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Found 126 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
    Hepatitis B transmission from mothers to babies has been eliminated in England, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO elimination target is that less than 2% of babies born to mothers with hepatitis B go on to develop the infection. And data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows the figure for England currently stands at 0.1% The UKHSA said progress had been made in tackling the viral infection, which can cause liver damage, cancer and death if left untreated. A six-in-one vaccine is offered to all babies on the NHS when they are eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age. Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We are paving the way for the elimination of hepatitis B and C, with England set to be one of the first countries in the world to wipe out these viruses.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 2 February 2023 .
  3. News Article
    Public health leaders were slow to act on repeated warnings over Christmas 2020 that contact tracing and isolation should be triggered immediately after a positive lateral flow test result, leaked evidence to the Covid inquiry shows. A scathing “lessons learned” document written by Dr Achim Wolf, a senior test and trace official, and submitted to the inquiry, gives his account of a trail of missed opportunities to improve the NHS test-and-trace regime in the first winter and spring of the pandemic – before vaccines were available. It suggests that people will have unnecessarily spread the virus to friends and relatives in the first Christmas of the pandemic and subsequent January lockdown period because they were not legally required to isolate and have their contacts traced as soon as they got a positive lateral flow test. Instead, for around two months, those eligible for rapid testing were told to get a confirmatory PCR test after a positive lateral flow. About a third of those who subsequently got a negative PCR result were likely to have had Covid anyway. In the “lessons learned” document seen by the Guardian, Wolf says: “Over the winter months, the prevalence in individuals who had 1) a positive lateral flow; followed by 2) a negative PCR; may have been upwards of 30%. These individuals were then allowed to return to their high-risk workplaces.” The former head of policy at NHS test and trace highlights how it took too long to get clear advice from Public Health England about policy on contact tracing and isolation rules in the face of changing scientific evidence on the accuracy of lateral flows. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 30 November 2022
  4. News Article
    An immunologist has warned the new strain of Covid-19 could be causing different symptoms – including one that emerges during the night. Omicron BA.5 is a highly-contagious subvariant prompting concern as it contributes to a fresh wave of infections across the globe, including the UK. Scientists have been finding differences with previous strains, including the ability to reinfect people within weeks of having Covid. “One extra symptom from BA.5 I saw this morning is night sweats,” Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin told an Irish radio station in mid-July. Read full story Source: The Independent (24 August 2022)
  5. 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.
  6. Content Article
    NHS England and NHS Improvement: Advice for clinicians and managers Advice for everyone www.gov.uk: UK Government advice and guidance National Institute of Clinical Guidance (NICE): Rapid guidelines and evidence summaries World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic (global perspective) Statement on the third meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Easy read guidance and posters: Easy read coronavirus resources Every life matters: #safetystories Do you have other health or care needs that are being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak? Or perhaps you, or someone you know is at risk of becoming critically ill if they don't receive the treatment or support they need. We need patients, family members and staff to share their stories so we can identify gaps that may be forming, highlight concerns to health leaders and help protect non Covid-19 patients from suffering avoidable harm. Share your story here.
  7. 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?
  8. News Article
    A healthcare worker caught Covid on two separate occasions over the course of just 20 days, a new study has shown. It is believed to be the shortest recorded time between two infections since the start of the pandemic. Since the arrival of the highly infectious Omicron variant, reinfections have become far more prominent. The 31-year-old woman from Spain first became infected with Delta in December 2021 – 12 days after she had received her Covid booster vaccine. Lab analysis showed that she had initially been infected by the Delta variant, followed by Omicron. Her case, which is being presented to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Portugal, is believed to represent the shortest recorded time between two separate infections. Dr Gemma Recio of the Institut Catala de la Salut in Spain, who is one of the study’s authors, said: “This case highlights the potential of the Omicron variant to evade the previous immunity acquired either from a natural infection with other variants or from vaccines". “In other words, people who have had Covid-19 cannot assume they are protected against reinfection, even if they have been fully vaccinated." Read full story Source: The Independent, 21 April 2022
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. News Article
