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Minority ethnic staff ‘told to adopt Western names’ by managers

Concerns have been raised amid allegations that hospital managers have told minority ethnic staff to adopt 'Western work names' as their original names were 'too difficult to pronounce'.

In a letter from the Care Quality Commission, published in the trust's July board papers, workers at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust told inspectors about their experiences during an unannounced visit in June. 

“This is not acceptable, individuals can only truly thrive in a work environment where they feel safe as themselves and belong rather than having to ‘fit in’.” Wrote the CQC’s head of hospital inspections Amanda Williams. 

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Source: HSJ, 4 August 2021

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Study reveals the most common serious safety errors on hospital wards

New research examining severe harm incidents and deaths in NHS hospitals has been published today in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The research, looking at more than 370 incidents has highlighted the risks to patients from fragmented care on busy wards and shortages of staff.

According to the findings, “errors occurred due to a lack of clarity regarding responsibilities for patient care coordination, especially during emergency situations or out of hours. Poor documentation of long-term management plans and no reliable review system to ensure follow-up by the most appropriate teams contributed,” with researchers also saying many of the errors in medication happened more often overnight due to a lack of out-of-hours pharmacy support. 

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Source: The Independent, 5 August 2021

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‘Enough is enough’: Open letter calls for end to Covid-related abuse against health workers

An open letter has been published calling for the end of Covid-related abuse against healthcare staff, with leading health organisations coming together to unite against the rising tide of violence against nurses and other NHS staff.

The letter was signed by nine representatives including the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives and warned of the “unacceptable behaviours”, a move that comes after he chief executive and general secretary of the RCM, Gill Walton, received online threats after she supported a national appeal for pregnant women to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

“To those who issue death threats or incite violence against us, we say enough is enough”, Ms Walton has said. 

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Source: The Nursing Times, 4 August 2021

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Covid: Pressured oxygen reduces ventilator need

New research has found oxygen therapy may help reduce the number of patients needing a ventilator. The research trial, conducted across 48 hospitals in the UK, found that out of the three methods of oxygen delivery, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) could be the most beneficial in reducing the need for a patient to go on a ventilator. 

"The routine use of high-flow nasal oxygenation, which can consume large amounts of oxygen, should be reconsidered, as it did not improve outcomes. By giving patients the most effective treatment to begin with, we can help prevent resource shortages in our NHS and make sure the right type of ventilation is available to patients when it is required." Says Prof Gavin Perkins, from the Warwick Medical School. 

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Source: BBC News, 05 August 2021

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Shielding staff say they were forced back to work without a risk assessment

According to a UK-wide survey conducted in April 2021, significant numbers of "extremely vulnerable" clinicians have said they were forced to go back to work without having an appropriate risk assessment in line with official guidance. 

The survey, recording 124 respondents, found 38% had yet to receive a risk assessment despite returning to work with the comments section entries including complaints around “bullying from peers” and “difficult” working relationships.

“NHS organisations have been working hard to look after all their staff during these challenging times, and will be aware that the right support is especially important to meet the various needs of staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable." Paul Deemer, head of diversity and inclusion at NHS Employers has said. 

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Source: HSJ, 4 August 2021

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Senior trust medics complain of ‘excessively authoritarian’ management

Senior doctors in the radiology services at the University Hospitals North Midlands Trust have reported a ‘toxic’ culture and feelings that managers had been ‘excessively authoritarian’.

In a letter sent by medical director John Oxtoby on 13 July, consultants who had been interviewed as part of an external review, have reported the culture within the department was “unhealthy and even toxic, and that this was impacting to some degree nearly all of the consultants interviewed”

“It is clear from this work that as well as the need to tackle working relationships and some behaviours in the department, there is a huge amount of collective pride in the services delivered by the department.” Said Mr Oxtoby. 

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Source: HSJ, 3 August 2021

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Kent nurses help to boost learning disability health check uptake

A trial, which took place at the start of 2020 but had to be cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, has found having learning disability nurses involved in the delivery of annual health checks at GP practices can help improve uptake. Despite the trial being cut short, it was still considered a success with a second trial being launched. 

“This project highlighted that the specialist expertise, knowledge and skills of the learning disability nurses working with the GPs, can help improve the assessment process of the annual health checks and overall positive health outcomes for people with a learning disability.” said Lisa Harrington, specialist community matron in learning disabilities, a nurse on the project.

