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Found 68 results
  1. News Article
    Global supply problems have caused a “shock rise” in shortages of life-saving drugs like antibiotics and epilepsy medication, new research reveals. These shortages come at a cost to the patient and the taxpayer, and are happening despite the NHS spending hundreds of extra millions trying to mitigate the problem. The UK risks being left in the cold when it comes to co-ordinated EU attempts to tackle them. That’s according to a new report by the Nuffield Trust think tank and a group of academics, funded by the Health Foundation, which examined key indicators on drug shortages in the UK in the context of global problems with supply chains and the availability of key ingredients. It finds that the past two years have seen constantly elevated medicines shortages, in a "new normal" of frequent disruption to crucial products. Key findings on drugs shortages include: Price concessions (where the government gives extra funding because there are no drugs left at the NHS price) have risen sharply in recent months: prior to 2016 there were rarely more than 20 per month but in late 2022 they peaked at 199 and have remained high ever since. The excess cost for medicines in months when they were subject to price concessions was £220m across the year to September 2023. There are now over double the number of notifications by drugs companies warning of impending shortages than there were three years ago: in 2023 there were 1,634 such alerts issued, compared to 648 in 2020 (a spike in 2021 was caused by concerns over supply fears in Northern Ireland following Brexit). The UK has been slower to approve drugs than the EU for new drugs that are authorised centrally. Of drugs authorised in the year to December 2023, 56 drugs authorised in Europe were approved later in the UK and eight have not been approved. Four were approved faster. The report shows that the EU Exit has not caused the recent spike in medicine shortages, but it is likely to significantly weaken the UK’s ability to respond to them by splitting it from European supply chains, authorisations and collective efforts to respond to shortages. In particular, the research highlights the risks posed to the UK from being left out of key initiatives like the Critical Medicines Alliance and Voluntary Solidarity Mechanism, led by EU member states to work together to insulate themselves from the impact of medicines shortages. Read full story Source: The Nuffield Trust, 18 April 2024
  2. Content Article
    The aim of this study from Aiken et al. was to determine the well-being of physicians and nurses in hospital practice in Europe, and to identify interventions that hold promise for reducing adverse clinician outcomes and improving patient safety. The study found that poor work/life balance (57% physicians, 40% nurses), intent to leave (29% physicians, 33% nurses) and high burnout (25% physicians, 26% nurses) were prevalent. Rates varied by hospitals within countries and between countries. Better work environments and staffing were associated with lower percentages of clinicians reporting unfavourable health indicators, quality of care and patient safety. The effect of a 1 IQR improvement in work environments was associated with 7.2% fewer physicians and 5.3% fewer nurses reporting high burnout, and 14.2% fewer physicians and 8.6% fewer nurses giving their hospital an unfavourable rating of quality of care. Improving nurse staffing levels (79% nurses) and reducing bureaucracy and red tape (44% physicians) were interventions clinicians reported would be most effective in improving their own well-being, whereas individual mental health interventions were less frequently prioritised.
  3. Event
    Speaker: Professor Ian Leistikow; Adviser at the Dutch Health & Youth Care Inspectorate and Professor at Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands Challenges that health and care faces, translate to challenges for the regulatory authorities. Classic regulatory strategies aimed at compliance increasingly fall short in contributing to quality of (health)care. In this webinar Ian will use the model of ‘value driven regulation’ to show how the Dutch Inspectorate strives to keep up with the dynamics of the sectors it regulates, by keeping its eye on creating societal value. Ian will also give an overview of the broad range of scientific research projects within the Inspectorate aimed at improving the positive impact of its regulation. Find out more
  4. Content Article
    This project aims to develop peer consensus centred on specific themes defined by the steering group covering topics relevant to the optimal, universal and evidence-based care bundle to reduce surgical site infections (SSIs). It will support building expert consensus around best practices when selecting the care bundle to reduce surgical site infections in practice. It is hoped that the output will support best practice patient management in Europe. The survey takes under 10 minutes to complete. Please review each statement and indicate your level of agreement with it (tick one box only per statement). Please only complete this questionnaire once. Your anonymous responses will be a source of data for the development of a consensus publication. This project has been initiated and funded by Becton Dickinson and is being managed and delivered by Triducive.
