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News Archives, June 2005
Tuesday, 28 June 2005 10:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Brain implant could end depression
Trials in America on a pacemaker-style implant to treat severe depression have shown dramatic results and could be available to treat British patients by next year.

The technique, known as deep brain stimulation (DBS), has already been pioneered with people severely affected by Parkinson's disease.

The technique uses electrical pulses, sent via implanted electrodes, to jam neural wiring circuits in a part of the brain linked to depression in patients for whom anti-depressants or electro-convulsive therapy have failed.

A team from the University of Bristol hopes to set up a centre to test DBS on British patients suffering severe depression.

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Monday, 27 June 2005 12:33
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Doctors must be heard on reform
Speaking at the British Medical Association’s annual representative meeting in Manchester, chief executive James Johnson called on Doctors to make their voices heard on health reform.

He warned government that NHS reforms would not work unless health professionals were involved.

“My message to the government is simple and clear. Let the professionals help you modernise the NHS to which we are passionately committed. Work with us and your reforms will have a much greater degree of acceptance – and they might just work,” he said.

“Without us they cannot work.”

Mr Johnson highlighted treatment centres as an example of reform that would work well if properly planned but could end up working against patient’s interests unless independent and NHS providers compete on a level playing field.

“Treatment Centres are here and probably here to stay given the cross party consensus on diversity of provision,” he said.

“We should take pride in the fact that NHS, not the treatment centres, will continue to pick up the most complex and difficult cases. It is what we do best.

“But if we are going to have a multi-provider NHS then competition must be fair and the playing field levelled out - no more sweetheart deals that disadvantage NHS hospitals and leave patients, primary care trusts and GPs with no choice but to refer their patients to the treatment centre.”

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Monday, 27 June 2005 12:22
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
BMA chairman calls for an end to skills drain from poorest countries
James Johnson, chairman of the British Medical Association, today criticised western countries for draining skilled medical professionals from the developing world and called for an end to the “rape of the poorest countries”.

Speaking at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Manchester, Mr Johnson said he wanted to set a “very clear moral and ethical priority for the new Government as it chairs the G8 summit”.

“In the UK we have around 120,000 doctors practising medicine. The USA employs over 50% of all English-speaking doctors in the world. In Australia, a country of 20 million people, they have 48,000 doctors.

In Ghana, which also has a population of 20 million, they have only 1500 doctors in the entire country. In Mozambique, with the same number of people, it is even worse. They have just 500,” he said.

“This is not live aid, it’s reverse aid.”

He stressed he was not talking of closing doors to overseas colleagues because international exchange and collaboration must continue.

But he warned “It is completely pointless for the UK to give $300 million in aid to Africa if we then systematically rob them of their most precious resource – intellectual capital and the practical ability to prevent and treat disease.”

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Monday, 27 June 2005 12:03
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
More progress needed on cancer waits
The Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt is set to tell a cancer conference that more progress needs to be made in cutting patient waits from referral to treatment to two months, and from diagnosis to surgery to one month.

The targets were set as part of the 2000 Cancer Plan but progress has faltered on the two-month referral to treatment goal.

Ms Hewitt will tell the National Cancer Waits conference that progress has been made on the one-month diagnosis to treatment goal but there are still “bottlenecks” and more focus is needed.

Official Statistics indicate that 20 per cent of patients are not being seen within the two-month limit, while 10 per cent are not seen within the one-month target.

Joanne Rule, chief executive of the charity CancerBACUP, said that the targets were standard in many countries but the Government was struggling to meet them.

"There are problems with both of them, but especially the two-month target," she said on the BBC Health website.

"Diagnosis doesn't happen with just one test, so while the two-month wait incorporates all the different tests, the other one does not start until the diagnosis has been made.

"Our surveys does not suggest there is a lack of resources, except maybe in a few areas, so we can still meet them.

"What we need now is for everyone involved to concentrate and work hard.

"These targets matter - in many other countries these waits would seem a long time."

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Monday, 27 June 2005 11:41
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Study proves frozen egg IVF can be successful
The largest ever study of egg-freezing as an option for women who want to delay motherhood has concluded that the technique is just as effective in producing a healthy baby as freezing fertilised embryos.

The findings could open new doors for cancer patients, who can have eggs frozen before receiving chemotherapy which often leaves the patient sterile.

The technique could also benefit younger women who wish to delay starting a family for social or career reasons. Eggs can be defrosted and fertilised ten years or more later when the woman’s fertility would usually be much lower.

It has taken almost 20 years for the procedure to become viable due to the difficulties involved in thawing an egg without damaging it.

The Italian study, led by Eleanora Porcu of Bologna’s AIRA clinic, examined 501 IVF cycles involving 380 women using frozen eggs. Seventy per cent of the eggs survived thawing, producing 85 pregnancies and 70 births.

The success rate was much better than previously achieved and compared favourably with other methods of IVF treatment.

