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100 records found from year 2006

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Thursday, 13 July 2006 10:50
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
LIVING ALONE 'DOUBLES HEART RISK'
Danish research suggests that people living alone doubles the risk of severe heart disease compared to living with a partner.

The latest study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, focused on the incidence of acute coronary syndrome - a spectrum of conditions including angina, heart attack or sudden cardiac death. Between 2000 and 2002, 646 people were diagnosed with one of these conditions.

The Danish researchers, led by Dr Kirsten Nielsen of University Hospital, Aarhus, examined risk factors including poor educational attainment and low income to see whether these had any influence. But they found that the two strongest predictive factors for serious heart problems were age and living alone.

Women aged over 60 and living by themselves and men over 50 in the same position, were twice more likely to suffer angina, a heart attack or other serious heart-related condition than the rest of the population.

The researchers noted that lone women over 60 made up just over 5 per cent of the whole population, yet they accounted for a third of all deaths from serious heart problems within 30 days of diagnosis.

Lone men over 50 were just 8 per cent of the population, yet accounted for two-thirds of such deaths.

Dr Kirsten Nielsen said: "There is an accumulation of heart disease risk factors in people who live alone.

"But something else is also happening, which we haven't yet identified.

"Studies on monkeys have shown animals that are isolated have a higher risk of atherosclerosis [a build up of fatty deposits in the arteries].

"Living alone is a risk factor GPs should take into account - and it may be necessary to contact those living on their own and advise them on how to cut their risk of disease”.

Ellen Mason, spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation said: "Lifestyle habits linked to living alone, such as smoking and eating unhealthy food, are more of a problem than living alone itself.

"The weakness of the researchers' interpretation is that many people who choose to live alone have strong social support and healthy lifestyles, all of which help keep their heart healthy”.


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Sunday, 09 July 2006 09:35
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
MATERNITY CARE ASSISTANTS TO BE INTRODUCED IN SCOTLAND’S MATERNITY WARDS
Maternity care assistants (MCAs) are to be introduced in Scotland’s maternity wards to help ease pressure on busy midwives and assist new mums with tasks such as breastfeeding and nappy changing.

MCAs have already been deployed in the US and in England. A training programme is now being drawn up to pilot the role north of the Border amid fears of future staffing shortages in maternity services.

Midwives and campaigners say the MCAs can be useful, but warn they should not be used as an excuse to employ midwives “on the cheap”.

A document published by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) warns that there are challenges in providing “sustainable” maternity services, with potential for a serious shortage of staff in the future. It states: “The introduction of MCAs as a distinct role development within the family of health care support workers has been identified as one possible solution to this emerging workforce need.”

It acknowledges that the role is controversial: “The development of MCAs has generated considerable polarised debate from those concerned with the erosion of the role of the midwife to those advocating improved quality of services to women and their families”.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is consulting its members to gauge opinion on whether MCAs should be allowed to join the organisation. An RCM spokeswoman said midwives were divided on the issue.

“Some of the midwives really don’t like the idea of it,” she said. “If the mum asks the person [a question] they may think they are getting professional advice and only a midwife can do that.

“But some people see it a bit like the role of a classroom assistant: sometimes it is helpful for the midwife to have somebody else to hold something or to do something so you don’t have to leave the mother at a crucial moment”.

The spokeswoman said that jobs carried out by MCAs in England, where they were introduced around two years ago, varied according to the health trust in which they were employed. But she said the extent of their role had to be clearly defined.

“If you are looking for somebody who can explain whether you need an epidural or not, then it is not the MCA’s job,” she said. “But if the woman is desperate for a cup of tea or wants her back rubbed, then that is probably OK.”

She added: “There is some concern about roles and responsibilities but so long as they work as part of a team, generally speaking they fit in and it works very well”.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, said the group backed the idea of MCAs “providing they were used properly”.

“You don’t want a midwife spending time answering the door to relatives. That is crazy,” she said. “But you don’t want a MCA doing things that a midwife should be doing”.

Phipps said it was likely there was a financial element behind introducing lower-paid MCAs and cautioned against the idea of midwives “on the cheap”.

