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Found 131 results
  1. News Article
    A woman was denied the chance to have children with her husband after a contraceptive coil was accidentally left in place for 29 years. Jayne Huddleston, from Crewe, had eight rounds of fertility treatment she did not need because the correct checks were not carried out by her doctor. She said the mistake happened in 1990. "The GP said it couldn't be seen, so I was sent for a scan and the scan didn't pick anything up, the GP recommended another coil was fitted," she told the BBC. She was told the coil she had fitted around a year earlier had probably fallen out. When she and her husband, David, then decided they wanted to have a child, the second coil was removed, but the first coil, which had gone undetected, remained inside her. They tried for years to have a baby, with no success, including IVF treatment which cost them thousands of pounds. The mistake was only discovered when she went for an X-ray in 2019 after complaining of back pain and the original coil was revealed. Mr and Mrs Huddleston were awarded a six-figure out of court settlement after taking their case to Irwin Mitchell solicitors. Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 March 2023
  2. News Article
    Prostate cancer screening may be a step closer after a study suggested that harms linked to testing have reduced thanks to advances in medical technology. Screening for prostate cancer has been heavily debated in medical circles due to potential harms including side effects from biopsies and unnecessary testing for those with no clinically significant cancer. A new study set out to examine whether the “seesaw has been tipped” in favour of screening. Researchers from Prostate Cancer UK combined the results of the latest clinical trials and real-world data on the “prostate cancer screening pathway” to examine the risk-to-harm benefit. Prostate Cancer UK said that on average 67%t fewer men experienced harm during the diagnostic process with the newer techniques compared with older methods. Prostate Cancer UK said the UK National Screening Committee, which makes recommendations to the Government, is to re-examine prostate cancer screening. Dr Matthew Hobbs, lead researcher on the analysis and director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We’ve known for some time now that testing more men reduces prostate cancer deaths, but there have always been concerns about how many men would be harmed to achieve this. “However, our evidence shows that screening may now be a lot safer than previously thought. That’s why we are so pleased that the committee is going to review the evidence once more. Read full story Source: The Independent, 23 February 2023
  3. News Article
    Plans to prevent one of the deadliest cancers for women in Jamaica have been significantly set back by the Covid pandemic, new figures reveal. The scheme to vaccinate schoolgirls against cervical cancer in Jamaica – which is the cancer with the second highest death rate in the Americas – began in 2018, but the Pan American Health Organization says inoculation rates fell to just 2.71% in 2021. This represents a drastic drop from the 2019 rate of 32%, and far from the WHO target of 90% by 2030. The cancer, which is curable if caught early, kills 22 in every 100,000 women in Jamaica. By comparison, in the UK the rate is 2.4 in every 100,000, and in Canada it is 2. Prevention of cervical cancer in Jamaica is also hindered by low rates of cervical screenings. “Women are afraid of the screening process and potential pain, but there is also a fear of a cancer diagnosis itself,” said Nicola Skyers of Jamaica’s Ministry of Health. “Some people just prefer not to know. But I also think that healthcare providers don’t offer screenings often enough. If a healthcare provider is really ‘selling’ the pap smear, more often than not the woman will choose to have it.” Health workers are forced to focus on cures rather than preventions amid staffing shortages and an overburdened healthcare system, said Skyers. “As a doctor, you won’t be encouraging every women you see to do a pap smear if you have 40 patients waiting outside.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 February 2023
  4. News Article
