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Found 437 results
  1. News Article
    Health systems will be asked to deliver the same amount of elective activity next year as they were tasked with completing in 2023-24, HSJ understands. Local leaders have been issued with varying interim targets for 2024-25 that produce an average national threshold of 7% more activity than pre-covid levels, on a value-weighted basis. It means the target for the current year has effectively been rolled over into next, suggesting the elective recovery is a year behind schedule. Even if systems hit their thresholds next year, they will still fall well short of the central target set out in the elective recovery plan in 2022. Recent weeks have seen other elective ambitions ditched or watered down, including the prime minister’s headline pledge to bring the overall waiting list down. It is likely a result of the government accepting it cannot push more elective activity due to ongoing strikes and overspending. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 27 February 2024
  2. News Article
    Cancer patients in the UK wait up to seven weeks longer to begin radiotherapy or chemotherapy than people in comparable countries, research has revealed. The stark findings are yet more damning evidence of the extent to which the UK lags behind other nations, as experts warn that people’s chances of survival are being affected by long waits for treatment. In the first research of its kind, experts at University College London analysed data from more than 780,000 cancer patients diagnosed between 2012 and 2017 in four comparable countries: Australia, Canada, Norway and the UK. Eight cancer types were included: oesophageal, stomach, colon, rectal, liver, pancreatic, lung and ovarian cancer. The two studies, published in the Lancet Oncology, were the first to examine treatment differences for eight cancer types in countries across three continents. UK patients experienced the longest waits for treatment, the research found. The average time to start chemotherapy was 48 days in England, 57 in Northern Ireland, 58 in Wales and 65 in Scotland. The shortest time was 39 days in Norway. In radiotherapy, the UK fared even worse. It took 53 days on average for treatment to begin in Northern Ireland, 63 in England, 79 in Scotland and 81 in Wales. Cancer Research UK, which part-funded the two studies, said delays to begin treatment were partly a result of the UK government’s lack of long-term planning on cancer in recent years. Countries with robust cancer strategies backed by funding had seen better improvements in survival rates, it said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 27 February 2024
  3. News Article
    Major progress made in sepsis care during the previous decade has been significantly reversed amid repeated failures in recognising and treating the condition. HSJ has identified 31 deaths in the last five years where coroners have warned of systemic problems with diagnosing and treating sepsis, including nine cases relating to children. Many of the deaths were deemed avoidable. Meanwhile, investigations suggest a majority of acute trusts are failing to record their treatment rates for sepsis, which is deemed a crucial aspect of driving improvements. Repeated shortcomings raised by coroners, including 10 separate cases in 2023, include delays or failures to administer antibiotics, not following protocols for identifying sepsis, and inaccurate, missed or skipped observations. Health ombudsman Rob Behrens, who issued a report on sepsis failures last year, said the same mistakes were “clearly being repeated time and time again”. He added: “What is chilling to me is that these [coroners’ reports] fit in almost exactly with the issues we raised in our sepsis report… and even the 2013 sepsis report issued by my predecessor, including unnecessary delays, wrong diagnosis, and failure to provide adequate plans for sepsis.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 27 February 2024
  4. Content Article
    In this Guardian opinion piece, John Harris looks at reports of people with severe eating disorders being discharged from NHS services in the East of England. He shares the stories of several patients who are desperate to recover from their eating disorders, but have been discharged from specialist services because they are not showing progress in recovery. The article looks at the growth of a narrative that suggests some patients should not be treated if their eating disorder has reached a very severe state and highlights the way that this may be affecting practice and posing a significant risk to patient safety.
  5. Content Article
    Early-onset colon cancer (EOCC) is increasing in the US and disproportionately affects African-Americans. This analysis in the American Journal of Surgery aimed to compare EOCC survival among Black and White patients after matching relevant socio-demographic factors and stage. The authors found that Black patients with stage 3 EOCC are less likely to receive chemotherapy and have worse survival than White patients. They call for further research to identify potential factors driving this inequality.
