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Found 171 results
  1. News Article
    Free HIV tests that can be done at home are being offered this week to people in England. It is part of a government drive to improve diagnosis, which dropped off during the Covid pandemic. The kit is small enough to fit through the letterbox and arrives in plain packaging through the post. It gives a result within 15 minutes by testing a drop of blood from a finger prick. A "reactive" result means HIV is possible and a clinic check is needed. Support and help is available to arrange this. About 4,400 people in England are living with undiagnosed HIV, which comes with serious health risks. HIV medication can keep the virus at undetectable levels, meaning you cannot pass HIV on and your health is protected. Most people get the virus from someone who is unaware they have it, according to the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) charity which campaigns about and provides services relating to HIV and sexual health. HIV testing rates remain a fifth lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic - with heterosexual men in particular now testing far less than in 2019. Read full story Source: BBC News, 5 February 2023
  2. News Article
    Concerns raised about dangerous discrepancies at a Covid testing lab which has since been blamed for causing an estimated 23 deaths were ignored by health officials for months. Documents show Public Health Wales flagged "significant concerns" about results from Immensa, in Wolverhampton, in letters to colleagues in England. They were told nothing was wrong and testing continued for six months. Letters were released after a Freedom of Information request by the Times. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said as many as 39,000 positive results were wrongly reported as negative in September and October 2021, mostly originating from south-west England. Read full story Source: BBC News, 26 January 2023
  3. News Article
    The UK needs to do more to use diagnostic testing in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the chair of a government-commissioned review on AMR told MPs. Lord O’Neill, an economist and former treasury minister, warned in the review’s final report in 2016 that a continued rise in AMR would lead to 10 million people dying each year by 2050 and made ten recommendations, including the need for rapid diagnostics to reduce unnecessary use of antimicrobials. Speaking to a Commons Science and Technology Committee evidence session on 22 June 2022, Lord O’Neill said that while he was pleased with progress on some of the recommendations published in his review in 2016, especially in the reduction of antimicrobials in agriculture, progress on diagnostics was “woeful”. He said it was “alarming to me how we are not embedding state-of-the-art diagnostic technology right in the middle of our health systems”, adding that it could “really make a huge difference about whether an antibiotic is needed or not, and the right kind of antibiotic”. “Our most aggressive recommendation was that we should ban the use of subjective prescriptions in secondary settings, at least in Western countries, until they’ve gone through a state-of-the-art diagnostics,” he continued. “And nobody’s done it; they claim it’s a vicious circle, the technology isn’t there, but we have to give incentives in order to get this embedded because that would make a permanent difference.” Read full story Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal, 24 June 2022
  4. News Article
    Strep A home-testing kits have sold out online as parents rush to find ways to diagnose their children’s rashes and high temperatures. The panic-buying follows the deaths of at least 16 children from invasive strep A infections in the UK. As infections and deaths from strep A have risen over the past few weeks, parents have turned to tests that involve a long cotton swab that is lightly passed over the back of the throat. Solutions and a strip test are then used to display results. These tests are now being sold online for more than £100, while some retailers have reported selling out after demand soared over the past few days. Other suppliers have warned customers that they will not be able to get hold of a test until after Christmas. One online retailer told customers that they would not be able to get the products until mid-January. Others said they were awaiting deliveries but “there may be delays beyond our control”. Strep A tests are not sold in England through the NHS because the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – which approves and advises on clinical care – has said their accuracy is uncertain and likely to be “highly variable”. Scotland has not approved them either, though in Wales people can buy them over the counter for £7.50. “We’re not advising using those [tests] for the time being,” Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said on Friday. “It is a clinical diagnosis. It is not too difficult to make. So long as the parent watches their child and brings their child in, then we are more than happy to see them.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 11 December 2022
  5. News Article
