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Saturday, 24 June 2006 09:32
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
TRAINEE GPS ARE LEFT JOBLESS
29 junior doctors selected for a specialist course designed to train the next generation of GPs has been left jobless after offers were withdrawn because of NHS funding cuts.

The doctors, who have studied medicine for at least six years, learnt this month that they would not be able to join their three-year course in August. The Innovative Training Posts, the final stage of formal education, were introduced to single out and nurture the best primary-care talent. The course involves two years concentrating on various specialities in hospital medicine and one year as a GP registrar.

Richard Savage, course organiser of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital vocational training scheme, who was involved in the training of three of the doctors, described the action as outrageous. “The bureaucracy in the NHS is now so disjointed that there is no forward planning,” he said. “It is simply worked from one financial year to the next.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) said that it was seeking the urgent intervention of Lord Warner, the Health Minister, to resurrect the training of would-be GPs, who were from around the country and to be based in London.

Hamish Meldrum, the chairman of the GPs’ committee of the BMA, said that even if they managed to restart the course next year, the precedent was very dangerous and left them few employment prospects in the meantime.

“Underlying this story is the problem that doctors’ training is under growing financial pressure,” Dr Meldrum said. “The country is crying out for fully trained GPs. It would be a tragedy not just for these doctors but also for patients and the wider NHS if medical training is cut as a result of NHS deficits”.

The London Deanery and the Department of Health denied that the course was being cut and said that they expected the students to begin their training in the New Year.

“We are reassured that the deanery is working with the BMA and doctors affected to offer them careers advice and support so that this has as little impact on their professional and personal circumstances as possible,” a department spokeswoman said.


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Thursday, 22 June 2006 10:32
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
PATIENTS' LIVES 'AT RISK' AS PATIENT RECORDS SENT OVERSEAS
Hospitals have been warned that the practice of sending medical records abroad for typing puts patients’ lives at risk.

Private companies are promising savings for cash strapped NHS trusts if they “outsource” work to countries such as India, South Africa and the Philippines.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public service union Unison, said contract typists had already made potentially life-threatening errors by getting medical dosages wrong and confusing hypertension – high blood pressure – with hypotension – low blood pressure.

He said the “very dangerous” practice started in London but was spreading across the country, with some 30 hospitals either using outsourcing or considering it.

Some typists employed abroad are doctors and medical students, but it is thought that others with no medical qualifications are also used. Most are paid by the line, so it is in their interests to work quickly, Mr Prentis said.

"This is not Unison trying to save jobs. This is Unison saying that patients' health and wellbeing is being put at risk," he said. "This is a step too far. It is ridiculous, it doesn't make sense and it causes real problems for patients. If they are going to privatise this, where are they going to stop."

He said patients' records should be up-to-date and accurate. "The consequences of typing errors are too frightening to contemplate. The difference between hypertension and hypotension can be a matter of life or death."


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Saturday, 17 June 2006 11:17
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
MEDICS FEATURE IN QUEEN'S HONOURS
A host of doctors, nurses and other NHS staff feature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Royal College of Anaesthetists president Peter Simpson and Nursing and Midwifery Council head Jonathan Asbridge received knighthoods, while disability campaigner Jane Campbell became a dame.

Dr Simpson, a consultant anaesthetist at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital, said he felt he has been recognised for his efforts in trying to improve medical training and education. He was involved in the setting up of the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board last year.

He said: "Medical training is essential for the future of medicine. I have tried throughout my career to help put something into this and develop the doctors of the future.

"But I also think the honour is a recognition of the importance anaesthetists play in acute patient care."

Mr Asbridge, chief executive of the Barts and the London NHS Trust, worked as a critical care nurse before moving into management.

He said: "However delighted I am personally to have received such an honour, in accepting this knighthood I do so on behalf of all my colleagues at the NMC and in the nursing and midwifery professions who dedicate their lives to delivering high quality patient care."

