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218 records found from year 2006
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Monday, 03 July 2006 10:06
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Experts at the Imperial College London believe that exposure to certain animals may prevent rather than trigger asthma and allergies.

The team found that lab workers who frequently handled research rodents had fewer allergic reactions to the animals as a result.

The most recent work that is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, supports the "hygiene hypothesis" of asthma and allergic diseases.

According to the hygiene hypothesis, exposure to naturally occurring infections and microbes might essentially immunise against the development of asthma and allergies.

Dr Meinir Jones and her team suggest that the laboratory workers were experiencing a natural form of immunotherapy via exposure to animals through their occupation.

Dr Jones said: "Interestingly, this does not seem to be the case for other groups at risk of occupational asthma such as bakers and detergent manufacturers”.

Commenting on the research Dr Karen Pacheco of the National Jewish Medical and Research Centre in Denver, the US, said: "This approach suggests that peak exposures are more important for the development of immune responses to laboratory animals than average exposures”.

A spokeswoman from Asthma UK said although the work was helpful, more research was still needed.

"This research helps us understand the risks people may face when working with animals. However, we still have much to learn about allergen exposure and and the risk of developing asthma”.

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Sunday, 02 July 2006 08:08
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The Government has issued a heatwave warning after the Met Office has forecast that in at least the next 3 days there is an 80% chance of temperatures in the London, South East and West Midlands regions, being high enough on at least two consecutive days to give rise to significant health risks. The Heatwave Plan defines this as a Level 2 "Alert".

Department of Health experts have warned that high temperatures can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with chronic disease. Advice on how to reduce the risk either for yourself or for somebody you know is available from the Department of Health website at, the NHS Direct Website at or on 0845 4647 or from your local GP or chemist.

For health and social care providers, the purpose of this message is to draw your attention to the requirements set out in the Heatwave Plan and the need for organisations providing health and social care to take steps to prepare for a Level 3 or 4 heatwave.

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Friday, 30 June 2006 12:35
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Firms have been asked to bid for the role of commissioning NHS care, fuelling fears that the health service is facing privatisation.

Local health managers working for bodies called primary care trusts currently buy in services, although in some areas it has been devolved to GPs.

But adverts have gone out appearing to ask for firms to take on the role.

As news broke of the move, ministers pulled the ads, saying they were wrong to imply firms could run PCT services.

The advert, appearing in the Official Journal of the European Union, said it wanted firms to set out how they could run "a comprehensive range of management services including PCT management and related services".

Instead, the government said it was only looking for firms to provide expert advice to PCTs.

But the denial has not soothed fears outsourcing PCT services is the latest step in a greater reliance on the private sector.

Nearly one in 10 NHS operations are already carried out by the private sector in either hospitals or specially-designed clinics called independent sector treatment centres which carry out minor procedures such as cataract operations.

And last month the first deal was signed in east London for a private firm to run GP services are more are in the pipeline.

Outsourcing the role of PCTs, which control three-quarters of the NHS budget to buy in services from hospitals, GPs and other community services, would complete the triangle.

Karen Jennings, head of health at public sector union Unison, said: "It is hard to see it as anything other than privatisation by stealth.

"The Department of Health have clearly taken their eye off the ball and the pace and scale of NHS reforms is leading to serious errors."

And Alex Nunns, of the campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, added: "We are getting into a situation where private firms could be in charge of commission NHS services and running them.

"It is a conflict of interest as it is not unimaginable that private firms will send patients to private hospitals."

And Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb MP said the episode "typifies the government's reckless approach to health reforms".

"Once again health policy is being changed by stealth without consultation, bypassing parliament, bypassing professionals and bypassing patients.

"These secret plans represent a fundamental shift in what the NHS is."

Lord Warner said the government was not trying to privatise the NHS, but instead wanted to get firms to be available to offer "expert advice" to PCTs.

"We are determined to create stronger and more effective primary care trusts, which can secure the best possible healthcare for patients in local areas by commissioning services from a range of providers."

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Friday, 30 June 2006 10:22
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
A study by researchers from the Universities of London and Leicester claims that psychological treatment for adult sex offenders can reduce reoffending rates but does not provide a cure.

The researchers reviewed nine studies involving 567 offenders in the US, UK, Canada and Europe, they found some treatment programmes have cut re-offending by up to 40%.

Most sex offenders in the UK receive some form of psychological treatment, mostly from the NHS and prison and probation services.