    Staff mistakes in a private laboratory may have caused 23 extra deaths from Covid-19. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) made the claim in a report into errors at the Immensa lab in Wolverhampton. It said as many as 39,000 positive results were wrongly reported as negative in September and October 2021. The mistakes led to "increased numbers of [hospital] admissions and deaths", the report, published on Tuesday, concluded. Thousands of people, many in the South West, were wrongly told to stop testing after their results were processed by Immensa. The Wolverhampton laboratory was used for additional testing capacity for NHS Test and Trace from early September 2021, but testing was suspended on 12 October following reports of inaccurate results. Experts said high case rates in some areas were down to people unwittingly infecting others when they should have been isolating. UKHSA experts said the mistakes could have led to as many as 55,000 additional infections in areas where the false negatives were reported. "Each incorrect negative test likely led to just over two additional infections," the report said. "In those same geographical areas, our results also suggest an increased number of admissions and deaths." Read full story Source: BBC News, 29 November 2022
  6. Event
    Sir Mike Richards’ review of diagnostics, Diagnostics: recovery and renewal, which was commissioned in response to recommendations in the NHS Long-Term Plan, outlined a new diagnostic model for services. The review identified key enablers to drive and deliver much needed to change to optimise diagnostic capacity and improve efficiency, along with the need for a major expansion of the workforce and improved connectivity and digitisation across all aspects of diagnostics. Demand for almost all aspects of diagnostics has been rising year on year. The public’s familiarisation with swab testing and testing closer to home through the Covid-19 has provided a strong launch pad to change the approach to diagnostics in response to this rising demand This King's Fund event will explore what can be learnt from the NHS reponse to Covid-19, how partners are working to reshape diagnostic pathways through community diagnostic centres, point-of-care testing and increasing workforce capability and capacity. Register
  7. News Article
    Private companies are offering “misleading” home blood-testing kits that fuel health anxieties and pile pressure on the NHS, a report has suggested. There has been a boom in sales of the kits, which promise to reveal everything from cancer risk to how long patients can expect to live. But an investigation by the BMJ found these “unnecessary and potentially invasive tests” can be misleading and generate false alarms. The NHS is then left to “clear up the mess” as worried patients see GPs for reassurance or extra tests, piling more pressure on the overstretched service. One GP described patients coming in “clutching the results of private screening tests”, with doctors asked to review the results. The companies have been criticised for not providing sufficient follow-ups after the “poor quality and overhyped” tests, and for misleading results such as wrongly telling people their test levels are outside the “normal” range. Bernie Croal, president of the Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine, said: “Most of the online [tests] will send the results to the patient with at best a sort of asterisk next to the ones that are abnormal, with advice to either pay some more money to get some sort of health professional to speak about it or go and see your own GP.” Doctors are calling for the tests to be more tightly regulated by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 27 October 2022
  8. News Article
    Very sick babies and children will be diagnosed and start treatment more quickly thanks to a “revolutionary” new genetic testing service being launched by the NHS. Doctors will gain vital insights within as little as two days into what illnesses more than 1,000 newborns and infants a year in England have from the rapid analysis of blood tests. Until now, when doctors suspected a genetic disorder, such tests have sometimes taken weeks as they had to be done in a sequential order to rule out other possible diagnoses, delaying treatment. NHS England bosses say the service could save the lives of thousands of seriously ill children over time and will usher in “a new era of genomic medicine”. The clinical scientists, genetic technologists and bioinformaticians will carry out much faster processing of DNA samples, including saliva and other tissue samples as well as blood. They will share their findings with medical teams and patients’ families. “This global first is an incredible moment for the NHS and will be revolutionary in helping us to rapidly diagnose the illnesses of thousands of seriously ill children and babies, saving countless lives in the years to come,” said Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 12 October 2022 Further hub reading Genetic profiling and precision medicine – the future of cancer treatment
  9. News Article
    If doctors had tested a nine-year-old girl's blood sooner they may have changed the treatment she received before her death, an expert witness has confirmed to a medical tribunal. The hearing was told this was a "significant failure" in the care of Claire Roberts. Claire died at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in 1996. In 2018 a public inquiry concluded she died from an overdose of fluids and medication caused by negligent care. At the time, her parents were told a viral infection had spread from her stomach to her brain. The General Medical Council (GMC) said one of the doctors involved in Claire's care, Dr Heather Steen, acted dishonestly in trying to conceal the circumstances of her death. Dr Steen denied allegations that she acted dishonestly and engaged in a cover-up. