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Saturday, 29 July 2006 09:29
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
KEY WORKERS ARE PRICED OUT OF HOMES
Research revealed by Britain's largest mortgage lender the Halifax shows that key public sector workers are priced out of the property market in two-thirds of Britain’s towns.

Nurses, policemen, teachers, ambulance workers and firemen can no longer afford to buy an average priced house in 65% of towns, compared with just 24% five years ago.

Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, said key workers had been "hit hard" by the strength of the property market since 2001.

"Now it is difficult for key workers to buy the average house not only in the south of England but also in significant parts of the Midlands, northern England, Wales and Scotland," he said.

"It is important that the Government continues to develop schemes to help key workers onto the property ladder and to ensure that these schemes are not confined to southern England.

"The presence of sufficient key workers is critical to the smooth functioning of life in our cities and towns."

Seven out of 10 of the most affordable towns for key workers in the UK are in Scotland, the survey said.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the findings confirmed key workers faced difficulty in getting a foot on the property ladder throughout the UK.

Dr Beverly Malone, general secretary of the RCN, said: "It's really important that nurses can afford to live near their place of work if we are to keep them within the profession doing what really matters - caring for patients.

"It would be a disaster for the health service if we drive out key workers from our cities and towns because there is no suitable and affordable housing”.

She said the RCN welcomed the Government's HomeBuy scheme to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder.

ELPG, a group of leading property solicitors, said key workers struggling to buy properties should consider setting up a co-purchase agreement.

Spokesman Steve Spence said they could borrow as much as they could and find a parent or other relative loaning spare money to make up the difference.

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Saturday, 29 July 2006 09:19
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DIET 'AFFECTS ARTERIES OF FOETUS'
Researchers from the University of Southampton have warned that mothers-to-be who diet during pregnancy are putting their children at risk of heart attacks and strokes later in life.

In this latest study the researchers used ultrasound scans to measure the artery wall thickness of more than 200 nine-year-old children whose mothers had taken part in a nutrition study during pregnancy.

They found that, on average, the lower the mother's intake during pregnancy, the thicker the artery wall of the child.

The link was closely correlated, with mothers eating the fewest calories producing children who had the thickest arteries.

These children, they said, are at greater risk of developing atherosclerosis - or the thickening of the artery walls due to fatty deposits.

But the researchers were unable to determine the optimum number of calories to be eaten per day to prevent the effect.

Experts usually say a pregnant woman needs to eat around 2,500 calories a day.

The researchers said it did not matter what proportion of the calorie intake came from fat, protein or carbohydrate, it was the total calorie intake that was important.

The findings were also true regardless of social class, smoking or exercise habits, weight or sickness in pregnancy.

Researcher Dr Catharine Gale said: "Atherosclerosis is a progressive condition that starts early in life.

"Our study provides direct evidence for the first time in humans that the mother's diet in pregnancy might influence the child's susceptibility to atherosclerosis.

"The exact reasons why lower maternal energy intake in pregnancy was linked to increased arterial wall thickness in the children are unclear.

"One possibility is that maternal energy intake in pregnancy may affect the child's blood cholesterol concentrations.

"Children who have higher blood cholesterol concentrations are at increased risk of atherosclerosis."

A spokeswoman for the baby charity Tommy's said: "With an increasing number of celebrity parents claiming to have shed their babyweight weeks after giving birth, many women are confused by what is a healthy amount of weight to gain during pregnancy.

"This can have a detrimental effect on the health of their unborn baby."

The study, which was funded by the Medical Research Council and the charity WellChild, is published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

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Saturday, 29 July 2006 09:12
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
BOOST FOR CERVICAL CANCER
A vaccine that could prevent cervical cancer is ready to be made available in months, the manufacturers said yesterday.

The drug Gardasil, which works against the virus linked to cervical and other cancers, has been given the all-clear by the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

Makers Sanofi Pasteur MSD said the verdict means full EC permission to market Gardasil should be just two months off.

The injection, which makers hope could soon be available in schools, is designed for use by children as young as nine as well as young women.

It acts against four separate types of the human papilloma virus which can cause cervical cancer as well as cervical and genital lesions, genital warts and other potentially cancer-causing lesions.

Mike Watson, executive director clinical and epidemiology Europe at Sanofi Pasteur, said: "We are today on the brink of a world and life-changing breakthrough in the fight against cancer through vaccination”.
   

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Saturday, 29 July 2006 09:04
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
ONE IN 20 VIOLENT CRIMES COMMITTED BY MENTALLY ILL
A study, carried out by researchers from Oxford University's department of psychiatry and Sweden's Karolinska Institute, claim that people with severe mental illness are responsible for one in 20 violent crimes.

The researchers looked at data from 1988 to 2000.

They found there were 45 violent crimes committed per 1,000 inhabitants.

Of these, 2.4 were attributable to patients with severe mental illness, which also includes bipolar disorder (manic depression) and other psychoses.

This means that 5.2% of all violent crimes over the period were committed by people with severe mental illness.

