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News Archives, March 2005
Thursday, 24 March 2005 11:46
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Wider choice of IT systems for GPs in England
Health Minister John Hutton has announced plans for GPs across England to be given a greater choice of computer systems to work with the National Health Service's £6.2bn information technology programme. Family doctors will have the option of using a wider variety of systems, provided the system supplier has signed a distribution contract with one of the five Local Service Providers.

Health Minister John Hutton said:
“Throughout the development of new IT systems for the NHS we have listened carefully to what front-line clinicians want from them. GPs have told us they want a wider choice of systems to use and I am pleased we can deliver this”.

He added “The National Programme for IT has achieved an enormous amount in the two years it has been running - procuring and developing extremely advanced information systems which will make an enormous difference to the care patients receive. This investment in IT means the NHS will deliver safer, higher quality treatment for patients and much wider choice of who treats them.

“We are now seeing the results of the hard work by staff in the Programme and the NHS. The first systems have been installed in GP surgeries, hospitals and social care settings - and more will follow in the coming weeks and months”.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said: "This is a possible way forward that helps to address our concerns. We will want to see more detail”.

Commenting on Health Minister John Hutton's announcement on choice of computer systems for GPs in England, Richard Vautrey, the BMA's information technology negotiator said: "We welcome the fact that ministers have taken the issue of system choice seriously and are working towards a solution. This is a possible way forward that helps to address our concerns. We will want to see more detail about the requirements placed on the system supplier.

"Many GPs will be anxious about patient data being stored in a remote location away from the practice. They will need lots of reassurance that safeguards have been put in place to ensure data is stored appropriately and securely and can be accessed as easily as the current arrangements.

"GPs have been at the forefront of NHS computing for many years and have been anxious about changes that may result in poorer functionality or reliability. That is why we are keen to ensure real choice of system is retained in general practice”.

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Thursday, 24 March 2005 11:16
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Good news for women
Scientists in Germany claim they have developed a new pill to rival Viagra by making men last four times longer in bed.

The scientists say by taken Dapoxietin it will help men, who climax early, The pill is being trailed on one hundred men and is hoped to be available next year.

Professor Harmut Porst who is leading the study from the Institute for Urology in Hamburg said: “This will be a revolution; it will be even bigger than Viagra”.

Recent studies found a quarter of men only last three minutes in bed.

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Thursday, 24 March 2005 11:02
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
NHS failing bowel cancer patients in Scotland
A report from Audit Scotland claim that cancer patients are being failed by the Scottish NHS as bowel cancer patients are waiting too long for referral and treatment.

Audit Scotland revealed that 40 per cent of bowel cancer patients have to wait longer than the Scottish Executive’s target of two months for treatment after being diagnosed.

Tory health spokesman Dr Nanette Milne said the report provided "damning evidence" that patients were waiting too long.

She said: "While we welcome the progress made in the improvement of co-ordinating services and the role of specialist nurses, it is extremely worrying that only six in 10 patients in Scotland started treatment within the two-month target period and almost 70% of patients with bowel cancer were not given an urgent referral by their GP”.

Shona Robison, the Scottish National Party’s health spokeswoman, said: "This is a very serious failure in performance that is putting lives at risk.

"This must be a matter of utmost urgency for the health minister to address. He must find out why people are waiting so long for treatment, whether this is due to a shortage of staff or equipment and, most importantly, what he is going to do to ensure that there is a dramatic improvement in the time people have to wait for urgent bowel cancer treatment”.

Health minister Andy Kerr said that overall the report was a 'positive endorsement' of bowel cancer care in Scotland.

He added: 'However, the report indicates where challenges lie, for example in meeting waiting times targets 'But we are absolutely determined to drive up standards across NHS Scotland’.

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Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:35
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Parents to choose baby’s sex
MPs are to give the go-ahead to couples to create "designer babies" by allowing parents to select the sex of their baby.

But a Commons Science and Technology Committee report said more decisions about fertility treatment should be made by patients and their doctors.

The science and technology select committee report, which will also recommend the scrapping of regulators, the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority, has criticised the precautionary approach used up until now, instead arguing that new technologies should be used until harm is proved.

The report recommends that:
• Parents who want to "balance" their family should be allowed to choose the sex of their baby;
• The laboratory production of chimeras by mixing human and animal cells should be legal as long as they are destroyed within 14 days and subject to a ban on implantation on women;
• A total ban on reproductive cloning cannot be justified without more argument on the "fundamental issues", even though the technique is neither safe, effective nor reliable at the moment;
• The requirement on fertility clinics to consider the welfare of the potential child before treatment is unworkable and should be scrapped;
• Sperm and egg donors should be allowed to remain anonymous if they want to, which will not be the case under a change of law from next month.

