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Cancer Increase Is Due To Ageing Population

Cancer Increase Is Due To Ageing Population

Cancer Increase Is Due To Ageing Population. Nearly a third of a million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, according to a UK charity.

Some 330,000 people were diagnosed with some form of the disease in 2011 – an increase of almost 50,000 per year over a decade. Researchers say an ageing population is one of the reasons for the increase.

Jessica Kirby from Cancer Research UK said: “People’s risk of cancer goes up significantly as we get older; the more older people we have in our population the more people will develop cancer.”

“There are other reasons for the rise as well; changes in risk factors for example. We know that more and more people are overweight compared to the past which is one of the key factors for cancers.”

But greater awareness, advanced technology and ongoing medical research means cancer is being detected earlier and those that have it are living longer.

An aging population is one reason for the increase

An aging population is one reason for the increase

Edward Scott believes an early diagnosis of testicular cancer saved his life. The 15-year-old discovered a lump last year and sought urgent advice.

“I went on the NHS website and I found all the symptoms for testicular cancer were symptoms that I had,” he said.

“The same day I went to my mum and said ‘Mum there is something really wrong, I have to go get this sorted out’.

“I went into the GP and the same day I found out I had cancer.”

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Dr Harpal Kumar said: “These figures reinforce the vital need for more research to better prevent, treat and cure cancer.”

“Research is the only way we’ll be able to reduce the devastating impact of the disease. One day we will beat cancer. The more research we do, the sooner that day will come.”
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Parents Of Girl With Rare Cancer Launch Appeal

Parents Of Girl With Rare Cancer Launch Appeal

Parents Of Girl With Rare Cancer Launch Appeal. The parents of a one-year-old girl desperately sick with an extremely rare form of leukaemia have said time is running out to find her a stem cell donor.

Margot Martini’s form of leukaemia is so rare her consultant haematologist has only seen three cases in the last decade.

Her parents Yaser, 43, and Vicki, 38, from Roehampton, southwest London, are making an urgent, worldwide appeal to find someone with the right tissue type to save her life.

moving online appeal has prompted thousands of responses, but the perfect match has still not been found.

Margot – who has two brothers, Oscar, six, and five-year-old Rufus – has spent the last 100 days being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

She is on her third round of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with the disease when she was 14 months old.

Mr Martini, a chartered surveyor in the pub and restaurant industry, said: “Margot needs to receive a stem cell donation from someone with a similar tissue type as hers. So we are on a worldwide search for a donor – and unfortunately, without much luck to date.”

Margot’s form of leukaemia has “dual lineage”, which means she has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and acute myeloid leukaemia.

Margot

Margot

Her best chance of beating the disease is to undergo a bone marrow transplant.

Mr Martini added: “Her tissue type is not uncommon, so a match could literally come from anywhere. We’re asking people to do something amazing: Register. Swab. Save a life. It could be Margot’s or someone else’s.”

“We embarked on this donor appeal knowing there was only a slim chance of finding a perfect match for Margot, but that’s better than no chance.”

Mrs Martini added: “We feel like we need to do everything we can for her. We don’t want to look back and think we haven’t done everything we can.”

“If you are prepared to take blood, stem cells or an organ from someone else, you should be prepared to give it back as well.”

They are asking donors to come forward, by organising a national “donor drive”, where volunteers register in the hope that doctors can find the perfect match.

Applicants have been asked to request saliva swab kits which they can use at home or to register as stem cell donors at one of a number of designated medical centres on one of three “donor days”.

A week after launching the campaign, Delete Blood Cancer UK said it had received more than 12,000 requests for swab kits.

Mr Martini said: “It is like oxygen to us that there has been this initial impact, but we are still seeking a perfect match.”
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Obesity: Scale Of Problem Underestimated

Obesity: Scale Of Problem Underestimated

Obesity: Scale Of Problem Underestimated. Britain’s obesity epidemic is worse than feared and urgent action is needed to tackle the problem, experts warn the Government.

The true scale of Britain’s obesity crisis may have been seriously underestimated, a report has found.

The National Obesity Forum said the UK is in danger of surpassing predictions of a 2007 report which estimated that 50% of the nation would be obese by 2050.

