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Found 43 results
  1. News Article
    A significant relaxation of infection control guidance has been announced in a bid to free up more capacity to tackle substantial waiting lists and demand for emergency care. New guidance issued jointly by the Department of Heath and Social Care, the UK Health Security Agency, NHS England and health bodies in the devolved nations, recommends the relaxation of isolation requirements for inpatients who either test positive for Covid-19 or are considered close contacts of people with the virus. The isolation period for inpatients with Covid-19 can now be reduced from 10 days to seven if they have two negative lateral flow tests. The tests must be taken on two consecutive days from day six of the isolation period onwards, and the patient must also “[show] clinical improvement”. A letter from NHSE released to trust chiefs, sent last Thursday, also recommends the “[return] of pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas,” including emergency departments, ambulances and “all primary care, inpatient and outpatient settings.” It also recommends the returning to pre-pandemic cleaning procedures outside Covid-19 areas. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 19 April 2022
  2. News Article
    Tens of thousands of new mothers have been left feeling “hopeless” and “isolated” during the pandemic, with the NHS seeing record numbers of referrals to mental health services. Requests for help from new, expectant and bereaved mothers jumped by 40% in 2021 compared with 2019, analysis by The Independent has revealed. NHS data shows mental health referrals hit an all-time high of 23,673 in November last year, with average monthly referrals for the whole of 2021 running 21% higher than the year before, jumping from 17,226 to 21,990. Among those affected when support systems were “suddenly” removed in March 2020 was Leanne, a woman who had her second child just before the pandemic and experienced a mental health crisis. She told The Independent how she had struggled following the first lockdown. “I just thought, Oh God, my recovery is going to stop, how am I going to get better now because I’ve got no support – I’m on my own with it,” she said. “I was [also] anticipating the lockdown … in addition to the nursery closing, and I was getting quite anxious about that, and feeling quite hopeless. The pressure piled on me was enormous, and I had no one who could see me or support me." Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, the shadow minister for mental health, said the figures uncovered by The Independent were “extremely concerning” and that pregnant women had been “forgotten about through the pandemic”. The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ lead for perinatal mental health services, Dr Joanne Black, said the NHS pandemic recovery plan had lost sight of women in pregnancy and children under two years old, who have been “disproportionately affected”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 28 February 2022
  3. News Article
    Today the Government is expected to announce the end to all Covid restrictions, including ending self-isolation and free testing in the country. However, in an open letter to the UK's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, the UK science and medical communities say this is a "HUGE mistake". The open letter expresses concern about the Government plans to end testing, surveillance surveys and legal isolation of Covid-19 cases and asks the Government to clarify the scientific advice underpinning these policy decisions as they do not believe there is a solid scientific basis for the policy. "It is almost certain to increase the circulation of the virus and remove the visibility of emerging variants of concern." "The emergence of new variants and a resultant wave of infections can occur very quickly, potentially within just several weeks. The ability to rapidly detect and characterise new variants and to scale up necessary responses (such as TTI and vaccinations) quickly will be very important. Considerations for future response preparedness and surveillance infrastructure should take this into account." "We believe humanity is in a race against the virus." The letter goes on to say that some form of surveillance must be continued to ensure the situation is well understood and new variants of concern identified. Lack of testing is not only detrimental to controlling the spread of SARSCoV2 and detecting new variants, it also puts people who develop Long Covid at a great disadvantage by not having a confirmation of their infection, which is integral to the diagnosis, support and care they need to receive. For the 1 in 4 people in the UK who are clinically vulnerable, the current approach appears a perilous and politicised pandemic response. The authors of the letter are asking members of the UK science and medical communities to sign the open letter. Read the letter in full and sign here
  4. News Article