    More than 500,000 people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer every year by 2040, according to analysis by Cancer Research UK. In a new report, researchers project that if current trends continue, cancer cases will rise by one-third from 384,000 a year diagnosed now to 506,000 in 2040, taking the number of new cases every year to more than half a million for the first time. While mortality rates are projected to fall for many cancer types, the absolute numbers of deaths are predicted to increase by almost a quarter to 208,000. In total, it estimates that between 2023 and 2040, there could be 8.4m new cases and 3.5 million people could have died from cancer. Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Charles Swanton, said: “By the end of the next decade, if left unaided, the NHS risks being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new cancer diagnoses. It takes 15 years to train an oncologist, pathologist, radiologist or surgeon. The government must start planning now to give patients the support they will so desperately need.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 3 February 2023
  5. News Article
    NHS England has effectively admitted the backlog of cancer long-waiters will still be higher in March 2024 than before covid hit, in a document seen by HSJ. The consultation document, detailing trajectories for reducing numbers waiting 62 days or more from referral, shows the expected national total in March 2024 is 18,755. NHS England previously committed to reducing this to pre-pandemic levels (14,226) by March 2022, then delayed the target until March this year. There are now significant backlogs in diagnostics, with particular challenges in endoscopy and breast screening. NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin said: “Cancer is a key priority for trusts. They understand the risk to patients who have to wait. “The pandemic left people waiting longer than NHS trusts wanted for diagnosis or to start treatment, with some people not coming forward, but now urgent referrals for suspected cancer are far higher than pre-pandemic. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 1 February 2023
  6. Content Article
    Findings The assessment of visual signs of jaundice in newborn babies is subjective and more challenging with babies who have black or brown skin. Stakeholders have differing opinions about the reliability of visual signs to detect jaundice in newborn babies. Some neonatal units have introduced safety measures to mitigate the risk of reliance on visual signs of jaundice. National guidance does not recommend routinely measuring bilirubin levels in babies who are not visibly jaundiced. National guidance for jaundice in newborn babies maybe more applicable to term babies (those born after 37 weeks of pregnancy) than those born prematurely. National guidance does not contain information on how to address the challenges of detecting jaundice in newborn babies with black or brown skin. Some universities providing education to NHS students on the detection of jaundice are seeking to ensure that teaching aids and literature represent the diversity of the population. Levels of bilirubin can vary according to the gestational age of a baby (how long the baby was in the womb). Laboratory staff do not calculate the gestational age of a baby and therefore whether their bilirubin level is within the expected range. Laboratory practice varies in terms of whether they set specific reference ranges for bilirubin in newborn babies; whether they have a defined threshold for communicating results to neonatal units; and whether the telephone alert limit (the level of bilirubin that triggers laboratory staff to report the result to clinical staff by telephone) reflects the thresholds in national guidance. Neonatal staff may be unaware that laboratories analyse blood samples to see if they are icteric (indicate jaundice). These staff will not know to look for a comment about this on blood test reports. Safety recommendations HSIB recommends that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence reviews the available evidence and updates its guidance if appropriate, regarding: the reliability of visual signs to detect jaundice in newborn babies, particularly in babies with black and brown skin risk factors for jaundice identified by this investigation, including prematurity. HSIB recommends that the Royal College of Pathologists works with stakeholders to understand current practice and make any appropriate recommendations to promote the adoption of an icteric threshold at which a bilirubin test may be cascaded or reported. HSIB recommends that the Royal College of Pathologists works with stakeholders to understand current practice and make any appropriate recommendations on neonatal specific reference ranges for total bilirubin and thresholds for direct communication of these results to clinicians. Safety observations HSIB makes the following safety observations: It may be beneficial for regulators of pathology services to consider the findings of the investigation and amend their guidance if necessary. It may be beneficial to develop a national standardised Early Warning System track and trigger observation chart for use in neonatal unit settings.
