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News Archives, April 2005
Saturday, 30 April 2005 10:53
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Scottish patients surviving strokes up by 10%
According to figures released by ISD Scotland, the NHS unit that produces health statistics for Scotland show the number of Scottish patients who survive a stroke has increased by 10 per cent in nine years.

The number of people surviving for 30 days after an emergency hospital admission following a stroke has raised from 69.9 per cent in 1994 to 79.8 per cent in 2003. Between 1995 and 2003, the survival rate from heart attacks rose from 81.1 per cent to 84.1 per cent and for angina from 98.1 per cent to 98.7 per cent.

Statistics by ISD Scotland show Scotland has the worst rate of heart disease in the EU compared with former eastern bloc countries.

David Clark, the chief executive of research and care charity Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: "We are actually doing better than south of the Border.

"Strokes are one of the conditions where, historically, we have had one of the worst records in Europe but we have put more investment into stroke services in Scotland than proportionately in England and Wales. For example, we have a higher proportion of patients who are treated in dedicated stroke units than in England.

"It will take some years for this to fully show through in improved figures but I think we can be confident that the increase in survival rates will be maintained and in terms of strokes it should help to shake off our reputation as the sick man of Europe, which is a bit undeserved now."

Andy Kerr, the health minister, said: "Overall these figures make encouraging reading and show continued improvement in heart disease and stroke care. The shortest cardiac waiting times in the UK are north of the Border, and we have invested £40 million over three years for services for both conditions.

"There has also been huge falls in mortality in under-75s since 1995," Mr Kerr went on.

"However, while the figures are moving in the right direction, we have still got a lot to do if we are to improve Scotland’s poor health record.

"Many Scots are at risk of falling victim to both conditions due to poor diet and lack of regular physical activity. Smoking rates in Scotland are still sky high and alcohol misuse is also a serious risk factor”.

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Saturday, 30 April 2005 10:27
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
GPs main concern is reducing red tape
According to a survey by market information group TNS GPs main concern is reducing red tape in which they feel needs to be addressed by the next government.

While the MRSA superbug has been the main issue in the parties’ election pledges, 4% of doctors said that improving hospital hygiene and cutting infection rates was "the biggest problem facing the NHS".

28% the largest proportion of GPs said cutting bureaucracy and red tape was the main issue facing the NHS, with 24% quarter of more than 200 GPs questioned by TNS said that the recruitment and retention of doctors and nurses was a key issue for the NHS. Followed by 15% who were concerned about hospital waiting lists and 14% who said they wanted more local control over how NHS budgets were spent.

The research found that 34% of GPs felt that the Conservatives' views on the future of the NHS most accurately represented their own, compared to 19% who said Labour and 15% who said Liberal Democrat. 26% said they did not know. 27% of GPs said they would trust the Tories to deliver on their promises if elected. 21% trusted Labour to deliver on their health promises, while 9% trusted the Lib Dems.

Linda Alstead, commercial director at TNS Healthcare, said: "There is a clear disconnect between politicians' views on what should be addressed in the NHS to win public favour and GPs views on where healthcare resource should be targeted.

"While infection rates have been a major focus for all key parties in the run up to the election, it is evident that GPs feel red tape and staff recruitment are much more pressing issues which the next government needs to consider”.

Ms Alstead added: "It is clear that GPs are more likely to support the Conservative Party's healthcare policies and NHS plans and feel that it is the most likely of all the political parties to deliver on its promises.

"This is probably simply a reflection of the socio-economic groups to which GPs belong rather than any other factor”.

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Saturday, 30 April 2005 10:02
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Sex abuse at hospital
Lothian police are investigating claims that an elderly patient who is being cared for at Liberton hospital, Edinburgh was sexually abused.

NHS Lothian has suspended a male care assistant while detectives investigate the allegation. Karl Brodie, 41, made no plea when he appeared in private charged with assault at Edinburgh Sheriff court on Wednesday. He was bailed pending further reports.

The police were called in after a female stroke victim in her 80s claimed she was assaulted. Detectives then launched a major inquiry following concern that other patients may have been assaulted.

Staffs at the eight-ward hospital were informed of the investigation on Thursday 28th April 2005 as police were at the hospital interviewing vulnerable patients as part of the inquiry. They were all given letters warning they face the sack if details of the inquiry are leaked.

David Bolton, chief executive at NHS Lothian University Hospitals Division, said: "We all want to express our deep shock and regret over this distressing matter".

He said he wanted to reassure all patients and their relatives that staffs were working closely with the police in relation to the serious nature of the inquiry.

He confirmed there was a high-level investigation underway by NHS Lothian to determine what had happened and ensure patients were protected.

He added: "If anyone has any concerns or questions about a relative who is in the hospital please speak to the nurse in charge of the ward”.

The helpline number - 0131 242 7968 - will be staffed by nurses and will open from 9am to 9pm today and every following day until further notice.

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Saturday, 30 April 2005 09:39
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Gel to protect against genital herpes
Dr Judy Lieberman and colleagues at Harvard Medical School have developed a gel that could protect against genital herpes for up to 10 days.

The gel blocks herpes transmission by destroying the virus. The gel contains small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that trigger the destruction of viral genes it is applied to the vagina, where they are absorbed and remain active for at least 10 days.

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. In America, 1 in 5 people are infected and in Britain, about a fifth of people who are sexually active are infected. The largest number is in Africa, where up to 50% of people have the virus. The virus can sit latent in cells for long periods of time and the person may not know they have it and can pass it on to partners.

The studies on mice have shown that the gel completely blocks infection.