  5. News Article
    The European Commission is recommending measures EU countries should adopt to increase the uptake of two vaccines that prevent viral infections that can cause cancer, it said on Wednesday. The two vaccines are against the human papillomaviruses (HPV) that can cause many cancers, including cervical cancer, and against hepatitis B (HBV), which can lead to liver cancer. As part of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, the European Union wants member countries to reach HPV vaccination of 90% for girls by 2030 and significantly increase the rate for boys. "Many Member States are well below 50% HPV vaccination coverage for girls with limited data available for boys and young adults, and there is a significant lack of data on HBV vaccination rate," the Commission statement said, adding it was as low as 1% in some countries. Read full story Source: Medscape UK, 31 January 2024
  6. News Article
    The EU is to stockpile key medicines that will worsen the record drug shortages in the UK, with experts warning that the country could be left “behind in the queue”. The EU is seeking to safeguard its supplies by switching to a system in which its 27 members work together to secure reliable supplies of 200 commonly used medications, such as antibiotics, painkillers and vaccines. But the bloc’s move to insulate itself from growing drug shortages threatens to exacerbate the increasing scarcity of medicines facing the NHS, posing serious problems for doctors. “Europe is securing access to key drugs and vaccines as a single region, with huge influence and buying power. As a result of Brexit the UK is now isolated from this system, so our drug supplies could be at risk in the future,” said Dr Andrew Hill, an expert on the pharmaceutical trade. Britain is experiencing a record level of drug shortages, with more than 100 – including treatments for cancer, type 2 diabetes and motor neurone disease – scarce or impossible to obtain. Mark Dayan, the Brexit programme lead at the Nuffield Trust health thinktank, said the EU’s decision to act as a buying cartel could seriously disadvantage Britain. “There is a real risk that measures in such a large neighbour, which is now a separate market due to Brexit, will leave the UK behind in the queue when shortages strike,” Dayan said. It also has an initiative for member states to transfer stocks of medicine to cover shortages in others. These measures could shut UK purchasers out in certain scenarios. “This would risk worsening shortages from a starting point where they are already exceptionally severe for the UK and other countries, with a mounting impact in terms of costs and wasted time for the NHS, and in terms of patients struggling to get what their doctors have said they need.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 25 January 2024 Have you (or a loved one) ever been prescribed medication that you were then unable to get hold of at the pharmacy or in hospital? To help us understand how these issues impact the lives of patients and families, please share your experience and insights in our hub community thread on the topic here or drop a comment below. You'll need to register with the hub first, its free and easy to do.
  7. News Article
    People who go abroad for weight-loss surgery, and then need urgent medical care back in the UK, cost the NHS more than it costs to carry out the operation itself, according to new research. A study featuring five London hospitals recorded the details of 35 people who had suffered complications after travelling abroad for gastric surgery during 2022. The data, shared with the BBC's Disclosure programme, shows the patients suffered from a range of symptoms including severe malnutrition, vomiting, sepsis, hernias and haemorrhaging. Five of them needed feeding tubes inserted, while the average stay in hospital was 22 days. The interventions at the five hospitals for the 35 patients cost the NHS a total of £560,234, or £16,006 per patient, in 2022. The equivalent amount would have covered the cost of about 110 bariatric surgeries in UK hospitals. Consultant bariatric surgeon Omar Khan, one of the lead authors of the study, said the paper was intended "to try and quantify" the effect on the NHS of increasing numbers of people going abroad for weight-loss surgery - sometimes known as bariatric tourism. "We know that the waiting lists in the NHS are unfortunately long. We also know that there are new units, particularly in Turkey, which have been set up to cater for an international market," he explained. "We focused on patients with major complications, patients who were severely ill. They had leaks from the stomach, they had bleeding, they had infections. A significant portion required further surgery and some required revisional surgery." Read full story Source: BBC News, 15 January 2024
  8. Content Article
    Recording of the European Patient Safety Foundation conference which took place on the 17 November in Vienna, Austria.