The organisation’s latest report calls on health officials to introduce hard-hitting awareness campaigns – similar to those for smoking – to try to curb the problem.

obesity overweight

Health experts are calling for urgent action to stem epidemic

It also called on family doctors to proactively discuss weight management with patients and to check waist circumferences.

The report said: “It is entirely reasonable to conclude that the determinations of the 2007 Foresight Report (i.e. that half the population might be obese by 2050 at an annual cost of nearly £50bn), while shocking at the time, may now underestimate the scale of the problem.”

Professor David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “We’re now seven years on from the Foresight Report.

“Not only is the obesity situation in the UK not improving, but the doomsday scenario set out in that report might underestimate the true scale of the problem.

Obesity: Scale Of Problem Underestimated

“There needs to be concerted action.

“There is a lot more we can be doing by way of earlier intervention and to encourage members of the public to take sensible steps to help themselves – but this goes hand in hand with government leadership and ensuring responsible food and drink manufacturing and retailing.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE), said: “Obesity is an international problem.

“It is a complex issue that requires action at national, local, family and individual level.

“Everyone has a role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of the public, and children in particular.

“PHE are committed to helping to tackle obesity through a range of approaches that support action on the local environment to make eating less and being more physically active easier.”

 

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Dementia: 15-Minute Test To Spot Signs Early

Dementia: 15-Minute Test To Spot Signs Early

Dementia: 15-Minute Test To Spot Signs Early. A new study backs the wider use of a home-based test designed to help doctors detect memory and thinking problems.

Around 800,000 people suffer from dementia in the UK

Around 800,000 people suffer from dementia in the UK

Test that can be completed in 15 minutes has been developed to help doctors spot the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

The test can be filled in online or on paper and tests language ability, reasoning, problem solving and memory.

It is designed to tackle one of the greatest challenges facing the health service in the coming few years.

Around 800,000 people in the UK already suffer from dementia and the number is due to increase as the population ages.

Currently, the disease can only be diagnosed through in-depth testing of a person’s cognitive abilities.

Patients have to carry out a series of complicated tests, usually overseen by a highly qualified expert.

The new test should help doctors or ordinary people identify as early as possible if there are any problems with their faculties so they can get a specialist assessment as soon as possible.

The test, called the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) was developed by Ohio State University College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.

An early study by Dr Doughlas Scharre of the Ohio State University Medical Center found SAGE could spot mild thinking and memory issues in 80% of those tested.

A new study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry screened 1,047 individuals aged over 50 using SAGE.

It found that, in finding signs of mild cognitive impairment in 28% of those screened, the test proved effective at assessing large numbers of people with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

The article in the journal said: “Community cognitive screening using SAGE was found to be feasible and efficient in diverse settings with both small and large groups.”

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, warned the test result should not be taken as a diagnosis.

He said: “Further research is needed to confirm whether the test would be suitable to assess and track changes in people’s memory and thinking skills.

“One drawback of this study is that the test was not compared with other existing cognitive tests.

“It’s important to note that the test is not designed to diagnose dementia, and people who are worried about their memory should seek advice from a doctor rather than attempting self-diagnosis with a test at home.

“Diagnosing the different diseases that cause dementia can be difficult in the earliest stages.

“Years of research are needed to develop any new diagnostic test, and this means continued investment in research is crucial.”

You can try two sample papers of the test here and here.

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If Sugar is The ‘New Tobacco’… What Are The Alternatives?

If Sugar is The ‘New Tobacco’… What Are The Alternatives?

If Sugar is The ‘New Tobacco’… What Are The Alternatives?

  • Refined sugar, sucrose, is made up of two molecules, glucose and fructose
  • Fructose excess converts to fatty acids and causes unhealthy reactions
  • Here we examine an array of healthier natural sugar substitutes

Given this week’s headlines describing it as the ‘new tobacco’, you might be forgiven for thinking sugar is toxic – but in fact we simply need to moderate our intake.

‘Refined table sugar, sucrose, is made up of two molecules – glucose and fructose,’ says nutritionist Laura Thomas. ‘Glucose is absorbed and used by all organs, while fructose is metabolised only by the liver. Our bodies can deal with only small amounts – an excess converts to fatty acids and causes biochemical reactions detrimental to our health.’

