The POST Board approved 3 new POSTnotes on 16 September 2020. Topics include childhood obesity, preventing zoonotic diseases, and digital skills for life. Work on these topics will start in January 2021.

A POSTnote on digital skills for life will discuss the digital skills required for everyday life and employment, why parts of the population may lack these skills and which groups are most affected. It will consider the impact of the skills shortage on individuals and the economy as well as strategies to improve the population’s digital skills. Provisional start date: January 2021.

A POSTnote on preventing zoonotic diseases will review the evidence on a One Health approach to zoonoses prevention. It will focus on the animal-environment-human interface in both wild and domestic animals, reviewing national and international policy approaches, and lessons learnt from previous epidemics. It will also summarise opportunities and challenges for the UK’s role in global health and biosecurity policy arenas post COVID-19. Provisional start date: January 2021.

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    A POSTnote on childhood obesity will summarise the latest trends in children’s diet, obesity and related health conditions and review the impacts of previous policy changes such as the tax on sugar sweetened drinks. It will also examine the factors underlying the growing gap in outcomes for children from the most and least deprived backgrounds. Provisional start date: January 2021.

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    The POST board has approved 7 new POSTnotes. Effective biodiversity indicators, Hydrogen, Living organ donations, Mental health impacts of COVID-19, Mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers and carers, Reforestation, Smart cities

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    A POSTnote on effective biodiversity indicators will review the evidence base for the likely indicators of the UK Biodiversity Strategy to 2030. It will look at the challenges associated with these, such as vagueness of targets, incomplete understanding of the mechanisms driving changes in the state of biodiversity, data availability and the optimal number required. It will also review the wider value of biodiversity indicators. Provisional start date: September 2020.

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    A POSTnote on reforestation will summarise the strategies for identifying optimal areas for successfully restoring woodlands and the possible means of incentivising this. It will look at the evidence for the optimal approaches for providing climate and biodiversity benefits, and the challenges that will need to be addressed. Provisional start date: September 2020.

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    A POSTnote on smart cities will give an overview of the current landscape and the infrastructure smart cities require. It will look at the benefits and challenges of smart cities and progress towards developing them in the UK and elsewhere. Provisional start date: September 2020.

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    A POSTnote on hydrogen will cover the latest developments in low-carbon hydrogen production, as well as developments in applications across transport, industry and heat more generally. We will invite views from the Board on the potential contents of this POSTnote – specifically on a choice between a single note covering all of these aspects, or two separate notes covering applications across industry and transport. Provisional start date: September 2020.

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    A POSTnote on mental health impacts of COVID-19 will summarise the latest findings from research on how COVID-19 has affected the mental health of the UK population. It will highlight which groups are vulnerable and their mental health outcomes. It will also discuss policy approaches to protect mental health and how health services can adapt to improve outcomes for those affected. Provisional start date: September 2020.

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    A POSTnote on mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers and carers will outline the short and long-term mental health impacts of COVID-19 on this group. It will review policy approaches and support services dedicated to supporting healthcare worker mental health, with focus on special measures implemented during a pandemic. Work currently in production.

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    A POSTnote on living organ donation will set out the scale and nature of living donation in the UK and analyse the policies set out in government strategy to increase living donor activity. It will seek to explore the ethical frameworks around donation relating to altruism, autonomy and reciprocity, and the ethical principles that guide clinical teams. The note will also explore how the change to an opt-out consent system for deceased donors might influence living donation. The role of social media in finding donors is also topical, as recipients seek suitable donors outside the NHS transplant system. Websites that seek to match donors and recipients, some of which charge recipients a fee to register, are a recent development in the UK; guidelines advise clinical centres not to proceed with such cases. Provisional start date: November 2020.

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    The POST board has approved 4 new POSTnotes. Distance learning, Development of vaccine technologies, AI in healthcare, and Regulating product sustainability.

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    A POSTnote on AI and healthcare will look at the current applications, opportunities and limitations of AI. It will review available evidence on the impact of AI on healthcare delivery and costs and will explore the main ethical, social and regulatory challenges to its use. Provisional start date: September 2020.

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    A POSTnote on vaccine development will look at the opportunities that new vaccine technologies offer relative to conventional approaches and the latest information from current vaccine pipelines. It will also discuss policy approaches to stimulate and fast-track vaccine research and development, particularly in the context of an emerging infectious disease. Provisional start date: July 2020