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News Archives, April 2005
Sunday, 24 April 2005 10:23
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Want a tan then take a pill
A small pharmaceutical firm called Epitan in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a new substance called Melanotan which gives people a tan without exposure to the sun's harmful ultra-violet rays.

The scientists claim that Melanotan works by mimicking the hormone that increases the production of melanin, the pigment which naturally darkens the skin as it protects against the sun.

Doctors have been carrying out tests at London's Queen Mary Hospital found Melanotan appears to suppress the appetite for dieters and eases impotence and erectile dysfunction for men.

Each treatment is likely to cost about £105. It will take about a week to work and the tan could last for up to 90 days. Could this treatment spell the end for Britain's 8,000 tanning salons?

Iain Kirkwood Epitan chief executive, who is raising £15million in Britain for final trials on the drug early next year, said: "Recent studies indicate a link between the use of sunbeds and fatal skin cancers”.

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Sunday, 24 April 2005 10:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
School nurses needed
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) carried out a poll of more than 1,200 school nurses from across the UK and found that there are not enough school nurses to go round.

The research revealed that on average a school nurse in the state sector covered at least 10 schools, caring for around 2,400 pupils. This means less than 3,000 school nurses cover the UK - amounting to just 4.5 school nurses per constituency.

Dr Beverly Malone, general secretary of the RCN, said: "It's clear from our survey just how few school nurses we have.

"We know that in many parts of the UK children do not have access to an adequate school nurse service, and this is simply unacceptable”.
She added: "School nurses of today are not just about sick bays and nits.

"Their job covers a gamut of responsibilities from immunisation, health promotion and child protection through to counselling, sexual health and drugs education.

"They also play an important role in social inclusion such as working with children with special needs and promoting educational attainment”.

Ms Malone added the RCN was urging the next government to strengthen the role of the school nurse, develop a clear strategy to double their numbers and make funding available for every school nurse to have the opportunity to access specialist training.

A Labour spokeswoman said: "Primary Care Trusts have been given cash to ensure there's a school nurse for each secondary school and for each cluster of primary schools.

"It is now up to them to implement that policy”.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "We have pledged an increase of 30,000 extra nurses by 2010 and our public health policy, with a dedicated health budget, will enable school nurses to be confident of financial backing in the future”.

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "The school nurse has a key part to play in winning the hearts, minds and taste buds of the next generation. The problems with obesity in our schools will only be solved by a keen focus on prevention.

"The Liberal Democrats would recruit and retain thousands more nurses”.

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Saturday, 23 April 2005 10:25
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Surgeons express their fears
Around 30 surgeons held a lively debate with Lord Warner, the health minister, at a meeting organised by the British Orthopaedic Directors Society in London to express their fears that the introduction of independent treatment centres (ITCs), set up to cut waiting lists, will lead to hospital closures and lower standards of patient care.

They believe that foreign doctors brought in to work on short-term contracts in the privately run ITCs will not be as well trained or monitored as strictly as those registered by the British Medical Council.

They expressed their concern that the introduction of the payment-by-results system of hospital funding and the opening of the ITCs will deprive district general hospitals of "easier and more lucrative" work, leading to closures and mergers.

Lord Warner said “the new centres were crucial to achieving the Government's target that by 2008 patients will wait no longer than 18 weeks from the time a GP identifies a potential problem to treatment.

"We have had 50 years of very, very long waiting lists and we are talking about a government that does not accept that. I realise that may be uncomfortable to people who have grown to love waiting lists”.

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Saturday, 23 April 2005 10:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
United we stand
Sargent Cancer Care for Children and CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) two leading charities announced yesterday that they are to merge creating Britain’s largest children’s cancer charity.

They said that combining their strengths they would help to fill the gaps in statutory provision for the five children in Britain who are diagnosed with cancer every day.

The new charity, to be known as CLIC Sargent, hopes to boost its combined £16 million voluntary income.

David Ellis, the chief executive of the newly merged charity, said “that the merger was driven by the strong synergies between the two charities.

“Many of CLIC and Sargent Cancer Care for Children have funded post holders work in the same hospitals, supporting the same families. These two charities are coming together to ensure that health and social care work together, looking at the families and children in a holistic way”.

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Saturday, 23 April 2005 09:43
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Diabetics suffer needless foot amputations
Doctors have claimed that about 13,500 diabetics suffer needless foot amputations after developing ulcers.

They claim that a new treatment - VAC therapy - which makes surgery unnecessary is being blocked by NHS bosses.

The VAC system, when placed directly on the wound, can kill 99 per cent of bacteria.
It can be used in the community and is favoured by many GPs but most primary care trusts have not allocated any money from their budgets for the treatment.

Outraged charity Diabetes UK urged the NHS to review its approach to treating diabetics.
The charity said: "The fact that some people are needlessly losing limbs because they are not being offered access to the best treatment is totally unacceptable”.

Dr Michael Edmonds, consultant diabetologist at King's College Hospital in London, also called for action.

He said: "Local health services must prioritise diabetes now. A failure to do so will put many more people at risk.

"It is essential that people with diabetes receive early, effective treatment of ulcers. Around 90,000 people with diabetes develop foot ulcers each year.

"Tragically approximately 15 per cent of foot ulcers will result in amputation”.
The World Health Organisation is also desperately trying to prevent so many amputations.

It has declared 2005 The Year of the Foot and the campaign slogan is "Put feet first, prevent amputations".

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Saturday, 23 April 2005 09:26
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Implants may help ward off heart disease
Scientists from Brunel University are looking to develop a new technique using a medical equipment coating and plastic surgery implants too help ward off heart disease.

