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News Archives, March 2005
Wednesday, 30 March 2005 10:27
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Inquiry into Sudan I scare
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee called for the Government to launch an inquiry into the food scare sparked by the use of the potentially cancer-causing dye Sudan 1 in a wide range of food products.

The committee said that the Government should establish how long the illegal product had been used in chilli powder.

In a report on food information, the committee said: "We recommend that the Government undertake a speedy investigation into the events which resulted in the illegal dye, Sudan 1, making its way into the UK food chain.

"We are particularly concerned that the Government should establish the length of time for which the adulteration of chilli powder is likely to have gone undetected and why UK authorities did not detect this adulteration in a product used so extensively in UK food processing”.

The committee recommended that information about the nutritional content of all pre-packaged food be made compulsory.

And the MPs advised: "We are strongly supportive of the introduction of a UK-wide system of front-of-label nutrition signposting, to assist consumers in making healthier choices 'at a glance'. The traffic light system has much to commend it but, whatever signposting system the Government decides to adopt, the determining factor should be clarity, rather than comprehensiveness, although any system should, of course, be as scientifically sound as is practicable”.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2005 10:11
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Teenage girls should drink more milk
The Milk Development Council (MDC) is launching a multi-million pound campaign, Naturally Beautiful, to encourage teenage girls to drink milk and to eat more yoghurt and cheese to combat brittle bone disease in later life.

The MDC is hoping to raise awareness amongst teenagers that dairy products are an essential dietary need, and to dispel the myth milk products are fattening.

Vicky Hathaway, spokesperson for the MDC said: "Osteoporosis costs the tax payer a staggering 1.7 billion each year and with women making up the majority of sufferers; the campaign will look to tackle the problem at its roots- teenage girls and their mothers”.

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Tuesday, 29 March 2005 16:23
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
GP 'entrepreneurs'
Speaking at a central London press conference, Health Secretary John Reid has pledged to encourage "entrepreneurial" doctors the opportunity to use their initiative to broaden the scope of local services for patients.

Dr Reid said GPs "with the most entrepreneurial flair" would be encouraged over the next few months to develop new services "more easily, more quickly and more conveniently than ever before".

"We have more doctors than we've ever had before, 31,500 of them. We have more doctors in training than ever before, we are putting more money into primary care than ever before and together that means we anticipate even more doctors in the community than ever before in the years to come.

"But we also have greater demands on our health service than ever before”.

People were living longer, he said, and "everyone expects better, higher quality care, more conveniently placed, with faster access than ever before".

He added: "Those rising expectations should not be a source of complaint but a challenge to us to do even better than we've done in the past”.

Dr Reid continued: "Even with the massive investment we have made, in some areas we recognise we are under-provided in terms of doctors to meet those expectations.

"I want to free up our GPs to be all they can be in providing better services of a wider range, more conveniently”.

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Tuesday, 29 March 2005 09:52
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Exercise to treat depression
The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) says that GPs should be offering depressed patients exercise on prescription.

Studies have shown that there was mounting evidence that a supervised exercise programme could treat mild to moderate depression as well as drugs.

A report titled Up and Running?, published by the charity today, marks the start of a year-long campaign calling for more exercise therapy for people with mild or moderate depression.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, MHF chief executive, said: "Patients with mild or moderate depression asking their GPs for help are currently being denied an effective treatment option - exercise referral.

"Society needs to be educated about the benefits of exercise in treating mild or moderate depression, and GPs need to be made aware that exercise referral is available”.

Paul Bates, head of mental health and disability services at South Tyneside Primary Care Trust, said: "For GPs, the cost of changing their practice is psychological, not financial.

"They're beginning to see that there are alternatives to writing a prescription, and that it's not their sole responsibility to deal with a person's problem - there are alternatives, and exercise referral is an example of that”.

A British Medical Association spokesperson said: "GPs would certainly not be opposed to the idea of incorporating exercise into the treatment for depression.

"Unfortunately in many parts of the country schemes enabling them to make these referrals do not exist.

"Primary Care Organisations would need to commission such services and this would be one of many demands on available funding for NHS treatments”.

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Monday, 28 March 2005 11:11
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Men scared to visit the doctor
Lyc-O-Mato, a health supplement manufacturer, which commissioned a study of 500 men and 500 women, aged 20 to 40 claim that the majority of men say they consider illness to be a "character weakness", but the truth is that many are just too scared to visit the doctor.

Researchers discovered that the British male still takes the "stiff upper lip" approach to sickness, with 42 per cent preferring to ignore symptoms until they are so acute as to demand medical attention.

In the survey more than half the men claimed that they viewed sickness as a weakness, while 34 per cent admitted they were scared of visiting doctors.

In contrast, the study found that 51 per cent of women would visit the doctor at the first sign of illness.