“My goal was to understand whether this technique works, and I think we can see that it does. There is no statistically significant difference between egg-freezing and embryo-freezing,” Dr Porcu said.

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Monday, 27 June 2005 11:03
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Worst month on record for hey fever sufferers
Scientists have reported that this summer has been the worst on record for hey fever sufferers and warned that the pollen count will get higher still in the weeks ahead.

The warm, dry weather has meant more people suffering the effects of hay fever, with the grass pollen season starting early in mid-May and projected to last through July.

Pollen counts for the past week have been more than six times the 150 grain per cubic meter level regarded as ‘very high’.

And in Derby, a count of 922 was recorded – the highest in this country since records began in 1968.

An extended hay fever season is expected to become a permanent feature of the British summer due to climate change, prompting worries about the impacts on students and workers.

Professor Jean Emberlin wants the Department of Education to move GCSEs and A levels to the beginning of May to avoid the worst of the pollen counts.

“It would be better to shift the exams altogether so that everyone has a level playing field,” she said.

“People with hay fever get tired, can’t concentrate and feel physically sick.”

Fifteen to 20 per cent of adults and around 38 per cent of teenagers suffer from hey fever in the UK.

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Monday, 27 June 2005 10:39
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Nurses lead sick days league
A survey by the Healthcare Commission has revealed that ward nurses in England and Wales take more sick days than any other public sector staff.

Ward staff take an average of 16.8 days off sick every year – five and a half days more than an average public sector worker - at a cost of £470m to the tax payer.

The Commission said that factors such as poor job satisfaction, high workload and physical stress all contributed to “unacceptably high” sickness levels and that reducing annual sick days by 30 per cent could save the NHS £141m.

Health Commission chief executive, Anna Walker, said: “Nurses are far to important for us to ignore this.

“The causes are unclear but nurses are the backbone of the NHS and we need to do more to understand what is happening.”

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Monday, 27 June 2005 10:15
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Total smoking ban urged
Ministers launched a consultation last week on proposals to outlaw smoking in the majority of workplaces in England, they are encouraging workers in pubs and clubs across England to voice their opposition over the Government's plans to only partially ban smoking in enclosed public places.

The union TUC are calling on all pub staffs to respond to the consultation to express their feeling and concerns on what it is like to work a shift in a bar thick with tobacco smoke.

Health campaigners and doctors have condemned the Government's smoking legislation as "half measures" and call for a total ban in enclosed areas, as seen in the Irish Republic and New York, and planned for Scotland next year.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "For any smoking ban to be effective it must cover all workplaces.

"The pub and club workers of establishments that don't serve food deserve as much protection from cancer-causing smoke as everyone else.

"Stopping smokers from puffing away at the bar will not stop bar workers suffering the ill-effects of passive smoking, and nor will improved ventilation help much.

"A total ban on smoking is the only solution and I urge all pub and club staff to email in and help us change the Secretary of State's mind”.

A special website - - includes a standard letter that workers can use to tell Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt that they want a total ban on smoking in the workplace.

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Monday, 27 June 2005 10:14
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Hygiene more important than choice for patients
A survey by the British Medical Association has found that patients see hospital cleanliness as more important than choice when it comes to hospital spending.

The Government’s flagship health initiative - giving patients a choice of hospitals - came tenth in a poll which asked 2,000 patients to rank 10 NHS spending priorities.

Improving accident and emergency departments was the second most important priority for patients, with shorter waits third.

BMA chairman James Johnson said: "Quite rightly patients want their hospitals to be clean, they want improved A&E services, shorter waits and increased funding for research and new treatment."

"The BMA has been saying for a long time that patients are not so interested in a choice of five hospitals, but they want a good service in a clean, local hospital."

A Department of Health spokesman said that tackling MRSA was a top priority but added that the government believes people want more choice over treatment.

"In national patient surveys, patients are increasingly positive about the quality of their care, but we recognise that there is more to do to ensure that all patients get fairer, faster and better care," he said on the BBC Health website.

"There is clear evidence that patients want more involvement in decisions made about their care and health.

"When we tested this out, the majority of patients offered a choice have taken it."

The top 10 public priorities for health according to the BMA survey were as follows:

Cleaner hospitals - 9.23
Improved A&E - 8.52
Shorter out-patient waits - 8.42
New treatments research - 8.35
Funds for prevention - 8.07
Better out of hours care - 7.89
Extended GP services - 7.83
More time with a doctor - 7.26
Better hospital food - 6.51
Choice of hospital - 6.43

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Monday, 27 June 2005 09:57
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
A survey commissioned by the Scottish Executive shows that support for the proposals to ban smoking in public places in Scotland has more than trebled over the last six months.

The survey by Market Research UK shows 56 per cent of people are in favour of the controversial Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill.

Health Minister Andy Kerr said: “I'm very pleased to see so many Scots are in favour of what we're doing.

“This Bill is the most important piece of public health legislation in a generation and widespread understanding is vital”.

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