  7. News Article
    Offering women annual breast cancer checks could save 1,000 lives a year, the Government’s women’s health tsar has said. Dame Lesley Regan said that the current system of screening women aged 50 to 70 once every three years was “not based on scientific evidence”. The UK’s breast screening programme has the longest gap between screens in the world. In the US, it is every one or two years, and in Europe, it is every two years. Dame Lesley, who is also a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, claimed that the decision to give women mammograms once every three years had been based on the budgets available in the Eighties, when checks were introduced. However, she said that more recent studies showed annual mammograms could save significant numbers of lives. On Tuesday, she told the launch of the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index in London: “If [someone] has a mammogram which is reported as normal today and she developed, for example, a precancerous lesion next month, she will then be waiting [until her next check], when it may well have become invasive, in the belief that she’s fine. “If you have yearly mammography – and I appreciate that’s an expensive resource – there are very good studies demonstrating how many lives you save.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 25 January 2023
  8. News Article
    "I got my cervical screening letter in November and I've been putting it off because I don't want to do it - I don't think any girl really wants it done to them." Elena Coley Perez is 26 and due to have her first cervical screening - or smear test - that examines the opening to your womb from your vagina. NHS records show 4.6 million women - or 30% of those who are eligible - have never been screened for cervical cancer or are not up to date with their tests. Women are sometimes too embarrassed to come forward or put it off because they are anxious, surveys have found. Struggling to book their tests due to GP backlogs will not help the situation, say charities. Elena has told the BBC she was already worried about having a smear test, and the difficulty she experienced in booking one put her off even more. "I got another letter in December so I went to book online because with my local GP you have to go through this long-winded form," she said. "I typed in cervical screening and nothing was coming up, so I ended up waiting 35 minutes on the phone to be told they had no appointments for the rest of the year and to phone back in the new year." Elena then tried again in January and was told there was no availability. "At this point I was like, 'what's the point?' - you're trying to do something that can hopefully prevent you from getting cancer and you get to the doctor's surgery and you just get a 'no' - it's really off-putting," she says. Read full story Source: BBC News, 25 January 2023 Further resources on the hub: For patients: Having a smear test. What is it about? (Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust) Cervical cancer symptoms (Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust) For staff: RCN guidance: Human papillomavirus (HPV), cervical screening and cervical cancer
  9. News Article
    The waiting list for endoscopies has broken the record set during the height of the covid pandemic, as referrals for suspected colorectal cancer surged, HSJ analysis shows. In November 2022, 110,00 people were waiting for a colonoscopy (or flexible sigmoidoscopy) and the median wait was 4.2 weeks, double the median wait in November 2019. The pandemic peak waiting list for these tests was 107,000 in September 2020. Nearly a quarter of those waiting as of November 2022, the most recent figures, were on the list for more than 13 weeks. In November 2019 only 2.9 per cent of the list waited this long. Health policy manager Matt Sample said: “As with all diagnostic services, endoscopies were hit hard by the pandemic, but the service was under considerable strain even before this as staff numbers and equipment simply weren’t rising to match demand. “The latest data shows that more than two in 10 people who started treatment for bowel cancer in England waited more than 104 days since their urgent referral – this is unacceptable. “Without continued efforts to expand diagnostic capacity, and in particular investment in addressing chronic workforce shortages, people affected by cancer will not receive the care they deserve.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 24 January 2023
  10. News Article
    The chairman of Covid vaccine giant AstraZeneca has said that investment in technology can help the NHS cut costs. Leif Johansson said more spending on areas such as artificial intelligence and screening could prevent illness and stop people going to hospital. The NHS is under severe pressure, with A&E waits at record levels and strike action exacerbating ambulance delays. Mr Johansson said about 97% of healthcare costs come from "when people present at the hospital". He said only the remaining 3% is made up of spending on vaccination, early detection or screening. Mr Johansson told the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos: "If we can get into an investment mode in health for screening or prevention or early diagnostics on health and see that as an investment to reduce the cost of sickness then I think we have a much better model over time that would serve us well." Commenting on the UK, he said: "All countries have different systems and the NHS is one which we have learned to live with and I think the Brits, in general, are quite appreciative about it." He said he was not talking about "breaking any healthcare systems down". Rather, he said, "we should embrace technology and science". Read full story Source: BBC News, 23 January 2023
  11. News Article
