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Found 84 results
  1. News Article
    NHS hospitals have been banned from launching their own coronavirus testing for staff and patients who have symptoms – despite a nationwide shortage in tests. Leaked NHS documents, passed to The Independent, show the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has now capped funding for COVID-19 testing in the health service, even though the lack of tests has left hospital doctors, nurses, teachers and other key workers forced to stay at home. The diktat warned hospitals that, if they did choose to go ahead, the six figure costs would have to come from their own budgets. The warning was sent just a day after testing tsar Baroness Dido Harding admitted to MPs that demand for coronavirus tests is three to four times the number available. One senior NHS director told The Independent that NHS trusts had the ability to buy Covid-19 test capacity in local laboratories but now faced the risk of not getting the money to pay for it. They said: “This is just barmy at a time when we have cases rising and we need to get test results for staff and patients who are isolating at home waiting for results. Read full story Source: The Independent, 18 September 2020
  2. News Article
    A lack of coronavirus tests for NHS staff is leading to staff absences and services being put at risk, hospital bosses have warned. NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, said staff are having to self-isolate rather than work because they cannot get tests for themselves or family members. It comes after widespread reports of people struggling to get tested. The home secretary defended the system, saying capacity was increasing. The government's testing system - part of its test, track and trace operation which Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised would be "world-beating" - has faced criticism in recent weeks. An increase in demand for coronavirus tests has led to local shortages - with some people being directed to test sites hundreds of miles from their homes. One doctor working in a coronavirus hotspot said she applied for a test for herself and her partner after they developed coughs and fevers. After refreshing the website for five hours, she managed to get an appointment but on arrival was told no booking had been made. She had taken screenshots of a confirmation code but was not sent a QR code to scan. "I showed the screenshots but I was told that the appointments weren't happening," she said. "I have to say I burst into tears. I was meant to be seeing patients and I feel guilty." Dr Rachel Ward, a GP in Newbury, told BBC Breakfast she was seeing a lot of patients who were struggling to get tests, saying a lot of families were "at the end of their tether" as it was "very stressful when you are faced with two weeks off work". She said if the staff at her practice were unable to get tests and had to self-isolate it would have a "huge impact" on patients as some of their healthcare workers are booked in to administer 100 flu jabs in a day. Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 September 2020
  3. Event
    A record excess of four million people are now awaiting hospital treatment in England. This number includes more than 83,000 who have been waiting more than a year. On Thursday 17 September, RSM President Professor Roger Kirby will interview Professor Derek Alderson, immediate past President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ben Challacombe, Consultant Urological Surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and Hannah Warren, Specialist Registrar at King’s College Hospital to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on surgeons, surgery and surgical waiting lists. In addition, the panel will discuss whether the mass testing proposed by the Prime Minister in his “Operation Moonshot” initiative could help to resolve the situation. The webinar will include plenty of opportunities for questions. Registration
  4. News Article
    Almost 86% of doctors in England say they expect a second peak of coronavirus in the next six months, according to a new survey, as concern continues to grow over a recent rise in cases. On Friday, new results from a population-based study suggested the R number for England is now at 1.7, with infections doubling every 7.7 days. While the prevalence of the disease remains lower than it was in the spring, an R value above 1 means cases could grow exponentially. Sunday marked the third day in a row that new coronaviruses cases reported for the UK topped 3,000 – the highest figures since May – with 2,837 new cases reported in England alone. While testing has increased over the past months, experts have said this does not fully explain the recent surge. In a poll, the British Medical Association (BMA) asked more than 8,000 doctors and medical students in England what their top concerns were out of five possibilities, from a second peak of coronavirus to sickness and burnout among staff and winter pressures, including a possible flu outbreak. Almost 30% of respondents selected a second peak as their number-one worry. Overall, 86% of respondents said they believed a second peak of coronavirus during the next six months is either “quite likely” or “very likely”. When asked which of a range of factors might risk causing a second peak, almost 90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that failures of the test-and-trace system posed a risk, while a similar proportion cited a lack of infection-control measures in places like bars and restaurants, and 86% agreed or strongly agreed confusing messaging on public health measures was a risk. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 September 2020