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Source: Nursing Times, 3 August 2021

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NHS must work in “new ways” to deliver care, says new chief executive

New chief executive of NHS England Amanda Pritchard, has said the NHS must find “new ways” to deliver the care patients need. 

Thanking staff for their efforts during the pandemic and praising the success of the vaccine roll-out, Ms Pritchard said of the Covid-19 response that the NHS was entering into a “new, but no less challenging phase”.

“This means we will need the same determination, team-work and innovation that have served us so well over the last 18 months. Amid these pressures, I know colleagues share my determination to deliver the long term improvements in treatment and care which, coupled with a renewed focus on prevention, will enable many more people to live longer and more fulfilling lives.” Ms Pritchard has said. 

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Source: The Independent, 3 August 2021

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Long-lasting Covid-19 symptoms rare in children

According to research by King's College scientists, children who become ill with Covid-19 rarely experience long-term symptoms. 

The study was conducted using data provided by the Zoe Covid Study App and looked at 1,734 children, aged between five and 17 who had been reported to have tested positive for the virus between September 2020 and February 2021, with the most common long-term symptoms being found to be headaches and tiredness. 

"This study is reassuring for the majority of children and young people who develop Sars-CoV-2 infection, and reflects what paediatricians are seeing in clinical practice." Says Dr Liz Whittaker, infectious disease lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health who was not involved in the research

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Source: BBC News, 4 August 2021

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NHS’ promotion of 111 First ‘not strong enough’, watchdog warns

Not enough people know about the NHS 111 First A&E booking service as the messaging hasn't been strong enough, says Healthwatch England. The service can be used for patient who need urgent care but are not in an emergency situation, and patients can call 111 to "book" into urgent care. However, not enough people know about it, or what it's used for.

“There’s a real gap in high quality communication to the public,” she said. “They [the NHS leadership] expect the public just to catch up with the changes they have made. 111 First [or] online booking services come along and we’re all supposed just to know how to use it. That’s caused a lot of frustration for people. Our evidence shows that when people understand and use [111 First], they like it. But not enough people know about it and the comms have not been strong enough.” Says Imelda Redmond, the outgoing national director for Healthwatch England.

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Source: HSJ, 2 August 2021

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Poorer communities see twice as many smoking related cancers as richer areas, says study

A new study has revealed poorer communities are facing higher rates of smoking-related cancer than richer areas. Cancer Research UK now want tobacco companies to help fund more stop smoking campaigns to help poorer areas go smoke free. 

According to new figures from Cancer Research UK, there are nearly twice as many cancers caused by smoking among the poorest people in England compared to the richest. In a new study looking at quantifying  the effect of avoidable cancers linked to smoking, researchers have said there were 11, 000 cases of smoking related cancers in groups that had the lowest income, compared to 6,000 in groups with the highest income.

“Smoking has accounted for more deaths than Covid-19 in the past year. Public health and prevention services play a vital role in tackling health inequalities as well as improving health and wellbeing across England. This has come into even sharper focus since the pandemic, which has exposed where investment in these services has fallen behind." Says Public health expert, Professor Linda Bauld. 

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Source: The Independent, 3 August 2021

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Paramedics left in tears from ‘unsustainable demand’, warns union

In a letter seen by The Independent to ambulance trust chief executives, union officials have warned the health of paramedics is being put at risk due to "unsustainable demand".

Union bosses have also warned paramedics are being left in tears at the end of their 12 hour shifts and often working overtime in order to meet demand, warning this increased amount of pressure is taking its toll on the health of ambulance workers. 

“Ambulance workers have faced exceptional pressures over the past 17 months. It’s not surprising many have reached burnout. They cannot be left to just carry on doing excessive hours without proper breaks and rest between shifts. Employers must act swiftly by doing all they can to limit the unprecedented pressures on staff. Additional welfare support is needed, and the government should make this a top priority.” Says Deputy head of health Helga Pile. 

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Source: The Independent, 02 August 2021

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NHS pay: Call for privately employed staff to get increase

Union leaders have said cleaners, porters, catering assistants, security guards and other healthcare staff employed to work in NHS hospitals should also receive the same pay rise as NHS staff.

Recently, most NHS staff were given a pay rise of 3%, but now Unison have said those working privately in the NHS may be at risk of not getting the same increase in pay.

"NHS staff have the benefit of a national pay system, but those not directly employed are missing out, often because of complex contracting arrangements, penny-pinching practices and the hard-nosed pursuit of profit. Staff in the NHS work on one site as one team, from maintaining clean and safe wards to ensuring patients are fed and cared for. No-one delivering NHS services should be paid less than their directly-employed colleagues." Says General secretary Christina McAnea. 

