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Found 1,338 results
  1. News Article
    London’s hospitals are already beginning to run out of critical care beds ahead of the Christmas relaxation of rules – which is expected to increase cases further, a leaked NHS briefing has warned. The update on the situation in the capital comes as major hospitals have already started to cancel operations for other patients in order to find enough staff to deal with the rise in patients as NHS trusts open up extra surge capacity. More operations are expected to be cancelled in hospitals across London, with staff warned they could be redeployed at short notice. On Wednesday, there were a total of 2,289 coronavirus patients in London hospitals, an increase of 2 per cent on the day before. But the numbers of coronavirus patients in critical care beds jumped 8.6% in a single day, increasing from 302 to 345 patients on Wednesday, while an additional 900 people who have tested positive were receiving oxygen. Across London, there were just 49 adult critical care beds available on Wednesday. In total there were 904 beds occupied, 328 by patients with COVID-19. This meant the capital’s total critical care bed occupancy rate was almost 95%. Although the number of patients is much lower than it was the first wave, many hospitals are still treating routine and non-Covid patients – meaning they are struggling to staff critical wards and keep other services running. A briefing for NHS managers warned them: “A reduction of elective [routine] activity is likely to be needed in line with increasing acute activity.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 17 December 2020
  2. Content Article
    Azithromycin is an antibiotic known for its anti-inflammatory properties which is already used to treat chronic inflammatory lung disease, or chest infections such as pneumonia. Inflammation, caused by an overly-active immune response, is a key feature of severe COVID-19. Azithromycin was considered a potential treatment for COVID-19 and investigated through an arm of the RECOVERY trial to assess whether the drug had a meaningful benefit amongst hospitalised patients with COVID-19. A preliminary analysis of the data has shown no meaningful clinical benefit of azithromycin in the hospitalised COVID-19 patients randomised to this treatment arm. The data showed no significant difference in the primary endpoint of 28-day mortality (19% azithromycin vs. 19% usual care). While researchers found no evidence of beneficial effects on the risk of progression to mechanical ventilation or length of hospital stay. The results were consistent in different subgroups of patients. However it is not possible to make conclusions about the effectiveness of azithromycin in patients in the community.
  3. News Article
    One of England’s largest hospital trusts has been forced to divert ambulances and cancel operations, after seeing a very steep increase in covid-19 admissions over the past week. Whipps Cross Hospital in north east London, part of Barts Health Trust, declared a critical incident over the weekend, the trust has confirmed. The trust has also declared a “high pressure phase” of covid response. A well placed source said Whipps Cross had been forced to divert ambulances in recent days, because of pressure on its emergency services, while a message to staff said it was deferring some planned operations, along with other steps aimed at protecting safety. It is also understood to be attempting to further speed up discharges from hospital. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 16 December 2020
  4. News Article
    Research by a group of doctors has found ‘major deficiencies’ around infection control within hospitals in the North West region. The study looked at trusts’ adherence to Public Health England guidance around limiting the spread of COVID-19 within orthopaedic services. The study found patients were routinely being allocated to hospital beds before they had been confirmed as covid-negative, “thus allowing spread of COVID-19 not only between patients but also between nursing and medical staff”. Fewer than half of patients were nursed with the appropriate screens in place, while it was uncommon for doctors to be tested regularly. Separate statistics published by NHS England suggest almost 20 per cent of new covid cases in North West hospitals from August to December were likely to be nosocomial, meaning they were acquired on the wards. This was a higher proportion than any other region. Read full story Source: HSJ (paywalled), 16 December 2020
  5. News Article
    Pregnant women should be allowed to have one person alongside them during scans, appointments, labour and birth, under new NHS guidance sent to trusts in England. The chosen person should be regarded as "an integral part of both the woman and baby's care" - not just a visitor. Previously, individual hospitals could draw up their own rules on partners being present. This meant many women were left to give birth alone. The guidance says pregnant women "value the support from a partner, relative, friend or other person through pregnancy and childbirth, as it facilitates emotional wellbeing". Women should therefore have access to support "at all times during their maternity journey". And trusts should make it easy for this to happen, while keeping the risk of coronavirus transmission within NHS maternity services as low as possible. Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 December 2020
  6. News Article
    The waiting list for cancer patients has almost doubled over the last seven months, according to internal NHS data which has never been made public. A slide set seen by HSJ suggests the total number of patients waiting for cancer treatment on the 62-day pathway has increased from around 90,000 in mid-May, to around 160,000 at the start of December. However, the data suggests the NHS has made good progress in treating patients waiting the longest. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 15 December 2020
  7. News Article
    The government’s plan to allow up to three households to mix at Christmas is a “major error that will cost many lives” and should be stopped, the editors of two leading medical journals have said. In a rare joint editorial, the editors of the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal have said the government’s plan to relax coronavirus restrictions for five days between 23 and 27 December is a serious “blunder” that will put more pressure on the NHS and cause thousands of operations to be cancelled. The article published jointly on Tuesday says: “The government was too slow to introduce restrictions in the spring and again in the autumn. It should now reverse its rash decision to allow household mixing and instead extend the tiers over the five-day Christmas period in order to bring numbers down in the advance of a likely third wave.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 15 December 2020