“They can be useful and they are certainly proving useful in England, but their introduction has to be managed carefully,” she said. “They have got to have training, and the whole of their role should be to support midwives”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said a pilot of the training programme was likely to get under way in the autumn. He claimed the MCA role was not being introduced to combat manpower shortages but to enhance the care of women.

“Maternity care assistants could work as part of the multi-professional maternity care team, working alongside midwives and doctors and freeing them up from non-clinical tasks,” he said.

“This would be done under the supervision of a midwife and will facilitate a seamless, woman-centred maternity service”.


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Sunday, 09 July 2006 08:59
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SHORTAGE AS WOMEN GPS GO PART-TIME
A survey by officials at NHS Education for Scotland has revealed that the health service is facing a massive staff shortage because the growing numbers of female GPs are working fewer hours than their male counterparts.

They claim that female doctors tend to work fewer hours, preferring to do part-time work and job-sharing, meaning that although the total number of GPs working in Scotland has soared over the last 10 years, the amount of time spent with patients has changed little.

The report, written together with researchers at Edinburgh University, states:

"The rapidly increasing proportion of women in general practice may lead to an increasing shortfall of medical availability in the future if current work patterns are maintained”.

Mary Church, a GP negotiator for the British Medical Council, said the NHS needed to change its recruitment and employment policy to prevent future shortages.

She said: "Either more money must be spent training more doctors to ensure there is enough cover with less of a return, or they need to change the balance of female to male doctors working in the NHS”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said: "Workforce planning is ongoing and the number of medical training places for doctors is considered on an annual basis.

"The changing shape of the workforce, including increases in part-time working, is taken into account when we do this planning”.
   


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Wednesday, 05 July 2006 10:44
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
PESTICIDE DDT 'LINK' WITH SLOW CHILD PROGRESS
Researchers from the University of California Berkeley, claim that children exposed to the pesticide DDT while in the womb experience development problems.

The pesticide was banned in the US and UK in the 1970s, but it is still used in some countries to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The researchers measured blood levels of DDT and one of its breakdown products, DDE, in 360 pregnant women, the majority of whom were born in Mexico, where agricultural use of the chemical was only banned in 2000.

Factors including age, income, education, marital and work status, the child's gender, duration of breastfeeding and the quality of the home environment for young children were considered.

The researchers tested the mental and physical skills of the women's babies at six, 12 and 24 months using established tests to measure the children's development.

For each tenfold increase in DDT levels measured in the mother, the team found a corresponding two to three-point decrease in the children's mental development scores at 12 and 24 months.

Children with the highest DDT exposures in the womb were associated with a seven to 10-point decrease in test scores, compared to the lowest exposures.

When the children's physical skills were measured, there were two-point decreases in children's scores at six and 12 months for each tenfold increase in DDT levels in the mothers.

Similar, but weaker effects were linked to DDE exposure.

The team also found that the longer babies were breastfed for, the better they scored on the developmental tests - even though they would have been exposed to DDT through the milk.

Dr Brenda Eskenazi, who led the research, said: "People need to consider these data if they are going to continue using DDT or reintroduce it in countries where it's been banned.

"Given the impact of malaria on child health, I'm not saying that we shouldn't use it.

"But if we do, we need to think of ways to protect women and children”.

The researchers plan to continue to follow the children as they develop.

Professor Richard Sharpe, of the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh, said: "The older the woman before her first breastfeeding episode and the longer and the higher her DDT exposure has been, the greater will be the amount of chemical delivered to the baby.

"So the first baby gets the worst of the chemicals stored in the mum's fat.

"There may also be a bonus to the mum in that she is ridding herself and her fat tissue of the chemicals in question and because some of these chemicals are potentially implicated in the development of breast cancer - the breast is mainly fat.

"This could be one of the ways in which early breastfeeding protects against breast cancer”.


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Wednesday, 05 July 2006 09:37
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
ABORTION RATES AT RECORD HIGH
Statistics by the Department of Health reveal that abortions in England and Wales rose by more than 700 in 2005, from 185,713 in 2004 to 186,416.

The figures also show that more than 1,000 girls under 15 had an abortion, an increase of 4.7 per cent in a year.

The figures come amid calls from a cross-party group of MPs for a rethink on the abortion time limit.

Patrick Leahy, spokesman for Student LifeNet, the pro-life group, said: "This record high number of abortions is undoubtedly due to a dramatic increase in the number of early abortions.