    Leading charities have spoken out against the government’s scrapping of COVID-19 measures warning that clinically vulnerable people have been made “collateral damage for political considerations.” Those representing thousands of clinically vulnerable people have warned the government’s decisions to scrap COVID-19 restrictions leaves people “marginalised” and warned there was a risk to 5-11 year old vulnerable children who are yet to be vaccinated. The removal of COVID-19 restrictions next week will mean masks are no longer mandatory and the government will no longer ask people to work from home. Blood Cancer UK has called for the government to do more to support immunocompromised people such as giving them priority testing. Alzheimer's Society has said it is too early to drop basic measures, such as mask wearing, which help protect vulnerable members of society. Charlotte Augst, chief executive for the charity National Voices said clinically vulnerable people had now become “collateral damage in political considerations.” She said: “The pandemic has obviously been difficult for everyone, but it’s been the most difficult for people who are vulnerable to the virus, and some of these people have never really come out of 22 months of lockdowns. “There are obviously infection control measures that are harmful to society and lockdown is one of them - it causes harm. But there are some infection control measures which are not and which enable people to get on with their lives - wearing masks, improving ventilation. “Why would we not do this? When we understood that dirty water caused illness, we cleaned up the water. It cannot be a political statement to say we should clean up the air this is just fact-based decision making, but the situation] has now become all about politics. Read full story Source: The Independent. 21 January 2022
  5. News Article
    Relatives of intensive care Covid patients were left traumatised by being banned from visiting their seriously ill loved ones during the pandemic, a study has found. Researchers found two-thirds of family members of patients in intensive care were still suffering high levels of symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) three months after their relative was admitted. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares and physical sensations such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling. Before the Covid pandemic, symptoms of PTSD in family members of intensive care patients were between 15 and 30 per cent, depending on the condition. The team from the University of Colorado School of Medicine said visitation restrictions may have inadvertently generated a secondary public health crisis of stress-related disorders in family members of Covid patients. At the height of the pandemic, hospitals across Britain restricted access to patients, with many people forced to say goodbye to dying loved ones over Skype, or behind screens or windows. Even as late as last winter, a Telegraph investigation showed that a quarter of trusts were still imposing restrictions on visitors. The findings suggest that the rates of PTSD may be higher in relatives than in patients. A previous study by Imperial College and the University of Southampton found that only one-third of patients on ventilators suffer symptoms. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 25 April 2022
  6. Content Article
    I have worked as a general practitioner in a family clinic for 11 years and have noticed a number of changes in patient presentation since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, I have seen a significant increase in the number of seasonal flu cases compared to the previous three years, despite good coverage from the seasonal flu vaccine. I reviewed about 2,500 to 4,000 cases associated with seasonal flu and upper respiratory tract infections. These numbers would have been remarkable, before Covid-19. The Covid-19 outbreak was reported in Wuhan, Central China in December 2019 and in March 2020 was classified by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic. Most countries began emergency infection control procedures to prevent the virus from spreading, which significantly restricted and changed daily life for much of the world’s population. These emergency measures were accompanied by extensive media coverage about the virus, with different and sometimes conflicting information about the disease being shared through multiple different media channels. There was little scientific knowledge about the nature of the disease, how it affects patients and the epidemic trajectory. We also lacked specific treatments for Covid-19, did not understand the efficacy of preventative measures and at that point did not have vaccinations. Numbers of deaths were being shared around the world on a continuous basis. However, in our community we did not have a high death rate, so this information did not provide a helpful local picture for my patients. Many misunderstood the statistics and definitions. All of these factors have produced a state of anxiety in society, which has had a direct effect on the cases I see in my clinic. I have already reviewed multiple cases of Covid-phobia, delusion about having Covid and Covid-related anxiety. These psychological symptoms are sometimes accompanied by behaviours that disrupt people’s lives such as obsessive disinfection and social divergence. These behaviours have grown from the infection-control culture that has developed during the crisis of the pandemic. Medical systems have become a more significant power in decision making during the pandemic. We now need to use this influence to reassure people in the community and help them adjust to life on the other side of the pandemic. We need to offer psychological support to those who have suffered as a result of lockdown restrictions. The question that preoccupies me is “What will life be like after the end of this pandemic?” Will people return to how they lived before Covid-19, or have there been fundamental changes that have occurred to their lifestyle? Have we moved further towards a life that is more virtual than real, with e-health, online education, online shopping and banking, and communication via social media? What will the psychological and behavioural changes be for people? How do we treat the issues that will arise as a result? How will clinics look in the future, and what knowledge do we need to support this change? How will our health systems will need to change to accommodate this new way of living?