Ms Campbell, who became an MBE in 2001, has become a dame for services to social care and disabled people. She spent nearly five years as chairman of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, set up in 2001 to promote good practice before stepping down earlier this year.

She previously co-founded the National Centre for Independent Living and has also written books on disability and is a commissioner fro the Disability Rights Commission.

Non-clinical staff including a hospital chaplain and head of the NHS Litigation Authority were also given honours, along with a number of lower profile health professionals.

Thomas Burns, professor of psychiatry at Oxford University Medical School, was made a CBE, while North Glamorgan NHS Trust breast cancer nurse Diane Jehu became an MBE.

Stephen Walker, head of the NHS Litigation Authority, which effectively acts as the insurance body for the health service, became an CBE.

And Father Cedric Stanley, the chaplain at Middlesex's Harefield Hospital, was made an MBE for his work counselling patients and comforting the bereaved.


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Thursday, 15 June 2006 11:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NURSE CALLS INQUIRY INTO HOSPITAL PARKING
A student nurse has called for a public inquiry into excessive hospital parking charges after spending more than half of her living allowance on parking at the hospital where she worked.

Mother of three Louise MacLeod needed to drive to and from work to meet her childcare needs. She spent up to £4,000 of her £6,000 grant on £46-a-week parking charges at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary (RIE) over a two-year placement.

Now that she is fully trained she, like many other nurses, is reluctant to take a job at the hospital because of the parking fees.

Some people have had to fork out up to £1,600 to visit ill relatives over a prolonged period at the RIE, where it costs £10 a day to park.

An investigation by The Scotsman newspaper revealed that charges vary from £1 to £7 a day in other hospitals across Scotland, despite Executive guidelines that health boards should not charge patients or relatives of severely ill patients for parking.

Ms MacLeod and union representatives want action in the form of a public inquiry into parking charges at Scottish hospitals as soon as possible.


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Monday, 12 June 2006 10:46
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DOCTORS CALL FOR TAX ON SOFT DRINK SWEETENER
Doctors are set to call for taxes on the soft drinks industry in America to be increased in a bid to combat the country’s obesity epidemic.

Delegates at the American Medical Association’s annual conference will demand a levy on the sweeteners put in sugary drinks to pay for a massive public health education campaign.

They will also call for the amount of salt added to burgers and processed foods to be halved.

Sales of soft drinks in US schools have declined ahead of new rules allowing only healthier low-calorie drinks to be sold to students.

But delegates at the Chicago conference want the measures to go further by raising taxes on high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener used in a range of foods from ketchup to cola.

Some U.S. cities and states already levy taxes on soft drinks or junk foods that raise £500million a year, said Michael Jacobsen, director of the Centre for Science and the Public Interest, an independent health watchdog. But earmarking tax revenue for programmes promoting better diet would be a first, he added.


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Monday, 12 June 2006 10:20
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS CONSIDERED FOR SCHOOLCHILDREN
Children may be given Omega 3 fish oil supplements at school to improve their behaviour and academic performance under proposals being considered by ministers.

Many parents already give the children a daily dose of the nutrient after studies showed it can significantly improve concentration, learning power and behaviour.

Some teachers recommend that parents give unruly children Omega 3 and the associated Omega 6, but the supplements are expensive and many families cannot afford them.

The government has now asked the Food Standards Agency to provide a definitive opinion on the benefits of taking Omega 3 supplements.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson said yesterday: “The Agency is conducting a systematic review of research looking at the effect of nutrition and diet on performance and behaviour of children in schools.

“This includes investigating studies that have used Omega 3 and 6 fish oil supplements in schools.

“The Government is committed to ensuring children are provided with the healthy food and nutrients they require, not just to aid their physical health but to ensure they can study hard and behave well.”

But scientists warned last night that supplements would not solve the wider problem.
Professor Michael Crawford, one the UK's leading experts, said: “It is a proven fact that Omega 3 improves brain development. It is one of the fundamental building blocks of human and animal life.

