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Expert Witness : Medico Legal

Francis Review seeks the views of those on the front line

Sir Robert Francis QC has been seeking the views of health workers and associated agencies who have had experiences - both good and bad - of raising concerns in the NHS.

The consultation, which ran until 10 September, formed part of the review Freedom and Responsibility to Speak Up: An Independent Review into Creating an Open & Honest Reporting Culture in the NHS.

The review was set up as part of a package of measures announced in June to consider what further action is necessary to protect NHS workers who speak out in the public interest and help to create the kind of open culture that is needed to ensure safe care for patients.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:10

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Health experts encouraged by initial primary school flu pilot results

Initial results of the uptake and impact of the child flu vaccine pilot programme launched last year by Public Health England (PHE) are encouraging, according to an article published in Eurosurveillance.

In 2012 the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised extending the national flu immunisation programme to all children from the age of two to less than 17 years. In addition to protecting healthy children from flu, the extension aimed to reduce the spread of flu and protect younger siblings, grandparents and those who are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from flu.

As a first step in the extension of the programme, last year all children aged two and three years were offered flu vaccination, while children aged between four and 11 years were vaccinated in seven pilot areas in England in 2013/14. A total of 104,792 primary age children received at least one dose of a nasal spray flu vaccine or a needle vaccine for the small number of children unable to receive the nasal spray vaccine. That represented an overall uptake of 52.5% in the target group.

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 June 2014 20:00

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Health experts act to contain drug-resistant infections

Experts at Public Health England (PHE) have launched a toolkit for hospitals to detect, manage and control antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections caused by carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE).

The use of many different types of antibiotics in hospitals creates evolutionary pressures that encourage the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This process is a natural consequence of the use of antibiotics and cannot be stopped, only managed.

Enterobacteriaceae are a group of bacteria carried in the gut of all humans and animals, which is perfectly normal. While they are usually harmless they may sometimes spread to other parts of the body such as the urinary tract or into the bloodstream (bacteraemia) where they can cause serious infections.

This can occur after an injury or via the use of medical devices such as urinary catheters or intravenous drips where the skin is punctured allowing the bacteria to get into the body.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 19:59

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National GP data extraction project delayed following doctors’ concerns

Picture of a keyboard for Your Expert Witness storyNHS England has announced it is postponing the extraction of data from the medical records of general practice patients until the autumn.

The decision follows talks between the BMA and NHS England over GPs’ concerns that their patients were unaware of the implications of the care.data scheme, which was due to be implemented in April.

The BMA has welcomed the postponement. It has said it supports the use of anonymised data to improve healthcare services, but fears had been growing about the public awareness levels. Doctors’ leaders said the decision to delay implementation would benefit patients and GPs by allowing NHS England more time to demonstrate the benefits of the scheme, including safeguards to protect anonymity and the right to opt out entirely.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 March 2014 09:08

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G8 health experts reach agreement on dementia

Picture of Jeremy Hunt for Your Expert Witness storyOn 11 December leaders of health services and scientists from the world’s leading economies met in London to discuss a co-ordinated approach to combat dementia – the first G8 summit on a specific illness since HIV. The summit was called by the UK as part of its G8 presidency and saw agreement on a package of measures to tackle the growing global health, social and economic crisis of dementia. Currently 36 million people across the world have the condition and the World Health Organisation predicts that numbers will nearly double every two decades.

Speaking at the Summit, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re in London or Los Angeles, in rural India or urban Japan – dementia steals lives; it wrecks families, it breaks hearts and that is why all of us here are so utterly determined to beat it.

“In generations past, the world came together to take on the great killers. We stood against malaria, cancer, HIV and AIDS and we are just as resolute today. I want 11 December 2013 to go down as the day that the global fight-back began.”

RAAs a result of the summit on dementia, the participant countries agreed to:

• Set an ambition to identify a cure or a disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025 – backed by a commitment to together significantly increase the amount spent on dementia research and increase the number of people involved in clinical trials and studies on dementia

•Establish a new Global Envoy for Dementia Innovation, following in the footsteps of global envoys on HIV and AIDS and on climate change. The Global Envoy will bring together international expertise to stimulate innovation and co-ordinate international efforts to attract new sources of finance, including exploring the possibility of a new private and philanthropic fund to support global dementia innovation

• Develop an international action plan for research – in particular to identify current gaps and how to fill them

• Share information and data from dementia research studies across the G8 countries to work together and get the best return on investment in research

• Encourage open access to all publicly-funded dementia research to make data and results available for further research as quickly as possible.

In a précis of the communique issued after the summit, the Department of Health said that greater investment in research, focusing research where there is more to learn and greater sharing of data will mean everyone understands more and can move towards better treatment and cures – in the same way that medicine has made great strides in tackling diseases like HIV and cancer.

However, simply increasing spending on dementia research will not be enough, which is why there will be an action plan on how the G8 countries will work together to fill the gaps and opportunities in dementia research with the ultimate aim of finding a cure or disease-modifying treatment by 2025.

In his closing address, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) pointed to the cost of dementia globally: an ‘astounding’ $604bn or about one per cent of the world’s GDP.

However, he said, it isn’t just an economic problem – the impact the disease has on those diagnosed with dementia and on their families, their carers and their friends cannot be measured.

Dr Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, said:

“WHO warmly welcomes the aims and outcomes of this summit, with its ground-breaking proposals to stimulate research and development to catch up with a runaway human tragedy. WHO’s priority will be to help countries, especially in the developing world, cope with their rapidly ageing populations and escalating numbers of people with dementia.”

The participant countries will come together throughout 2014 to build on the commitments agreed at the summit. In March the UK will hold an event on how to get greater investment and finance in innovative care. This will be followed by an event in Japan on what new care and prevention models could look like and an event hosted by Canada and France on industry partnerships between academe and industry. The G8 countries will then meet in the US in February 2015 with other global experts, including WHO and OECD, to review the progress that has been made on this research agenda.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 January 2014 12:25