  6. News Article
    Cancer waiting times for 2023 in England were the worst on record, a BBC News analysis has revealed. Only 64.1% of patients started treatment within 62 days of cancer being suspected, meaning nearly 100,000 waited longer than they should for life-saving care. The waits have worsened every year for the past 11. Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Gemma Peters called the figures "shocking". "This marks a new low and highlights the desperate situation for people living with cancer," she said. "Behind the figures are real lives being turned upside down, with thousands of people waiting far too long to find out if they have cancer and to begin their treatment, causing additional anxiety at what is already a very difficult time. "With over three million people in the UK living with cancer and an ageing population, this is only set to rise." The records go back to 2010, shortly after the cancer target was introduced. However, improvements have been made over the course of 2023 in how quickly patients are diagnosed with 72% told whether they have cancer or not within 28 days of an urgent referral. Read full story Source: BBC News, 8 February 2024
  7. News Article
    The mother of an 11-year-old Aberdeenshire girl with Long Covid has launched a legal action against their health board, in what lawyers claim is the first case of its kind in Scotland. Helen Goss, from Westhill, is seeking damages from NHS Grampian on behalf of her daughter, Anna Hendy. The action claims the health board is responsible for "multiple failings" in Anna's treatment and care. The claim alleges failings were avoidable, that they caused Anna "injury and damage", and led to her condition worsening. Anna became unwell after contracting Covid in 2020. The action alleges a number of failings by the health board. These include claims that requests for Anna to be referred to the specialist paediatric services of immunology and neurology were refused. It also claims no further help was offered after Anna was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Paediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). And it says these failings "could have been avoided had NHS Grampian followed contemporary guidance on diagnosis and treatment". Read full story Source: BBC, 19 January 2024
  8. Content Article
    The economic impact of managing Long Covid in primary care is unknown. In a study published in BMC Primary Care, Tufts et al. estimated the costs of primary care consultations associated with Long Covid and explored the relationship between risk factors and costs. The study found that costs of primary care consultations associated with Long Covid in non-hospitalised adults are substantial. Costs are significantly higher among those diagnosed with Long Covid, those with Long Covid symptoms, older adults, females, and those with obesity and comorbidities.
  9. Content Article
    In the challenging journey of addiction recovery, trust is a cornerstone of success. For individuals seeking help and the healthcare providers who guide them, it forms the bedrock upon which every aspect of treatment rests. Therefore, building trust in addiction treatment is a vital component that can determine the course of recovery. 
  10. News Article
    Almost one in four people have bought medicine online or at a pharmacy to treat their illness after failing to see a GP face to face, according to a UK survey underlining the rise of do-it-yourself treatment. Nearly one in five (19%) have gone to A&E seeking urgent medical treatment for the same reason, the research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows. One in six (16%) people agreed when asked by the pollsters Savanta ComRes if the difficulty of getting an in-person family doctor appointment meant they had “carried out medical treatment on yourself or asked somebody else who is not a medical professional to do so”. Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said delays and difficulty in accessing GP appointments constituted a national scandal, and face-to-face GP appointments had become “almost extinct” in some areas of the country. He said: “We now have the devastating situation where people are left treating themselves or even self-prescribing medication because they can’t see their local GP.” Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in England, said: “While self-care and consulting other services such as pharmacies and NHS 111 will often be the right thing to do for many minor health conditions, it is worrying if patients feel forced into inappropriate courses of action because they are struggling to book an appointment for an issue that requires the attention of a GP or a member of practice staff.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 January 2024
  11. News Article
