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News Archives, April 2005
Thursday, 28 April 2005 10:48
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Doctors dismiss smoking “myths”
Doctor’s have moved to dispel the “myths” surrounding the smoking ban in a report published today.

Last year the Government proposed to ban smoking in public places as part of its Public Health White Paper.

The British Medical Association’ (BMA) report “Behind the Smokescreen” explains the arguments in favour of the ban and “challenges the myths generated in attempts to undermine the evidence in support of a ban”.

Opponents, including the tobacco industry, have maintained that a ban would infringe freedom of choice, not be backed by the public, damage the economy, and be unenforceable.

They also claim that that there is no medical evidence that prove the risks of passive smoking.

However, the BMA report cited a World Health Organisation review which concluded that exposure to other people’s smoke increased the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers by 20 to 30 per cent.

The report also dismissed claims that a ban in public places would lead more people to smoke in the home, saying there was no evidence of this in Ireland where a smoking ban is already in place.

Lord Harris, president of the smoker’s lobby group Forest, said a ban would be reasonable if there was real proof of harm to others which “is very far from the truth”.

But Dr Peter Terry of the BMA said: “These myths are well rehearsed but that doesn’t make them true.

“There is no choice for non-smokers who have to socialise and work in smoke-filled rooms.

“Economic arguments flounder in the face of international experience, and scientific evidence clearly links exposure to passive smoke with potentially disabling illnesses such as asthma and potentially fatal illnesses such as lung cancer and coronary heart disease”.

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Thursday, 28 April 2005 10:25
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Cancer rates double
According to a new report by Cancer Research UK they claim the rates of breast and lung cancer have doubled worldwide since 1975 they suggest that the increase is largely a reflection of population growth and longer life spans.

The researchers who analysed a global database of 27 cancers found that more than 1.1 million cases of breast cancer are now diagnosed across the world each year. This compared with about 500,000 cases in 1975.

They said most of the increase could be explained by the increased life expectancy of women worldwide, together with the world’s burgeoning population. Since 1975, the world’s population has grown from around 4 billion to about 6.3 billion.

Ruth Yates, statistics manager at Cancer Research UK, said the global patterns could yield clues on causes and cures. "Knowing which parts of the world have fewer cases of particular cancers can help us identify cultural factors, such as diet, smoking and drinking that affect the risk." Ageing explained most but not all of the increased risk, she said.

Breast cancer rates are also rising in most countries. The report says: "Breast cancer rates in developed countries could be half of current rates if women had larger family sizes and breastfed for longer, although such measures are generally agreed to be not practicable”.

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Thursday, 28 April 2005 10:03
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Pollutants could affect the sex of your children
Swedish scientists, from Lund University in Sweden whose research is published online in the journal Human Reproduction, claim that exposure to some polluting chemicals may lead to the birth of more boys than girls.

The team led by Professor Aleksander Giwercman, looked at the effect of persistent organochlorine pollutants (POPs) on the semen of 149 Swedish fishermen.

They measured levels of two POPs DDE and CB-153 in the blood of the fishermen and found Y chrosome increases of 1.6 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively when comparing those with the most and least exposure.

The study did not establish that the changed proportion of chromosomes had led to the birth of more boys.

Dr Allan Pacey, a specialist in male fertility at the University of Sheffield and secretary of the British Fertility Society, said: "It is the first time I have heard of pollutants having this effect.

"If this is so it is possible others could have a similar impact and that could have huge consequences”.

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Thursday, 28 April 2005 09:37
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Five nurses carry out surgery
Five nurses who trained at Glasgow Caledonian University are now qualified to carry out minor surgery in an effort to cut patient waiting times.

The nurses will carry out procedures on the removal of small lesions, benign moles and cysts at the Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit and in the Dermatology department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

One of the nurses Marion McAneny, 45, applied for the course after working as a nurse for 23 years. "I have always wanted to be a nurse, I had no urge to be a doctor, but I felt that I was very good technically with my hands and I felt that it was something I could take on," she said.

"One of the first things we learned was how to suture a wound shut. It seems a back-to-front way of doing things, but we had to know how to close any hole that we’ve made in the first place”.

Since taking up her post, Mrs McAneny said that she had carried out in the region of 40 procedures: "It is a big undertaking for us, the whole area about the consent of patients, ensuring that the procedure is properly explained, including the giving of the local anaesthetic and any potential complications.