When the figures were broken down, it was also found that 15.7% of arsons were committed by people with such illnesses, as were 7.5% of threats and harassment.

Just under 7% of cases of assaulting an officer, 6.3% of aggravated assaults, 5% of sexual offences, 3.6% of robberies and 3% of common assaults were also carried out by this group.

When the researchers looked specifically at violent crimes committed by women aged 25 to 39 - a much lower number than are committed by men - they found 14% were committed by those with serious psychiatric disorders.

Dr Seena Fazel, the forensic psychiatrist who led the research, said: "The figure of one in 20 is probably lower than most people would imagine.

"Many see those with serious psychiatric disorders as significantly contributing to the amount of violent crime in society.

"In many ways the most interesting aspect of our findings is that 19 out of 20 people committing violent crimes do so without having any severe mental health problems”.

A spokesman for the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health said: "Having a severe mental health problem does not make a person violent.

"People with conditions like schizophrenia are in fact more likely to be the victims of violence than others in the population.

"This study shows clearly that people with severe mental health conditions commit a very small proportion of violent crimes and that the widely held prejudices about schizophrenia are inaccurate and unfair.

"It is now time to stop this stale debate about mental health and violence and start looking at how to overcome the prejudice and consequent discrimination that stop people with severe mental health conditions from having an ordinary life in our society”.

But Michael Howlett, director of the Zito Trust, said: "This is a very high figure.

"And I think it is an under-estimate, which does not include those people with personality disorders who commit crimes.

"But the figures do suggest it is possible to intervene early in people's lives, before crimes are committed”.

However Mr Howlett added: "It's very important to stress that the majority of people with mental illnesses do not commit crimes”.

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Saturday, 29 July 2006 08:51
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
FISH OIL 'AIDS WEIGHT LOSS' WITHOUT DIET
Australian scientists claim that fish oil containing Omega 3 fatty acids, plus a little exercise, helped overweight people to shed pounds - even if their diet remained unchanged.

Researcher Alison Hill said: "We were very surprised to see it was so effective, especially since these people were still eating whatever they wanted”.

The Australian team fed daily fish-oil doses to obese people and told them to take moderate exercise.

Another group was given sunflower oil and told to take the same 45-minute walk or run three times a week. Other test subjects received either fish oil or sunflower oil, but took no exercise.

The study found that those who took the doses of fish oil and exercised lost an average of 2kg (4.5lb) over a three- month period. The other groups, including the one which took sunflower oil, which does not contain Omega 3, lost no weight.

Ms Hill said: "The Omega 3 increases fat-burning ability by improving the flow of blood to muscles”.

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Saturday, 29 July 2006 08:36
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
STAFFS MAY STRIKE OVER HEAT
Hospital staffs at one of Scotland's leading hospitals could walk out in a row about overheating which has left staff fainting on wards.

Unison, the public service union, said it was considering balloting staff at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh on industrial action if the heat problems at the flagship PFI hospital are not resolved.

The union said this was the fourth summer that they had flagged up problems because of the extreme heat and staffs were at the end of their tether. But Consort Healthcare, which operates the site, said the situation was being resolved with temporary air-conditioning units.

NHS Lothian also promised that the issue was being addressed.

Tom Waterson, the Lothian health branch chairman of Unison, said they had continually raised the problem with the health board, Consort and Andy Kerr, the health minister.

"This is the fourth year in a row that hot weather has caused unacceptable conditions in this hospital and yet we are still expected to accept temporary solutions," said Mr Waterson. "Staffs are fed up having to try and work in conditions that are uncomfortable and in some cases could lead to accidents.

"So, unless we can get the people who run this hospital to accept their responsibility and introduce a proper solution, we are going to have to consider what action we can take to demonstrate how serious the situation is”.

Shona Robison, the SNP's health spokeswoman, said that the heating was another problem in a string of complaints about the PFI project.

She said: "Consort should take some responsibility for this situation and resolve it, rather than try to brush it off, because clearly staff and patients are the ones suffering”.

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Saturday, 29 July 2006 08:24
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
BEAT A FAG WITH A JAG
Doctors in the United States are testing a new way to help smokers quit with an injection that "immunises" them against the nicotine rush that fuels their addiction.

Trials are under way in America on a vaccination which experts believe will help addicts kick the killer weed.

Doctors hope the treatment will make the immune system attack nicotine in the same way it would fight a germ.

They hope the vaccinations will stop nicotine reaching the brain, making smoking less pleasurable and easier to give up.

If it works, the vaccine could revolutionnise anti-smoking treatments.

Most current treatments simply replace the nicotine from cigarettes in a less harmful way, using gum, lozenges, patches and nasal sprays.

Vaccines are now being developed by a number of companies, but NicVax, by Florida - based Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, are leading the way.

After four smaller studies suggested it may be safe and effective, a full-scale trial involving 300 smokers is under way.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has given a second £2.2million grant to finance the study.