Here we examine an array of natural sugar substitutes that can contain fewer calories, and act in different ways when broken down during digestion.

sugar

You might be forgiven for thinking sugar is toxic – but in fact we simply need to moderate our intake

You might be forgiven for thinking sugar is toxic – but in fact we simply need to moderate our intake

Stevia

WHAT IS IT? A herb used for centuries in its native South America. Derived from the plant’s leaves and available in liquid or powder form, it is now used in snacks and some soft drinks.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘Stevia is about 300 times sweeter than table sugar and has virtually no calories,’ says Thomas. ‘It contains no fructose and gets its sweetness from two other types of sugar molecules called stevioside and rebaudioside.’

USE FOR A good fructose-free substitute in tea.

TRY SweetLeaf Stevia Natural Sweetener, £11.99 for 115g, healthy supplies.co.uk.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 10/10

Coconut Palm Sugar

WHAT IS IT? Granules distilled from the coconut tree. Sap from  the palm flower buds is heated  until the liquid evaporates, leaving behind the sugar.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘Coconut sugar takes longer to be broken down so will not cause such a spike in your insulin levels,’ says Thomas. ‘Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are normal but over time raised insulin can lead to insulin resistance. This product is high in calories at 375 per 100g, and it also contains 35 per cent fructose.’

USE FOR A brown sugar substitute, especially  in baking.

TRY Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, £4.49, healthysupplies.co.uk.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 5/10

Stevia

Stevia

Date sugar

Date sugar

Coconut sugar

Coconut sugar

Date Sugar

WHAT IS IT? Derived from dehydrated dates, it comes as a powder, paste or syrup.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘This has all the nutritional benefits of dates with fibre, vitamins and minerals,’ says Thomas. ‘It is relatively close to the natural form of whole unprocessed dates and the fibre helps slow the blood sugar response. Dates are high in calories though, so watch your intake.’

USE FOR A crumbled topping on desserts or added to porridge. It’s also brilliant  in sticky toffee pudding.

TRY Date Sugar, £8.60 for 454g, vitaminsuk.com.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 7/10

Honey

WHAT IS IT? Honey is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. Available either set or runny.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘Honey contains vitamins, minerals and antibacterial properties,’ explains Thomas. ‘But while higher in nutrients than normal sugar, it’s still high in calories – 330 calories per 100g, against 400 in sugar. It’s also moderately high in fructose at 35-40 per cent.’

USE FOR A substitute for sugar in bakes such as brownies and as a porridge topping.

TRY Tiptree Scottish Heather Honey, £5.49 for 340g, redmoped.co.uk.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 6/10

Brown Rice Syrup

WHAT IS IT? This comes from boiling brown rice with enzymes to break down the starch. The resulting substance is then cooked to produce a sweet syrup.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘Brown rice syrup contains complex carbohydrates, maltose and a small amount of glucose, which means it is released more slowly into the bloodstream, making it healthier than sugar,’ says Thomas. ‘It’s low in fructose at around 3-4 per cent.’

USE FOR Homemade granolas.

TRY Crazy Jack Organic Brown Rice Syrup,  £2.29 for 330g, auravita.com.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 3/10

Tiptree honey

Tiptree honey

Brown rice syrup

Brown rice syrup

Agave syrup

Agave syrup

Agave Syrup

WHAT IS IT? A sweet, honey-like liquid that comes from the heart of the agave plant, grown in Mexico.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘Agave has been hailed as a godsend because of its low impact on blood sugar levels and as it has nearly 25 per cent less calories than sugar at 310 per 100g,’ says Thomas. ‘However, depending on how it’s manufactured, it can be up to 90 per cent fructose.’

USE FOR Although often found in ‘healthy’ products and brands, agave syrup can be very refined so less processed sweeteners may be preferable. You only need a little bit.

Meridian Maple Syrup

Meridian Maple Syru

Meridian molasses

Meridian molasses

TRY The Groovy Food Company’s Premium Agave Nectar, £3.35, 250ml, holland andbarrett.com.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 9/10

Maple Syrup

WHAT IS IT? Syrup produced  from the starch-rich sap of  maple trees.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘Maple  syrup has a higher impact on  blood sugar than other substitutes,’ reveals Thomas. ‘It is about half fructose. It also contains calcium, manganese and iron. Although nutrition varies between different grades, two tablespoons can provide 22 per cent of your RDA of manganese, an essential nutrient  for bones.’

