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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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Friday, 28 July 2006 09:34
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
GIRL DIES FROM E.COLI INFECTION
Elizabeth Russell, a two-year-old has died after contracting the E.coli O157 infection.

Elizabeth from Ballantrae, in South Ayrshire, died at the weekend after being taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.

A health board spokeswoman said two children in the Dumfries and Galloway area, who had been in contact with the Elizabeth, had also tested positive.

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "We are aware of these cases and are being kept informed by the relevant NHS boards.

"Both of these incidents are being managed by the local NHS public health team and Health Protection Scotland who are liaising with us”.

Dr Carol Davidson, director of public health at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: "Investigations into the source of the infection are ongoing, but at the moment we have no reason to believe that others outside the families affected and their contacts are at any increased risk."

A statement from NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: "A 20-month-old child from Wigtownshire whose family were in contact with the family of the child in Ayrshire was admitted to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary at the weekend with an E.coli O157 infection.

"The child was discharged from hospital on Wednesday evening.

"A second child aged three years who was also in contact with the family in Ayrshire was admitted at the weekend but was discharged from hospital on Monday”.


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Friday, 28 July 2006 09:25
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
THE NHS COULD BE EXPLOITING DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Dr Mahmood Bhutta, a specialist registrar in otolaryngology at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, claims that the NHS could be exploiting developing countries who produce medical equipment.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, he said: "No systematic investigation has been undertaken into the sourcing of healthcare goods used in the developed world.

"When these have come from manufacturers in the developing world then, as is the case with other goods, the trade may be open to the exploitation of power by transnational companies, driving down prices and labour standards."

Dr Bhutta said the global trade in hand-held stainless steel surgical instruments was worth at least £352 million a year and many of these instruments were made by firms in Europe and Asia.

The two largest producers were Tuttlingen in Germany and Sialkot in Pakistan.

Dr Bhutta said: "Manufacturers of surgical instruments in Sialkot need to minimise costs to remain competitive.

"To reduce overheads, most firms subcontract the initial production of instruments to workers employed in a small workshop or their own home, with finishing and quality checking of the product in house.

"Manufacturing firms in Pakistan, however, rarely have the infrastructure or marketing presence to allow direct trade with the end users in the destination countries. Most therefore sell to suppliers and retailers in the developed world with only a small profit margin."

Dr Bhutta said more could be done and that the solution lay "in purchasers insisting on fair and ethical trade when sourcing instruments".

   


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Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:56
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
FOUNDATION HOSPITAL CUTS 500 JOBS
Around 500 jobs are to be axed at the NHS foundation hospital in Sunderland to save £20m over the next three years.

City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust said it had to cut 10% of its 5,000 workforce to clear a debt of £5m.

The trust, which runs Sunderland Royal Hospital, Ryhope General and Monkwearmouth Hospital.

Chief executive of the trust, Ken Bremner, said losing jobs was a major concern, but necessary to save money over the next three years.

He said: "Our priority is to regain financial stability for the next step in the development of the trust.

"We have achieved the levels of service we have today because of the quality of our staff and we understand that any job lost is a major cause for concern.

"It must be remembered that the trust has come a long way in 10 years - patient care, facilities, staff numbers and waiting times are now very different from a decade ago”.

Paul Summers, regional officer for the health union Unison, said the move was a "kick in the teeth".

He said: "We are shocked to hear of the scale of potential job losses and cost cutting - particularly since only two years ago many temporary jobs were lost to help balance the books.

"Even if the staff cuts are achieved by what the trust calls "natural wastage" these are still real jobs and getting rid of them will have an unavoidable impact on services.

"Our members have been working hard to achieve government targets and this is a real kick in the teeth”.
   


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Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:29
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
CANCER DRUG NOT ADVISED FOR NHS IN ENGLAND
Bone cancer victims in England will not be given Velcade a life-prolonging drug - although it is available to patients in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The drug which can put the cancer into remission and dramatically improve life expectancy is also available in every other developed country in the world.

But yesterday the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) refused to approve Velcade for use in England on the NHS, saying it is not 'cost-effective'.

Eric Low, of the International Myeloma Foundation, said: “This is a shocking and devastating decision.

“It is unjust, unfair and ill-informed. We have missed a golden opportunity here.

“It is hard not to feel that we are being discriminated against as a less well-known, rarer cancer, because of the recent positive rulings on a number of big cancer drugs, such as Herceptin, which will undoubtedly put enormous pressure on NHS budgets.

“This will leave myeloma in the desert of cancer care treatment”.


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Wednesday, 26 July 2006 10:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
BLAIR IN HEALTH RESPONSIBILITY CALL
People must take more responsibility for their health to relieve pressure on the NHS; Tony Blair is expected to say.

In a major speech on Wednesday 26th July, the Prime Minister will reflect on how the role of the state in promoting social progress has evolved.

