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NAPC News 7 June 2012
GMC Drive To Spot Failing Doctors
The medical regulator is to deploy new regional officers to take in a lead in investigating concerns about NHS doctors and GPs before official complaints are made, in an effort to spot earlier those medics whose clinical practice is failing or inadequate.
Big Fine For NHS Trust Over Data Leak
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined £325K by a data protection watchdog after highly sensitive files of tens of thousands of patients, including details of HIV treatment resulted in being sold on eBay.
The Trust’s IT service provider, Sussex Health Informatics Service was asked to destroy information on 1,000 hard drives in 2010. They were held in a room accessed by a key code at Brighton General Hospital. However, the task was handed to an unnamed individual sub-contractor, who did not wipe out the drives and took at least 252 out of the hospital.
AstraZeneca Eyes US Diabetes Specialist Amylin In $4bn Deal
AstraZeneca is thought to have made a $4bn takeover approach for Amylin, a US rival which specialises in diabetes drugs, Byetta and Bydureon.
Amylin has already rejected a $3.5bn approach from Bristol Myers Squibb, and it is understood that Merck and Sanofi are both also interested in the company.
For Astra, which declined to comment, the purchase would enable it to replace sales lost on existing drugs when patent protection expires. The company is facing a looming ‘patent cliff’ caused by a gap in the company’s drug development pipeline.
Police Want To See Teenage Girls’ Sexual Health Tests
Police forces in the north of England are trying to access data from teenagers’ sexual health records in an effort to tackle child grooming gangs.
About 8,000 tests are undertaken each month in Greater Manchester area’s sexual health centres, all of which are recorded on a database. Medical records can, in some circumstances, be shared with police.
The Night Cornwall Was Covered By One Serco Doctor
Staff and patients of the Serco-operated out of hours GP service in Cornwall have reacted negatively to claims by whistleblowers that only one doctor was on duty from midnight to 8am for the whole county on 29 May.
The local PCT said its contract with Serco did not specify how many doctors should be used overnight, but it expressed concerns over the allegations.
Nurses To Pay More
Plans by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to increase the annual registration fee for nurses and midwives by 58 per cent to £120 were attacked by health workers’ unions.
The Council said the increase was the only way it could afford to keep up with the rising numbers of fitness to practise referrals.
Sea Mines Of Chemotherapy Showing Promise
A new class of cancer drugs that may be more effective and less toxic than many existing treatments, which harness antibodies to deliver toxic payloads to cancer cells while largely sparing healthy cells, are a step toward the ‘magic bullet’ first envisioned by Paul Ehrlich, a German Nobel Laureate, about 100 years ago.
The new approach chemically attaches a toxin to the antibody, increasing its killing power, while reducing the need to give toxic drugs separately. After the antibody binds to a cancer cell, it is taken inside the cell like a Trojan horse, and the toxin is released.
It is noted that two antibodies linked to radioactive isotopes have been approved to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – Bexxar from GlaxoSmithKline and Zevalin from Spectrum Pharmaceuticals.
Why The Over 70s Need Their Greens
Researchers have found women in their 70s who ate plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and were active, lived longer than those who did no exercise and ate little fruit and vegetables.
Those who had the most healthy diet and did the most exercise were eight times more likely to live a further five years than their less active counterparts, said the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
New Breast Cancer Drug Stalls Disease
New research shows that the experimental breast cancer drug, T-DM 1, which explodes cancer cells from within can ‘stall’ the disease for three months and has fewer side effects.
Trial findings presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago showed the drug worked against the highly aggressive HER2- positive form of cancer and combines the drug Herceptin with chemotherapy in one dose. T-DM 1 is the first of its kind for breast cancer; it blocks cells’ growth while burrowing into them to release toxic chemotherapy.
In the trial of almost 1,000 patients, four in 10 responded to T-DM 1, compared with less than a third of those on standard treatment. Further trials in the US and Britain will be conducted, but the manufacturer, Roche, hopes to apply for a license by the end of the year.
Cervical Cancer Testing Falls
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has said that testing for the disease among women in England has fallen to a 10 year low.
Now fewer than 80 per cent of women take up the screening and more than one in five between 25 and 64 and one in three under 35 are not being tested. Women over 50 being screened fell below 80 per cent for the first time in 2010 and dropped even further last year.
How Marathon Scar The Heart
Marathon runners have been warned that extreme exercise can damage the heart, with ‘scars’ found in almost one in 10 athletes.
Researchers found that exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day is ideal, but beyond that there were ‘diminishing returns’. A review of research on endurance exercise by a team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, America, found that some athletes suffered temporary changes in heart functions that return to normal in the week after their race, but that others received permanent scarring.
Children With Three Parents Possible
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has begun a public consultation on changing the rules banning the creation of children with three genetic parents other than for research purposes.
The controversial technique would allow women with serious inheritable diseases, collectively known as mitochondrial diseases, to avoid passing them on to their children.
Circle Poised To Make Bid For Second NHS Hospital
The Chief Executive of Circle, the first private health care company to take over the day to day running of an NHS hospital, has said that it is poised to pitch for the management of another trust.
Nuneaton’s George Eliot hospital had already been exploring its options with potential partners, including Circle, Serco and Care UK, as well as three other NHS hospitals. Once the hospital has Department of Health approval, organisations will be invited to express formally their interest in becoming a trust partner through an operating franchise or variations on this model.
Health Managers Hold Back Cancer Cash
Thousands of people may face an early death from cancer because health authorities are failing to use special government funds to test for the disease.
Research has revealed almost half of the country’s primary care trusts are not spending £450 million of Whitehall funds specifically released to aid early cancer diagnosis, despite the UK still have some of the poorest cancer detection and survival rates in Europe.
A survey by the medical magazine, GP, found that half of 94 primary care trusts it questioned had taken no action to increase cancers screening services in 2011/12, despite pressure from the Department of Health. This has meant patients continue to exceed the national target to be tested within six weeks.
Row Over £30bn Bill To Purify Water System From Toxic Impact Of Contraceptive Pill
An EU water framework directive could require the UK to spend £30bn on removing synthetic hormones from contraceptive pills from the nation’s waterways and water supplies.
The European Parliament will take a final decision on the proposals, which have been criticised by Water UK, in November.
Ethinly 1 estradiol (EE2), the main active ingredient of contraceptive pill, can trigger a condition known as intersex in freshwater fish, which has caused significant drops in populations in many species, although no links have yet been made with human health. Water and pharmaceutical companies dispute the science involved and argue the costs are prohibitive.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry rejected the idea and disputed the scientific basis of the EU plans. ‘Feminisation of fish populations has been observed in a number of field surveys, but a detrimental impact on the level of those populations has not been established,’ said a spokesman.