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News Archives, July 2005
Sunday, 31 July 2005 10:16
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
A Sunday Mirror survey has found that hospitals are filling their coffers with rip-off car parking charges.

The survey found that NHS and private parking contractors are making millions of pounds a year by forcing visitors to pay up to £55 a day to visit their sick friends or relatives.

The Sunday Mirror survey found the highest amount being levied at the world-famous St Thomas's hospital, London. Parking there costs £2.30 an hour - adding up to a whopping £55.20 for anyone keeping a round-the-clock bedside vigil.

The survey also shows charges at the 24-hour parking at the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, is also high at £22.60 and the University Hospital, Wales, nearly as much at £20.80. In contrast, the same time at the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital costs £4.80 and 24 hours at the Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, is just £1.

In many hospitals, visitors face an added peril - if they outstay their ticket time they often have their cars clamped and can face fines of up to £100.

Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, who has raised the issue in the House of Commons, said: "The whole thing is obscene. It's quite wrong to penalise people for being ill. Patients have to pay, visitors have to pay and staffs have to pay to go to work - the whole thing is ridiculous”.

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Sunday, 31 July 2005 09:56
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Lifetime of obesity while in the womb
Researchers at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, claim that mothers who do not eat properly at crucial stages during pregnancy cause their children to become obese in later life.

The researchers believe that the dietary habits of pregnant women can programme their unborn babies so they have larger appetites in adulthood.

The scientists say that by being under or over-nourished, expectant mothers upset the levels of hormones in their body which are responsible for controlling hunger. They are now investigating imbalance in the hunger hormones of expectant mothers and their impact on the baby's ability to regulate their own appetite.

Dr Clare Adam, a senior researcher at the Rowett Institute, said children whose appetite regulation was faulty often became obese in later life.

"There is growing evidence to suggest that people can have a predisposition to obesity from development in prenatal pregnancy”.

"The long-term effects are very interesting as we believe what happens before birth can affect adult metabolic health.

"The foetus can't control its appetite as its nutrition comes through the placenta from the mother even though it has a full control pathway in place. This could be getting over-sensitised or desensitised by hormones coming from the mother”.

Dr Adam and her colleagues are now investigating the mechanisms that cause the appetite control system in babies' brains to malfunction in this way.

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Sunday, 31 July 2005 09:31
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Consultants sexually assaulted at least 77 of their patients
William Kerr and Michael Haslam, two National Health Service consultants who have sexually assaulted at least 77 of their patients over a 20-year period while officials and doctors repeatedly ignored complaints, a government inquiry has found.

When the victims that were being treated for depression or mental illness tried to report the abuse, they were ignored by their GPs, and managers failed to investigate properly, they also found that a nurse who tried to expose the scandal was demoted.

Nigel Pleming QC, the inquiry’s chairman, concludes that there was no deliberate conspiracy but “health officials chose to remain silent when they should have been raising their voices . . . It is also a story of management failure, failed communication, poor record keeping and a culture where the consultant was all-powerful.”

The £3.2m inquiry followed an investigation by The Sunday Times, which first revealed the allegations against the two doctors in 1999. Haslam sued the newspaper after he was exposed but his action failed. He was eventually jailed for three years. Kerr was judged unfit to stand trial for health reasons.

The scandal which is the biggest single case of sexual abuse by doctors in the NHS has wrecked the lives of dozens of vulnerable women.

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Sunday, 31 July 2005 09:16
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Trial treatment for diabetic nerve damage
After promising studies on animals by The University of Manchester patients are to test a trial treatment for diabetic nerve damage.

The scientists say that the monthly injection works by stimulating the body to make a natural protein that prevents nerve damage caused by the disease.

The team claim that a neuropathy treatment is much needed, particularly as 366 million people are expected to have diabetes by 2030.

The first trials on patients will begin in Texas, run by a US company called Sangamo BioSciences, they claim that one injection of the drug every month should be enough to treat diabetic neuropathy.

Dr Mark Kipnes, clinical investigator for Sangamo, said: "Currently, there are no effective therapies available to treat this disabling and frequent complication of diabetes and patients are generally prescribed painkillers to alleviate symptoms.

"We are excited to be involved in testing this novel approach that may potentially have a dramatic therapeutic effect in populations of patients already suffering from neuropathy and those who are at risk of developing it”.

Natasha Ede, care advisor for Diabetes UK, said: "This research is certainly promising but it is still in the very early stages.

"Unfortunately there is currently no cure for neuropathy but good blood glucose and blood pressure control and a healthy lifestyle reduce the risk of it developing.

"We will await the results of the human trials with interest”.

Annwen Jones, of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said: "It is a positive step forward and, if found to be effective, could prevent millions of people from developing this serious and painful complication of Type 1 diabetes.

"It is critical that research continues to develop new therapies for treating and ultimately curing Type 1 diabetes”.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005 11:50
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
UN body says HRT causes cancer
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has concluded that hormone replacement therapy (HRT), taken by millions of women around the world, causes cancer.

The scientists have also warned that the combined contraceptive pill slightly increased the risk of a greater number of cancers than originally thought.

A group of 21 scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer looked into published evidence on both drugs before coming to their conclusions.

On combined estrogen-progestogen HRT, they said studies had demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk exceeded with duration of use.

And they said use of the combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptive pill slightly increased the risk of breast, cervix and liver cancer.