USE FOR A sauce for pancakes and other desserts. Adds a unique flavour to dishes.

TRY Meridian Organic Maple Syrup, 330g, £6.49, healthysupplies.co.uk.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 7/10

Molasses

WHAT IS IT? A thick by-product of turning sugar cane into white sugar, resulting from the repeated boiling of the plant’s extracted juice.

IS IT GOOD FOR ME? ‘This has one of the best nutritional profiles as a 28g serving contains at least 10 per cent of your recommended daily intake of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc,’ explains Thomas. ‘It also has fewer calories than refined sugar.’

USE FOR Pancakes, cakes or biscuits when you want a deep, distinctive flavour.

TRY Meridian Natural Molasses Pure Cane.  £2.89 for 740g, hollandandbarrett.com.

SWEET AS SUGAR? 6/10

Rosie Boycott

Rosie Boycott

It tastes sublime – but it’s as addictive as drugs

By Rosie Boycott

I’ve just made a cup of coffee and I added half a spoonful of sugar. Not that good, but better than a year ago when I would have added almost two.

I’ve been working on cutting down my sugar intake for more than 12 months and it’s tough. It’s not just that I like sweet stuff.  It’s that sugar is everywhere: in sauces, pizzas, low-fat yogurts and ‘healthy’ smoothies, as I warned readers last June.

But this week has brought even more news to add to my resolve: sugar is not just making us fat,  it’s also directly linked to some cancers and to dementia. Current guidelines from the World Health Organisation state that sugar should only account for ten per cent of our diets. Now scientists are saying it should be half that figure.

But sugar and sweet things are delicious. Mother’s milk is sweet. We’re reared to want it, so much so that sweetness acts on our palate in similar ways to addictive drugs act on our bodies. Manufacturers know this better than we do, spending fortunes marketing junk food with the right mix of sweet flavours to ensure we keep eating even when we’re not hungry. How would they  make fat profits if we only bought exactly what we needed to eat every day?

I would love to see the sugar content of foods mandatorily decreased, to a point where staying within the guidelines became the easy way to shop and eat. Two hundred years ago, we ate almost 4 lb (1.8kg) of sugar a year – that figure has since doubled.

Flashback: The Mail On Sunday last year

David Gillespie, the Australian author of the bestselling book Sweet Poison,  would like to ban sugar altogether. If you can’t manage that, then try to avoid products where the sugar is one of the top  two ingredients, such as Sugar Puffs which contain more than 1oz (30g) in a single serving.

Just as I look at Mad Men and marvel at the incredible amount everyone smokes, so I think that in 20 years we will look back and wonder how we could have been so dumb as to consume so much of this calorie-heavy substance which is triggering a global health crisi

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NHS needs £1bn for longer GP opening hours

NHS needs £1bn for longer GP opening hours

NHS needs £1bn for longer GP opening hours More than 20,000 extra GPs, nurses and other NHS staff are needed if the Prime Minister wants his plan for longer surgery opening hours to work, the head of the Royal College of GPs has warned.

In her first major TV interview since taking up the post, Dr Maureen Baker said that GPs needed an extra £1bn of taxpayers’ money to recruit sufficient staff to keep practices open seven days a week.

Without the extra money, the NHS risks becoming unsustainable as GPs and hospitals struggle to cope with the extra demand from patients over the winter months, she said.

“If we were to move to seven days a week we would need 10,000 more GPs.”

“We probably need the same number of practice nurses and a proportionate number of support staff.”

“We don’t think seven days a week is realistic.”

Dr Baker took over as head of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in November, a month after the Prime Minister declared his intention to get GPs to work more hours.

According to the British Medical Association (BMA), there are just over 40,000 GPs currently working in the UK.

The RCGP wants that figure to rise by a quarter.

In a dire assessment of the current state of GP practices, Dr Baker said family doctors feel “besieged” as they struggle to deal with the influx of patients, particularly in the winter months.

