to treat them changes. In a series of chapters by leading authorities in their field, it challenges existing models, reviews best practice from many countries and presents clear policy recommendations for policymakers and hospital administrators. It covers the main patient groups and conditions as well as those departments that make modern effective care possible, in imaging and laboratory medicine. Each chapter looks at patient pathways, aspects of workforce, required levels of specialisation and technology, and the opportunities and challenges for optimising the delivery of services in the hospital of the future. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
While policy attention is understandably diverted to COVID-19, the end of the UK's post-Brexit ‘transition period’ remains 31 December 2020. All forms of future EU−UK relationship are worse for health than EU membership, but analysis of the negotiating texts shows some forms are better than others. The likely outcomes involve major negative effects for NHS staffing, funding for health and social care, and capital financing for the NHS; and for UK global leadership and influence. We expect minor negative effects for cross border healthcare (except in Northern Ireland); research collaboration; and data sharing, such as the Early Warning and Response System for health threats. Despite political narratives, the legal texts show that the UK seeks de facto continuity in selected key areas for pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and equipment [including personal protective equipment (PPE)], especially clinical trials, pharmacovigilance, and batch-testing. The UK will be excluded from economies of scale of EU membership, e.g. joint procurement programmes as used recently for PPE. Above all, there is a major risk of reaching an agreement with significant adverse effects for health, without meaningful oversight by or input from the UK Parliament, or other health policy stakeholders.
We reviewed published evidence on quality improvement in hospitals in the Russian Federation since 2000. We used three data sources: MEDLINE, ‘Rossiiskaia Meditsina’ (Central Scientific Medical Library), and elibrary.ru using specific search terms. No language or study design restrictions were imposed. In total, 1717 articles were identified; 51 met the inclusion criteria and were thematically analysed. Russian legislation, government acts and grey literature were sourced to contextualise identified themes. Since 2010, the Federal Ministry of Health has increasingly sought to improve quality of care, providing additional resources and new initiatives across the health system. These include clinical practice guidelines, pay for performance schemes, electronic medical records, more specialist care, paraclinical care, and quality control systems. Quality of care, increasingly a concern of the Russian government, is said to be improving. Yet most initiatives have rarely been evaluated. This reflects the limited capacity for health services research in Russia. It seems likely that the full potential for improvements in quality of care in Russia is still to be realised.
Health technology assessment (HTA) is not simply a mechanistic technical exercise as it takes place within a specific institutional context. Yet, we know little about how this context influences the operation of HTA and its ability to influence policy and practice. We seek to demonstrate the importance of considering institutional context, using a case study of Hungary, a country that has pioneered HTA in Central and Eastern Europe. We conducted 26 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with public- and private-sector stakeholders. We found that while the HTA Department, the Hungarian HTA organisation, fulfilled its formal role envisaged in the legislation, its potential for supporting evidence-based decision-making was not fully realised given the low levels of transparency and stakeholder engagement. Further, the Department’s practical influence throughout the reimbursement process was perceived as being constrained by the payer and policy-makers, as well as its own limited organisational capacity. There was also scepticism as to whether the current operational form of the HTA process delivered ‘good value for money’. Nevertheless, it still had a positive impact on the development of a broader institutional HTA infrastructure in Hungary. Our findings highlight the importance of considering institutional context in analysing the HTA function within health systems.
To (i) evaluate the extent to which Coca-Cola’s ‘Transparency Lists’ of 218 researchers that it funds are comprehensive; (ii) map all scientific research acknowledging funding from Coca-Cola; (iii) identify those institutions, authors and research topics funded by Coca-Cola; and (iv) use Coca-Cola’s disclosure to gauge whether its funded researchers acknowledge the source of funding.
Using Web of Science Core Collection database, we retrieved all studies declaring receipt of direct funding from the Coca-Cola brand, published between 2008 and 2016. Using conservative eligibility criteria, we iteratively removed studies and recreated Coca-Cola’s transparency lists using our data. We used network analysis and structural topic modelling to assess the structure, organization and thematic focus of Coca-Cola’s research enterprise, and string matching to evaluate the completeness of Coca-Cola’s transparency lists.
Three hundred and eighty-nine articles, published in 169 different journals, and authored by 907 researchers, cite funding from The Coca-Cola Company. Of these, Coca-Cola acknowledges funding forty-two authors (<5 %). We observed that the funded research focuses mostly on nutrition and emphasizes the importance of physical activity and the concept of ‘energy balance’.
The Coca-Cola Company appears to have failed to declare a comprehensive list of its research activities. Further, several funded authors appear to have failed to declare receipt of funding. Most of Coca-Cola’s research support is directed towards physical activity and disregards the role of diet in obesity. Despite initiatives for greater transparency of research funding, the full scale of Coca-Cola’s involvement is still not known.
In January 2017, the UK Government made public a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Department of Health, National Health Service (NHS) Digital and the Home Office. This Memorandum allows for the more expedited sharing of a patient’s non-clinical data, specifically from the NHS England to the Home Office. The Government justified the MoU as in the ‘public interest to support effective immigration enforcement’. In this review, we seek to unpack this justification by providing, first, a background to the MoU, placing it in the context of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants – a project initially sought by Theresa May in her time as Home Secretary. We then explore the potential impact of data sharing on individual health, public health and on health professionals. We conclude that the MoU could threaten both individual and public health, while placing health professionals in an unworkable position both practically and in terms of their duties to patients around confidentiality. As such, we agree with colleagues’ position that it should be suspended, at least until a full consultation and health impact assessment can be carried out.