"For 2005, abortions under 10 weeks accounted for 66.5 per cent of the total number compared to 60.2 per cent in 2004. This is surely due to dubious Government policies aimed at making access to early abortion even easier.

"At the same time, the percentage of late abortions is rapidly declining. The number of abortions occurring over 20 weeks dropped by almost 10 per cent on last year. This reduction reflects the public's increased concern about the abortion time limit.

"The Government's refusal to allow parliamentary time on this issue is leaving them increasingly isolated and out-of-touch”.
   


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Tuesday, 04 July 2006 09:56
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NEW SYSTEM TO RATE CARE SERVICES
Care homes and childminders across Scotland will be given ratings under a new, easy-to-follow grading system to help customers compare services.

The Care Commission, the official watchdog, who regulates care services by registering, inspecting, and investigating complaints, is adopting the same point scale used by school inspectors to assess education standards.

Homes will be marked one to six according to the quality of life available to residents, the living environment, staffing and management.

The move is expected to make it easier for people to choose homes that meet their requirements and give owners an incentive to drive up standards.

A pilot is planned before the end of the year and it is hoped the scheme will be rolled out across Scotland by the end of 2008.

During the pilot, homes will first assess themselves using the new criteria, which are based on the national care standards set by Scottish ministers.

When the commission in-spects the premises it will verify the scores and take the final decision on the grades earned.

Several factors will be taken into account under the four headings. The staffing score will cover staffing levels, competence and turnover.

People will ultimately be able to find the home's registration and results on the Care Commission's website.

David Wiseman, director of strategic development with the Care Commission said: "This is an exciting step forward for the Care Commission … We will be able to better assess the success and reaction when the pilot period concludes in March 2007”.

Joe Campbell, chairman of Scottish Care which represents independent care home owners, said: "We are happy to be involved in trying to devise a system which is fair and understandable. Everyone should know exactly what they can expect from a care home”.


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Thursday, 29 June 2006 10:04
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
MOST GRADUATING NURSES 'HAVE NO JOB'
The vast majority of student nurses graduating this summer have no job to go to, according to a survey reported by the BBC.

Figures from 20 universities showed eight out of ten had so far failed to secure a position, compared with 30 per cent last year, it said.

Evidence was gathered by the Council of Deans, which represents nursing and health faculties.

It was also said to show that of nurses who had already graduated from one London university, only a quarter had found work.

And the figure for a midwifery faculty in the North East was 5 per cent.

The Royal College of Nursing found the figures "shocking", BBC Radio 4's Today programme reported.


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Wednesday, 28 June 2006 10:19
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SCOTS DOCTORS PRESCRIBE SOLUTIONS TO MEDICAL WORKFORCE CHALLENGES
Doctors attending the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Belfast have today agreed on solutions to the challenges of workforce planning in Scotland.

Speaking of Scottish Executive plans to increase the number of medical school graduates at St Andrews Medical School, Sabrina Talukdar, chair of the BMA's Scottish Medical Students Committee, and St Andrews graduate, said:

"One year ago, the Scottish Executive accepted recommendations to create 100 extra medical school places in Scotland which would allow St Andrews graduates to complete their clinical medical training in Scotland rather than Manchester. It was felt that this would increase the chances of the students staying in Scotland and giving service to NHS Scotland in the future."

But, she warned that greater planning was required in order for this approach to be successful:

"This increase in numbers to be planned carefully so that it does not compromise the high quality of training that students receive in Scotland. Many medical schools are working to capacity already and may well struggle to cope with yet more medical students.

"The number of academics must also increase in line with the numbers of students they will have to teach. Scotland already leads the way in terms of recruiting and retaining Medical Academics, and we would hope that this continues."

Conference also debated measures to increase the number of senior doctors in Scotland in the shorter term. Dr Lewis Morrison, a consultant geriatrician from Lothian, and member of the BMA’s Scottish Consultants Committee, said:

"Scotland needs more senior doctors but a significant number of consultants are expected to retire next year and there are currently few if any incentives to stay on.

"MMC goes live next august in Scotland. If we get that wrong trainees will leave Scotland.

"It is simple arithmetic and I hope that this gives a simple message to the Scottish Executive.