“It is constant demand with very little let-up,” she said.

“We know our colleagues are working 11 to 12-hour days, and that is really difficult to do day after day when it is a job you need to be on top form for.”

“They are feeling pressurised and besieged and looking for a bit of respite.”

She said GPs need more resources, adding: “The consequence (of not having extra resources) will be the winter pressure effect that comes up every year gets longer and longer.”

“My fear is the whole of the NHS becomes unsustainable due to the failure to properly invest in general practice.”

She also criticised the Government’s £500m handout to hospitals to help them cope this winter.

David Cameron wants longer opening hours for GP surgeries

David Cameron wants longer opening hours for GP surgeries

“It wasn’t the best use of money. It was a short-term fix, finger-in-the-dyke stuff,” she said.

“There is nothing about the use of that money that will stop the same pressures emerging again and again.”

In October, the Prime Minister said he would like GP surgeries to open from 8am until 8pm and at weekends to fit in with the lifestyles of working people.

He said: “Sometimes people using accident and emergency really just need to see a GP.”

“But for hard-working people it is often too difficult because you are at work, you can’t get an appointment at the time that fits.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “GPs do a vital job which is why we increased their overall budget last year as part of our protection of NHS funding.

“We have made £50m available to help innovative GPs to extend their services and stay open longer – either on their own or by working with other local practices.”

“We have also asked Health Education England to see how we can get 50% of medical students to become GPs.”

Some GP surgeries are testing out new ways of working to improve waiting times for appointments.

Under a system devised by the organisation Patient Access, GPs call back patients within an hour of them ringing the surgery.

Within a week of introducing the system GPs at the Phoenix Surgery in Swindon were dealing with 60% of patients over the phone.

The rest were given same-day appointments for a face-to-face consultation.

Dr Peter Swinyard said: “I can deal with two or three patients in the time it used to take me to deal with one.”

“I was terrified. You have been working in a certain pattern for 29 years and now you’re doing something different.”

“But we are providing a better service, a service that patients have a right to expect.”
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Call For Widespread Test To Detect CJD

Call For Widespread Test To Detect CJD

Call For Widespread Test To Detect CJD. MPS have launched an inquiry to check the safety of donor blood after hearing new evidence on the human form of mad cow disease.

The Commons Science and Technology Committee was responding to a study that revealed one in every 2,000 people in the UK could be carrying variant CJD.

Christine Lord’s son Andrew died from the disease which causes degenerative brain disorder.

She said: “Every single minute of the day there was relentless pain and memory loss. He was unable to move, unable to walk and unable to talk. Then he would get light bulb moments where he would ask what was happening.”

“The public think it’s gone away but it hasn’t. Andrew could be any mum’s son and unfortunately there will be more Andrews.”

Variant CJD is thought to be caused by prion proteins in the brain.

These infectious agents can clump together and destroy cells which causes holes in brain tissue.

Infected blood transfusions could spread the infectious agent causing CJD

Infected blood transfusions could spread the infectious agent causing CJD

How many people in the UK carry these prions is unclear, but the latest study in the British Medical Journal estimates it could be as many as one in every 2,000.

At the moment donor blood isn’t tested for the disease.

Dr Simon Mead, from University College London, said: “What we fell would be right is to move towards a way to screen people who are silent carriers from blood donation and to identify them prior to organ donation for example. That way the infection wouldn’t be spread further.”

The Department of Health says it is supporting studies into how widespread vCJD is. It points out there has only been one case in the last three years.

But Mrs Lord believes more testing is needed.

“When Andrew was ill with vCJD and started to get very ill he said mum find out why I’ve become so ill and make sure no one else ever gets this,” she said.

“He died in my arms and I buried him three days before Christmas in the cathedral where I used to watch his nativity plays. No mother should have to go through that.”

According to data released by the Health Protection Agency, 177 people in the UK have died from vCJD after eating contaminated beef.

Cases have tailed off in recent years with none reported last year and only one so far in 2013.

But previous studies have found that many others are harbouring the infection without developing clinical symptoms.