  8. News Article
    Pre-existing social inequalities contributed to the UK recording the highest death rates from Covid in Europe, a leading authority on public health has said, warning that many children’s lives would be permanently blighted if the problem is not tackled. Sir Michael Marmot, known for his landmark work on the social determinants of health, argued in a new report that families at the bottom of the social and economic scale were missing out before the pandemic, and were now suffering even more, losing health, jobs, lives and educational opportunities. In the report, Build Back Fairer, Marmot said these social inequalities must be addressed whatever the cost and it was not enough to revert to how things before the pandemic. “We can’t afford not to do it,” he said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 December 2020
  9. News Article
    Throughout the pandemic, people with learning disabilities and autism have consistently been let down. A lack of clear, easy-to-understand guidance, unequal access to care and illegal “do not resuscitate” instructions have exacerbated the inequalities many people have long faced. It is crucial we do not forget those who have constantly been at the back of the queue: people with learning disabilities and autism. The impact cannot be ignored: research shows that 76% of people with learning disabilities feel they do not matter to the government, compared with the general public, during the pandemic. And data shows the danger of contracting COVID-19 for people with learning disabilities and autism is much higher than for the wider population. Public Health England has said the registered COVID-19 death rate for people with learning disabilities in England is more than four times times higher than the general population. But experts estimate the true rate is likely to be even higher, since not all deaths of people with learning disabilities are registered in the databases used to collate the findings. The reasons the pandemic has impacted people with learning disabilities so disproportionately are systemic, and a result of inequalities in healthcare services experienced for generations. Yes, some individuals are more clinically vulnerable, on account of the co-morbidities and complications associated with their learning disability. For many people, however, poorer outcomes after contracting the virus are due to non-clinical issues and inequalities in accessing healthcare services. This is inexcusable. The government must prioritise vaccinations for the 1.5 million people with learning disabilities and 700,000 with autism. Putting this long-overlooked group at the top of the vaccine queue would help address the systemic health inequalities learning disabled people face. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 December 2020
  10. News Article
    Trusts’ infection control measures will be put under greater scrutiny by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), HSJ has been told. In an effort to cut hospital-acquired COVID-19, the CQC will carry out focused inspections which will assess “in more detail the leadership and delivery of infection prevention control”. According to NHS England/Improvement figures, around 9% of covid inpatients definitely caught the virus in hospital. However, the number could be higher as NHSE/I figures — released on Friday — showed 21% of COVID-19 patients in hospitals were “probably” acquired in hospitals. HSJ understands the CQC plans to carry out up to 20 infection control focused inspections in the early part of 2021. The CQC told HSJ it is reviewing local nosocomial infection rates on a weekly basis, using the data alongside “wider intelligence” from other sources to monitor trusts’ risk, with inspections carried out at providers where specific concerns are picked up. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 14 December 2020
  11. News Article
    Health checks should be offered to people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds from the age of 25, a report has recommended. MPs examined the disproportionate impact of the Covid pandemic on people from black and Asian backgrounds. They said NHS checks, currently available to 40-70-year-olds in England, could pick up conditions which are linked to severe coronavirus. The role of inequalities in employment and housing was also emphasised. The report, produced by the Women and Equalities Committee, said the government should act to tackle these wider causes of poor health. The committee heard evidence during the course of its investigation that showed 63% of healthcare workers who died after contracting the virus had come from black, Asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds. And during the first peak of the virus, data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre showed 34% of coronavirus patients in ICUs were from an ethnic minority background, whereas they made up 12% of viral pneumonia admissions. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data has also shown that black people were almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as white people, with those of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity about 1.7 times as likely. The report raised concerns the pandemic was entrenching "existing health inequalities". Read full story Source: BBC News, 15December 2020
  12. News Article
    A new variant of coronavirus has been found which is growing faster in some parts of England, MPs have been told. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at least 60 different local authorities had recorded Covid infections caused by the new variant. He said the World Health Organization had been notified and UK scientists were doing detailed studies. He said there was "nothing to suggest" it caused worse disease or that vaccines would no longer work. Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 December 2020
  13. News Article
