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News Archives, September 2005
Thursday, 29 September 2005 12:13
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Musicians get health boost from music
Researchers have found that listening to music has greater health benefits for musicians than for people who cannot play an instrument.

A study of 12 musicians and 12 non-musicians revealed that the musicians reflected the tempo of musical pieces with their breathing patterns, increasing breathing when listening to techno and slowing down with slower-paced classical.

Professor Peter Sleight, from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, said: "Music makes you breathe more slowly and improves circulation, which is good for people with heart failure and high blood pressure.

"Musicians are more sensitive to the tempo of a piece. The slower the piece the more relaxing it is. If you listen to music repetitively it trains your breathing when you are not listening to music. In future there will be a bigger use of music therapy in everyday conditions."

Professor Derek Johnston, an expert in cardiovascular psychophysiology at Aberdeen University, said in The Scotsman: "Presumably this will only work when listening to music. Ideally you want to transfer the skill so that people learn something under music which they can apply at other times."

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "One person's Mozart may be someone else's Madonna and different people find relaxation in different types of music."

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Thursday, 29 September 2005 12:05
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Micro needles to take the pain out of jabs
The pain caused by routine jabs could soon become a thing of the past with the introduction of micro-needles that administer injections without causing the discomfort associated with traditional needles.

The micro-needles are attached to tiny plates that can be applied like plasters by anyone.

Doctors at the Welsh School of Pharmacy said the new technology would ease the anxiety of people who suffer from a fear of needles and would also allow for mass self-vaccinations in the third world.

The School’s head of gene delivery research, James Birchall, said the new needles were around 0.15mm to 0.3mm long, barely large enough to be seen with the naked eye and far less frightening than currently used syringes.

He added that tests of the plates, which contain some 400 needles and are cheaper and easier to make than current technology, had shown them to be completely painless as the needles are just long enough to penetrate the skin but not long enough to reach pain receptors.

He said: "Research into micro-needles has proved that patients, especially children and older people, may no longer need to fear a visit to their doctor or dentist. Our plans are now to carry out some rigorous testing of the devices."

"The system might also be developed as a patch for self-application, avoiding the need for a clinician," he added.

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Thursday, 29 September 2005 11:22
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Separate sleeping warning from coroner
The government was urged yesterday to issue a strong warning to parents who sleep with their babies after an inquest into the smothering of a five-week-old baby whose sister died the same way five years ago.

The West Yorkshire coroner, Roger Whitaker, who recorded a verdict of accidental death for Keitha Briggs, said he was appealing for simpler “commonsense rules”.

Keitha died after her mother, Lisa, 23, fell asleep while feeding her and her twin brother Wayne in January this year.

Mr Whitaker said: "I had hoped after the previous tragedy never to sit or preside over a death in similar circumstances again. I shall be writing again in the hope of getting a response. The message is: separate sleeping saves lives."

The same coroner led the inquest in 2003after Mrs Briggs’ daughter Cerese was smothered aged just four weeks when her mother rolled onto her in bed.

At the time he said: "It is a well-known fact that all mothers with young children are likely to be extremely tired when they go to bed and may not be able to be totally aware of what is going on.

"The dangers of overlaying are so severe and so tragic I believe it ought to be stopped."

The inquest followed a police investigation which found no suspicious circumstances.

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Thursday, 29 September 2005 11:08
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Competition threat to doctors’ training
Increased competition in the NHS could jeopardise the quality of doctors’ training, the new leader of the UK’s 49,000 junior doctors has warned.

Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, expressed concern that private companies running treatment centres will have no incentive to provide doctors with high quality training:

“It’s not clear whether profit-making companies running treatment centres will provide training to the same standards as the NHS,” Dr Hilborne said.

“Unless a mechanism is introduced to make training as important to private companies as it is to the NHS, standards are likely to drop. Junior doctors are already under pressure from changes to their working patterns and reforms to their training, and the move to private provision makes their future even more uncertain.

“In an NHS based on competition, there will be winners and losers. How is a trainee surgeon supposed to learn how to do a hip replacement if their hospital has lost its contract to do them? Little thought seems to have been given to doctors’ training in a market-based NHS.”

Dr Hilborne also welcomed the government’s commitment to improving access to childcare as part of the forthcoming Childcare Bill.

However, she added that there remained room for improvement in the NHS, where patchy access to childcare creates problems for staff working antisocial shifts, and called for hospitals to ensure that childcare is available round the clock.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to improving childcare. However, it needs to recognise that in sectors like the NHS, staff work round the clock and there’s a need for 24-hour crèche services.