    Ministers will be left in the dark on Covid spikes just as case numbers reach unprecedented levels if a “world-beating” surveillance programme is scrapped, scientists have warned. The React-1 study, which played a crucial role in detecting and tracking the spread of the Alpha variant in December 2020 ahead of the second lockdown, has been stopped as part of the government's plan to cut its Covid costs. But in its last report, the study found 6.37% of the population was infected between 8 and 31 March – the highest figure since it began in May 2020. More worryingly, the scientists behind the research said the prevalence rate has also reached new highs for people aged 55 and over, at 8.31 per cent. The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) said dismantling the project while cases were at record levels damaged preparedness and put public health at risk. The spread of Covid within hospitals is also fuelling staff shortages, bed closures and delayed discharges in multiple regions of the country. This is coinciding with delays in ambulance handovers and response times, NHS sources say. Information seen by The Independent revealed hundreds of beds are currently out of use at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals trust due to Covid outbreaks. A senior clinician said the “hospital is coming apart at the seams” and that, across the northeast, even “high” performing emergency departments were “crashing” and “stacking ambulances outside of hospital”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 6 April 2022
  12. News Article
    Covid hospitalisations will continue to rise for at least two weeks, England’s government’s chief medical officer warned on Wednesday as Britain’s daily cases breached 100,000 for the second time this month. Professor Sir Chris Whitty said the country’s Covid crisis “is not over” and that new variants of the disease could arise at any time. He pointed to the latest data showing that the number of people with Covid in hospitals has been rising, and said this would likely continue for at least two weeks. The current rise in cases is “currently being driven by Omicron rather than new variants”, he told an audience at a Local Government Association conference, but added: “We need to keep a very close eye on this, because at any point new variants could emerge anywhere in the world, including the UK, obviously, as what happened with the Alpha variant.” Another 194 Covid deaths were reported on Wednesday, up 27% on last week. Prof Whitty said that death rates were fortunately still low but that hospitalisations meant there was still pressure on the NHS. Asked about the end of free testing for the public on 1 April, Sir Chris said it was a “trade-off between disparities, because the effects of free testing are probably going to be differential across society, and [there are] very substantial sums that are going into it, which otherwise would be going into other public health issues." However, he said that testing for staff within health and social care was “slightly different” as the risks are greater, and those who are in hospital or care homes are more vulnerable. His comments come on the second anniversary of the day the UK announced a national lockdown. Read full story Source: The Independent, 23 March 2022
  13. News Article
    Infection control rules in hospitals are ‘now disproportionate to the risks’ posed by covid and should be relaxed, some of the NHS’s most senior leaders have warned. The government rules – such as not allowing covid-positive staff to work, and separating out services for covid, non-covid and covid-contact patients – make a big dent in hospital capacity and slows down services. Glen Burley, who is chief executive of three Midlands trusts and involved in national-level discussions on elective matters, told HSJ: “Pretty much every pathway has a covid and non-covid route, which slows down flow and staff productivity. “There is a growing argument that these rules are now disproportionate to the risks. With covid cases in the community also rising now, we may have to question again the relative risks of continuing to isolate staff.” NHS Confederation director of policy Layla McCay told HSJ: “Healthcare leaders are concerned the current [IPC] measures are having a serious knock-on effect on capacity and that the measures in their current form are reducing efficiency and capacity within healthcare settings. “We need more clarity on if and how current measures can be safely adjusted so [the NHS] can further increase bed capacity and patient throughput, as well as the ability to transport patients more quickly and efficiently.” But NHS Providers, which has previously said relaxing the IPC guidance would not enable a “rapid” increase in the NHS’ capacity to tackle the elective care backlog and could pose significant “risks”, remains more cautious. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 21 March 2022
  14. News Article
    US health officials are monitoring an unusual situation in the UK, where COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations are simultaneously climbing due to the BA.2 subvariant, CNN reports. COVID-19 cases were up 52% in the UK last week compared with the week prior, and hospitalisations were up 18%t over the same period, according to the UK Coronavirus Dashboard. The seemingly in-tandem ascent of cases and hospitalisations is unusual, given that increases in COVID-19 cases preceded increases in hospitalisations by about 10 days to two weeks in previous waves. "So we're obviously keenly interested in what's going on with that," Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. Dr Fauci said in conversation with his U.K. counterparts, they attribute the rising cases and hospitalisations to three things, listed in order of contribution: the BA.2 variant, which is more transmissible than the original omicron; the opening of society, with people socializing indoors without masks; and waning immunity from vaccination or prior infection. Hospitalisations in the U.K. raise questions, given that BA.2 doesn't appear to cause more severe disease. "The issue with hospitalization is a little bit more puzzling, because although the hospitalizations are going up, it is very clear their use of ICU beds has not increased," Dr. Fauci said. "So are the numbers of hospitalizations a real reflection of COVID cases, or is there a difficulty deciphering between people coming into the hospital with COVID or because of COVID?" Read full story Source: Becker Hospital Review, 16 March 2022