  5. News Article
    The government has written to care home providers in England to warn them of a rise in new coronavirus infections within the sector. A letter from the Department of Health urged care bosses to take "necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks". Cases were mainly among staff but risked spreading to residents, it said. It comes as a further 3,330 positive cases were recorded in the UK - the third consecutive day in which cases have been over 3,000. It brings the total number of confirmed cases to 368,504. Friday's letter from the Department of Health and Social Care said testing data had revealed an increase in the number of positive results in care homes and called on the care sector to work with the government. "You will know already that we are experiencing a rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases across the UK population," wrote Stuart Miller, director of adult social care delivery. "I need to alert you to the first signs this rise is being reflected in care homes too." "I am writing at the earliest opportunity, so we can work in partnership to prevent further spread of the disease. The rapid flow of data and information, to and from care providers, is vital to this effort." Mr Miller said the infections had been detected chiefly among staff but had been transmitted to residents in some cases. He went on to stress "the importance of regular testing and consistent use of PPE". Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 September 2020
  6. News Article
    People across England have told BBC News they are struggling to access coronavirus tests. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that no-one should have to travel more than 75 miles for a test, after the BBC revealed some were being sent hundreds of miles away. But dozens have now reported being unable to book a swab at all. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said testing capacity was targeted at the hardest-hit areas. A significant rise in demand for testing led the government to reduce the number of appointments available in areas of lower prevalence, to prioritise areas with outbreaks. This in turn led to people applying for tests being directed to centres sometimes hundreds of miles away. But last Thursday Mr Hancock pledged to put in "immediate" solutions to make sure people did not have to travel more than 75 miles, effective from last Friday. Since then, postcodes entered into the government's booking system return a message suggesting there are no testing centres or home kits available - even if you are an essential worker with symptoms. Frances, in Suffolk, tried to apply for a test when her daughter developed a high temperature. She didn't think it was coronavirus but "the rules are the rules". She had understood that anyone with a temperature should apply for a test, and was not able to send either of her children to school until she did. "Their teachers need to be kept safe, their classmates need to be kept safe, we need to do the right thing," she said. But Frances was also not able to get a home kit, and when she tried to get an appointment at a drive-through centre was told no test sites were found. Read full story Source: BBC News, 12 September 2020
  7. News Article
    The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has stressed the importance of GPs having rapid access to testing results for patients, as newly-released research highlights the role general practice is playing during the coronavirus pandemic. Released by Queen Mary University of London, and published in the British Journal of General Practice, the research showed GPs and their teams were continuing to deliver frontline care to NHS patients with both Covid and non-Covid conditions. The active role of GPs in the COVID-19 response is nothing new or surprising, though notably the Queen Mary research focused in heavily on ‘suspected’ cases of Covid, due to limited community testing throughout the pandemic, giving a clearer picture of the primary patient group using general practice services. Responding to the research, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the RCGP, said: “This data shows the significant role GPs and our teams have played in tackling Covid-19 and delivering care to patients during the pandemic – and how the virus has impacted on all parts of the health and care services. “General practice has been open throughout the pandemic with GPs and our teams continuing to deliver the vast majority of NHS patient care to patients with both Covid and non-Covid conditions." Read full story Source: National Health Executive, 8 September 2020
  8. Community Post
    During the COVID pandemic, it was clear that Emergency Departments across the UK needed to adapt and quickly, with my trust not exempt from this. We have increased capacity, increased our nursing and doctors on the shop floor, obviously with nurse in charge being responsible for all areas. We have different admission wards in terms of symptoms that the patient has, but also have a different type of flow, which i am getting my head around to be able to share I have seen departments split into 2 and various other ideas coming out from various trusts. Which got me thinking about patient safety and how well this is managed. So.... How is your department responding to the pandemic? Do you have any patient safety initiatives as a result of the response? Is there a long term plan? The reason why i am asking this, is so we can share practice and identify individual trust responses.