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Source: BBC News, 02 August 2021

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‘We went from heroes to zeroes’: US nurses strike over work conditions

In April of last year, many people in America came out and cheered for the healthcare workers fighting to save lives during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but now, nurses across the US are holding strikes due to staff shortages and inadequate equipment amid the pandemic.

“Most of us felt like we went from heroes to zeroes quickly,” says Dominique Muldoon, a nurse for more than 20 years at Saint Vincent’s hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Muldoon, co-chair of the local bargaining unit has also said nurses are going home crying in their cars, working through breaks and staying up late just to get the work done as demand for patient care has increased. 

“You’ll end up staying late or working through your break trying to fit the workload all in, but ultimately become so frustrated, because eventually you keep trying to overcompensate and cannot keep up with it." Muldoon has said. 

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Source: The Guardian, 30 July 2021

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‘Why should we die?’ Covid surgery delay leaves cancer patient in limbo

Some cancer patients have been left in limbo with their surgeries after the unlocking of the nation on the 19th July. Ms DePastino, who was scheduled to have surgery on Monday to remove cancer from her womb was told it had to be rearranged due to the number of Covid patients being admitted into the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. So far, Ms DePastino has not been given a new date or allowed to speak to her consultant. 

“People have got this idea they want to get back to normal but what about people like me whose normal has been ripped away from them? Our only chance at normal is now being delayed or taken away so that people that are completely healthy can go about their business. If we’re going to get back to normal that means people who need care should be able to get care; it can’t be one or the other, that’s not right.” Said Ms DePastino, who also says her pleas to be referred to somewhere else have been ignored. 

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Source: The Independent, 1 August 2021

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Lack of doctors not to blame for higher weekend hospital deaths, landmark study shows

According to a new study, a lack of GP services and poor community healthcare could be behind the higher rates of death among patients admitted to hospital on the weekends. 

Until now, a lack of doctors were to blame for the higher death rates but now the new research suggests there is no evidence of a link between mortality rates and the number of consultants on duty.

“This report appears to show that you can’t look at hospitals and ignore the rest, because people start off in the community and go in and out of hospital, and we need the same forensic focus on our services that we’ve had on acute hospitals.” Says Tracy Allen, chief executive of the Community Health Services Foundation Trust. 

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Source: The Independent, 2 August 2021

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Covid: Up to one in four admitted to hospital for other reasons

New data from the NHS suggests 23% of patients with Covid infections were admitted into hospital for other reasons. 

The government has denied the numbers were previously overstated due to NHS pressures, with each patient being tested for Covid whenever they come into hospital, regardless of the reason. This measure has been said as "still the most important" by the The Department for Health and Social Care because of the impact patients who have tested positive can have on NHS capacity and workforce pressure.

"The main role for hospitalisation statistics is to indicate the pressure on the NHS. Patients with Covid have to be treated in a resource-intensive way, whether Covid was the primary reason for their admission or not, and even if they caught it in hospital. Therefore the total number in hospital with Covid seems an appropriate overall summary statistic, although this new breakdown does provide additional information." Says Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge

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Source: BBC News, 31 July 2021

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Covid: Pulse oxygen monitors work less well on darker skin, experts say

Experts have warned that a device used to detect signs of oxygen level drops may not work as well on darker skin. 

According to NHS England and MHRA, pulse oximeters may sometimes overestimate oxygen levels. Now, NHS England is updating their guidance advising patients patients from black, Asian and other ethnic minority groups to seek advice from their healthcare professional, but to continue using pulse oximeters. 

"We need to ensure there is common knowledge on potential limitations in healthcare equipment and devices, particularly for populations at heightened risk of life-changing illness, this includes black, Asian and diverse communities using pulse oximeters to monitor their oxygen levels at home," says Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory. 

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Source: BBC, 1 August 2021

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COVID-19: Early coronavirus symptoms differ between age groups, new research finds

New research has found symptoms in the early days of Covid-19 may differ between men and women. 

The study by King's College London, examined 18 symptoms from data obtained from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study App. Results found men were most likely to experience shortness of breath, fatigue, chills and fever, whereas women were more likely to report loss of smell, chest pain and a persistent cough.

"It's important people know the earliest symptoms are wide-ranging and may look different for each member of a family or household. Testing guidance could be updated to enable cases to be picked up earlier, especially in the face of new variants which are highly transmissible. This could include using widely available lateral flow tests for people with any of these non-core symptoms." Lead author and reader at King's College London, Claire Steves has said. 