“Where junior doctors can find nursery care – and they often can’t – it’s usually open only in the daytime. Little attempt has been made to provide the 24-hour childcare needed for doctors who work antisocial hours.

“The simple facts are that soon the majority of doctors will be women, that they will continue to have children, and that 24-hour working requires 24-hour childcare.”

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Thursday, 29 September 2005 10:52
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Married women suffer most sexual problems
A national study has found that married women are more likely to have sexual difficulties than either single women or married men.

Researchers from University College London conducted a survey of 11,000 people between the ages of 16 and 44, to provide a glimpse of the problems suffered in UK bedrooms.

The results of the Sexually Transmitted Infections journal study showed that sexual relationships tended to suffer when the couple had small children to care for, while communication issues were also linked to difficulties in the bedroom.

Women were significantly more likely than men to admit to a short or longer-term problem with their sex lives and married or cohabiting women and mothers with young children were more likely to have problems than single women.

Among the problems cited by married women, a lack of control over decision making in their lives, not using reliable contraception, having small children in the house and not feeling able to talk to their partner were most prominent.

Married or cohabiting men were significantly less likely to say they had sexual problems than single men but those drinking more than the recommended weekly units of alcohol, and those who had had a sexually transmitted infection within the preceding five years were most likely to suffer sex problems.

The link between sexual problems and STIs is thought to be that some such infections can lead to pelvic pain, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. The infection chlamydia is also thought to prompt feelings of stigmatisation, guilt, regret and “dirtiness” in men.

Dr Catherine Mercer, of the UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV research, told the BBC News website: "Some of the results we have found are logical.

"But this is the first time we have data which we can use to develop appropriate advice and to give options.

"This is representative data from the UK population - it's not just people attending STI clinics."

She added: "It's communication which was seen to be really important. A lot of people weren't able to talk about sex with their partners.

"Sexual dysfunction isn't always an individual's problem. It may be about a partnership issue."

David Goldmeier and colleagues, of the Jane Wadsworth Sexual Function Clinic at St Mary's Hospital, London, writing in Sexually Transmitted Infections, said: "Despite its prevalence, sexual dysfunction is often endured in silence.

"Studies in both the US and UK suggest that as many as 54% of women and 35% of men have problems, but fewer than 11% of men and 21% of women seek help."

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Thursday, 29 September 2005 10:29
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
UK worst at treating hepatitis C
A report published today by the Hepatitis C Trust has revealed that a failure to identify and treat a sufficient number of people infected with the disease could lead to a hepatitis C time bomb in Britain.

The report entitled ‘The UK vs. Europe: Losing the Fight against Hepatitis C,’ found that, in a league table with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the UK finished bottom in every aspect of dealing with the virus.

In this country, the report claims, just one to two per cent of people infected with the disease receive NICE-approved treatments that could prevent liver cirrhosis and cancer. Patients in France are six to 12 times more likely to gain effective treatment.

As a consequence, the prevalence of chronic liver disease is set to fall it France, yet rates in the UK are expected to soar, costing the NHS up to £8 billion within 30 years.

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust said the government must take urgent action to avert a human tragedy of endemic proportions and a financial crisis that could cripple the NHS.

“The Government needs to make hepatitis C a priority,” he said. “We have a dreadfully poor track record at diagnosing the disease.

“Over 400,000 people in the UK with the virus are completely unaware they have been infected. As a consequence they are not in a position to make lifestyle decisions that could reduce liver damage and may inadvertently be putting others at risk of infection.”

The report’s authors blame a failure by the Government to set adequate targets to screen for hepatitis C, which has led to only one in seven infected people being tested for the disease.

As a result patients are only being identified when they have progressed to late stage liver disease, when the only curative option is a liver transplant. There is currently an average of 750 livers available for transplantation each year. Untreated hepatitis
C is set to cost the NHS £156 million in 2006 alone.

Professor Rosenberg, University of Southampton, lead author of the report warns: “If we continue to do nothing about hepatitis C then between 100,000 and 300,000 people will have to endure preventable liver disease.

“If we catch it in time, the virus can be treated with drugs that cure 40 to 80 per cent of those infected. We have no time to lose. We need to learn what countries such as France have done to successfully manage the disease.”