  9. News Article
    To new parents processing the shock of delivery and swimming in hormones, newborns can feel like a tiny, terrifying mystery; unexploded ordinance in a crib. “We were totally unprepared,” says Odilia. Neither she or her husband had ever changed a nappy and had no idea the baby needed feeding every three hours. “If you’re a new mum or dad, you have no idea,” recalls Anouk, a new mother. “I’m a doctor,” says Zarah, another new mother, incredulously. “So, you would expect that I’d know something, and I knew some things, but you really don’t have any clue.” The difference for these new parents, compared to the rest of us, is that they gave birth in the Netherlands. That meant help was instantly at hand in the form of the kraamzorg, or maternity carer. Everyone who gives birth in the Netherlands, regardless of their circumstances, has the legal right – covered by social insurance – to support from a maternity carer for the following week. These trained professionals come into your home daily, usually for eight days, providing advice, reassurance and practical help. It’s a different role to midwives, who continue to monitor women and babies after the birth in the Netherlands; the maternity carer updates the midwife on the mother and baby’s health and progress as well as supporting the parents as they come to terms with their new child. A maternity carer in the Netherlands, explains Betty de Vries of Kenniscentrum Kraamzorg, the organisation that registers maternity carers, “takes care of the woman the first week, advises her on breastfeeding and bottle feeding, hygiene, gives advice … everything to do with safe motherhood and a safe baby. She is there for the whole day most of the time so she can see how they are doing.” Her colleague, director Esther van der Zwan, adds: “It’s a lot of responsibility.” To prepare, maternity carers train for three years – a combination of academic and on-the-job placements – and have regular refresher training in everything from CPR to breastfeeding support.
  10. News Article
    Several people have been admitted to hospital in Austria after using suspected fake versions of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic, the country’s health safety body has said, the first report of harm to users as a European hunt for counterfeiters widened. The patients were reported to have suffered hypoglycaemia and seizures, serious side-effects that indicate that the product contained insulin instead of Ozempic’s active ingredient semaglutide, the health safety regulator Bundesamt für Sicherheit im Gesundheitswesen (BASG) said on Monday. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) warned last week that pens falsely labelled as Ozempic were in circulation, and Austria’s criminal investigation service said on Monday that the fake injection pens could still be in circulation. The Danish maker of the drug, Novo Nordisk, has warned of a rise in the online offers of counterfeit Ozempic as well as its weight-loss drug Wegovy, both based on semaglutide. “It appears that this shortage is being exploited by criminal organisations to bring counterfeits of Ozempic to market,” said BASG. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 24 October 2023
  11. News Article
    Top young cancer researchers are leaving the UK in a “brain drain” fuelled by the continuing failure to reach an agreement over the EU’s study programme, scientists warn. The two-and-a-half-year delay in joining the £85bn Horizon Europe scheme, the largest collaborative research programme in the world, has “damaged the UK’s reputation” and made it more difficult to attract and retain the brightest researchers into the nation’s labs. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) surveyed 84 cancer specialists about Horizon Europe and found that three-quarters of respondents favoured association with the programme compared with only 11% who wanted the UK to go it alone with the government’s plan B, known as Pioneer. Prof Julian Downward, head of the Oncogene Biology Lab at the Francis Crick Institute in London, said: “We need Horizon Europe very badly. The current situation is damaging UK science every day. We are losing top junior faculty regularly who decide to move to EU countries so they can take up European Research Council grants.” Read full story Source: Guardian, 25 August 2023
  12. News Article
    Obesity has reached “epidemic proportions” in Europe, the World Health Organization says, as a major report shows the disease is causing 200,000 cancer cases and 1.2 million deaths a year. In the first such study for 15 years, the WHO said overweight and obesity rates had hit deadly levels and were “still escalating”. No country in the region was on track to meet the WHO global noncommunicable disease (NCD) target of halting the rise of obesity by 2025, it said. Across Europe, 59% of adults are overweight or obese as well as 8% of children under five and one in three children of school age. Obesity prevalence in Europe is higher than in any other part of the world except the Americas, according to the report presented at the European Congress on Obesity. Obesity is linked to a string of other diseases, including musculoskeletal complications, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and at least 13 types of cancer. The report said excess body fat led to premature death and was a leading risk factor for disability. “Across the WHO European region, obesity is likely to be directly responsible for at least 200,000 new cancer cases annually, with this figure projected to rise in the coming decades,” the report said. “For some countries within the region, it is predicted that obesity will overtake smoking as the main risk factor for preventable cancer.” Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, said reversing the obesity epidemic in Europe was still possible. “By creating environments that are more enabling, promoting investment and innovation in health, and developing strong and resilient health systems, we can change the trajectory of obesity in the region.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 3 May 2022
  13. News Article
    Health officials say they are now investigating unexplained cases of hepatitis in children in four European countries and the US. Cases of hepatitis, or liver inflammation, have been reported in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and the US, health officials say. Last week UK health authorities said they had detected higher than usual cases of the infection among children. The cause of the infections is not yet known. The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) did not specify how many cases have been found in the four European countries in total. But the World Health Organization (WHO) said less than five had been found in Ireland, and three had been found in Spain. It added that the detection of more cases in the coming days was likely. Investigations into the cause of the infections are ongoing in all of the European countries where cases have been reported, said the ECDC. In the US, Alabama's public health department said nine cases have been found in children aged one to six years old, with two needing liver transplants. Investigations into similar cases in other states are taking place, it added. Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 April 2022
  14. News Article
    The UK's top public health doctor says anyone with a persistent cough and fever should not dismiss it as Covid - and should consider other infectious illnesses like tuberculosis (TB). Dr Jenny Harries' warning comes as provisional data shows there were 4,430 cases recorded in England in 2021, despite sharp declines in recent years. Charities are calling for more funding to tackle the disease around the world. They say the pandemic and conflicts have set back progress worldwide. In 2020, global deaths because of tuberculosis ranked second to Covid for any infectious disease. The charity Stop TB Partnership warns the war in Ukraine could have "devastating impacts on health services", including the country's strong national TB treatment programme. The charity is urging all countries to put facilities in place urgently so refugees can be given the care they need. In the UK a requirement for Ukrainians to take a TB test before arrival has been waived for those who are coming to the country on the family scheme visa. Refugees arriving on the scheme will get medical care and testing via GPs. Meanwhile Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said delayed diagnosis and treatment, particularly during the pandemic, will have increased the number of undetected cases in England. Read full story Source: BBC News, 24 March 2022
  15. News Article
    Hospitals across Ukraine are “desperate” for medical supplies, doctors have warned, as oxygen stores are hit and other vital health supplies run low amid bombardment from Russian forces. UK-based Ukrainian doctors have issued an urgent appeal for donations of supplies as they travel to eastern Europe in response to reports of shortages of medical equipment and medicines. The World Health Organisation warned on Sunday evening that oxygen supplies in Ukraine were “dangerously low” as trucks were unable to transport oxygen supplies from plants to hospitals across the country. Dr Volodymyr Suskyi, an intensive care doctor at Feofaniya Clinical Hospital in Kyiv, told The Independent he had been forced to use an emergency back-up system to supply oxygen to a patient on life support after the area near plant which supplies his hospital was bombed. Dr Dennis Olugun, a UK-based doctor who is leading the group of medics from the Ukrainian Medical Association of the United Kingdom (UMAUK) to deliver medical supplies, said the situation was “desperate” in some areas. He said some hospitals did not have basic necessities such as rubber gloves. He told The Independent: “What they need in the hospitals is portable ultrasound machines, portable x-ray machines because they have so many patients they much rather walk around the wards and do whatever diagnostic work rather than transporting patients." The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations have called for medicines, pharmaceutical ingredients and raw materials to be excluded from the scope of sanctions being levied against Russian trade. Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 March 2022