    England’s test and trace service is being sub-contracted to a myriad of private companies employing inexperienced contact tracers under pressure to meet targets, a Guardian investigation has found. Under a complex system, firms are being paid to carry out work under the government’s £22bn test and trace programme. Serco, the outsourcing firm, is being paid up to £400m for its work on test and trace, but it has subcontracted a bulk of contact tracing to 21 other companies. Contact tracers working for these companies told the Guardian they had received little training, with one saying they were doing sensitive work while sitting beside colleagues making sales calls for gambling websites. One contact-tracer, earning £8.72 an hour, said he was having to interview extremely vulnerable people in a “target driven” office that encouraged staff to make 20 calls a day, despite NHS guidance saying each call should take 45 to 60 minutes. Another call centre worker, who had no experience in healthcare or emotional support, said she suffered a nervous breakdown during an online tutorial about phoning the loved ones of coronavirus victims in order to trace their final movements. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 December 2020
  14. News Article
    The number of COVID-19 infections likely to have been acquired in hospital are rising again for the first time in three weeks and their proportion of all cases has reached record levels for the second wave, HSJ can reveal. NHS England data covering the week to 6 December (the latest available) shows 1,787 COVID-19 cases were acquired in-hospital – a rise of almost 14% on the week before. The number of hospital-acquired, or “nosocomial”, infections had been falling since the week to 15 November, when 1,794 were recorded. This week, hospital acquired covid infections amounted to 21% of the 8,337 new cases which were recorded in hospitals – the highest proportion in the second wave. On 6 December alone, 24% of infections had probably been acquired in hospital rather than the community. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 11 December 2020
  15. News Article
    NHS patients in rural areas of England face extra long waits for treatment, according to a study. The Nuffield Trust think-tank says urban areas benefited most from measures put in place to help the NHS cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers found rural hospitals now faced an uphill challenge when it came to restoring services to normal. NHS England says that funding reflects the higher costs of delivering care in rural communities. The Nuffield Trust report says while the number of Covid cases in rural areas was lower than in big urban centres, the pandemic's impact on services has been much greater. It says the coronavirus crisis highlighted pre-existing problems facing rural trusts. For example, it can be hard to recruit and retain doctors and nurses who are willing to work in smaller hospitals, which means trusts rely more heavily on expensive agency staff to fill gaps in rotas. This, in turn, has a detrimental effect on the finances of hospital trusts which struggle to balance the books. In addition, rural trusts often have only a limited capacity to treat any extra patients as they are often already very busy. Read full story Source: BBC News, 11 December 2020
  16. News Article
    A prominent feminist campaigner and writer has described in devastating detail how she was left feeling “humiliated and alone” as she was forced to deal with a miscarriage without her partner. Caroline Criado Perez, the author of Invisible Women, called on NHS trusts to allow partners to attend medical appointments, scans and emergencies in maternity services, because the refusal to do so was “traumatising an already traumatised woman”. She added: “It needs to stop, now.” At the start of the coronavirus crisis, the majority of NHS trusts began preventing partners from accompanying pregnant women to the majority of maternity appointments, and reports suggest this is still the case in many areas. In September the Guardian revealed that three-quarters of NHS trusts were not allowing birth partners to support women throughout their whole labour, despite being told by the NHS and Boris Johnson to urgently change the rules on visiting. According to a November survey by the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed (PTS), 82% of respondents said their local hospital had restrictions in place (for labour or scans), while 90% said that these restrictions were having a negative impact on their mental health. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 9 December 2020
  17. News Article
    At least 162,000 patients are waiting more than a year for routine NHS operations, the highest number for more than 12 years. Latest statistics from NHS England show 162,888 people were waiting over 52 weeks for hospital treatment in October this year. The total NHS waiting list for routine treatments at the end of October had reached 4.4 million with more than a third of patients waiting over 18 weeks – the NHS target for waiting times from referral to treatment. Earlier this year health think tanks had predicted the waiting list could hit 10 million, but NHS England said this had not come to pass because of the work of hospitals and NHS staff to keel waiting lists lower than they were last year. The median waiting time was just over 11 weeks, NHS England said Some experts have warned of hidden demand for NHS surgeries with many patients yet to be referred to treatment because of the covid pandemic. A spokesperson for NHS England, said: “Although Covid hospitalisations almost doubled during November, for every Covid inpatient the NHS treated, hospitals managed to treat five other inpatients for other health conditions. With cancer referrals and treatments now back above usual levels, our message remains that people should continue to come forward for care when they need it." Read full story Source: The Independent, 10 December 2020
  18. News Article
    A hospital has apologised after an elderly cancer patient tested positive for coronavirus, having been left in a ward with another patient suffering from COVID-19 for several days. The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which serves the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, Wales, has confirmed that it is dealing with an outbreak of the virus at the hospital. It comes after Lesley Pook accused the hospital of “locking” her father James ‘Jim’ Pook and others in a ward with a coronavirus patient and “waiting for them all to develop symptoms”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 9 December 2020