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Friday, 30 December 2005 13:31
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
PUPILS TO BE WEIGHED IN BATTLE AGAINST OBESITY
Schools could be set to reintroduce medicals in which pupils are weighed at the ages of four and ten as evidence suggests a generation of sedentary youngsters could face a lifetime of weight-related health problems.

Nurses hope to spot the early signs of obesity by weighing and measuring the children as they start primary school and again before they move on to secondary.

The Department of Health will issue guidelines to primary care trusts on how to perform the checks following the 2004 White Paper aimed at halting the year-on-year increase in obesity among under-11s.

Statistics show that 22 per cent of boys and 28 per cent of girls between the ages of two and 15 are overweight or obese. These children face an increased risk of health problems such as joint pains and Type-2 diabetes in middle age.

Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said: "This is such a massive problem something needs to be done.

"This is a good idea if more resources are put into school nurses alongside it."

But Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, warned: "This could be seen as more nannying by the Government and it exposes the past failures of policy and neglect of school sport. The obesity problem has been caused in large part by youngsters simply not getting enough exercise."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "This is not so much about measuring individual children but about motivating children, families and local populations to live healthy active lives."


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Thursday, 29 December 2005 11:03
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
LEGISLATE FOR BETTER HEALTH SAYS LEADER OF SCOTLAND'S DOCTORS
One of Scotland's leading doctors has today (Thursday 29 December 2005) called upon the Scottish Executive to introduce a system of routine health impact assessments to be applied to all policies and legislation.

The British Medical Association believes that this move would best serve Scottish health priorities and would have a greater impact on improving the health and lives of the population, rather than focussing on politically driven targets which fail to address the fundamental problems at the root of Scotland’s poor public health record.

Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the BMA in Scotland said: "Scotland's doctors have welcomed the Health Minister’s commitment to introduce a long term public health strategy but this can only be achieved with a co-ordinated approach across all of the Ministerial portfolios of our administration.

"Many factors in society contribute to the public‘s health and by integrating health assessments into education and social policy, for example, every decision made would be an investment in the future health of our population. This approach would make a real difference to people’s health, more so than the introduction of politically driven targets.

"The NHS alone cannot deliver the wider Executive responsibilities for improving the public’s health. Linked strategies across departments are needed to make a real and consistent difference to health."

Dr Terry highlighted the recently published Kerr Report on the health service in Scotland which marked a turning point towards greater collaboration within the health service and across wider public services.

He said: "We have seen this approach work in some areas of policy-making, but achieving co-ordinated working on the ground between health, education, social services, housing and transport policy is a challenge that requires sustained cross-departmental collaboration and the development of synergistic policies.

"By conducting a routine independent assessment of public health impact as part of the legislative process, we can ensure that the Scottish Parliament is making laws that are improving the lives and health of its population."

Looking forward to the year ahead, Dr Terry congratulated Scotland’s leaders for its courage in legislating for smoke free public places, coming into force in Spring.

"2006 could signal a real shift in Scotland’s health with the ban on smoking in enclosed public places, which comes into effect in March. The benefits of this will be evident from day one," he said.

"Scotland is leading the rest of the UK with its bold and comprehensive smoke-free legislation while Ministers at Westminster dither over inappropriate concessions. MPs should be looking north to follow our example rather than conceding to the arguments of the tobacco industry. Our Parliament should be proud of its achievements in health over the last 12 months – let us continue to make efforts to improve our national health in the coming years. We can all do better."


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Thursday, 22 December 2005 12:43
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
POLICE INSPECTOR CALLS FOR 16-YEAR-OLDS TO BE SERVED DRINK IN PUBS
Sixteen year olds should be allowed to drink in pubs as a measure to reduce problems caused by underage drinking, a North Wales Police inspector has suggested.

Inspector Roy Schwarz said the move would allow alcohol consumption to be monitored by adults after a survey of 2,000 teenagers in the region revealed that 88 per cent of boys aged 16 and 79 per cent of girls have been drunk.

Insp Schwarz said: "Young people are going to drink alcohol, but they must be shown how to enjoy it."

A recent operation by North Wales Police revealed that 39 licensed premises in north Denbighshire sold alcohol to underage drinkers, while police research has found that children in the force area have spent more than £75,000 on alcohol this year.

Insp Schwarz said 16-year-old children should be allowed to drink in pubs but added that it should remain illegal for under 18s to drink outside licensed premises.

Insp Schwarz added: "80% of children between the ages of 11 and 17 are given alcohol by their parents, but what their parents don't realise is that they are also drinking at other times."

However, Miles Vaughan, chairman of the Rhyl and District Licensed Victuallers' Association said: "In principle I don't believe it's a licensee's position to supervise underage drinkers. I wouldn't be interested in letting 16 year olds into my premises," he said.

"If we allow 16 year olds in we'll automatically get the 14 and 15 year olds coming in.

"I think a lot of education through drink should begin at home. I think it's far too easy for parents to ignore what their children are getting up to," he added.

North Wales Police said Insp Schwarz’s views were his personal opinion and not those of the force.