  9. News Article
    COVID-19 patients have active and prolonged gut viral infection, even in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms, scientists in Hong Kong showed. The coronavirus may continue to infect and replicate in the digestive tract after clearing in the airways, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said in a statement Monday. The findings, published in the medical journal GUT, have implications for identifying and treating cases, they said. SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets -- spatters of virus-laden discharge from the mouth and nose, according to the World Health Organization. Since the first weeks of the pandemic, however, scientists in China have said infectious virus in the stool of patients may also play a role in transmission. The finding “highlights the importance of long-term coronavirus and health surveillance and the threat of potential fecal-oral viral transmissions,” Siew Chien Ng, associate director of the university’s Centre for Gut Microbiota Research, said in the statement. Read full story Source: Bloomberg, 7 September 2020
  10. News Article
    Testing people twice for the coronavirus, with a nasal swab followed by an antibody finger prick test, would catch most of those people who fail to get the right COVID-19 diagnosis, researchers believe. Nose and throat swabs miss around 30% to 50% of infections, say the University of Cambridge team, as the virus can disappear from the upper respiratory tract into the lungs. But they say adding an antibody test can plug that gap. Antibodies show up from about six days after infection. A team at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge has piloted the use of combined tests for patients arriving at the hospital. Many arrive with flu-like symptoms and need an accurate diagnosis to ensure they are put on the right wards, so that there is no risk of COVID-19 patients infecting others. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 September 2020
  11. News Article
    England’s test-and-trace system has been hit with fresh problems after there were delays in contacting nearly 2,000 people infected with coronavirus, and one in seven home tests failed to produce a result. An internet outage meant nearly 3,000 more people than usual were transferred to the contact-tracing system after testing positive for COVID-19 in the week ending 19 August. Two-thirds of these people had been tested days or weeks earlier, meaning there was a delay in reaching them and their close contacts when they should have been self-isolating. The proportion of home tests kits failing to produce a result that week rose sharply, from 4% to 15% of the total, equating to more than 18,000 tests. The Department of Health and Social Care figures also show that test and trace failed for a ninth week running to reach its target of contacting 80% of close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, acknowledged on Thursday that the programme was “not quite there” in reaching that target. He told LBC radio: “One of the challenges is we want to get NHS test and trace up to over 80% of contacts, getting them to self-isolate – we’re at just over 75%, so we’re nearly there but not quite there.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 27 August 2020
  12. News Article
    A new study has highlighted the number of NHS staff who can be infected with coronavirus but be completely unaware they are a risk to their colleagues and patients. The research by doctors at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) found a third of staff working in two maternity departments at UCLH and St George’s Hospital tested positive for the virus but had no symptoms. Overall, one in six staff who had not previously been diagnosed with the virus were tested for COVID-19 antibodies and were found to be positive for infection. Prof Keith Neal, emeritus professor of epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, who was not involved in the research, said: “Asymptomatic healthcare workers with COVID-19 pose a risk of spreading the virus depending on the personal protective equipment in use. We know many cases were acquired in hospital. “Regular testing of healthcare workers is clearly warranted.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 August 2020
  13. News Article
    Up to 750,000 unused coronavirus testing kits are being recalled due to safety concerns. The UK's medicines and healthcare products regulator (MHRA) asked Randox to recall the kits sent out to care homes and individuals. The government said it was a "precautionary measure" and the risk to safety was low. It comes weeks after the health secretary said Randox kits should not be used until further notice. A spokeswoman said: "We have high safety standards for all coronavirus tests. Following the pausing of Randox kits on 15 July, Randox have now recalled all test kits as a precautionary measure." Care home residents or staff with symptoms of coronavirus can continue to book a test, she said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 8 August 2020
  14. News Article