  16. News Article
    Healthcare staff from the European Union can join or continue to work in the NHS for the next five years without undergoing additional exams or further assessments, the government has decided. The “standstill provisions”, which were put in place after the UK left the European Union in 2020, have been extended by government until 2028. The NHS has become increasingly reliant on recruiting staff from overseas, particularly nurses, but has seen a significant drop in the number of staff joining from the European Union post-Brexit. The review by the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Retaining the standstill provisions for a temporary period of five years will support the [DHSC’s] ambition to attract and recruit overseas healthcare professionals, without introducing complex and burdensome registration routes. “[European Economic Area]-qualified healthcare professionals will be able to continue to register with the relevant professional regulator, without the need to sit additional professional exams, mitigating delays to registration and employment in the NHS.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 29 June 2023
  17. News Article
    Maltese lawmakers have unanimously approved legislation to ease the strictest abortion laws in the EU, voting to allow terminations – but only in cases where a woman’s life is at risk. Ahead of the vote on Wednesday, pro-choice campaigners withdrew their support, saying last-minute changes make the legislation “vague, unworkable and even dangerous”. The original bill allowing access to abortion if a pregnant woman’s life or health is in danger was hailed as a step in the right direction for Malta, a majority-Catholic country. It was introduced last November after an American tourist who miscarried had to be airlifted off the Mediterranean island nation to be treated. Under the amendments, however, a risk to health is not enough. A woman must be at risk of death to access an abortion, and then only after three specialists consent. The new legislation allows a doctor to terminate a pregnancy without specialist consultation only if the mother’s life is at immediate risk. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 28 June 2023
  18. News Article
    One in three prisoners in Europe suffer from mental health disorders, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said in a new report. While European prisons managed adequate COVID-19 pandemic responses for inmates, concerns remain about poor mental health services, overcrowding and suicide rates, the report stated. “Prisons are embedded in communities and investments made in the health of people in prison becomes a community dividend,” said Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director of the WHO regional office for Europe. “Incarceration should never become a sentence to poorer health. All citizens are entitled to good-quality health care regardless of their legal status.” The second status report on prison health in the WHO European region provides an overview of the performance of prisons in the region based on survey data from 36 countries, where more than 600,000 people are incarcerated. Findings showed that the most prevalent condition among people in prison was mental health disorders, affecting 32.8% of the prison population. The report drew attention to several areas of concern, including overcrowding and a lack of services for mental health, which represents the greatest health need among people in prison across the region. The most common cause of death in prisons was suicide, with a much higher rate than in the wider community, the report found. Read full story Source: United Nations, 14 February 2023
  19. News Article
    Other countries are looking on appalled as the UK’s failure to reform social care has left its health service struggling to survive. There are blockages on the way in to the hospital, blockages inside them, and perhaps most frustrating for healthcare staff and patients, blockages getting those who have been treated and have recovered out of the front door and home, or into the community. It is this last problem that is proving hardest to crack. Despite promises from successive UK prime ministers to mend the broken social care system, it remains completely dysfunctional. This country is by no means unique in its health and social care struggles. Even in nations often held up as having model healthcare systems – such as France and Germany – the combined pressures caused by ageing populations, financial constraints, recruitment problems, Covid-19 and flu have taken their toll. On the issue of social care, French doctors and experts admit to shortcomings, though not on the scale of those in the UK. “It’s not that we don’t have problems, but things are organised differently,” said Blanche Le Bihan, a professor at the French School of Public Health and researcher at the Arènes scientific research centre in Rennes specialising in social care. “The system is far too fragmented, that’s the main issue with social care in France – communication, coordination are always complicated,” Le Bihan says. “But while it’s far from perfect, it’s not a major factor in hospitals’ current problems.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 January 2023