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Thursday, 22 December 2005 09:08
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
CRAZE FOR CROP-TOPS COULD BE A THREAT TO HEALTH
Health chiefs from East Lancashire have warned young girls that the craze for crop-tops could be a threat to their health.

In one case which has been highlighted a 16-year-old girl suffered a kidney infection after exposing her midriff in extreme cold weather.

Kayleigh Bradley, from Blackburn, developed the infection but continued to wear the same style clothing without realising she was putting her health in danger.

She eventually became so ill she had to go to hospital. "I had to spend a day on a drip," said Miss Bradley.

"The doctors told me that the cause had been wearing crop-tops out in the cold weather.

"Because I didn't know what had caused the infection I made it worse by continuing to go out in small tops, even though I knew I was ill.

"It really wasn't very nice and I have kept wrapped up ever since. It just isn't worth it for the sake of fashion. Your health is more important than looking trendy."

In the light of her scare, health bosses in East Lancashire issued a warning to fashion-minded youngsters.

"We are not killjoys by any means, and we know that fashion dictates what younger people wear, but it is a proven fact that if people get cold, they are more likely to catch a cold, or some other bug or infection," said Catriona Logan, of the local primary care trust.

"The current fashion is for girls to bare their midriffs.

"That is very nice for inside or if you're in Florida or Ibiza, but it's far from sensible in the East Lancashire night air during winter, especially if they are coming out of a warm environment like a pub or a club.

"Summer-style clothes are fine if you are inside, but our advice is to wrap up warmly when you go out. A lot of young girls don't seem to bother”.
Earlier this year doctors in Scotland told how soaring numbers of teenagers were suffering 'urban hypothermia'.

They blamed the problem on skimpy outfits and over-consumption of alcohol, which thins the blood and therefore lowers the body temperature.

Scottish Deputy Chief Medical Officer Peter Donnelly said: "Crop-tops and mini-skirts may be trendy but they are not a good plan when it is minus ten degrees. Alcohol has the side effect of lowering body temperatures.

"Anecdotally, we are seeing more and more young people who go out on cold winter nights inappropriately dressed, drinking alcohol, and ending up hypothermic and having to be warmed up in A&E departments.

"What we are saying is, “Put a coat on, as you can always take it off when you get to where you're going'." Recent research at Cardiff University found that people became more susceptible to illness and infection if their body temperature was lowered. The study involved volunteers sitting with their feet in cold water.

Researcher Ron Eccles advised people to wrap up warm and wear waterproof shoes in the rain.

"When I see students with bare midriffs in November, it's obvious they don't take it seriously. They are asking for trouble," he warned.


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Wednesday, 21 December 2005 11:41
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SCOTLAND TO TRAIN FEWER NURSES
Scotland will train fewer student nurses next year after the health minister ordered a review of the number of nurses selected for training.

Andy Kerr said the number of nurses in Scotland was at an all time high and predicted the Scottish Executive would meet its 2003 pledge to recruit 12,000 new NHS nurses and midwives by 2007.

He said: "Our investment has produced 9,200 students, more than ever before. But nobody wants to see so many nursing students coming out of training that they have difficulty finding posts. That is why we have a logical, long-term planning process to match supply and demand.

"This year's modelling suggests that although the demand from employers is for a growing workforce, the rate of increase is less than in previous years. That means this year we should carefully scale back the numbers of students we recruit.

"I have confidence in this modelling process, but we are keen to develop it further. I will be inviting those involved in the process, including Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, in a review of the current process."

According to the Executive’s figures, Scotland has the most qualified nurses and midwives per head of population in the UK, with 757 per 100,000 Scots, compared to 586 in England, 664 in Wales and 742 in Northern Ireland.

Jane McCready, chair of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland board, said: "We are pleased that the minister has responded to our concerns over peaks and troughs in the number of student nurses being trained ... by agreeing to review the student intake planning process."


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Tuesday, 20 December 2005 12:32
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
YOGA CURE FOR BACK PAIN
A team of US researchers have suggested that regular yoga sessions may be an effective way to treat chronic back pain.

Researchers from Seattle's Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies examined 101 adults with back pain and found that those who took 75-minute weekly yoga classes made greater progress than others who took part in strengthening and stretching programmes.

After 12 weeks the yoga group were better able to perform daily activities involving the back and after 14 weeks they also reported less pain.

Researcher Dr Karen Sherman said: "Most people have experienced back pain at some point in their lives.

"Sometimes the pain goes away in a few days, but sometimes it lasts for weeks.

"And unfortunately, the treatments offered by modern Western medicine are only modestly effective."

"Although exercise is one of the few proven treatments for chronic low back pain, its effects are often small and we haven't known whether one form is better than another.

"So we designed a study to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of a gentle program of yoga for people with this condition."

The yoga students in the study learned 17 poses from viniyoga – an easy to learn and easily adaptable style.

Dr Sherman added that anybody wishing to use yoga for relief of back pain should chose an experienced instructor.