    Stroke patients in England are waiting an average of almost seven hours for a specialist bed, double the wait reported before Covid. National performance against key measures collected by the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme has nosedived, with patients in England waiting an average of almost seven hours to be admitted to a specialist unit in 2022-23, compared to three and a half hours in 2019-20. NHS England guidance states that every patient with acute stroke should be given rapid access to a stroke unit within four hours. This time frame is considered critical, as patients can only be given clot-busting drugs, and treatments such as thrombectomy, which surgically removes a clot, within the first few hours of stroke onset. However, this was achieved in just 40% of cases last year (2022-23), down from 61% in 2018-19. Juliet Bouverie, CEO of the Stroke Association, urged ministers to give trusts what they needed to reverse the decline, saying: “Stroke is a medical emergency and every minute is critical. “We are very concerned to see that, far from improving over the last year, the proportion of stroke patients being admitted to a stroke ward within the timescale for thrombolysis has continued to decline. This is putting patient recoveries at risk and strain on the rest of the health system. “We believe that early supported discharge, when done correctly, with adequately resourced community teams, can help to alleviate capacity pressures in acute stroke units. However, this is not a silver bullet. There are longstanding workforce issues which are affecting patient flow in, through and out of stroke units and we call on DHSC to properly address these in the workforce plan.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 2 January 2024
  12. News Article
    Campaigners have written to the chief constables of Norfolk and Suffolk to request an investigation into thousands of mental health deaths in those areas. They say coroners are raising safety issues but no improvements are being made. A report by independent auditors found as many as 8,440 patients had died unexpectedly over three years. Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said it had started a review of patient deaths. Coroners worried about the risk of future deaths highlight unsafe practices in prevention of future deaths reports (PFDs). And authorities are required by law to respond with an action plan within 56 days. The Norfolk and Suffolk trust said it had responded to all PFDs and was working to ensure recommendations and actions were implemented. But Mark Harrison, from the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: "There's a criminal case to answer. And we want the police to investigate, where the same mistakes have been repeated time and time again." He said coroners were repeatedly warning of risks such as delays to treatment, lack of patient follow-ups, chaotic record keeping and disorganised communication between teams. Mr Harrison said: "The mental health trust always responds saying they've learned lessons, they are changing policy and practices. "But then what we're seeing in analysing the orders from the coroner are repeat circumstances where other people have died in similar circumstances to a previous prevention-of-future-deaths notice." Read full story Source: BBC News, 12 December 2023
  13. News Article
    New official guidance on treating menopause will harm women’s health, experts, MPs and campaigners have warned. Last month, new draft guidelines to GPs from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said that women experiencing hot flushes, night sweats, depression and sleep problems could be offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) “alongside or as an alternative to” hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help reduce their menopause symptoms. But critics have castigated the guidance, saying it belittled symptoms through misogynistic language, and women’s health would suffer as a result of failing to emphasise the benefits of HRT on bone and cardiovascular health as opposed to CBT. In its response to the guidance, Mumsnet said NICE's recommendations used “patronising” and “offensive” language and would be “detrimental” to women’s health. Justine Roberts, the founder and chief executive of Mumsnet, said: “Women already struggle to access the HRT they are entitled to. We hear daily from women in perimenopause and menopause who are battling against a toxic combination of entrenched misogyny, misinformation and lack of knowledge among GPs. “Too often they are fobbed off or told they simply need to put up with severe physical and mental symptoms – often with life-changing effects. “By emphasising the negative over the positive, failing to include information about the safest forms of HRT and placing CBT on a par with hormone replacement therapy, this guidance will worsen that struggle. It will make doctors more reluctant to prescribe HRT and women more fearful about asking for or accepting it.” Carolyn Harris, the MP for Swansea East and the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on menopause, said the new guidance was “antiquated”, “naive” and “ill thought-out”. ”Talking can make you feel better, but it’s not going to take away the aches in your joints and it’s not going to change how you live your life,” she said. “Whatever a woman feels is what she needs to support her through the menopause should be readily and immediately available, and that’s not true currently [of HRT or CBT]." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 11 December 2023
  14. Content Article
    Early recognition and treatment of sepsis are linked to improved patient outcomes. Machine learning-based early warning systems may reduce the time to recognition, but few systems have undergone clinical evaluation. In this prospective, multi-site cohort study, Adams et al. examined the association between patient outcomes and provider interaction with a deployed sepsis alert system called the Targeted Real-time Early Warning System (TREWS). The findings indicate that early warning systems have the potential to identify sepsis patients early and improve patient outcomes and that sepsis patients who would benefit the most from early treatment can be identified and prioritised at the time of the alert.