    An invitation to a cervical screening test upon your 25th birthday has become a necessary but often unwanted coming-of-age present. Despite years of education and advocacy about the benefits of screening, many women still do not attend. About 16 million women in the UK aged 25-64 are eligible for testing, but only 11.2 million took a test in 2022, the lowest level in a decade. There unfortunately remains a false narrative that there are good reasons to be nervous about cervical screening tests. In reality, the test is not physically painful for the vast majority of women, although it can be a bit uncomfortable. However, the test can be needlessly emotionally painful, and for no good reason. This is in part because some women go through the experience of sitting with legs spread apart and “private parts” out, and then hear the nurse call for “the virgin speculum” to be used. This is the archaic and unnecessarily sexualised term for the extra-small speculum. It should have no place being used in 2023, and it clearly creates feelings of vulnerability. Next week it is Cervical Cancer Awareness week, and campaigners are hoping to shine a light on barriers to cervical screening testing that must be removed. By creating feelings of vulnerability around testing, we are allowing cervical cancer to continue to go undetected. All women should be aware of the importance of attending their cervical screening test and do so with confidence, regardless of their sexual status. This will play a valuable role in reducing the mortality rate. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 January 2023 Further hub reading: Doctors’ shocking comments reveal institutional misogyny towards women harmed by pelvic mesh Misogyny is a safety issue: a blog by Saira Sundar Gender bias: A threat to women’s health (August 2020)
  12. News Article
    Prostate cancer patients across the UK face a “postcode lottery” of care, a charity has warned, with men in Scotland almost three times more likely to be diagnosed at a late stage compared with men in London. Prostate Cancer UK said the proportion diagnosed when the disease may be too advanced to treat varied hugely depending on where patients lived. Health leaders called the findings “shocking”. In Scotland, more than a third (35%) of men are only diagnosed when the disease is classed as stage 4, meaning the cancer has spread to another part of the body – known as metastatic cancer. In London, the figure is 12.5%. Chiara De Biase, director of support and influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, said, "We can’t say for sure what’s behind this gap in diagnosis, but it’s clear that men are more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier stage in areas with higher rates of PSA blood testing. That means the key way to tackle this is by raising awareness – especially in places like Scotland which are worst-affected." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 12 January 2023
  13. News Article
    The NHS is set to eliminate hepatitis C in England by 2025 due to targeted screening campaigns for those at risk and effective drug treatments, according to health officials. NHS England said the measures are helping to dramatically cut deaths from the virus five years ahead of global targets. Deaths from hepatitis C – including liver disease and cancer – have fallen by 35% since NHS England struck a five-year deal worth almost £1bn to buy antiviral drugs for thousands of patients in 2018. The World Health Organization’s target of a 10% reduction in hepatitis C-related death by 2020 has been exceeded threefold in England. An NHS screening programme launched in September is also enabling up to 80,000 people unknowingly living with the disease to get a diagnosis and treatment sooner by searching health records for key risk factors, such as historic blood transfusions or HIV. Prof Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said the health service was “leading the world” in the drive to save lives and eliminate hepatitis C while also tackling health inequalities. He said: “Thanks to targeted screening and because the NHS has a proven track record of striking medicine agreements that give patients access to the latest drugs, we are on track to beat global targets and become the first country to eliminate hepatitis C.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 28 December 2022
  14. Content Article
    Summary recommendations The National Screening Committee should reconsider the case for a targeted national screening programme to detect high fracture risk in 2023. The Government should instigate a public health campaign to address the lack of awareness and complacency in the public about bone health. Osteoporosis must be given parity with other long-term conditions, and defined as such within the NHS, to allow enhanced and equitable care and management. NHS England must outline plans to expand DXA services to deliver and exceed their recommended 4% increase in capacity in order to tackle the current backlog and future-proof services, and improve access by including DXA in minimum specifications for Community Diagnostic Centres. Every individual who requires ongoing management or surveillance to reduce their fracture risk should have a personalised ‘bone health management plan’ with a specified timescale for reviews. ICSs should utilise the breadth of skills and expertise within the multi-disciplinary team to optimise and streamline local management pathways for people at high risk of fragility fracture. Establish a new National Specialty Adviser for Fracture prevention and Osteoporosis within the NHS England and NHS Improvement clinical advisory structure, and equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The APPG recommends proportionate recognition of the importance of osteoporosis throughout healthcare education, with increased prominence in undergraduate and post-graduate healthcare professional training. Specialist services must support primary care colleagues to provide the best care to patients. All relevant national guidelines should be reviewed to better support imaging of the spine where there is a suspicion of vertebral fracture, particularly in patients with risk factors for osteoporosis. NHS England must provide sufficient funding for ICSs to deliver against national quality standards and NICE clinical guidance.