“I would support giving a supplement of something like cod liver oil. We did it during the last war, for goodness sake, and it did us the power of good.

“It is only a sticking plaster, however. The much better alternative is eating a good mix of foods, coupled with teaching children and the general population about nutrition and diet.”

Professor Crawford is director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University.

He said: “We are in danger of creating generations who rely on pharmaceutical companies to be fed pills when what people really need is good food.

“Far better than supplements is eating fish and seafood, because they not only contain Omega 3 but also a wealth of trace elements which are important for the brain and body. If you just have the fish oil, you are only doing half the job.”

Professor Crawford said it would be far more effective to ensure that pregnant women have the important fatty acids. He said: “Evidence from Norway, where women were given supplements during pregnancy, found the children were better off in terms of IQ at four years of age.”


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Sunday, 11 June 2006 11:09
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
CONTRACEPTIVE PILL AID FOR WOMEN
A student from London’s Brunel University has designed an electronic device which reminds women when they need to take their daily contraceptive pill.

Lai Chiu Tang hopes her ‘Remember’ device will help cut unwanted pregnancies.

The gadget advises users on what to do if they have forgotten to take their pill. It also continually predicts the user’s current level of protection and glows red if it is too low.

The pill is more than 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy but studies show that 70 per cent of women forget to take one a month, and 10 per cent forget at least four.

The Remember device holds one pill packet, and indicates the exact pill the user has to take each day using one of four alerts – an alarm, a vibrate mode, a light, or a dual alarm/vibrate mode.

If these alerts are ignored, the device advises users whether to take the missed pill, to skip it and move onto the next one or start a new pill packet at the end of the cycle without a pill free week.

Lai Chiu, from Dartford, said: "I had heard and read so much about the massive consequences of simply forgetting to take a pill that I began thinking about ways of reminding women.

"But after further research I discovered that forgetting to take the pill was only part of the problem.

"Lots of women didn't know what to do after missing a pill or, worse still, didn't even realise they may be unprotected.

"I created Remember to solve both of these problems - encouraging people to take the pill correctly and regularly so they're continually protected against pregnancies, but also advising them if they don't.

"I hope it will make taking the pill a more trustworthy and effective method of contraception by eliminating the user error."

Paul Turnock, design director of Brunel's School of Engineering and Design, said remembering to take the pill put a huge responsibility on the user.

"Lai Chiu's design should help women take the pill at just the right time, ensuring it doesn't let them down."

A spokesperson for the Family Planning Association said: "Many unplanned pregnancies are the result of missed and forgotten contraceptive pills.


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Saturday, 10 June 2006 11:05
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DISCRIMINATION CASE WIN FOR MALE NURSE
A former male nurse who left the profession because he was treated differently from female colleagues has won a sex discrimination case.

Andrew Moyhing, 29, complained at the Employment Appeal Tribunal yesterday that Barts and London NHS Trust had a different policy on chaperoning for male nurses when carrying out intimate procedures on patients.

Supported by the Equal Opportunities Commission, Mr Moyhing declined to accept an award of £750 compensation because he said he did not want to take resources out of the NHS.

The case arose from an incident last year when he was told that a female member of staff would accompany him while using an electrocardiogram machine on a female patient.

He argued that female staff were allowed to provide intimate care to male patients without a chaperone present.

Following the ruling, Mr Moyhing said: "I hope that this decision will herald the beginning of an era when nursing draws on all the skills of both male and female students.

"Male nurses are still seen as a bit of an oddity simply because there are so many more women in the profession than men despite the fact that so many doctors are male.

"I believe that ultimately if male students are treated more equally, those such as myself who abandoned nursing as a career will stay on and the numbers will start to equalise."

Jenny Watson, chairwoman of the EOC, said sex discrimination was wrong whether it was directed at women or men.

"The Employment Appeal Tribunal was right to find that it was not acceptable to have a chaperoning policy based on lazy stereotyping about the risks to patients and assumptions that all men are sexual predators.