  15. News Article
    At least 20,000 cancer deaths a year could be avoided in the UK with a national commitment to invest in research and innovation, and fix the NHS, says Cancer Research UK. Progress is being made in finding new treatments for the condition that affects 50% of people at some point. But the charity says the UK lags behind comparable countries for survival. It has launched a manifesto of priorities for this government and the next, ahead of a general election. The document sets out what the charity says needs to change - and fast. Whoever is running the country must commit to developing a 10-year cancer plan, spearheaded by a National Cancer Council accountable to the prime minister to bring government, charities, industry and scientific experts together, it says. Key areas to focus on include: More investment in research to close an estimated £1bn funding gap. Greater disease prevention - banishing smoking to the history books, for example. Earlier diagnosis, through screening. Better tests and treatments, as well as cutting NHS waiting lists and investing in more staff. Read full story Source: BBC News, 28 November 2023
  16. News Article
    Chaotic communication by the NHS in England is causing harmful delays to treatment and endangering patient health, according to research. Widespread communication problems that leave patients and staff scrambling to find their referrals, missing appointments, or receiving late diagnoses have been uncovered in a study by the Demos thinktank, the Patients Association, and the PMA, a professional membership body for healthcare workers. In a poll of 2,000 members of the public and NHS staff across England in October, more than half said they had experienced poor communication from the health service in the past five years, with one in 10 saying their care had been affected as a result. The research also found that over the last year, 18% had their care, or the care of an immediate family member, delayed or affected because they were referred to the wrong service, while 26% said they or a close family member had been inconvenienced because they were given the date and time of an appointment without enough notice. Miriam Levin, the director of participatory programmes at Demos, said that despite the great esteem and pride in the NHS, patients found navigating the system frustrating and stressful. “We heard countless stories of critical appointments missed, diagnoses not shared or shared too late, and referrals for treatment that went missing. This leads to real harm,” she said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 27 November 2023
  17. News Article
    Doctors have sent a stark warning over the dire state of emergency care for mental health patients after half of A&Es revealed patients were waiting more than five days in hospital before getting the treatment they need. The “truly alarming” figures, shared exclusively with The Independent, show vulnerable patients are being let down by “unacceptable delays” to their treatment, with one campaigner warning the issue has become a national emergency. The data, collated by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), prompted a bleak verdict from top doctor Dr Adrian Boyle who said the system – which sees patients being cared for by A&E staff who are not specifically trained for their needs – was failing the most “fragile” patients. Warning that mental health patients are being hit the hardest by long waits in A&E, Dr Boyle, the RCEM president, added: “These patients need effective and efficient care, they deserve compassionate care – crucially, they deserve better.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 20 November 2023
  18. Content Article
    An estimated 90,000 people are living with dementia in Scotland, with that number expected to increase to 164,000 by 2036. These national clinical guidelines from Health Improvement Scotland, the first to be published in nearly 20 years, provide recommendations on the assessment, treatment and support of adults living with dementia. It calls for greater awareness of pre-death grief for people with dementia, their carers and their loved ones, as they fear the loss of the person they know. To accompany the guidelines, a podcast has been produced by Health Improvement Scotland speaking to professionals, including Dr Adam Daly, Chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Guideline Development Group and a Consultant in old age psychiatry, and Jacqueline Thompson, a nurse consultant and the lead on pre-grief death for the guideline. We also hear from Marion Ritchie, a carer who experienced pre-death grief while caring for her husband.
  19. Content Article
    Watch this short film about what to do if you experience pain in your testicle/s, by Cardiff Fertility Studies and the British Fertility Society, made in partnership with Orchid. 
  20. Content Article
    The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the third edition of the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) guideline which includes important new, and updated, recommendations for the treatment and care of mental, neurological and substance use (MNS) disorders. MNS disorders are major contributors to morbidity and premature mortality in all regions of the world. Yet it is estimated that over 75% of people with MNS disorders are unable to access the treatment or care they need. The mhGAP guideline supports countries to strengthen capacity to deal with the growing burden of these conditions. It is intended for use by doctors, nurses, other health workers working in non-specialist settings at primary health care level, as well as health planners and managers.
