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News In Brief 23 March 2009
NHS Hospital Offers ‘Champagne’ Childbirth in Private Wing
A London hospital is expanding its private maternity care, after its chief executive admitted that the NHS was unable to provide ‘calm and tranquility’, according to reports last week in the Evening Standard.
Chelsea and Westminster NHS foundation trust has set up a 16 bed wing offering ‘Rolls Royce’ treatment to fee-paying women.
Lawyers Draining Millions From The NHS
Lawyers working on a no-win, no-fee basis are being paid as muss as £800 per hour, an NHS authority claims.
Last year, the NHS Litigation Authority paid damages of £264m plus legal costs for the defence team and claimants of about £134m under the clinical negligence scheme for trusts.
The authority’s latest figures showed that the NHS’s potential liabilities in outstanding clinical negligence claims were nearly £12 billion, with potential legal fees of up to £3bn if half of the claims proved successful.
New Plans Will Allow Doctors To Sell Medicines For Profit
Doctors’ surgeries would be able to sell medicines to their patients for profit under plans drawn up by the Government.
Ministers are considering changing NHS rules to allow some GPs to sell ‘over-the-counter’ (OTC) products to patients for commercial gain for the first time.
The document also suggests a doctor’s formal approval may not be required for the sale of OTC medicines, raising the prospect of GPs’ receptionist selling the products to patients.
Surveillance Britain ‘Breaching Rights Laws On Quarter of Public Databases
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust published today claimed that a quarter of all the largest public-sector database projects, including the ID cards register, were fundamentally flawed and clearly breached European data protection and human rights laws.
The Database State report said that more than half of Whitehall’s 46 databases and systems, including the national DNA database and the Contactpoint index of all children in England, had significant problems with privacy or effectiveness and could fall foul of a legal challenge.
Suspended Doctor Earned £300,000
A senior doctor has earned about £300,000 from an NHS hospital for doing nothing more than three years while he was suspended over claims of his incompetence.
Sisiresh Chakarabarty, a consultant cardiologist, who worked at Ipswich Hospital, has been suspended on full pay since November 2005.
A General Medical Council hearing was eventually held in January and ruled htat the doctor had ‘deficiencies’.
Morning After Pill Web Sale Row
Women are being sold multiple morning-after pills over the internet in a move that MPs claim encourages unprotected sex.
The chemist chain, Lloyds pharmacy is to offer a service that allows women to buy up to three emergency contraceptive tablets without seeing a doctor or pharmacist. However, campaigners believe customers will be able to stockpile the drug for future use and have also expressed concern that pills could be inadvertently sold to children.
Antiobdy Treatment Hope For Leukaemia
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has approved rituximab, marketed under the nam MabThera, for use as a ‘first line’ treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
In trials, combining the drug with standard chemotherapy more than doubled the number of patients whose symptoms disappeared. The combination also halted progression of the disease for an extra 10.5 months.
The drugs will still have to win support from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence before it can be made available to NHS patients.
MabThera already has NICE approval as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and non-Hodkin’s lymphoma.
Cancer Drug May Cause Tumour Growth
New research published in the journal, Nature Medicine, suggests that cancer drugs known as angiogenesis inhibitors, which starve tumours of blood, can sometimes make the disease worse.
Some of the medicines, such as the kidney cancer drug, Sutent and Avastin, used for bowel, breast and lung cancer, have been marketed after proving their effectiveness in clinical trials. However, the research suggests that certain angiogenesis inhibitors may promote growth.
Scientists made the discovery after studying cilengitide, an experimental angiogenesis inhibitor that has not yet been licensed for patients.
A US FDA panel has backed a Johnson & Johnson and Bayer anti-clotting drug, saying its benefits in preventing blood clots outweighed risks of bleeding and possible liver injury.
Girls Three Times As Likely To Have Alcohol Poisoning
Three times as many teenage girls have been admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning as boys, according to official figures.
Increasing numbers of young children have also become victims of ‘binge drinking’ as 98 girls under the age of 14 were admitted to hospital last year. The disparity between genders appears to be particularly acute among teenagers.
A total of 4,439 girls aged 14-17 were seen by doctors for alcohol poisoning over the past five years, compared with 1,776 boys.
British Scientists To Create Synthetic Blood
Scientists in Britain to plan to become the first in the world to produce unlimited amounts of synthetic human blood from embryonic stem cells for emergency infection-free transfusion.
A major research project is to be announced this week that will culminate in three years with the first transfusions into human volunteers of ‘synthetic blood from the stem cells of spare IVF embryos.
Health Fears For Mobile Addicts
Millions of youngsters are spending up to six hours a day on their mobile phones, according to new research published yesterday.
The figures have prompted fears that the nation is sitting on a health time bomb.
Eight out of ten children are now addicted to their mobiles, despite growing concerns of an increased risk of developing cancer.
Calls To Helpline By Suicidal Children Triple
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has revealed that the number of suicidal children turning to ChildLine counsellors for help triple in five years, with nearly 60 a week using the service’s helpline.
One in 14 calls comes from a young person in need of urgent medical attention or who is in immediate danger.
Peas Can Lower Blood Pressure
Extracts from garden peas could be used as a food additive or supplement to reduce high blood pressure and kidney disease, according to scientists.
New research shows for the first time that concentrating extracts from the pea can have a dramatic effect on blood pressure and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The study presented at the American Chemical Society’s conference, is the first reporting that a natural food product can relieve the symptoms of kidney disease.
A Spoonful Of Yoghurt To Treat Stomach Ulcers
A type of yoghurt developed to cure stomach ulcers has proved effective in the first human trial.
If confirmed, a daily spoonful of fermented milk could replace drugs used to treat the condition.
An estimated five million people in Britain suffer from stomach ulcers.
Millions Of Travellers Vulnerable As Health Insurance Expires
Millions of travellers could be faced with expensive medical bills in Europe because they have let their health insurance cards run out, officials have warned.
Latest figures show that only 292,089 people have renewed their EHIC so far, meaning that more than 3 million people could accidentally travel to the Continent on an out of date card.