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Keep up to date with the latest news, research and activity in patient safety

Coffey accused of leaving NHS 'in limbo' on A&E target

The four-hour emergency care target is “not the right answer” long term, but services have been left “in limbo” by Therese Coffey’s promise that it will no longer be scrapped, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said.

Katherine Henderson said RCEM was “delighted” there could be more focus on the four-hour target in the short term following the health and social care secretary’s surprise comment last week, as emergency care has been “in a performance policy vacuum since before the pandemic”.

But Dr Henderson said that in the long term there should be performance metrics that account for the “journey” of the most acutely unwell patients, and should be a further review of NHS England’s clinical review of standards – which proposed a suite of new measures to replace the totemic four-hour target. She added that more than a dozen A&Es which are involved in trialling the new measures have been “left in limbo”.

Dr Henderson, whose term as RCEM president ends in October, said plans to use virtual wards and urgent community response teams to improve patient flow and prevent emergency admissions would have limited impact this winter due to a lack of staff.

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Source: HSJ, 26 September 2022

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Republican abortion bans in the US restrict women’s access to other essential medicine

Many pharmacies and physicians are forced to deny patients access to drugs, such as methotrexate, that can be used to help induce an abortion

A few weeks after the supreme court’s 24 June decision to overturn the nationwide abortion rights established by Roe v Wade, the pharmacy chain Walgreens sent Annie England Noblin a message, informing her that her monthly prescription of methotrexate was held up.

Noblin, a 40-year-old college instructor in rural Missouri, never had trouble getting her monthly prescription of methotrexate for her rheumatoid arthritis. So she went to her local Walgreens to figure out why, standing in line with other customers as she waited for an explanation.

When it was finally her turn, a pharmacist informed Noblin – in front of the other customers behind her – that she could not release the medication until she received confirmation from Noblin’s doctor that Noblin would not use it to have an abortion.

Since the supreme court’s elimination of federal abortion rights, many states have been enacting laws which highly restrict access to abortion, affecting not only pregnant women but also other patients as well as healthcare providers.

As a result, many pharmacies and physicians have been forced to deny and delay patients’ access to essential medications – such as methotrexate – that can be used to help induce an abortion.

Noblin is one of the 5 million methotrexate users across the US and one of the country’s many autoimmune patients. Although she was eventually given her prescription, Noblin and other patients are now forced to grapple both with a monthly invasion of privacy at pharmacies that ask them about their reproductive choices as well as the possibility of being wholly denied the medication in the future due to restrictive laws.

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Source: The Guardian, 26 September 2022

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