  21. News Article
    Women experiencing hot flushes, night sweats, depression and sleep problems could be offered therapy to help reduce their menopause symptoms, under new guidelines. But menopause champions warned that those suffering with symptoms could have long waits for mental health support and stressed that the new draft guidance to GPs from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) must not distract from “ongoing challenges” of getting HRT. A NICE evidence review found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help make night-time sweats less severe and frequent and should be considered “alongside or as an alternative to HRT”. The guidance is not mandatory but GPs will be expected to take the new guidance “fully into account”, said Nice. Caroline Nokes, chair of the Commons’ women and equalities committee, welcomed the new guidance saying there was no “one size fits all” to help women going through the menopause, but said it must not be used to fob off women, some of whom were still facing drug shortages. A major HRT drug shortage last year resulted in 22 restrictions being put in place, pushing some women to turn to the hidden market or meet up with other women to buy, swap or share medicines. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 17 November 2023
  22. News Article
    Almost half a million women will be able to get the contraceptive pill from pharmacies in England, from next month, without the need for a GP appointment. Treatments for urinary infections and other common conditions will also be on offer under the Pharmacy First scheme. NHS England said it was a safe and common-sense way of making NHS services easier for patients to use. New Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said the changes meant "more options for women when making a choice about their preferred contraception" and would free up GP appointments. From February, pharmacists who successfully apply to join the scheme will be able to offer advice and treatment, including antibiotics, for seven common conditions: sinusitis sore throat earache infected insect bites impetigo shingles urinary tract infection in women. Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 November 2023
  23. News Article
    New data suggests around 700,000 cases on the elective waiting list relate to patients who are on at least four different pathways, and NHS England says personalised care plans must be developed to treat them more efficiently. NHSE has published new data that reveals the overall referral to treatment waiting list, of 7.8 million cases, is made up of 6.5 million individual patients. The difference is due to some patients waiting for more than one treatment. Stella Vig, NHSE’s clinical director for secondary care, told HSJ around 2-3% of the individual patients on the waiting list are on four to five pathways or more. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 9 November 2023
  24. News Article
    A private health company paid millions by the NHS has failed to fix safety defects that led to the death of a cancer patient, the Guardian can reveal. Three patients were hospitalised and a fourth died when they were given the wrong doses of a powerful chemotherapy drug after a catastrophic IT failure at the medicine manufacturing unit of Sciensus in April this year. The incident, first revealed by the Guardian in July, prompted an investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Its inspectors found “significant deficiencies” at the Sciensus manufacturing facilities and ordered the partial suspension of its manufacturing licence. However, six months after the IT blunder, Sciensus has not fixed the problems identified by the regulator, according to people familiar with the matter. As a result, the suspension of its licence – originally due to be lifted last month – has been extended until July next year. Sciensus is the UK’s biggest provider of medicines services to NHS and private patients at home. It is contracted by the NHS and other organisations to deliver and administer medicines to more than 200,000 people with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, HIV and cancer. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 5 November 2023
  25. News Article
    Black, Asian and minority ethnic people experience longer waiting times, and are less likely to be in recovery after treatment, when accessing NHS mental health services compared with their white counterparts, a report has found. The research looked at 10 years’ worth of anonymised patient data from NHS Talking Therapies, formerly known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies – an NHS programme that launched in 2008 to improve patient access to NHS mental health services. A total of 1.2 million people accessed NHS Talking Therapies services in 2021-22, and by 2024 the programme aims to help 1.9 million people in England with anxiety or depression to access treatment. The report, Ethnic Inequalities in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, commissioned by the NHS Race and Health Observatory and undertaken by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, found that people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds were less likely to go on to have at least one treatment session, despite having been referred by their GP, than their white counterparts. Dr Lade Smith, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “For far too long we have known that people from minoritised ethnic groups don’t get the mental healthcare they need. This review confirms, despite some improvements, it remains that access, experience and outcomes of talking therapies absolutely must get better, especially for Bangladeshi people. “There is progress, particularly for people from black African backgrounds, if they can get into therapy, but getting therapy in the first place continues to be difficult. This review provides clear recommendations about how to build on the improvements seen. I hope that decision-makers, system leaders and practitioners will act on these findings.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 1 November 2023
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