It tends to take the form of talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Fewer than 10% of sex offenders end up re-offending.

Report author Belinda Brooks-Green: "Offenders who successfully complete a treatment programme re-offend less often and less seriously than those who do not show that they have understood and worked through the relevant psychological issues".

But she warned sex offending cannot always be successfully treated.

"Better understanding of the outcomes of treatments - either controlling and moderating or harming and worsening behaviour - could at least focus on the most beneficial and cost-effective interventions”.

Zoe Hilton, policy adviser at the children's charity NSPCC, said she would like to see more research on the issue, particularly on the differences in re-offending between paedophiles and adult sex offenders.

She added: "In many ways it is not surprising, we know with good support and the will of the offender, we can reduce re-offending.

"But it does depend on the individual."

And Donald Findlater, deputy director of child protection charity, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, and who used to run a treatment service for sex offenders, said: "I think it is wrong to believe you can cure a sex offender. You can't. You can manage the problem and psychological treatment has been shown to do that.

"But you can't say someone is free of the problem and not a risk at all of re-offending”.

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Friday, 30 June 2006 09:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
500 people are needed for a trial to determine whether chemicals in cannabis can slow the impact of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study is taking place in collaboration with Professor Alan Thompson at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (part of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) and Institute of Neurology, University College London.

Prof John Zajicek, of the Peninsula Medical School and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, will lead the research.

Prof Zajicek said; "This trial will build on our previous study which, coupled with our work in the laboratory, suggested that THC one component of cannabis could have a protective effect on nerves”.

"Multiple Sclerosis is a very unpredictable disease. Currently there are few medicines which are effective in treating MS and none have been shown to have any effect in the progressive stages of the disease."

"If this study demonstrates that cannaboids do have a longer term effect on the progression of disability, there are potentially far-reaching implications, not only for the health of people with MS, but also for those with other neurodegenerative conditions”.

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Thursday, 29 June 2006 11:00
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
The NHS is failing to use adequate security on portable data storage devices, according to a survey.

Of the 117 healthcare workers quizzed, almost two thirds use no or inadequate security on their mobile devices. Medical professionals also admitted to using the devices to store patient information.

The survey was carried out by the British Journal of Healthcare Computing and Information Management (BJHC) and company Pointsec Mobile Technologies.

Harry Wood, assistant editor of BJHC, said patient confidentiality is being put in jeopardy.
The respondents included information managers, IT managers and medical professionals.

Two thirds of the 117 worked in the NHS, and a quarter were suppliers to the NHS.

Portable data storage devices are becoming increasingly popular, as they can carry large amounts of data from one place to another. The participants surveyed said they use a mixture of USB memory sticks, laptops, PDAs, smart phones and mobile phones.

Nearly two thirds of respondents used their device to store corporate information, and one fifth held security details, such as passwords and pin numbers. Half of the medical professionals who responded said they carried patient records on their devices.

But the survey also revealed that inadequate security was being used to safeguard this information. One fifth of those asked said they did not use any security, and a further two fifths only used password controlled access.

Mr Wood said: "A password alone is not adequate security for mobile devices.
"The data should be encrypted at source where it is held on the organisations network, and then anything that is taken off onto a mobile device is readily encrypted.

"This means that it doesn't matter if it has been password protected or not because you can only get into it if you gave the decryption codes."

Almost 80% of the respondents said there was a security policy in their organisation, but Mr Wood said the survey suggested these policies were not being strictly enforced placing medical records and patient information in jeopardy.

Dr Paul Cundy, a GP from London and the British Medical Association's spokesman for computing in general practice, said: "In the past, data was kept on hard discs, but we are increasingly moving into a mobile data world.

"There needs to be a far greater understanding of the consequences of having electronic records in general.

"One of the problems is that it takes a mishap to really bring things home, and I dare say at some point there will be a story about people having their medical details sold."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Individual devices and data security are a matter for individual trusts. Each has its own Caldicott guardian who is responsible for data security and clinical confidentiality.

"Any equipment or activity taken through the National Programme for IT will meet stringent security and confidentiality requirements. These requirements were commended in the recent National Audit Office report on the programme."

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Thursday, 29 June 2006 10:04
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
The vast majority of student nurses graduating this summer have no job to go to, according to a survey reported by the BBC.

Figures from 20 universities showed eight out of ten had so far failed to secure a position, compared with 30 per cent last year, it said.