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Thursday, 29 September 2005 09:45
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Guide warns over large wine measure
Many pubs have brought in bigger wine measures which cost drinkers more and could lead to increased health and drink-driving risks, a new guide has warned.

The standard 125ml wine glasses used a few years ago is being replaced with 175ml measures, according to the Good Pub Guide 2006.

The Guide says drinkers are often not aware how much alcohol the larger glasses contain.

The Guide is also calling for all pubs to adopt the 125ml wine glass as a standard size.
It says the unit of alcohol is a recognised measure for safe driving, diets, and health.

"People are unwittingly putting themselves over the limit and also having to spend more for wine which they perhaps don't want," said the guide's editor Alisdair Aird.

"Your first reaction is to think it is generous but it is a concealed cost increase which may be putting you at some risk”.

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Thursday, 29 September 2005 09:36
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Legionnaires' outbreak
Baxters plant in Moray one of Scotland's largest food processing factories was closed as a precautionary measure yesterday after two employees were struck down by Legionnaire's disease.

Legionnaires' disease is a potentially-fatal form of pneumonia and is not passed from person to person.

People only become infected when they breathe in air that contains legionella bacteria.

A spokeswoman for Baxters told The Scotsman that the company was only aware of one case of infection involving an employee and that it planned to resume production at the plant today after being give the all-clear. Alison Getty, the communications manager at Baxters, said the company had taken action to halt production at the Fochabers complex after learning about the employee's condition on Tuesday night.

She said: "It has come to our attention that one of our employees is in hospital after contracting Legionnaire's disease. Our thoughts are with him and his family at this difficult time.

"In response to this incident, we have contacted both the Health and Safety Executive and the Department of Environmental Health to assist their investigation as to how or where the disease could have been contracted. We can confirm that there is absolutely no risk to any products manufactured in our factories at Fochabers".

Ms Getty continued: "We decided to halt production and send home all staff at our Fochabers site for today only. After initial investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, we feel confident about opening the factory as normal tomorrow.

"Although we were advised by the Health and Safety Executive that we did not have to close the factories, we took the decision to halt production in Fochabers until all internal and external investigations were completed. We took this decision with the best interests of all our employees in mind."

She stressed there was no suggestion that the factory was the source of the infection and also that there was no risk from any of the food products manufactured at Fochabers.

"The male employee did not work with the raw product at the factory," she said.

A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: "NHS Grampian can confirm that two people have been diagnosed with Legionnaire's disease.

"The two patients, who are employees of Baxters of Speyside, are being treated at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary”.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2005 12:43
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Government faces defeat over NHS private sector plans
The government could face embarrassment today if delegates at the Labour Party conference vote as expected to curb the use of private firms in the NHS.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt is told BBC Radio 4’s today programme that a “patient-led” NHS was the “future” but David Prentis, leader of the public sector union Unison is expected to accuse the government of systematically dismantling services.

Ms Hewitt said it was important to keep the use of private sector providers “in perspective” but it is thought that the conference will vote to limit the plans.

In his speech yesterday, Tony Blair said he regretted that past reforms had not gone further and admitted that using the private sector to improve public services had controversial with some Labour members and trade unions.

But he warned: "For Labour, choice should be too important to be the monopoly of the wealthy."

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Wednesday, 28 September 2005 12:28
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Pregnancy stress affects children
Scientists have found that mothers who are overly stressed during pregnancy can pass the stress hormone across the placenta in a way that carries long-term implications for the baby.

Bristol University researchers found anxiety in late pregnancy was linked to higher cortisol levels in children aged 10. The findings support previous studies involving animals where stress during pregnancy was found to affect the baby’s stress reponse system.

Dr Thomas O’Connor, from the University of Rochester in New York, working alongside scientists from Bristol University and Imperial College London, studied 74 10-year-old children, taking saliva samples three times a day to monitor stress hormone levels.

The children’s mothers had been questioned 10 years previously during pregnancy about the levels of stress or anxiety they experienced.

Comparing the data revealed that children with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva tended to be born to the mothers who reported the highest levels of stress during pregnancy.

Dr O'Connor said: "These results provide the strongest evidence to date that prenatal stress is associated with longer term impact on the HPA axis in children.

"Several human studies of children and adults suggest that elevated basal levels of cortisol are associated with psychological risk...notably depression and anxiety.

"Our findings point to a possible mechanism by which prenatal stress or anxiety may predict these disturbances in early adolescence, and possibly into adulthood."

He added that further studies would be necessary to confirm the findings.

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