The report is critical of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates fertility treatment and embryo research. It argues that its members lack scientific and clinical expertise and that there are conflicts between its role as an enforcer of the law and its advisory role, which requires it to identify any flaws in the legislation.

Dr David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, said: "The kind of ethics we see in this report, which is incapable of saying a clear no to anything, is no ethics at all. Even when dealing with human genetic engineering, cloning or the creation of human-animal hybrids, the committee wants to remove existing protections”.

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Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:12
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Alarming rates of TB in Africa
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said in The Global Tuberculosis Control report 2005 that tuberculosis (TB) has reached alarming proportions in Africa.

The WHO report claims that most areas of the world have seen a 20% drop in TB since 1990, but rates in Africa have tripled due to high rates of HIV/Aids and poor healthcare.

Dr Lee Jong-wook, director-general of WHO, said the report provided real optimism that TB was beatable, but said it also carried a clear warning.

"We have to face the fact that we have much further to go”.

He said it would be impossible to beat Africa's TB and HIV/Aids epidemics unless the two diseases were tackled together.

"The methods, procedures and supplies needed are well known. They are getting impressive results wherever they are being used.

"The challenge now is to invest enough so that they can be used in Africa," he said.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2005 10:47
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
More doctors and nurses are working for the NHS
The latest figures from the Department of Health (DOH) show that more doctors and nurses are working in the NHS than before.

Last year the NHS Workforce Census showed that a total of 1,282,900 people worked in the health service in England in 2003. The latest figures from the Department of Health were expected to show that the NHS workforce has now topped 1.3 million.

Latest figures show that in 2004 the NHS recruited an extra 8,000 (7,200 Whole Time Equivalent posts - WTE) more doctors, 11,200 (10,500 WTE) more nurses and 3,000 (2,600 WTE) more allied health professionals.

Health Secretary John Reid said:

"These figures show a year-on-year growth in the number of doctors, nurses and other frontline healthcare staff working in the NHS. This is having a huge impact on patients, helping them to access treatment faster and get better care.

"We now have more doctors, nurses, scientists and therapists than ever before - 117,000 (WTE 109,200) doctors, 397,500 (WTE 315,400) nurses and 128,900 (WTE 108,600) scientists and other therapists.

"The NHS is the world's biggest 'army for good', employing more than 1.33 million people who make a difference every day by delivering high quality treatment, care, advice and support to patients.

"Eighty-four per cent of those staff are directly involved in patient care which is increasingly being provided in new and better ways. Patients are not only benefiting from better care but also faster access to that care.

"It is these people who are responsible for the real changes we are seeing in patient care - the falling waiting times, the improvement in survival rates for cancer and coronary heart disease and the changing role of the NHS from being a sickness service to a 'wellness' service through community based initiatives such as our stop smoking services”.

Sir Nigel Crisp, NHS Chief Executive said:
"New ways of working are bringing real benefits for patients.

"For example, there are now more than 102,000 (77,500 WTE) nurses working in the community and general practice helping to deliver more treatment, advice and support to patients either in their homes or as close to them as possible, which has helped to put patient needs at the centre of the NHS.

"Increasingly we are seeing nurses and other healthcare staff taking on new roles and responsibilities such nurse prescribers who can prescribe drugs for a range of conditions like diabetes and asthma.

"However we realise that some areas of the NHS still struggles with shortages which is why we are constantly trying not only to retain our staff but to make the NHS a more attractive employer through improved pay and conditions, flexible working and increased access to childcare”.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2005 10:25
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
More recognition on trauma and stress needed
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) claim that continued stress and anxiety after traumatic experiences is far more common than realised.

NICE claim that five in 100 men and 10 in 100 women will get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their lifetime, they say PTSD is under-recognised in the NHS and is urging better screening and treatment by issuing new guidelines.

The guidance targets the management of people who have suffered a traumatic event, such as a major disaster, being in a war zone or sexual and physical abuse.

GPs have already raised concerns about the lack of psychological therapy and counselling services available to which they can refer patients with depression, anxiety and other similar disorders.

Dr Jonathan Bisson, co-chair of the guideline development group and clinical senior lecturer in psychiatry at Cardiff University, said: "There are a lot of people who have not been diagnosed and treated.

"PTSD is a very real condition and it is treatable. It's a case of making those treatments available”.