  20. News Article
    “Stop killing us,” protesters across Poland chanted this evening, demanding the legalisation of abortion, after reports reached the media of a pregnant woman’s death in a hospital in May. On Monday, Poland’s patients’ rights ombudsman, Bartłomiej Chmielowiec, said that the John Paul II hospital should have told 33-year-old Dorota Lalik that her life could be saved through an abortion. The hospital violated her rights by withholding the information, the ombudsman ruled. The woman died in the hospital in Nowy Targ, in the south of the country, on 24 May, three days after her admission. “No one told us that we had practically no chance for a healthy baby … The entire time they were giving us false hope that everything will be OK … that [in the worst case] the child will be premature,” Lalik’s husband told Polish media. “No one gave us the choice or the chance to save Dorota, because no one told us her life was at risk.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 June 2023
  21. News Article
    Disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic is being blamed for the first recorded rise in tuberculosis (TB) cases and deaths in Europe for two decades. Some 27,300 people died from TB in the World Health Organization’s Europe region in 2021, up from 27,000 deaths the previous year, according to a new surveillance report by WHO and European Union’s disease prevention agency. The rate of new cases and relapses in the region is also estimated to have increased by 1.2 per cent compared to 2020, in a reversal analysts said “reflects the impact of disruption to TB services caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.” The report comes days after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported a 7.3 per cent rise in cases in England in 2021, a year that saw new 4,425 cases. Dr Esther Robinson, head of the UKHSA's TB unit, said, "Tuberculosis remains a risk to some of the most vulnerable people in our society and this data highlights that progress towards elimination has stalled." Read full story Source: Independent, 3 April 2023
  22. Content Article
    Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a technique that has been used since 1938 to treat several psychiatric disorders as a replacement for chemically induced seizures. Despite its history of stigma, controversy and low accessibility, ECT is found to be beneficial and efficient in severe cases of depression where medication fails to bring results. This article in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine aimed to summarise the research conducted on the efficacy of ECT on major depressive disorder and variables studied such as technique, comorbidities and medication as well as the effects and outcomes of this procedure.
  23. Content Article
    For decades, western Europe’s national healthcare systems have been widely touted as among the best in the world. But an ageing population, more long-term illnesses, a continuing recruitment and retainment crisis plus post-Covid exhaustion have combined, this winter, to create a perfect healthcare storm that is likely to get worse before it gets better, writes Jon Henley (Berlin), Kate Connolly (Berlin), Sam Jones (Madrid) and Angela Giuffrida (Rome) in this Guardian article.
  24. Content Article
    On 31 January 2023, the clinical trial information system (CTIS) will become the single entry point for sponsors and regulators of clinical trials in the European Union (EU). The CTIS includes a public searchable database for healthcare professionals, patients and the public. This webpage contains information on how clinical trials are regulated in the EU, and what changes the CTIS will make to how clinical trials are registered, performed and regulated.
  25. Content Article
    Reducing socioeconomic inequalities in cancer is a priority for the public health agenda. In this study, cancer-specific mortality data by socioeconomic status, as measured by educational level, were collected and harmonised across 18 countries in Europe and for multiple points in time over the period 1990–2015. The study found that everywhere in Europe, lower-educated individuals have higher mortality rates for nearly all cancer-types relative to their more highly educated counterparts, particularly for tobacco/infection-related cancers. However, the magnitude of inequalities varies greatly by country and over time, predominantly due to differences in cancer mortality among lower-educated groups, as for many cancer-types higher-educated have more similar (and lower) rates, irrespective of the country. Inequalities were generally greater in Baltic/Central/East-Europe and smaller in South-Europe, although among women large and rising inequalities were found in North-Europe. These results call for a systematic measurement, monitoring and action upon the remarkable socioeconomic inequalities in cancer existing in Europe.
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