And US authorities have granted the vaccine fast track status, meaning it will get a prompt review.

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Saturday, 29 July 2006 08:08
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
ALCOHOL KILLS RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN IN SCOTLAND
New figures have revealed that a record number of women died from alcohol abuse in Scotland last year.

Statistics from the Registrar General for Scotland, published yesterday, showed 492 women died of alcohol-related diseases last year, compared with 441 in 2004. The increase was highest among women aged 30 to 60.

Duncan Macniven, the Registrar General for Scotland who compiled the figures, described the increased death toll from alcohol-related diseases - such as alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver and mental disorders - as "extremely worrying".

He said that the change was due to a shift in social attitudes and the liberalisation of licensing laws in the 1960s and 70s that led to more people drinking - and to alcohol-related diseases 20 years on.

Gillian Bell, of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Scotland's heavy-drinking culture is hitting home. People are drinking more because alcohol is more available and cheaper than ever, but there is a real lack of awareness of the damage drinking to excess causes”.

Ms Bell said women started drinking more as it became more socially acceptable, bars became more woman-friendly and the drinks industry targeted the female market.

"Women need to realise their drinking limits are lower. Their bodies cannot handle it and their livers are more damaged if they drink too much," she said.

Alex Crawford, chief executive of counselling service the RCA Trust, said teenage girls have caught up with boys in drinking alcohol.

"The growth of the 'ladette' culture is well-documented. So it is of little surprise that more women are reporting alcohol problems," he said.

He added that women have a higher risk than men for certain serious medical consequences of alcohol use, including liver, brain and heart damage.

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Friday, 28 July 2006 09:52
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
FORMER PRESIDENT URGES GMC REMODELLING
Sir Donald Irvine a former president of the General Medical Council (GMC) has said it should be disbanded and re-formed because it needs a "convincing fresh start".

Sir Donald Irvine said a line must be drawn following the recent criticisms of the doctors' regulatory body.

Chief Medical Officer for England Sir Liam Donaldson proposes an independent tribunal judges serious complaint.

He suggested the GMC should also be accountable to parliament and face annual questioning.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Sir Donald backs the proposals.

But he added: "The recent criticisms of the current GMC will make it virtually impossible for it to make the cultural transformation needed with confidence and conviction, even if it wanted to.

"So a line needs to be drawn. The current council needs to be disbanded and its successor re-formed with members, medical and lay, who can give it a convincing fresh start”.

A government review suggests the General Medical Council be stripped of its powers to adjudicate over doctors.

The plans, which will go out for consultation until the end of November, suggests the GMC investigates complaints but does not make a final decision on guilt or whether further action should be taken.

Doctors will also face regular MoT-style checks to ensure they are fit to work.

Sir Donald said he agreed with Sir Liam that "there is no easy way of defining all high-risk groups in medicine" and "lighter touch regulation would mean that some ongoing risk to patients would have to be accepted by society".

But added: "The strategy is not compatible with the concept of a guarantee to the public of a good doctor for all."

The public must be fully informed as "patients, not doctors, who may be killed or injured by poor doctoring," he said.
   

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Friday, 28 July 2006 09:46
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DARK SKIN 'DOES NOT BLOCK CANCER'
Researchers at the Cincinnati University, America warn that people with dark skin are more likely to die from skin cancer than those with fairer skin.

Although the disease is less common, when it does occur it is typically more aggressive and diagnosed later, which leads to more deaths.

Lead researcher Dr Hugh Gloster said: "There's a perception that people with darker skin don't have to worry about skin cancer, but that's not true.

"Minorities do get skin cancer, and because of this false perception most cases aren't diagnosed until they are more advanced and difficult to treat.

"Unfortunately, that translates into higher mortality rates”.

He said it was true that the extra pigment in darker skin did afford some added protection against the sun's harmful UV rays and that darker skin is, therefore, less susceptible to sunburn.

Ed Yong, cancer information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "This study shows that even people with darker skin need to be aware of the signs of skin cancer.

"Although those most at risk of skin cancer are people with fair skin, lots of moles or freckles or a family history of the disease, it is also important for black people to check their skin regularly.

"Black people are most likely to develop skin cancers on the palms of their hands or the soles of their feet.

"Checking your skin for unusual changes is crucial as it can mean that the disease can be spotted earlier, when it is easier to treat”.

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KEY WORKERS ARE PRICED OUT OF HOMES
DIET 'AFFECTS ARTERIES OF FOETUS'
BOOST FOR CERVICAL CANCER
ONE IN 20 VIOLENT CRIMES COMMITTED BY MENTALLY ILL
FISH OIL 'AIDS WEIGHT LOSS' WITHOUT DIET
STAFFS MAY STRIKE OVER HEAT
BEAT A FAG WITH A JAG
ALCOHOL KILLS RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN IN SCOTLAND
FORMER PRESIDENT URGES GMC REMODELLING
DARK SKIN 'DOES NOT BLOCK CANCER'
Nurses Reconnected
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