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) heard from a defence expert witness on Monday who said doctors not checking the sodium levels in Claire's blood earlier was a "significant failure" in her care. Dr Nicholas Mann told the tribunal he would have ordered more blood tests on Claire on the morning after she was admitted to hospital but he said he did not know if this would have prevented her death. "There should have been more attention to her fluids and electrolytes on the day after admission. Whether that would have altered the final outcome I don't know but certainly it would have been sensible to do that," he said. The tribunal also heard that Claire's death was not referred to a coroner, despite this being something all of the doctors caring for her would have had a duty to do. It was also told that a letter sent to Claire's parents from the hospital in 2005 contained inaccuracies. During questioning of Dr Mann, a barrister for the GMC highlighted the involvement of Dr Steen in compiling the letter which was signed by another doctor. Tom Forster KC said it was the GMC's case that Claire's family were given incorrect information about potential causes of her death despite these not being definitively diagnosed. Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 October 2022
  10. News Article
    Most hospital patients and care home residents in England will no longer be tested for Covid unless they have symptoms, the government has said. From 31 August, NHS and social care staff will also not be offered lateral flow tests unless they fall sick. Free testing for the general public ended in April in England, but continued in some high-risk settings. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: "This reflects the fact case rates have fallen and the risk of transmission has reduced, though we will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with sectors to resume testing should it be needed." Read full story Source: BBC News (25 August 2022)
  11. News Article
    A change in pre-eclampsia testing for pregnant women could help save lives. The potentially-fatal condition affects around 6% of women, often during the second half of pregnancy. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) had recommended a test that could only rule out the condition, but now recommends more accurate tests that can diagnose cases. The Welsh government welcomed the new guidance, but said routine screening had not been recommended. Jeanette Kusel, director for scientific advice at NICE, said: "These tests represent a step change in the management and treatment of pre eclampsia. "New evidence presented to the committee shows that these tests can help successfully diagnose pre eclampsia, alongside clinical information for decision-making, rather than just rule it out. "This is extremely valuable to doctors and expectant mothers as now they can have increased confidence in their treatment plans and preparing for a safe birth" Eleri Wyn Foxhall, 32, from Penygroes in Gwynedd had pre-eclampsia in 2020. She welcomes the move, but called for women to be tested routinely. She believes there is a general "lack of information" about pre-eclampsia, and wants more work to be done on early detection. Read full story Source: BBC News, 26 July 2022
  12. Content Article
    The measures proposed by Independent SAGE are: Clear and consistent messaging concerning Covid risk and risk mitigation, reinforced by public statements by those in positions of authority. Increased efforts to promote vaccine uptake, among all age groups,4 and with particular emphasis on groups among whom uptake has been low, in particular ethnic minority communities.5 This should be coupled with a clear long term plan to address waning immunity and immune escape by new variants. Installing and/or upgrading ventilation/air filtration in all public buildings, with schools an urgent priority over the summer holidays. Provision of free lateral flow tests to enable everyone to follow existing public health guidelines. Financial and other support for all workers to self-isolate if infected. Systematic promotion of the use of FFP2/FFP3 masks in indoor public spaces and public transport when infection rates are high. Increased support for the equitable global provision of vaccines and anti-virals.
  13. News Article
    The NHS is warning about widespread scam text messages telling recipients they have been in close contact with a Covid case. "We've seen reports of fake NHS text messages about ordering Omicron Covid-19 test kits," it tweeted. Close contacts of people who have tested positive are no longer advised to test. The aim of the messages appears to be harvesting financial and personal information. In its alert, the NHS says it will "never ask for bank details, so please be aware of suspicious messages". Most people are no longer advised to test for Covid and are ineligible for free tests - but some some pharmacies and shops sell them. Read full story Source: BBC News, 22 June 2022
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. Community Post
    HOW SAFE ARE OUR GP PRACTICES during covid-19? For the health care professionals, their patients, and families of patients? I'm a 65-yr old diabetic needing routine B12 injections. My GP tells me to turn up as normal so I don't develop neurological problems. I don't think anyone in the practice has been tested for covid-19. I'm refusing to turn up since I suspect the GP practice to be a covid-19 hot-spot. I don't want to transmit this virus to my frail, elderly asthmatic husband who's undergone cancer treatment and a lot of surgery. I've persuaded the GP to give me a precription for oral B12. Have I done the right thing? How can I help GPs and patients in far worse dilemmas than mine?