"Anything that is removed is sent to pathology for examination after”.

She added that none of the patients she had treated made any comment at the fact that they were being operated on by a nurse.

"I think patients actually benefit from this system," she said. "Beyond speeding up waiting times, there is the fact that when they receive treatment, it is the same person who greets them upon arriving at the hospital and remains with them throughout the procedure, which is very comforting”.

Margaret Smith, director of nursing for North Glasgow Hospitals, said: "Throughout Greater Glasgow, nurse practitioners are already working in many different specialities. This training in minor surgical practices will not only unlock the potential of our nursing staff but patients will benefit through reduced waiting times.

"This is where we truly see the value of a quality-assured education process”.

John Scott, a consultant plastic surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, has been closely involved in teaching and assessing the students. "All the nurses trained in the minor surgical practices module have excelled," he said. "I have every confidence in their ability to provide a first-class minor surgical procedures service”.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2005 15:22
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Sexual health warning for teenagers
Nurses have expressed concern for teenager’s sexual health at the Royal College of Nursing’s annual conference.

School nurses said they had become aware of a group sex activity known as “daisy-chaining” where acts were performed with multiple partners.

The practice has raised fears over teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

Judy McRae, a sexual health nurse in London, explained that “daisy-chaining”, which is said to be similar to “swinging”, involves groups of older teenagers visiting each other’s homes and having sex. She said it was only just starting to be addressed by health professionals.

The RCN conference heard of a case involving a 14-year-old boy who had contracted HIV through sexual activity. The boy was said to have not realised someone so young could be diagnosed with HIV.

Peer pressure was cited as the main reason for teenagers becoming sexually active at increasingly younger ages.

Nurses said the problem was indicative of how school nurses’ roles had changed from giving jabs and checking for head lice to providing sexual health advice and treating the effects of binge drinking and drug abuse.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2005 13:05
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Free healthy meals for children a must
The professional body of school caterers’ has called on the Government to make healthy meals free for all pupils.

This is the effective solution to improving diets, with the long-term health benefits outweighing the extra costs, according to Neil Porter, chairman of the Local Authority Caterers Association.

Mr Porter told the BBC news website that the commercially driven nature of school catering was a big problem and that meeting nutritional standards should not be treated as a business.

“The way forward is for meals without charge for all pupils,” he said.

The poor standard of school dinners has become a high profile issue after being highlighted by TV chef Jamie Oliver.

Since then the Government pledged £280 million for better quality meals but Mr Porter has stressed the need for the more “root-and-branch” approach of making healthy school dinners completely free.

He also argued that by cutting bureaucracy in collecting the cash from parents and dealing with providers and sub-contractors, free meals could actually be cheaper than the current system.

The recent school chef’s award ceremony, held in Henley College, heard that Jamie Oliver’s television series actually misrepresented the standard of school kitchens.

Lynne Howe, who won the competition, said school meals were not as poor as those shown on TV, but welcomed more government investment.

“I just hope that all the promises about school meals won’t disappear again after 5 May,” she said.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2005 12:35
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Children’s food promotions criticised
Food manufacturers are using toys, games and books to promote fatty, salty and sugary foods to children, an industry watchdog has warned.

The Food Commission criticised several manufacturers over advertising campaigns “designed to encourage children to advertise food to themselves”.

Through this practice, companies try to build lifelong associations between children and particular brands, according to the report published in Food Magazine.

Last November a Department of Health white paper told food advertisers to take a more responsible attitude to advertising to children by 2007 or face regulation.

However, according to the Food Commission, companies are still encouraging children to prefer fatty, salty and sugary foods through advertising and promotions.

The report highlighted Nestlé advertisements for Milky bars and Cheerios cereal as indicative of a wider trend. Milkybars are described as “a delicious source of milky goodness”, but are in fact high in sugar and saturated fat. Cheerios, high in sugar and salt, come with a book that encourages children to place cereal pieces into specially cut holes on the page, it said.

A website game for Frosties, where children gain “power” if their character picks up packets of the cereal, was also cited.

Kellogg’s, who manufacture Frosties, was recently criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for implying that Frosties cereal was a healthy product when it is high in sugar.

Advertising campaigns by Mars and McDonalds were also given as examples

Kath Dalmeny, author of the Food Magazine report, said: “When children read books or play games they are at their most receptive to learning and suggestion. It’s an advertiser’s dream situation.