Evidence was gathered by the Council of Deans, which represents nursing and health faculties.

It was also said to show that of nurses who had already graduated from one London university, only a quarter had found work.

And the figure for a midwifery faculty in the North East was 5 per cent.

The Royal College of Nursing found the figures "shocking", BBC Radio 4's Today programme reported.

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Sunday, 25 June 2006 11:10
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
A study by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre and St George's hospital, London, has found that thousands of elderly National Health Service patients are dying because they are denied intensive care treatment after surgery.

A six-year survey of four million operations found that 85 per cent of the most vulnerable patients do not get the intensive care that could save their lives or prevent serious complications.

As a result, it is estimated that up to 5,000 frail and elderly patients die each year because they are not put in intensive care beds for monitoring after their operations.

Rupert Pearse, who led the research, also claims that 25,000 more suffer life-threatening complications because of the care failures.

Among the causes are a lack of intensive care beds and "ageism" against older patients.

Dr Pearse, a consultant in intensive care from the Royal London Hospital, said: "Thousands of patients are dying unnecessarily. I would call it a major public health problem. If we just spent a little more time and money on these patients, we would save money by not having to treat serious complications."

He added: "We shouldn't be writing off patients because they're 80-years-old. There are many people of this age who could and should go on to enjoy many years of life”.

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Saturday, 24 June 2006 09:32
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
29 junior doctors selected for a specialist course designed to train the next generation of GPs has been left jobless after offers were withdrawn because of NHS funding cuts.

The doctors, who have studied medicine for at least six years, learnt this month that they would not be able to join their three-year course in August. The Innovative Training Posts, the final stage of formal education, were introduced to single out and nurture the best primary-care talent. The course involves two years concentrating on various specialities in hospital medicine and one year as a GP registrar.

Richard Savage, course organiser of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital vocational training scheme, who was involved in the training of three of the doctors, described the action as outrageous. “The bureaucracy in the NHS is now so disjointed that there is no forward planning,” he said. “It is simply worked from one financial year to the next.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) said that it was seeking the urgent intervention of Lord Warner, the Health Minister, to resurrect the training of would-be GPs, who were from around the country and to be based in London.

Hamish Meldrum, the chairman of the GPs’ committee of the BMA, said that even if they managed to restart the course next year, the precedent was very dangerous and left them few employment prospects in the meantime.

“Underlying this story is the problem that doctors’ training is under growing financial pressure,” Dr Meldrum said. “The country is crying out for fully trained GPs. It would be a tragedy not just for these doctors but also for patients and the wider NHS if medical training is cut as a result of NHS deficits”.

The London Deanery and the Department of Health denied that the course was being cut and said that they expected the students to begin their training in the New Year.

“We are reassured that the deanery is working with the BMA and doctors affected to offer them careers advice and support so that this has as little impact on their professional and personal circumstances as possible,” a department spokeswoman said.

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Friday, 23 June 2006 12:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Researchers have discovered clues about how long mad cow disease (BSE) can lurk in the human body before it develops into vCJD after studying a disease linked to cannibalism.

The University College London study found it could take 50 years for vCJD, the human form of the disease, to develop after studying Papa New Guineans with a related condition – kuru disease, which is contracted through cannibalism.

Like vCJD, kuru disease is a linked to mutated proteins called prions. It reached epidemic proportions is some Papa New Guinea communities where eating dead relatives as a mark of respect was ritual practice until it was banned in the 1950s.

In the study, 11 patients with kuru were identified between July 1996 to June 2004, with the last one born in 1959.

The researchers believe the incubation period for BSE prions in humans could be even longer than that seen in kuru as infection between different species usually takes longer to develop than one passed within the same species.

Professor John Collinge, who led the study, said vCJD patients identified so far "could represent a distinct genetic subpopulation with unusually short incubation periods for BSE".

He said a human BSE epidemic might have a number of phases, and added: "Recent estimates of the size of the vCJD epidemic based on uniform genetic susceptibility could be substantial underestimations."

An editorial in the Lancet, which puvblished the findings, stated: "The eventual size of the vCJD epidemic remains uncertain.

"The number of infected individuals is still unknown.

"By investigating kuru, the only known example of a major epidemic of a prion disease, we will begin to narrow our present uncertainties about vCJD.

"Any belief that vCJD incidence has peaked and that we are now through the worst of this sinister disease must now be treated with extreme scepticism."

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