Dr Peter Boyle, director of IARC, said: "[This report] address exposures that are experienced daily by many millions of women worldwide. It is of enormous public health importance that we identify and understand the full range of effects of these products".

Agency official Vincent Cogliano said: "It's a complicated picture. It doesn't mean women should stop taking the treatment. There are still other reasons to take it.

"Each woman has to discuss it with her doctor and with the risks and benefits".

Dr Anne Szarewski, clinical consultant for Cancer Research UK, said: "We are unaware of any studies that have shown that the contraceptive pill causes breast or cervical cancer.

"Studies have only shown that there is an association.

"Regarding HRT, this statement does not add anything to the information that has already been published in recent studies."

UK drugs regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said the warnings added nothing to what was already known.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005 11:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Babycam helps bed-bound mums
Under a new pioneering scheme that is being introduced to Glasgow's Princess Royal Maternity, a Scottish hospital mothers will be able to watch their premature babies via video link from their hospital beds.

Doctors at the hospital said the new Babycam system would allow mothers to bond with their children and help them to produce breast milk, which plays a crucial role in the baby's recovery.

During trials, women said being able to see their babies helped them express milk, which is a lifeline to vulnerable babies.

Dr Chris Lilley, a consultant paediatrician who developed the Babycam with the unit's clinical director, Andrew Powls, said:

"Mothers who are separated from the babies can have a very hard time bonding while they are unwell.

"The separation also makes producing breast milk more difficult," he said. "We all know nowadays how important breast feeding is, but with these babies it really can make all the difference.

"Being apart can have a huge psychological impact. The emotional reassurance Babycam gives mums is vital and can really help their recovery”.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005 11:04
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
NHS vacancies being filled
New figures by the Government show that NHS vacancies in England are falling.

The NHS vacancy figures that can be seen on the Department of Health’s website show:

• Consultant vacancy rate down from 4.4% in March 2004 to 3.3% in March 2005.
• GP vacancy rate down from 3.1% in March 2004 to 2.4% in March 2005.
• Qualified nursing vacancy rate (excluding practice nurses) down from 2.6% to 1.9% in March 2005 – a fifth successive fall.
• Qualified Allied Health Professionals vacancy rate down from 4.3% in March 2004 to 3.4% in March 2005.
• Qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff down from 2.6% in March 2004 to 2.2% in march 2005.

Health Minister Lord Warner said: “The latest figures show fewer vacancies in all the main staff groups within the NHS.

“This suggests that the increased demand for healthcare professionals, which was created by the expansion of NHS services, is now beginning to match supply as more NHS jobs are filled.

“We now have 31,210 consultants working in the NHS and 32,190 GPs. The growth of workforce in the NHS has been crucial to helping the NHS deliver improvements on areas like waiting times, coronary heart disease, cancer treatment and access to services - but I know there is more work to do.

“The challenge is to develop new ways of working so that staff can work more productively, delivering quality services that are centered on patients' needs”.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005 10:53
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
70 ops on holiday
Satya Agarwala a caring NHS surgeon cleared a backlog of 70 operations while he was on holiday.

Satya Agarwala who works at the Worthing and Southlands Hospital, in Sussex has been praised by health chiefs after he took annual leave to free himself from other surgical duties and work through a backlog of operations.

Mr Agarwala and Phil Taylor, a surgical planning co-ordinator took over an under-used surgical day centre room and started working through a backlog of operations for a condition known as carpal tunnel. It causes severe wrist pain but is treatable by a straightforward operation under local anaesthetic.

Mr Agarwala, who has worked at the hospital for 18 years, said: "Treating patients is my job and this was just another way to do it. The operation is straightforward and quick. What takes the time is the paperwork and talking to patients”.

Mr Agarwala carried out 14 operations each day. "It was very satisfying at the end of the week," he said. "People who have this condition suffer severe pain and it can be very debilitating”.

A hospital spokesman said: "Waiting times are being reduced to meet patient expectations and the work of the day surgery admissions team, and in particular Mr Agarwala, is most appreciated in helping with this”.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005 10:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
NHS 'delivery tsar'
The Health Minister, Andy Kerr, is to set up a new delivery group which will have the power to intervene directly to order health boards to meet targets which will be set by the Executive.

Under the plans which will be answerable directly to Kevin Woods, the chief executive of NHS Scotland the delivery group will bring together into a single team the Executive's National Waiting Times Unit, the Centre for Change and Innovation and the Performance Management Division.

Andy Kerr said “He had been very impressed by the skill and dedication of NHS staff.

“We need to focus more sharply to meet the needs of patients now and for the future. The setting and delivering of clear targets is essential.

“We need better long-term planning and a clearer approach to ensure that health boards are able and supported to deliver on those plans”.

Shona Robison, the Scottish National Party's health spokeswoman, backed the plan, but said Mr Kerr should not shirk responsibility for poor results. And Dr Nanette Milne, the Tories' spokeswoman, said: "This is more evidence of the Executive [trying] to micro-manage every aspect of our public services”.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005 10:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Bird flu raging in Russia
The Agriculture Ministry have reported that a strain of bird flu raging in Russia can infect humans.

The virus that is called A H5N1 has killed hundreds of hens, geese, turkeys and ducks in Siberia but as yet no human cases have been reported.

The outbreak in Russia's Novosibirsk region apparently started about two weeks ago when large numbers of chicken, geese, ducks and turkeys began dying. Officials say that all dead or infected birds were incinerated. But it is unclear whether that would effectively stop the virus from spreading.

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