· Create sufficient MMC training posts to accommodate all current trainees and you will keep the majority in Scotland. If you keep them in Scotland as trainees more will stay as seniors.

· Make it practical to reduce workload at the end of a career and you will keep your senior doctors working for longer.

· Ensure that senior posts are just that i.e. GPs and Consultants.

"If you build it they will come. If you build it, but you don’t fund it they won't. These measures require adequate ring fenced monies.

"Scotland has an opportunity to largely solve its senior doctor recruitment problems. I urge the Executive to take that opportunity."


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Tuesday, 27 June 2006 10:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
'COLLABORATION NOT COMPETITION FOR SCOTLAND'S NHS' SAYS DOCTORS' LEADER
Doctors in Scotland have welcomed the decision not to pursue a series of untested NHS reforms north of the border.

Speaking at the British Medical Association's [BMA] annual conference in Belfast today, Dr Peter Terry, Chairman of the BMA in Scotland addressed the growing divergence in health policy between England and Scotland.

"We are in the midst of a UK-wide experiment," he said. "Health policy is diverging at a fast pace. In Scotland, as in England, Wales and here in Northern Ireland, we are desperate to improve our health service but, for the meantime we are happy to be the control arm of this experiment for we are guided by the principle in medicine of "first do no harm".

"In England, health policy is based on contestability and choice. In Scotland, we believe that collaboration and partnership is better, if only to eliminate the significant process cost associated with commissioning. We also feel that collaboration is more likely to allow a greater integration of primary and secondary care to the benefit of patients."

Dr Terry also criticised Prime Minister Tony Blair for knocking the NHS in Scotland during his campaigning for the 2005 General Election.

"Mr Blair trumpeted the success of the Health service in England compared to that in Scotland.

"The evidence for this success, he claimed, was based on waiting times for elective surgery, an activity that probably results in less than 5 per cent of the total expenditure on health, but unlike most other activity, can be measured and thus financed for the benefit of the patient but also for political gain – so eloquently demonstrated by Mr Blair himself."

Commenting on the issue of choice, Dr Terry called for 'real choices' for patients.

He said: "Patients want ‘real choices’ in terms of involvement in decisions about their care and treatment, not whether they travel the length and breadth of the country for a hospital."

In a written report to conference, Dr Terry expressed his concerns about recent legislation on joint inspection of children’s services.

This law enables inspectors from police, education, health and social work to access children’s confidential health records without consent, even when there are no issues of child protection.

He wrote: "The BMA will campaign to maintain patient confidentiality and protect the doctor patient relationship."


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Monday, 26 June 2006 10:26
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SCOTLAND'S DOCTORS RENEW CALLS FOR SMOKING AGE INCREASE
Scotland’s doctors today renewed calls for an increase in the purchase age of cigarettes from 16 to 18 in an attempt to deter young people from taking up smoking at an early age.

The calls come as BMA Scotland published a report on the subject on the opening day of the British Medical Association’s annual UK conference in Belfast.

It is one year since doctors voted in favour of raising the purchase age to 18 and the BMA report outlines the benefits that such a move would have on changing Scotland's attitude to tobacco use and decrease the number of young people smoking in Scotland.

Currently around 19 per cent of 15 year olds and 6 per cent of 13 year olds are regular smokers (smoking one or more cigarettes a week), with prevalence higher amongst girls than boys.

Dr Peter Terry, Chairman of BMA Scotland said: "By raising the purchase age of cigarettes to 18, Ministers would send a clear message that Scotland considers tobacco use among young people to be a problem that must be addressed. As part of a wider tobacco control programme, it will make a difference.

"We know that this approach works in discouraging young people from smoking. Experience from other countries has shown that, raising the age to 18 when introduced along with other tobacco control measures such as smoke free enclosed public places and education programmes can have a positive effect on reducing the number of young smokers.

"Scotland led the way in the UK with regard to smoke free enclosed public places and it is now time to lead the way by taking this bold step."

Dr Terry concluded: "A Smoking Prevention Working Group is currently considering the case for raising the minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco and is expected to report its findings shortly.

"We can only hope that the group and the Minister make the right choice that will help reduce the number of young people having easy access to this deadly and highly addictive habit."


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