The team are looking to develop tubes from collagen implants to bypass blocked arteries. They believe a diamond-like carbon coating - used on catheters to stop clogging - will stop these tubes becoming blocked.

Dr Ian Kill, of the university's school of health sciences and social care, said “the research could potentially have a huge impact on tackling one of Britain's major fatal diseases.

"Natural and artificial biomaterials are now commonly used in medical applications in order to treat augment or replace a tissue, organ or function of the body.

"Diamond-like carbon is tough as well as slippery so substances do not stick to it.

"It is also inert and does not generate an immune or inflammatory reaction within the body.

"It is therefore an ideal substance to be used for this purpose”.

Belinda Linden, head of medical information at the British Heart Foundation, said “there were doubts whether the technique would work.

"While it is important to explore many avenues to find ways to reduce build up of fatty deposits in the arteries, it is uncertain whether this research will demonstrate any significant benefits of DLC over other materials used as coatings”.

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Saturday, 23 April 2005 09:12
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Vitamin D helps fight lung cancer
A team of researchers from Harvard University USA suggest that people with lung cancer who have surgery in the winter are 40% more likely to die of the disease than those operated on in the summer.

The team studied 456 consecutive patients with early-stage lung cancer the patients were asked about diet, supplements and the timing of their cancer surgery, they found high levels of vitamin D - from sun exposure and food supplements - had a positive impact on the success of surgery.

Those who had high vitamin D levels and summer operations fared the best: five-year survival was 72 percent versus 29 percent for those who had the lowest levels of the nutrient and winter surgery.

Lead researcher Wei Zhou said: "This study in no way suggests that people should try to time their cancer surgeries for a particular season - that would obviously be impossible.

"But if validated it may mean that increasing a patient's use of vitamin D before such surgery could offer a survival benefit”.

Dr Kat Arney, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said more research was needed to see if increasing the levels of vitamin D before surgery would be beneficial.

But she added: "There is no substantial evidence to suggest that excessive sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation can have a protective effect against cancer in healthy people.

"Although vitamin D is made by our bodies in response to sunlight, we actually need relatively little exposure to maintain healthy levels.

"Any extra vitamin D made in this way cannot be stored. Cancer Research UK advises everyone to be 'SunSmart', as prolonged sunbathing, sunbed use and especially sunburn in children can all increase the risk of skin cancer later in life”.

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Friday, 22 April 2005 13:23
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Doctors failing to link asthma and hay fever
Patients are not receiving effective treatments for asthma and hay fever because doctors are failing to identify the link between the two conditions, a report has claimed.

Research by Allergy UK, a charity for allergy sufferers, found that as summer approaches, 80 per cent of asthma patients find their symptoms worsen but treatments may not work unless doctors manage both conditions jointly.

Of the 1,500 people with co-existing asthma and hay fever surveyed for the “Stolen Lives” survey, 46 per cent said they avoid going outdoors during the allergy season, while 62 per cent admitted the two conditions made them tired and lethargic at work.

Those with the associated conditions visit their GP significantly more often with the cost of treatment 46 per cent higher than for asthma alone.

Patients with co-existing asthma and hay fever are also more likely to require hospital treatment.

Part of Allergy UK’s campaign has been to compile a patient checklist which allows patients to assess the effectiveness of their asthma control and whether they may also be affected by hay fever.

The charity said it hopes the campaign will enable patients and doctors to devise more appropriate management strategies.

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Friday, 22 April 2005 12:43
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Common infections could reduce leukaemia risk
Attending day care centres in the first months of life can reduce a child’s risk of developing leukaemia, a report has found.

It is believed that exposure to common infections in the first year of life reduces the susceptibility to the illness.

Scientists from the Leukaemia Research Fund interviewed the parents of 9445 children between the ages of 2 and 14 about day care and social activity in the first year of life.

3140 of the children had cancer of which 1286 had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – cancer of the blood cells - and 6305 were cancer free.

Results showed that increased social activity outside the family corresponded to a reduced risk of ALL, with the greatest reduction seen in children who attended a nursery or playgroup in the first three months of life.

“Our results provide further support that social activity with other infants and children during the first few months of life protects against subsequent risk of ALL,” said the reports authors.

“We conclude that some degree of early exposure to infection seems to be important for child health.”

The notion that early exposure to common infections can boost a child’s immunity is years old but this is the first study to closely examine the link.

The study is to be published in the British Medical Journal.

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Friday, 22 April 2005 11:25
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Diabetes drug may stop cancers
A drug used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes may also prevent cancer, research has revealed.

Scientists from the University of Dundee analysed 6,000 patients with type 2 diabetes.

When they examined cancer rates among the same group, it was found that those taking the treatment metformin were 25 per cent less likely to develop a tumour.

The study, led by Professor Dario Alessi, discovered that metformin targets the enzyme AMPK which acts as a tumour suppressor by stopping the growth of cancer cells.

This finding would suggest that using metformin might reduce the risk of cancer.

Professor Andrew Morris who treats type 2 diabetes patients said: “Despite being the most widely used drug for people with the condition, it is only recently that we have learnt how it works.

“The possibility that it may have beneficial effects beyond diabetes control is very exciting.”

A large-scale study will be undertaken to verify the results.

According to Professor Alessi, because the drug is already on the market, 10 to 15 years will be cut from the time normally required for testing. Metformin could then be used as a preventative cancer drug within a couple of years.

Cancer Research UK responded positively to the news but stressed that it was necessary for the study to be verified before drawing firm conclusions.

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