Dr Lieberman told New Scientist where the early findings are published that if it works in people too, the long-lasting protection would be a great advantage.

"The problem with microbicides is that people don't remember to use them before they have sex”.

Marion Nicholson, director of the Herpes Virus Association, said: "This is very interesting, although it is early days yet."

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Saturday, 30 April 2005 09:12
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Another food alert
Another food alert was issued yesterday after the cancer-causing dye Para Red was found in paprika on sale in supermarkets and food stores.

The Food Standard Agency’s (FSA) scientific advisers say that Para Red is very similar to Sudan I and “it would be very prudent to assume that it could be a genotoxic carcinogen”.

The FSA said the affected products were: Bart Ground Paprika in 48g glass jars with the batch code 5032 and a best-before date of the end of December 2007, batch number 5089 with the same best-before date, and Co-op Ground Paprika in 46g glass jars with the batch code 5075 and a best-before date of the end of February 2007

The FSA said no other batch or date codes of the products were known to be affected.

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Friday, 29 April 2005 16:11
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Can’t see a doctor when we need one
On a BBC Question Time Special on Thursday 28th April 2005 all three main party leaders appeared separately to answer questions that were put forward by a public audience.

One of the main points that were raised by the audience was making an appointment to see their doctor claiming they were unable to book GP appointments more than two days in advance because of Government targets.

Mr Tony Blair the Labour leader said he was "astonished" when the complaint was put forward by one audience member, Diana Church.

She said: "You can't make the appointment in a week because you are only allowed to make it 48 hours beforehand.

"You have to sit on the phone for three hours in the morning trying to get an appointment because you are not allowed to ask for the appointment before that because by making it 48 hours beforehand they are meeting the government's target." When others in the audience joined in, Mr Blair said: "That is news to me”.

He admitted this interpretation of the targets was "absurd" and said he would look into it.

Health Secretary John Reid said the problem affected only 3.6% of surgeries, but could still involve several patients.

Mr Reid said: "The situation is transformed and far better than it was seven years ago when the vast majority of people could not even see a doctor in eight to 10 days”.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, the chairman of the British Medical Association's GP committee, also said the targets skewed priorities.

On the GP targets, he said: "We've always felt that this has been a crude target which has distorted priorities...

"It has rather taken away from GPs what they always used to do which was to prioritise appointments on the basis of need”.

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Friday, 29 April 2005 15:48
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Labour will tackle childhood obesity
Labour's Health Minister, Rosie Winterton commented on the new statistics published by the Department of Health showing an alarming increase in childhood obesity, she claims Labour was the only party committed to tackling the problem.

Rosie Winterton said: "If anyone was in any doubt that there is a problem with childhood obesity, these figures published today should dispel it. They show the scale of the task before us.

"If this continues unchecked, we are storing up huge problems for the future. Our children will pay a heavy price through ill-health; premature death and our National Health Service will end up creaking under the strain of treating the effects of obesity.

"For years the Labour Party has been focused on tackling childhood obesity, in spite of opposition from the Tories who have blocked us every step of the way.

"Labour is on the side of the many and will take action. The Tories will do nothing. They reject any action on food labelling, restricting advertising of junk food to children. And they voted against funding for school nurses.

"Labour will support parents and children to make healthy choices. The Tory message to parents and children is – you're on your own”.

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Friday, 29 April 2005 15:36
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Children in England getting fatter
Official figures by The Department of Health (DoH) show that an alarming increase of boys and girls that live in England and are under the age of 11 are now clinically obese.

The report presents key information between 1995 and 2003, the prevalence of obesity among children aged two to 10 rose from 9.9% to 13.7%, the DoH found. They found that the biggest increase was in an age group among eight to 10 year-olds, from 11.2% to 16.5% over the eight-year period.

Dr Ian Campbell of the National Obesity Forum said: "These statistics are very worrying indeed.

"Clearly we are in the middle of an epidemic that is wreaking havoc on our children”.
He said it was down to children consuming more calories and being less active than they ought to be.

"It's the fact that calories have become cheaper and exercise expensive”.

"It's a travesty that this country, which has got a wealth of resources, has been neglecting the welfare of our children in this way”.
But he said we should be able to tackle this problem as a nation because we had the expertise and the will in government to do it.

"Now is the time to stop it. The optimal time to intervene is in childhood, before irreversible damage has been done and while lifelong good habits can be learnt”.

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Friday, 29 April 2005 13:52
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Porter suspended after baby left in basement
A hospital porter has been suspended over allegations that a dead baby was left in a basement overnight, it has emerged.

The baby died at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton over the weekend.

The porter is said to have left a box, containing the body, in the basement instead of following proper procedure and taking the body to the mortuary.

New Cross Hospital confirmed that the porter had been involved in a similar incident in 2002. A second porter has also been suspended.

David Loughton, chief executive of the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, said an investigation had been launched and expressed sympathy for the family’s loss and regret over the incident.

The unit was criticised last year when a Healthcare Commission report found problems with standards of care, working practices and staffing levels.

The report came after a string of serious incidents including the deaths of three babies.

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Friday, 29 April 2005 12:39
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Lords rule in favour of “designer babies”
The House of Lords ruled today the use of “designer babies” to treat genetic disorders in siblings was lawful.

It was reported yesterday that the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics had appealed to the Lords to rule the practice illegal under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.

The case centred on an Appeal Court ruling in 2003 that overturned a ban on the use of fertility treatment to help save the live of a boy with a potentially terminal blood defect.

Today the five Law Lords unanimously concluded that tissue typing to create siblings suitable for transplants was legitimate under the existing law.

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