A spokesman for Lyc-O-Mato said "The fact that men exhibit reservations about seeking medical attention and discussing medical issues comes as no surprise.

"But the fact that one of the major reasons for this is being afraid is the most interesting and revealing insight into the British male”.

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Monday, 28 March 2005 10:47
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Too many bosses
The NHS workforce survey, published last week, shows that the number of NHS managers has soared by more than 15,000 since 1997 which costs the NHS £1.5 billion a year the equivalent of 52,000 nurses.

The survey revealed the average annual rise in managers and senior managers from 1997-2004 was 2,222, or 15,554 in total. An extra 4,169 staff a year have been brought in to clerical and administrative roles, with 29,183 extra staff employed by 2004.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “There are more managers but they are managing more staff. Between 1997 and 2004 we have had 27,400 more doctors and 78,659 more nurses”.

Chris Grayling, the Tory health spokesman said “To be spending £1.5 billion extra on bureaucracy which could be spent on patient care, more beds or more nurses is really quite extraordinary. If ever proof were needed that the Government has got the wrong priority for the health service, this is it. We could be doing so much more for this country if we pushed funding through to frontline services”.

Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS managers, said that it was “fed up with the demonising of hardworking managers and support staff”.

Just 3 per cent of the 1.3 million NHS staff in England were managers or senior managers, while 13 per cent were in support services such as cleaning, catering, laundry and IT, she said. “Managerial and support staff are a vital part of the NHS team because they allow doctors, nurses and other frontline clinical staff to concentrate on what they do best – caring for patients,” she said.

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Monday, 28 March 2005 10:29
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Gene clue to skin cancer
A study published in Current Biology by the Children's Hospital Boston and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute claim they have pinpointed genetic mutations which can cause a mole to become a deadly form of skin cancer.

The researchers used black-and-white-striped zebrafish to model human melanoma (a form of skin cancer), they showed that a specific mutation in a gene called BRAF is critical to the development of moles, and when combined with another gene mutation it can lead to melanoma, cases of which have spiralled in recent years. The researchers used zebrafish because its genes are very similar to humans.

Researcher Dr Leonard Zon said: "Some of these genes may lead us to excellent pharmaceutical targets for treatment of melanomas”.

Dr Catherine Harwood, consultant dermatologist at Cancer Research UK, said: "Melanoma is an important cancer and there is a rapidly increasing number of people who are getting it so any developments in understanding how and why it develops are important.

"This is an interesting paper and the preliminary data are exciting.

"However, we always have to be cautious in extrapolating directly from animal models to humans.

"For example, p53 appears to play a relatively small role in melanoma compared to other human skin cancers”.

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Monday, 28 March 2005 10:14
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Bird flu outbreak
North Korea has admitted that there has been a bird flu outbreak in the capital.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that no humans had been infected and that hundreds of thousands of chickens were slaughtered and buried.

The agency only said that the outbreak was "recent" and occurred at "two or three" chicken farms. It did not specify the virus type.

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Monday, 28 March 2005 09:59
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Cat allergy cure
Scientists from The University of California, Los Angeles, claim that they have developed a technique which could prevent allergies caused by cats.

Doctor Andrew Saxon, who led the study injected mice - genetically engineered to be allergic to cats - with a newly developed part-cat, part-human protein. Within a month, the mice were cured of the allergy.

Dr Andrew Saxon said: "We wanted to create a system that would prevent you from getting sick when you were exposed to an allergen, but which could also be used to retrain the immune system in the long run.

"We could use the same technique to target other allergies, including peanut."

Philippa Major, assistant director of research at Asthma UK said: "This is an interesting study but is still in the early stages of development as no human studies have begun.

"This approach taken by the UCLA group does not modify the T cell response and therefore the treatment would need to be administered on a continuous basis to prevent symptoms.

"Currently a different, and potentially long term prevention approach of a T cell vaccine for people with cat allergy is being developed by Asthma UK research fellow Dr Mark Larché”.

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Sunday, 27 March 2005 12:36
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Hospital chiefs face superbug death charges
Health Secretary John Reid is planning to charge hospital bosses with corporate manslaughter if poor hygiene standards result in patients dying from methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

He has told the Healthcare Commission that if Labour wins the next election a bill will be introduced immediately.

The move is expected to be trailed in Labour’s manifesto. A source close to Reid said: “You can give matrons the power to close wards like the Tories are suggesting, or change cleaning companies like we do, but the buck stops with the hospital manager. The act would be another way of shutting all the loopholes which hospital managers use to get round spending money on cleaning”.

Chief executives said that they have a statutory duty to ensure quality. Miles Scott, chief executive of Harrogate General Hospital NHS Trust, said: “There’s a myth that managers are only interested in the financial balance. We take our statutory duties very seriously. After all, failure to fulfil them means we lose our jobs”.

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