He said services were patchy across the UK and that resources needed to be redirected and more staff trained to treat PTSD.

Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said the guidelines offered "a starting point" for every NHS organisation across England and Wales.

Dr Monica Thompson, from the Trauma Stress Clinic, in London, said: "It is great to have these guidelines. They are really important in terms of accessing funding and service provision.

"It's really important to raise the understanding of PTSD among doctors and the public”.
The Mental Health Foundation today welcomed the new NICE guidelines for post traumatic stress disorder as a significant step in the right direction.

Dr Andrew McCulloch of the Mental Health Foundation said: "We still have lots of work to do regarding PTSD, and need to learn how to better deal with it.

"We hope that the guidelines are rolled out effectively - it can be difficult to ensure that the patients feel the benefits with any speed. People in distress must get the help they need sooner rather than later”.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2005 10:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Shake up needed for mental health plans
A draft Mental Health Bill is to be given a major overhaul before it is put to the vote, as it could force too many people with only mild conditions being locked up and forcibly treated, MPs and peers have warned.

The joint House of Commons and House of Lords Committee said the draft Mental Health Bill made it too easy to force a person into compulsory treatment.

Committee chairman Lord Carlile of Berriew said: "This is an important reminder to the Government that the Bill is fundamentally flawed. It is too heavily focused on compulsion and currently there are neither the financial resources nor the workforce to implement it. Far too many people could be forced into treatment unnecessarily.

"They can be detained even though the treatment they receive does not help their condition. And they can be detained compulsorily even if they are perfectly capable of making their own decisions. This is well beyond what is required and the committee believes that ministers should consider redrafting significant sections of the Bill”.

Paul Farmer, the chairman of the Mental Health Alliance, which represents the 50 largest mental health groups, said the Government should withdraw the current bill and draw up a new version based on the committee's recommendations.

"The committee has clearly listened to service users, carers, professionals and charities”.
Sophie Corlett, director of policy at mental health charity Mind, said the report was a "clear wake-up call" for the bill's supporters.

Sane chief executive Marjorie Wallace said: "Changing the law alone will not work unless we ensure proper care and treatment, which are still so often lacking”.

And Dr Tony Zigmond, vice president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, added the draft bill would have undermined the trusts between patient, carer and psychiatrist.

"The committee's recommendations, if adopted by government, would ensure an ethical and practical framework for mental health legislation”.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We have received the report and will be reading it carefully. We will be publishing a full response in due course”.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2005 09:43
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Skin cancer rates to treble in 30 years
Cancer Research UK launched this year's SunSmart campaign to warn Britons that the deadliest form of skin cancer is set to treble in the next 30 years if people go on sunbathing recklessly.

Based on current trends, children could be three times more likely than their grandparents to develop malignant melanoma as the sun-worshipping culture shows no signs of abating, says Cancer Research UK.

Malignant melanoma affects 7,300 people every year, and causes 1,600 deaths. By 2035, there could be 21,000 new cases every year, which would put melanoma among the top five cancers.

Professor Diffey said that his research into future trends in skin cancer showed it would take many years before rates started to level off and drop.

“The thing about skin cancer is that we won’t see a slow down next year or the year after. It may be 20 or 30 years before we can see the benefits of these campaigns,” he said.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2005 09:12
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Baby dies of MRSA
Luke Day who was born at Ipswich hospital's maternity unit on 2 February 2005 has died from Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus the MRSA superbug; he died 36 hours after his birth.

A post mortem examination, carried out at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London, found the cause of death was septicaemia caused by MRSA.

All maternity staff and members of Luke's family had been swabbed but no trace of MRSA has been found, Hospital officials admitted that despite exhaustive tests they were no nearer to discovering the source of the infection.

Luke's parents, Glynis Day, 17, and Kevin Fenton, 24, accused Ipswich Hospital, Suffolk, of a cover-up over poor standards of hygiene.

Glynis Day said: "I just want people to know what can happen.

"I want something done about it, even though it's not going to bring him back”.

Luke's father said: "I have no confidence in the NHS now - if I ever have to go into hospital I will be afraid. I would never go to Ipswich Hospital now”.

Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, whose mother-in-law died from the superbug, sent his "deepest sympathies" to the family.

"Cleaner hospitals are one of our five priorities," he said. "We have set out very clearly the actions we will take to deal with MRSA”.

John Reid, the Health Secretary, said that only one of 2,000 infant deaths each year was caused by MRSA.

"Our thoughts are with the family. I do not know any other details yet. No doubt the hospital will conduct its own inquiry”.

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