  7. News Article
    David Oliver, NHS consultant physician and a columnist for the BMJ makes a plea on behalf of his colleagues as they face a surge of admissions due to the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 this Christmas. "Pandemic health protection measures are not all about you and your own personal risk or appetite for it, your own ‘natural immunity’ or fitness, your own liberty or freedom. They are about protecting everyone else. It might be your own parent, grandparent or sibling that dies from COVID-19 or from lack of access to overwhelmed services. It might be your neighbour’s or someone in another town or from another social class or ethnic group, This isn’t a game and we need to take it seriously and stop posturing and point-scoring, before, once again, we have left it too late to act" Read full story Source: Byline Times, 21 December 2021
  8. News Article
    Deborah Birx, who was the White House coronavirus response coordinator under President Donald Trump, has told a congressional inquiry that at least 129 000 lives could have been saved if his administration had provided adequate testing and properly communicated the gravity of the situation to the public. But the election year “just took people’s time away and distracted them from the pandemic,” she told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “I felt like the White House had gotten somewhat complacent through the campaign season.” Asked if Trump did everything he should have to counter the pandemic, she said, “No. And I’ve said that to the White House. I believe I was very clear to the president in specifics of what I needed him to do.” “If we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, then we probably could have decreased fatalities by 30-40%.” That would amount to at least 129 000 preventable covid deaths over the course of the Trump presidency, which saw roughly 429 000 reported deaths attributed to the coronavirus." Read full story Source: BMJ, 28 October 2021
  9. News Article
    The government’s actions in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic have received a mixed review from MPs in a report that set out the successes and failures of the UK response. Although the joint report from the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee  praised the UK’s covid vaccination programme as highly effective, it also condemned serious errors, especially delayed lockdowns and how a test, trace, and isolate system was set up. Overall, the MPs’ inquiry found that some government initiatives were examples of global best practice but that others represented “serious mistakes.” The UK’s pandemic planning was based too narrowly on a flu model that had failed to learn the lessons from the SARS, MERS, and Ebola epidemics, said the MPs, which meant that its covid planning was worse than in other countries. Delays in establishing an adequate test, trace, and isolate system hampered efforts to contain the outbreak, said the MPs, and the government’s initial decision to delay a comprehensive lockdown had revealed its then “fatalistic” assumption that it was impossible to suppress the virus, which amounted, in practice, to accepting that herd immunity by infection was inevitable. The report said that many thousands of deaths could have been avoided if the government had not let hospitals discharge people into care homes in the initial phase of the pandemic and that this showed the “longstanding failure” to give social care sufficient priority and the same attention as the NHS. Read full story Source: BMJ, 12 October 2021
  10. News Article
    A cabinet minister has refused to apologise for the government’s handing of the COVID-19 pandemic despite a new report finding that errors cost “thousands of lives”. Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay defended the government’s decision making to Sky News, saying: “We followed, throughout, the scientific advice. We got the vaccine deployed extremely quickly, we protected our NHS from the surge of cases.” His comments come as family members who lost loved ones to COVID-19 described the MPs’ report as “laughable” for failing to take evidence from the bereaved. The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group criticised the parliamentary report as being “more interested in political arguments about whether you can bring laptops to Cobra meetings that it is in the experiences of those who tragically lost” family members to COVID-19. When asked, for a second time, if he would apologise by presenter Kay Burley, Stephen Barclay replied: “Well no, we followed the scientific advice, we protected the NHS, we took the decisions based on the evidence before us.” He made these comments despite the report finding that the delayed decision to lock down in spring last year was one of the “most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 October 2021
  11. News Article
    Britain’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with ministers and scientists taking a “fatalistic” approach that exacerbated the death toll, a landmark inquiry has found. “Groupthink”, evidence of British exceptionalism and a deliberately “slow and gradualist” approach meant the UK fared “significantly worse” than other countries, according to the 151-page “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” report led by two former Conservative ministers. The crisis exposed “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”, with public bodies unable to share vital information and scientific advice impaired by a lack of transparency, input from international experts and meaningful challenge. Despite being one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid in January 2020, the UK “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis”. The consequences were profound, the report says. “For a country with a world-class expertise in data analysis, to face the biggest health crisis in 100 years with virtually no data to analyse was an almost unimaginable setback.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 12 October 2021
  12. News Article
    Hospitals in England have been given the green light to ease some of the Covid infection-control measures that have been in place during the pandemic. The changes, recommended by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), are aimed at easing pressure on the NHS. It says testing and isolating patients before planned operations can be dropped and hospitals can return to normal cleaning procedures. Social distancing can also be reduced from 2m (6ft) to 1m in some areas. UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said the new recommendations would help local hospitals plan more elective care. "This is a first step to help the NHS treat more patients more quickly, while ensuring their safety and balancing their different needs for care," she said. Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "As ever more people benefit from the protection of our phenomenal vaccination campaign, we can now safely begin to relieve some of the most stringent infection controls where they are no longer necessary, to benefit patients and ease the burden on hardworking NHS staff." Read full story Source: BBC News, 28 September 2021