    Two new tests for COVID-19 that are said to deliver results within 90 minutes are to be introduced across NHS hospitals and care homes, to speed up diagnosis ahead of winter and differentiate coronavirus infection from flu, the government says. But some experts were surprised by the government’s decision, saying the particular tests were not well-known. No data had been published concerning their evaluation. The government had made mistakes in buying tests that turned out to be sub-standard in the past, they said. “Repeatedly through the pandemic the government has raced ahead purchasing tests on the basis of manufacturer’s claims, and have found later when independent studies are done that the tests do not have adequate performance for use in the NHS,” said Professor Jon Deeks from Birmingham University, part of a team who have been evaluating tests of this sort. “We would hope that the government would wait for proper evaluations, and consider the scientific evidence for all available tests before signing further contracts. The mistakes made in test purchasing have wasted millions of pounds as well as put lives at risk.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 3 August 2020
  15. News Article
    Initial data from the COVID-19 Infection Survey. This survey is being delivered in partnership with IQVIA, Oxford University and UK Biocentre. Full article here Table of contents in the report: 1. Main points 2. Number of people in England who had COVID-19 3. Regional analysis 4. Incidence rate 5. Test sensitivity and specificity 6. COVID-19 Infection Survey data 7. Collaboration 8. Glossary 9. Measuring the data 10. Strengths and limitations 11. Related links
  16. News Article
    More than a quarter of black, Asian and minority ethnic NHS staff had not yet had a risk assessment in relation to their exposure to coronavirus, according to the latest data collection by national NHS leaders. Full article here on the HSJ website (paywalled)
  17. News Article
    Healthcare staff working at the height of the covid-19 pandemic in England were not properly protected and were forced to work in an unsafe environment, MPs have been told. Appealing before the health and social care committee on 21 July, experts criticised the government and NHS management for their failure to provide staff with sufficient testing and personal protective equipment (PPE). The committee was gathering evidence for its inquiry into the management of the COVID-19 outbreak. Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said he believed that the failure to implement better testing systems in the early days of the pandemic had contributed significantly to the problems. He said, “At the height of the pandemic, our own research—which backs up what’s been done elsewhere—found that up to 45% of healthcare workers were infected and they were infecting their colleagues and infecting patients, yet they weren’t being tested systematically. “In the healthcare environment we weren’t providing proper protection, and it’s important because it protects the most vulnerable in our society and it protects our healthcare workers. They deserve to work in a safe environment, and some of them are dying because of what they do. They deserve better.” Read full story Source: BMJ, 22 July 2020
  18. Content Article
    The report offers an ethical framework and practical recommendations to help guide good practice nationally and locally to ensure: Clarity about goals of testing. Access, effectiveness, and efficiency. Acknowledgement and management of the strengths and limitations of the current test. Understanding how the test is used in practice and the implications of these uses. Clarity in relation to choices about testing both in principle and in practice. Clarity about data protection and confidentiality. Trustworthiness and legitimacy. High quality information and communication about testing.
  19. News Article
    GP systems will now be updated in 'near-real time' to reveal the result of Covid-19 tests taken by all of their patients. GPs will not need to act on the information, which will be visible on systems whether the patient tested positive or negative. This will apply to all patients where it has been possible to identify the patient's NHS number, NHS Digital said. EMIS Health chief medical officer Shaun O’Hanlon said: "Technology has played a pivotal role in the response to COVID-19 across the board and keeping the medical record up to date with COVID-19 test results means everyone who can share that record has a full picture of the patient’s health, including the patient themselves via Patient Access." "This will not only help day to day patient care, and it will also help on a wider population health level, as data-led insight relies on full and complete medical records as analysts continue to research COVID-19 and its short- and long-term impact on the nation." Read full story Source: Pulse, 20 July 2020
  20. News Article
    Almost half of healthcare workers at some hospitals were infected with COVID-19 during the height of the first wave, the director of a biomedical research centre has told MPs. Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, told MPs today that COVID-19 had infected up to 45% of healthcare workers during ”the height of the pandemic” at some hospitals, according to the centre’s research. Chief medical officer Chris Whitty also told the Health and Social Care Committee that there was more evidence that COVID-19 was transmitted between staff, rather than from patients to staff, and there was “just as much risk as people being in their break rooms than on wards”. Sir Paul told MPs the Francis Crick Institute contacted Downing Street in March and wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock in April to emphasise the importance of regular systematic testing for all healthcare workers as it was “quite clear” that those without symptoms were likely to be transmitting the disease. He said hospital staff “were infecting their colleagues, they were infecting their patients, yet they were not being tested systematically.” Read full story Source: HSJ, 21 July 2020
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