"This judgment should help to ensure that such prejudices become a thing of the past.
Charlie Sheldon, Deputy Director of Nursing at Barts and London NHS Trust, said the tribunal had supported Mr Moyhing on only one limited point, and had awarded only the minimum level of compensation.

"In doing so they claimed Mr Moyhing had displayed an exaggerated and unduly sensitive reaction to being chaperoned.

"Allegations by Mr Moyhing that he had been held back in his career development or that male nurses were considered second class citizens have been soundly rejected.

"The tribunal also acknowledged that Barts and London NHS Trust had adopted its policies for good and objective reasons."


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Wednesday, 07 June 2006 12:28
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NAMIBIA SUFFERS POLIO OUTBREAK
Namibia is suffering from its first polio outbreak in ten years, it has emerged.

"It is quite a setback for us. We were moving closer to achieving the status of polio eradication," health ministry official Dr Kalumbi Shangula said.

Seven people have died and 27 have been paralysed since mid-May. Most victims were aged over 20 and had missed out on under-five vaccination campaigns carried out since 1990.

Investigations have not been able to conclude whether the outbreak was due to faeces infested water or foodstuffs, or whether it had been brought in from outside the country.

"Preliminary results indicate a polio virus 1 Wild Type," Permanent Health Secretary Dr Shangula said

A mass public education and vaccination campaign targeting every citizen will be launched as soon as vaccines, logistics and financing have been arranged, he added.


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Tuesday, 06 June 2006 10:45
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
HEALTH FEARS OVER GIRLS' DIET
A survey has revealed that girls are living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles in a bid to lose weight.

The poll suggested that girls are skipping breakfast in order to slim down, while more and more are drinking spirits and experimenting with drugs such as cannabis.

The Schools Health Education Unit, an independent research group, has surveyed more than 700,000 pupil son health issues since 1977. In the last year, researchers questioned 17,743 pupils aged 10 – 15.

Almost 60 per cent of 14 and 15 year olds said they wanted to lose weight, despite the fact that the majority did not need to and some were even underweight.

Thirty per cent admitted they had skipped breakfast and 36 per cent of that group said they had missed lunch the previous day.

Nineteen per cent of the 14 – 15-year-old girls admitted to drinking one or more measures of spirits in the previous week. This compared to 13 per cent in 1991. For boys, 15 per cent had drunk spirits in the previous week compared to 13 per cent in 1991.

Five per cent of teenage girls knocked back five or more spirits in a week, 24 per cent drank at least one alcopop and 19 per cent had had at least one glass of wine. Four per cent had five or more glasses of wine in a week.

Slightly more teenage girls had consumed some alcohol in a week - 42 per cent compared to 40 per cent of boys of a similar age. And eight per cent drunk more than recommended levels.

Among younger age groups, eight per cent of 10 to 11-year-old boys had had an alcoholic drink in the last week compared to six per cent of their female counterparts.

Ten per cent of 12-13-year-old girls had smoked in the last week along with 24 per cent of the older girls. The figures for boys were six per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

Some 13 per cent of the older girls smoked up to 25 cigarettes a week and four per cent had 66 or more.

About one in five of boys and girls aged 14-15 had tried at least one drug.

Cannabis was the most popular among both sexes, with 24 per cent of girls aged 14-15 admitting to having tried it compared to 21 per cent of boys.

Six per cent of 12 to 13-year-old boys and girls have taken Cannabis and up to 17 per cent of 14 to 15-year-olds have mixed alcohol and drugs on the same evening.

Dr David Regis, research manager of the Schools Health Education Unit, said that some girls could be getting into difficulty due to their lifestyles.

He said: "Crash dieting and excess alcohol - if that's where they're going, then they will be storing up problems.

"If they're going to adopt this binge drinking culture of the current 18 to 24-year-olds, they're going to get into health problems later on."

He added: "To a certain extent, the girls are being precocious.

"They're probably mixing with older boys, they're looking at the behaviour of 18 to 24-year-olds and they're getting on with becoming like the generation above them."


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