In particular, he will look at new ways of improving public health by promoting healthy living.

This is the PM's second lecture under the banner "Our Nation's Future" - special events intended to address the major long-term challenges for Britain.

The aim of these speeches is to launch a "real debate about the big challenges".

The speech follows the Government's Small Change, Big Difference campaign, set up to encourage people to improve their health.

"It has got to be about prevention as much as about cure," Mr Blair said on Tuesday at a Labour party event.

"The question is what the Government can do for the future to encourage more healthy lifestyles and living”.

He said the debate was "important because going forward we can't afford the healthcare costs if we don't take some of the responsibility as individuals for our healthcare”.

He added: "We are in a situation where no matter how much money we spend on health, if we are carrying more cases of diabetes than we need, losing vast sums on treating alcohol abuse and smoking; if we are in a position where we are still carrying these costs, in time we have got a crunch in policy down the line”.

The chairman of the health select committee, Kevin Barron, told the BBC that it is the Government's job to try to persuade people to live healthily.

"What all governments have to do is think about what's good for the public, getting the right messages out and just getting on with it," he said.

"Put right, argued properly, [with] sensible policies, we shouldn't be scared of somebody shouting to us 'nanny state'."

But Professor Danny Dorling from the University of Sheffield, an expert on health inequalities, does not think Tony Blair's ideas will be well received by the public.

"I think it will be perceived as insulting by those who it's aimed at.

"What you need to begin looking after yourself better is to have self respect, and self respect comes from being treated well by society.

"If you have a society that tells increasing numbers of people that they have less and less worth, while others are allowed to become richer and richer and richer, it's very hard to get people's self worth up”.
   


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Wednesday, 26 July 2006 10:06
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NEW PLAN TO TACKLE NHS TRUST DEBTS
A plan to put NHS trusts on a firmer financial footing has been published by the Audit Commission.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt commissioned the report to find a strategy for dealing with the huge deficits incurred by some trusts.

The recommendations aim to support the Government’s major health reforms and put trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) and the NHS overall in a position to operate on a sound and sustainable financial footing in the future. Key recommendations include:

• the principles of Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB*) should no longer be applied to NHS trusts, and that NHS trusts should move onto a regime which offers sharper, more appropriate incentives for good financial performance
• changes to PCT planning and financing arrangements which would put them in a stronger position to manage their financial risks;
• specific improvements to the Department of Health’s (DH) and strategic health authorities’ (SHAs) oversight and management of the service, covering the costing of policy initiatives, the way the Payment by Results tariff is developed and given greater certainty over the medium term, and the accuracy and availability of data;
• key elements of a more effective and swifter mechanism for identifying and dealing with financial distress at NHS bodies. In addition, financial support for organisations should be provided in the form of working capital and that the DH should establish a banking arrangement to do this; and
• the specific steps to be taken to improve the skills of finance staff and the capacity of boards.

Sir Michael Lyons, Acting Chairman of the Audit Commission, said:"The NHS is a unique and complex organisation and its economy is equally complex. Our proposals are challenging and wide-ranging, and they may take time to implement. But, the financial management and accounting regime of the NHS needs to change to keep pace with the many significant new health reforms that are designed to further improve the NHS. Crucially, our recommendations support the NHS reforms, would enable trusts and PCTs to achieve better value for taxpayers' money and contribute to consistent, reliably funded services for patients".

The Commission believes its recommendations would ensure that the DH meets its commitments to HM Treasury and the taxpayer while enabling trusts to operate in a more businesslike way. Other outcomes would be to:

• bring greater clarity to the financing system both for individual organisations and for the NHS as a whole;
• improve further the professionalism of NHS finance staff; and
• increase the capacity and capability of individual bodies to manage their affairs and at the same time increase their accountability for doing so.

Shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien said: "This report is a damning indictment of financial mismanagement in the NHS that goes right to the top”.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We will now take some time to reflect in more detail on the recommendations made, and will publish a response later in the year”.
   


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Wednesday, 26 July 2006 09:54
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NEW MOTHERS NEED TO BE HELPED TO CARE FOR THEIR BABIES
New mothers are to be given personalised "baby plans" under NHS guidelines announced yesterday. The guidance, issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), and the first to set out national standards of postnatal care for new mothers, applies to women in England and Wales.

The NICE guidelines cover care for the first eight weeks of a baby's life.

They say health professionals should ensure they only give women the help and advice that is relevant to them - so if they have not had a Caesarean or a birth involving stitches, they do not need any information on those topics.

Professor Rona McCandlish, who chaired the guideline development group said: "In the past postnatal care has often been considered the 'Cinderella service' of maternity care.

"This guideline recognises that women, babies and families deserve highest quality care after birth.