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Monday, 19 December 2005 11:51
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
STUDENT DEBT INCREASE FOR TRAINEE DOCTORS
A survey of 1,900 medical students by the British Medical Association has found that on average students owe more than £20,000 by their final year, an increase of 5 per cent on last year.

More than 100 students said they owed more than £30,000 and one in 10 more than £25,000. Nearly all had a student lone (92 per cent), and almost 60 per cent had an overdraft.

A fifth of students had a bank loan, with the average loan standing at £8,580 – a 12 per cent increase on last year.

The BMA said additional expenses for books and equipment, as well as the cost of travelling to hospitals, could be contributing to the increasing levels of debt.

Kirsty Lloyd, chair of the BMA's medical students committee, said the case for greater financial help for medical students was very clear.

"Making the grade as a doctor should be about talent, compassion and commitment, not on how much money you're prepared to borrow," she said.

"On top of studying hard for five or six years, medical students are expected to take on these massive debts, and from next year those who have a first degree are also going to have to pay upfront top-up fees.

Sabrina Talukdar, chair of the BMA's Scottish medical students committee, said that financial hardship was preventing less affluent people from choosing a career in medicine.

"Widening access is essential so that people, from all backgrounds are encouraged to study medicine to provide the diverse medical workforce that Scotland needs," she said.

"However, with ever increasing debts, this aim will prove difficult."


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Friday, 16 December 2005 10:08
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
LONDON TEAM TO CARRY OUT FIRST FULL FACE TRANSPLANT
The ethics committee of a London hospital has given its surgical team the green light to carry out the first full face transplant in Britain.

The operation will take place when a suitable candidate is found who is willing to undergo the experimental operation – likely to be a burns victim – and could involve the replacement of the full face and scalp.

The announcement comes two weeks after French surgeons carried out the world’s first partial face transplant on a woman who had been savaged by a dog. The operation to replace her nose, lips and chin has been deemed a success.

Peter Butler, consultant plastic surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, began investigating face transplants in 2000 and said the decision to give the go-ahead was the culmination of five years of research.

"The success of the French team probably made people [on the ethics committee] feel less nervous. The results are looking good and they know [our transplant] will now not be the first," Mr Butler said.

"We have to be extremely careful about whom we select. We are trying to raise funds for the first five operations, so bad patient selection would not only damage the patient but the process."

All candidates for the procedure would be assessed physically and psychologically and, if judged suitable, would go through a lengthy consent and education process.


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Tuesday, 13 December 2005 11:06
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SKULL FLATTENING THREAT
Parents who put their babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of cot death are increasing their infant’s risk of a flattened skull, a leading surgeon has said.

Norman Waterhouse, a specialist tutor at the Royal College of Surgeons, said instances of plagiocephaly – flattened skull syndrome in babies – have increased sharply as more parents seek to avoid sudden infant death by putting their babies to sleep on their backs.

Research has suggested that half of all children aged one and under suffer from some degree of the condition, which can cause misalignment of the ears and eyes, and Professor Waterhouse said a Swedish designed pillow provides a cheap solution to the problem.

He said: "With early recognition, this problem could be reduced by simple measures - such as special pillows designed to support infants' heads in the first six months of life. This would reduce the need for more complex treatments such as moulding helmets."

Severe cases can require treatment with an expensive moulding helmet which is not available on the NHS. However, the Swedish Goi-Goi range provides head and neck support to very young children without posing a suffocation threat as regular pillows can.

Prof Waterhouse said: "There is not enough education on this subject. Many parents are told to ignore the problem, and that it will go away on its own. This is not always the case.

"I believe that better understanding of the condition will help Paediatricians and General Practitioners to advise parents appropriately and offer simple strategies for prevention and improvement."

Prof Waterhouse added that babies should continue to sleep on their backs, even without the pillow.


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Saturday, 10 December 2005 10:10
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
250 PUPILS HIT BY VOMITING BUG
At least 250 pupils at a secondary school have been struck down by a stomach virus, health officials said yesterday.

The students are believed to be suffering from norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, after an outbreak at Holyrood Community School in Chard, Somerset.

Paul Courtney, from the Dorset and Somerset Health Protection Unit, said the illness had quickly spread through the school.

He said: "On Tuesday this week we saw something like six or seven parents reporting children with symptoms.

"That increased to more than 100 by Wednesday and there are at least 250 now with symptoms out of a school population of 1,350.

"About 350 pupils are at the school today. That doesn't mean there are 1,000 with symptoms - we suspect some children have been kept home from school by their parents as a precaution".

Some 20 staff at the school for 11-16 year-olds have also been affected by the stomach bug.

Mr Courtney said: "It is very common and easily spread, particularly in confined spaces.

"We often see outbreaks like this in schools, hospitals and holiday parks. Should someone be sick in a confined space it may be that people breathe in the virus.

"It can also be spread by people with the virus failing to wash their hands after using the toilet”.

Parents of pupils at the school have been sent a letter giving details of the bug, and advice on how to prevent it spreading.


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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
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