OFCOM (Duty regarding Prevention of Serious Self-harm and Suicide) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 18 of 2022–23

The OFCOM (Duty regarding Prevention of Serious Self-harm and Suicide) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill that has been introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (Crossbench). Amongst its provisions, the bill would require Ofcom to establish a unit to advise the government on the extent of content on social media platforms which could be seen to encourage self-harm or suicide.

OFCOM (Duty regarding Prevention of Serious Self-harm and Suicide) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 18 of 2022–23

Mortality rates among men and women: impact of austerity

Improvements in life expectancy have slowed in the UK since the early 2010s. A recent study argued there have been over 300,000 excess deaths during this period, when comparing trends in life expectancy with those from before 2011. The authors of the study argue this is a result of austerity policies pursued by the government. The subject is due to be debated in the House of Lords on 12 January 2023.

Mortality rates among men and women: impact of austerity

Cost of living: The healthcare ecosystem

This article explores how the rising cost of living has affected the UK healthcare ecosystem. Rising energy prices and food insecurity can lead to an increasingly ill population, while staff shortages and high hospital bills add pressure to the health system. In November 2022, the UK government announced an £8bn spending increase for health and adult social care, but some organisations have said it is not enough.

Cost of living: The healthcare ecosystem
  • In Focus

    Cost of living: Impact of rising costs on disabled people

    Disabled individuals and their households have, on average, lower incomes than their non-disabled counterparts. They often incur additional costs related to the treatment and mitigation of their disability. Furthermore, they typically spend a greater share of their income on food and energy, the commodities driving the current surge in inflation. In recognition of Disability History Month—running from 16 November to 16 December this year—this article considers how disabled individuals and their households are impacted by the rising cost of living.

  • In Focus

    Staff shortages in the NHS and social care sectors

    Recent data has revealed that the number of vacancies in the NHS and social care sectors has increased since September 2020. Health bodies and organisations have warned that such shortages have affected, and will continue to affect, patients. In recent years, successive governments have introduced measures to tackle staff shortages, including commissioning the NHS to publish a long-term workforce strategy and publishing a white paper on reforming adult social care.

  • In Focus

    ‘Fit for the future? Rethinking the public services workforce’: Public Services Committee report

    In July 2022, the House of Lords Public Services Committee published a report on the future of the public services workforce. It argued that public sector staffing was “facing a crisis” due to a “vicious circle” of increasing demand, staff shortages, low morale and recruitment issues. The committee observed that these problems were not unsolvable, but said current efforts were at “far too small a scale”. It made recommendations which it argued, if implemented, would make a “substantial difference” and “secure a more sustainable public services workforce for the future”.

  • In Focus

    Bird flu 2022: Dealing with the UK’s largest ever outbreak

    In 2022, the UK has experienced its largest outbreak of bird flu, and experts have warned that infections could rise even higher over the winter of 2022–23. The outbreak has led to the death of 97 million birds globally (3.8 million in the UK), with significant consequences for agriculture and the environment. In response, the UK government has imposed mandatory housing for all poultry, amended its culling compensation scheme and relaxed the sale regulations of defrosted poultry.

  • Research Briefing

    Health Promotion Bill [HL]: HL Bill 24 of 2022–23

    The Health Promotion Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Addington (Liberal Democrat) seeking to amend the name and focus of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. For example, it would require the newly defined office to work collaboratively with other departments on a national plan for sport. This follows recommendations from the National Plan for Sport and Recreation Committee intended to improve levels of physical activity in the country.

  • In Focus

    Ambulance handovers: Delays and threat of strike action

    There have been reports of increased delays in ambulance handovers in England, with concerns raised about the effect of this on patient health and the ability of ambulances to attend other emergencies. This article provides statistics on ambulance handovers and information on what the government and the NHS are trying to do to alleviate handover delays. It also covers the recent ambulance workers unions’ announcement of possible strike action.

  • In Focus

    Cost of living: Impact on public wellbeing

    The rising cost of living has been associated with a reduction in wellbeing, including increased anxiety and worsening mental health. Charities and campaign groups have said the impact of increased costs has been worse for households already on lower incomes. Since becoming prime minister, Liz Truss has said the government’s priority is to increase economic growth while announcing at the same time an increase in government support for household energy bills. However, the opposition has said the government has not provided adequate support for households struggling with the rising cost of living.

  • Research Briefing

    Health and Social Care Levy (Repeal) Bill

    The Health and Social Care Levy (Repeal) Bill would repeal the Health and Social Care Levy Act 2021 while maintaining a legislative basis for keeping tax receipts collected under provisions in that act until early November 2022. The House of Commons considered the bill at second reading and all remaining stages on 11 October 2022. The House of Lords is scheduled to similarly consider the bill on 17 October 2022.

  • In Focus

    Loot boxes in computer games: Are they a form of gambling?

    Loot boxes are rewards within computer games that can be bought with virtual currencies or real-world money. Concerns have been raised about whether they encourage gambling-like behaviours, particularly among children. In July 2022, Boris Johnson’s government published its response to a consultation on loot boxes. It decided not to legislate to bring loot boxes within the scope of the Gambling Act 2005.

  • In Focus

    Primary and community care: Improving patient outcomes

    This article details primary and community care services and examines their impact on patient outcomes. It also considers recent government policy which has sought to improve these outcomes and discusses several proposals for reforming such services.

  • In Focus

    Vaping among teens: A growing trend?

    E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among teenagers who are not former or current smokers. Young people who use e-cigarettes, or ‘vape’, often use small disposable devices that can contain the maximum permitted nicotine concentration. This article looks at research on the possible adverse health effects of vaping for young people and how the government has said it wants to prevent non-smokers and the young from using e-cigarettes.

  • In Focus

    Status of women and girls in the UK since 2010

    This article examines the status of women and girls in the UK since 2010. This includes a focus on their economic wellbeing, such as employment rates, earnings and the gender pay gap. It also considers the welfare and safety of women and girls, as well as examining opportunities in higher education.

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