“By linking food brands to games and books, companies get children to have fun, but the children are also advertising fatty, salty and sugary products to themselves.

“The companies hope children will build up positive – even lifelong – associations with the food brands.”

A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation said that toys and games had long been associated with food products and the advertising strategies criticised in the report were nothing new. He added that the food industry was committed to addressing concerns relating to advertising to children.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2005 11:38
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Nurses in favour of legal prostitution
Nurses have voted in favour of decriminalising prostitution in the UK.

After debating the issue at the Royal College of Nursing’s annual conference in Harrogate, nurses voted 81 per cent in favour of a motion to decriminalise prostitutes.

The motion was proposed by Andrea Spyropoulos, who said that health issues should be considered separately from the usual moral, ethical and religious objections.

Those in favour said decriminalisation would allow men and women working in the industry easier access to necessary healthcare and help them to find a way out of prostitution.

Delegates heard how the stigma of working in prostitution meant that many people did not use health and social services available to them.

Initiatives to create tolerance zones for prostitutes and licensed brothels have proved effective in Holland, Germany and Australia and a similar scheme has been proposed for Liverpool.

The RCN said such initiatives led to reductions in exploitation and violence against prostitutes and improved the take-up of healthcare.

Nurses opposed to the motion argued that more should be done to prevent women from choosing prostitution in the first place.

Furthermore, the conference did not support legalising prostitution across the board, which would see those acting as pimps also being decriminalised.

The Government is currently reviewing the regulation of prostitution in England and Wales while the Scottish Parliament is debating the introduction of tolerance zones.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2005 10:48
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Clean uniforms to beat MRSA
Nurses have identified dirty uniforms as key culprits in the fight against MRSA and other hospital acquired infections, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said yesterday.

At the launch of its “Wipe it Out” campaign, the RCN revealed a ten-point plan to fight superbugs. It calls for every nurse to be provided with a clean uniform for every shift and improvements to hospital changing rooms and laundry facilities.

It also demands 24-hour cleaning teams and a system whereby staff can confidentially report those who do not wash their hands.

Less than half of NHS trusts provide nurses with enough uniforms to change for every shift, according to a survey in the Nursing Standard.

RCN secretary Beverly Malone said that to give every nurse one new uniform would require the health service to supply a minimum of 400,000 extra outfits. This would cost around £5 million.

Research has shown that uniforms are particularly prone to picking up infections, especially around the cuffs, pockets and aprons.

Washing at a high temperature kills infections but two thirds of the hospitals surveyed did not provide laundry facilities while 91 per cent of nurses said they were given inadequate instructions about how to wash there own uniforms.

Furthermore, only a quarter of hospitals provided suitable changing facilities forcing nurses to change in the ward lavatories or wear their uniforms on the way to and from work, increasing the chances of picking up infections.

Writing in the Nursing Standard, Editor Jean Gray said: “Nurses are often blamed for bad practices, such as wearing their uniforms in public, yet they do not have enough uniforms, laundries or changing facilities to take the necessary precautions”.

The “Wipe it Out” campaign, jointly run by the RCN, Evening Standard and Kimberely-Clark - the hygiene products manufacturer, also calls for infection control training for both new staff and undergraduates.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2005 10:03
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Fed up with being told what to eat
A study of 988 adults, by consumer analyst Mintel claim that almost half of British adults are fed up with being told what to eat by "do-good" campaigners.

The research found that 48 per cent of the adults were fed up with being told what to eat. With 69 per cent complaining that it was hard to even know which foods were healthy, because expert advice changed so often. And 58 per cent said confusing labelling on food made it difficult to work out what was good for them.

James McCoy, senior market analyst at Mintel, said: "There are clearly a large number of adults who are suffering from chronic information overload when it comes to healthy eating issues.

"There is a wealth of information, which bombards the public in matters of health and diet and given the complexity of many of these issues; it is hardly surprising that so many consumers feel confused”.

Dr Hannah Theobald, of the British Nutrition Foundation, said: "It is important that healthy eating messages are consistent to help ensure that the public understand these messages.

"Small changes to the diet can have a big impact on health.

"Providing clear nutrition information on food labels is the key to helping consumers make informed choices as far as diet is concerned. Work is under way to help make nutrition information easier to understand.

"The increased incidence of obesity in this country over recent decades is a major concern. Unless something is done to address this we face a huge public health problem. We need to address poor diets and the lack of physical activity to help prevent this”.

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