  15. News Article
    Some patients waiting for an endoscopy in Guernsey may be "at risk" because of a large backlog in procedures, the States medical director has warned. The government has announced a tender process to bring in clinicians to help clear the list, which is three times longer than before the Covid pandemic. More than 430 people were on the gastroenterology waiting list as of Tuesday, Dr Peter Rabey said. "We're worried that there is risk to patients in waiting too long," he said. "Although a lot of patients who get an endoscopy have completely normal results, and some have benign disease which can be treated with tablets and things, there will be some patients who might have cancer and we need to find out as best as possible". Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 December 2022
  16. News Article
    The government is setting up 19 more diagnostic centres in communities across England to help tackle the Covid backlog. Ninety one are already open and have delivered more than 2.4 million tests, checks and scans since last summer, ministers say. It is hoped the centres will speed up access to services for patients, thereby reducing waiting times. Seven million people in England are now waiting for hospital treatment. GPs can refer patients to community diagnostic centres so that they can access life-saving checks and scans, and be diagnosed for a range of conditions, without travelling to hospital. Some are located in football stadiums and shopping centres and can offer MRI and CT scans, as well as x-rays. In September, according to the government, the hubs delivered 11% of all diagnostic activity - and its ambition is for 40% to be achieved by 2025. Read full story Source: BBC News, 7 December 2022
  17. News Article
    All GP practices in England will be able to book cancer tests directly for their patients from later this month, NHS bosses say. The option of GPs booking CT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs has been gradually rolled out in recent years, as community testing centres have opened. NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard will announce later all GPs will now be able to do this. GPs have previously relied on referring on to specialist hospital doctors. Before referring, they have to identify clear symptoms the patient may have a specific type of cancer. But only one out of every five cancer cases is diagnosed through these urgent GP referrals. Patients with less clear symptoms face long waits for check-ups or are diagnosed only after presenting at an accident-and-emergency (A&E) unit or being referred to hospital for something else. And Ms Pritchard will tell delegates at the NHS Providers annual conference of health managers, in Liverpool, today, she hopes the new initiative will lead to tens of thousands of cancer cases every year being detected sooner. Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 November 2022
  18. News Article
    Scientists are launching a trial screening programme for type 1 diabetes in the UK to detect the disease earlier and reduce the risk of life-changing complications. About 20,000 children aged between 3 and 13 are being invited to take part in the Early Surveillance for Autoimmune Diabetes (Elsa) study, with recruitment opening on Monday. The aim is to assess children’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes at the earliest stage possible to ensure a quick and safe diagnosis, and reduce the number being diagnosed when they are already seriously ill. Parth Narendran, a professor of diabetes medicine at the University of Birmingham, said: “As general population screening programmes for type 1 diabetes emerge around the world, we need to explore how best to screen children here in the UK.” Dr Elizabeth Robertson, the director of research at Diabetes UK, which is co-funding the study with the not-for-profit organisation JDRF, said: “Identifying children at high risk of type 1 diabetes could put them and their families on the front foot, helping ensure a safe and soft landing into an eventual diagnosis, avoiding DKA and reducing the risk of life-altering complications.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 November 2022