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Source: Sky News, 30 July 2021

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Covid vaccines have prevented 60,000 deaths in England - Jonathan Van-Tam

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam has said around 60,000 deaths have been prevented in England as a result of the Covid vaccine programme, with approximately 22 million cases having also been stopped, saying the likelihood of another lockdown was 'much lower' if a higher proportion of the population get the jab. 

Disputing a claim made to a newspaper by a senior minister regarding the drop in cases, he says, "I hope the worst is behind us but I think it's quite possible that we're going to have one or two bumpy periods in the autumn and in the winter, not only through Covid, but also through flu and other respiratory viruses as well."

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Source: BBC News, 29 July 2021

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Pregnant women urged to get jab as majority unvaccinated

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, England's chief midwife has sent a letter to midwives, obstetricians and GP practices urging them to encourage pregnant women to get double-vaccinated.

"Vaccines save lives, and this is another stark reminder that the Covid-19 jab can keep you, your baby and your loved ones, safe and out of hospital." Dunkley-Bent has said and recommends advice on jabs be offered at every opportunity. 

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Source: BBC News, 30 July 2021

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Hospital staff complain to regulator about bullying, harassment and racism

Hospital staff at the Royal London Hospital have complained about bullying, harassment, racism and sexism during an inspection by the care watchdog.

After conducting a review of the imagining department at the Royal London Hospital and Whipps Cross Hospital, there are now concerns over the culture of the service and conflict between staff.

With both hospitals being overseen by Barts Health NHS Trust, chief executive Dame Alwen Williams has said “We will be ensuring staff have the resources to sustain improvements we need to make and there is appropriate oversight and processes in place for escalating wellbeing issues. We have a responsibility to listen to what our hard working team are saying, and respond appropriately and sensitively." 

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Source: The Independent, 30 July 2021

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NHS Digital gives patients easier access to who uses their data

A new tool by NHS Digital has recently been launched that will allow patients to see which organisations can access their data. The Data Uses Register has revealed which organisations can access the data, such as public sector bodies and charities. Each organisation wanting to use the data must have a legitimate and legal reason such as health and care planning and research purposes. 

Simon Bolton, NHS Digital’s interim CEO, said: “The new Data Uses Register is an important improvement to make our data sharing agreements more transparent and user-friendly. We take our responsibility as the guardians of NHS data very seriously and we are committed to being transparent so that people can see exactly who their data has been shared with and why. It is important that the public can see openly and clearly how NHS data is shared to build confidence and trust and this new tool will help to ensure that.” Simon Bolton, NHS Digital’s interim CEO, has said. 

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Source: Digital Health, 27 July 2021

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Alzheimer’s disease signs seen in Covid patients suffering neurological symptoms

Covid-19 may cause early onset Alzheimer’s disease in patients who suffer neurological symptoms such as brain fog or loss of smell and taste. A separate study has also found patients with coronavirus may be more susceptible to long-term memory and thinking problems.

In Alzheimer’s patients, researchers have found higher levels of markers in the blood of people who had suffered neurological complications after being infected with the virus. 

“These new data point to disturbing trends, showing Covid-19 infections leading to lasting cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer’s symptoms. With more than 190 million cases and nearly 4 million deaths worldwide, Covid-19 has devastated the entire world. It is imperative that we continue to study what this virus is doing to our bodies and brains.” said Heather M Snyder, Alzheimer’s Association vice-president for medical and scientific relations.

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Source: The Independent, 29 July 2021

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Woman died in Cardiff home after waiting 'hours' for ambulance

Maria Whale, 67, has died after waiting more than two hours for an ambulance after her husband dialled 999 when she began experiencing "severe abdominal" pain.

Mr Whale has said the family have questioned whether she would have lived if the ambulance had arrived sooner, saying they had waited "four to five hours" for it to come. However, the Welsh ambulance service has said its records showed the call was placed at 02:10 BST before a paramedic arrived at 04:22 BST, with the ambulance following shortly thereafter at 04:35 BST - two hours and 25 minutes after the first call. 

"We are deeply sorry to hear about the passing of Mrs Whale and would like to extend our thoughts and deepest sympathies to her loved ones. An investigation to determine what happened started earlier this month and given this is underway we are unable to comment further at this time." Says Welsh Ambulance operations director, Lee Brooks. 

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Source: BBC News, 28 July 2021

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