"It establishes clear, much needed national standards for healthcare professionals to help them offer women the support they need in the hours, days and weeks following birth”.

Dr David Elliman, a consultant in community child health, said: "New babies require huge amounts of care and attention, and this can be daunting, particularly for first time parents.

"Helping mothers to know what signs and symptoms could indicate something serious so they know what to worry about and what is normal gives them reassurance and confidence.

"Giving babies the best start in life through good quality post natal care means they are less likely to have health problems during childhood and into adulthood”.

Dame Karlene Davis, General Secretary of the RCM, said: "Good maternity services are the vital building block for long-term health improvement”.

Rosie Dodds, of the National Childbirth Trust, said: "The development of personalised care plans will help to ensure healthcare professionals provide individually tailored care for each woman.

"And the emphasis on communication between mothers and healthcare professionals is certainly a step in the right direction to ensuring all women are aware of the support available”.

But she added: "These guidelines don't recommend a minimum number of postnatal care visits.

"We know access to supportive care throughout the first few weeks is essential to emotional and physical well-being of most new parents.

"It would help to work towards an understanding of the amount of care all women should be offered, with additional care available for those who need it”.


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Wednesday, 26 July 2006 09:05
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NHS HAS TO BUY TOUGHER BEDS FOR OBESE PATIENTS
Hospital are being forced into spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on reinforced beds and strengthening mortuary slabs due to an increasing number of obese patients.

The issue was highlighted yesterday when the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital announced that it had to spend £40,000 on equipment - including beds, hoists, armchairs and commodes - to cater for obese patients.

In neighbouring Suffolk, the James Paget Hospital at Gorleston, near Lowestoft, has been forced to buy a specialist bed that will take a patient weighing up to 71 stone and two operating tables that can take people weighing up to 50 stone.

Andrew Stronach, spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich, said: "The new beds we are ordering will be able to take patients in excess of 40 stone. At the moment, if the standard beds contain a patient weighing more than 35 stone, the electric motors used to adjust the beds burn out.

"In years gone by, we would see a few patients who were very large and we would hire in a special bed on an occasional basis which could cope with people weighing up to 37 stone.

"But now we are seeing people who weigh 40 stone or more much more frequently and we are having to gear up to deal with this. Hospitals up and down the country are doing the same."

As part of a £200,000 refurbishment of the mortuary, new fridges will be installed, designed to store obese bodies. "We will be increasing the space in our mortuary by 20 per cent by adding 10 new bariatric fridges," said Mr Stronach.

Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of obesity.

"Our current fridges can accommodate bariatric bodies but a normal 10-space fridge will be filled by only four bariatric cases. We will be converting a post-mortem table so that it can take bariatric bodies. We are also spending around £17,000 on two bariatric mortuary trolleys."

Prof Peter Kopelman, director of the Institute of Health at the University of East Anglia, commented: "When you get more and more obese patients, health trusts have to provide the relevant facilities, but it is a sad indictment of our society."

Mr Stronach agreed that obesity problems were "a considerable issue, not only in terms of people's health but in the cost to the health service". He added: "It is a symptom of a major public health problem. In the past five years, we have been seeing many more adults who are very overweight and it is putting a strain on their health and on the health service. Obesity really is a major, major problem”.


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Wednesday, 26 July 2006 08:55
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
HUNDREDS OF NHS WORKERS TO VOTE OVER STRIKE
UNISON, the UK's largest health union, is to ballot staff at NHS Logistics for strike action over government plans to privatise part of the health service.

Staffs at the five depots are angry at the proposed transfer of the entire organisation to private haulage company DHL.

NHS Logistics is a not-for-profit organisation supplying hospitals, GP surgeries and patients with more than 43,000 items including essential surgical supplies and products ranging from aerosols and arrowroot to zinc and castor oil.

Karen Jennings, UNISON Head of Health said:

"NHS Logistics is an award-winning organisation - an NHS success story delivering a first class service. The Government's decision to privatise it is driven by pure dogma and an obsession with market testing.

"No wonder our members are bitter and angry about the way they are being treated. They are proud to work for the NHS and feel betrayed by a government that is handing them over to DHL, like one of the packages they deliver.

"DHL will be rubbing their hands together at the thought of getting hold of such a successful business operation, with a lucrative turnover of around £777m a year.

"Meanwhile, staffs who have worked hard to build up a first class service with a world class reputation now face job cuts”.

Paul Harper UNISON Branch Secretary at NHS Logistics' Maidstone Depot said:

"Strike action is a last resort but we have no choice. Members are extremely upset about the transfer and I am confident we will get a yes vote.

"We work hard to provide a first rate service to the NHS and take pride in being an essential part of the health team.

"We deliver direct to hospital wards and operating theatres so getting it wrong could be a matter of life and death. This is not a service the government should be gambling with by handing it over to a parcel delivery company”.

   


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