  17. News Article
    Pregnant women should be tested for Group B Strep to save the lives of dozens of babies every year, campaigners have warned. Group B Strep is the most recurrent cause of life-threatening illness in newborn babies, with an average of two babies a day identified with the infection. Each week, one of these babies goes on to die while another develops an ongoing long-term disability. More than one in five women carry Group B Strep, a common bacteria that normally causes no harm and no symptoms. However, its presence in the vagina or rectum means babies can be exposed to it during labour and birth. Pregnant women in Britain are not routinely tested for its presence, but a trial led by the University of Nottingham is examining whether such a move would be effective. Campaigners have called for more hospitals to join the pilot to ensure it is successful. Jane Plumb, chief executive of campaign group Group B Strep Support, said: “It’s taken over 20 years of campaigning to get this trial commissioned. It’s devastating that only 30 of the 80 hospitals needed have signed up. We can’t let this trial fail. “We need to fight for the 800 babies per year that are infected with this too-often-deadly infection. We need more hospitals to take part. We need to rally together and get this trial over the finish line.” Ms Plumb said the majority of Group B Strep infections in babies are preventable. “If we don’t know, then they can’t be offered the protective antibiotics in labour,” she said. “Families so often tell us that the first time they hear of Group B Strep is after their baby falls ill. For a mostly preventable infection, this is unforgivable – and must change. “We want to encourage every hospital to take part. We need people to ask for their MP’s support. This is an opportunity to save so many babies’ lives, but we only have six months to get hospitals on board. It really is now or never.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 19 April 2022
  18. News Article
    Patients are being put at risk in the UK because very few sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests offered online meet official standards, experts have warned. The NHS provides free in-person tests for STIs via its network of sexual health and genitourinary medicine clinics. Patients can also order tests via the internet from both NHS-commissioned and private providers, a practice that has become increasingly popular during the pandemic. However, new research in the Sexually Transmitted Infections journal published by the BMJ found that few online STI test services meet national recommended standards, with independent sector providers the least likely to be compliant. Online tests involve the user ordering a kit and either self-sampling by posting the specimen for laboratory analysis, or self-testing by interpreting the test themselves. The research found that the commercial self-sample providers, which advertised to those with symptoms, did not differentiate by STI symptom severity, and eight – seven private and one NHS-commissioned provider – offered no advice on accessing preventive treatment after exposure to HIV as recommended. Self-test providers did not appear to offer any form of order of treatment for patients and five offered tests that were intended for professional use only. The research concluded: “Regulatory change is required to ensure that the standard of care received online meets national guidelines to protect patients and the wider population from the repercussions of underperforming or inappropriate tests." “If we do not act now, patients will continue to receive suboptimal care with potentially significant adverse personal, clinical and public health implications.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 12 April 2022
  19. News Article
    Overstretched hospitals are stopping routine Covid tests for new patients as “brutal” pressures mount on doctors and nurses, The Independent understands. On Monday there were 1,702 new Covid admissions to hospitals in England as of 9 April – with 16,442 positive patients occupying beds – the NHS leaders warn their ability to tackle the backlog in planned care is at risk. Despite pleas from NHS chiefs to measures such as mask-wearing back into force, ministers said there were no plans to change guidance. The Independent understands at least two major hospitals, in Newcastle and York, have dropped testing of all patients without symptoms in order to alleviate pressure on beds – raising fears that Covid could spread on unchecked wards. Other hospitals are also likely to do the same as bed pressures worsen. Sources have told The Independent some trusts have begun to drop “red” Covid only wards, while some are considering not separating patients in A&E. One expert, critical care doctor Tom Lawton, who analyses hospital-acquired infection data, said that stopping patient testing in hospitals was “worrying” and that the NHS would be putting “blinkers on” just as in-hospital infections were “as high as they’ve ever been”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 11 April 2022
  20. News Article
    Pregnant women with suspected pre-eclampsia will now be offered a test on the NHS to detect the condition. Pre-eclampsia affects some women, usually during the second half of pregnancy or soon after their baby is born. It can lead to serious complications if it is not picked up during maternity appointments, with early signs including high blood pressure and protein in the urine. In some cases, women can develop a severe headache, vision problems such as blurring or flashing, pain just below the ribs, swelling and vomiting. Tests have been available to help rule out the condition but midwives will now use tests designed to pick up a positive diagnosis. In new draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said midwives could use one of four blood tests to help diagnose suspected preterm pre-eclampsia. Jeanette Kusel, the acting director for medtech and digital at NICE, said: “These tests represent a step-change in the management and treatment of pre-eclampsia. New evidence presented to the committee shows that these tests can help successfully diagnose pre-eclampsia, alongside clinical information for decision-making, rather than just rule it out. “This is extremely valuable to doctors and expectant mothers as now they can have increased confidence in their treatment plans and preparing for a safe birth.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 25 March 2022
  21. News Article
    Lateral flow tests could cost care home visitors £73 a month, a leading UK charity has said, as it renewed calls to keep the devices free in such settings. The government has previously announced that free testing for the general public will end from 1 April, and that this will include care home visitors. However, charities have warned the shift away from free tests could place a heavy financial burden on those visiting care homes, where testing is still advised. James White, the head of public affairs and campaigns at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the proposed charge on lateral flow tests for visitors to care homes was a cruel tax on care. “Over the past two years, we’ve consistently heard many tragic stories from families struggling to visit their loved ones in care homes. For many people with dementia, this isolation has led to a significant deterioration in their condition and mental health,” he said. “With infection rates rising once again, the government must provide free lateral flow tests for all visitors to care homes so that families are not put in an agonising position where they are forced to ration visits, leaving people with dementia once again isolated and alone.” Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “No one should have to pay out of their own pocket for tests in circumstances where the expert advice is clear that testing remains an important safeguard against Covid,” she said. “If care home visitors are going to continue to be asked to keep testing to protect their loved ones, it would be completely unacceptable to expect them to pay.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 March 2022 Further reading Visiting restrictions and the impact on patients and their families: a relative's perspective