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Third Of GPs Agree With £10 Charge For A&E Visits

Third Of GPs Agree With £10 Charge For A&E Visits

Third Of GPs Agree With £10 Charge For A&E Visits. A third of GPs are in favour of making people pay if they make unnecessary visits to hard-pressed accident and emergency departments.

A new survey asked GPs whether people should pay £5 or £10 for each visit, with the money being refunded if their attendance was found to be justified.

The poll was carried out by the Press Association for Doctors.net.uk, an online network for doctors, and involved canvassing 800 GPs across England.

One in three (32%) family doctors said introducing patient fees for some visits would be the most cost effective way of cutting unnecessary A&E attendance.

Four in 10 (39%) said placing a GP surgery, with extended opening hours, adjacent to every emergency department would help reduce the numbers seeking A&E help and cut spiralling hospital admissions.

Another 11% thought more NHS walk-in centres would help ease the strain, while 8% believed that an improved 111 phone service – set up to replace NHS Direct – could provide the answer.

People using the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham were sceptical about paying for A&E.

George Price said: “It might stop people going because of the cost and others might think that paying a tenner was a good deal to be seen by an A&E doctor, it sounds like a bad idea to me.”

Carole Bailey, who was visiting a relative, had reservations about how it would work.

She said: “Who is going to say someone is wasting their time?”

“Most people who go must think they are really ill and where do you draw the line?”

Dr Tim Ringrose, chief executive of Doctors.net.uk, said: “It may be a clear departure from the traditional NHS vision, but many doctors are now saying that radical action has to be taken to reverse the ‘free at the point of abuse’ culture that is a key contributor to the current emergency care crisis in some areas.”

Helen Stokes-Lampard, from the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Charging patients for the use of emergency departments would put us on the slippery slope towards the Americanisation of healthcare – where only those who can afford it get the care and attention they need.”

“Doctors have a duty to provide healthcare to patients regardless of their ability to pay.”

“Patients seek healthcare when they are at their most vulnerable and if they attend A&E, it is usually because they don’t know where else to turn.”

“Emergency departments are really struggling but the way to solve the crisis is to adequately fund general practice, so that family doctors can provide more care for patients in the community.”

“GPs conduct 90% of the NHS contacts for just 8.39% of the NHS budget.”

“If general practice was better funded many people who are seen in emergency departments could be seen by a local GP.”

The survey revealed the overwhelming majority believed changes announced by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in November regarding GP contracts would do little to ease the pressure on A&E units.

It also found that three quarters of GPs (74%) disagreed that giving older people a named GP would cut the numbers ending up in A&E.

Just one in 10 doctors agreed this would help alleviate pressures on the system.

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Row Over NHS Too Powerful To Criticise Claim

Row Over NHS Too Powerful To Criticise Claim

Row Over NHS Too Powerful To Criticise Claim. The chairman of the NHS watchdog has sparked a political row after saying the health service has become “too powerful to criticise”.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) boss David Prior says people have become scared of complaining about poor care.

He warned the service’s perceived status as a “national religion” fuelled the problem and some areas of care were “out of control” because honesty about failings was not tolerated.

Even the most senior staff were afraid of speaking out despite millions of patients receiving a “wholly unsatisfactory” service from GPs and hospitals, Mr Prior added.

But Labour, which created the CQC when in government, denied the NHS is ‘too powerful’ to be criticised.

It is precisely the watchdog’s role to identify problems and failures and ensure criticism was used to improve patient care, according to the opposition.

David Prior

David Prior

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph Mr Prior said of the NHS: “It became too powerful to criticise. When things were going wrong people didn’t say anything. If you criticised the NHS – the attitude was how dare you?”

“No organisation should be put on such a high pedestal that it is beyond criticism. Now it is getting more honest about our failings – which I think makes it more likely that we will address them.”

Mr Prior said he has found a “chillingly defensive” culture where even the most “alpha male surgeons” felt frightened to speak out for fear of ending their careers.

“I had not realised that the culture in some of our hospitals was so damaged,” he said. “That was an awakening.”

He called for the “out of control” system of emergency care to be made a priority for reform and said it was “wholly unsatisfactory” that so many patients struggled to get an appointment with their GP.

And Mr Prior branded Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt “crazy” for telephoning round hospital chief executives who had missed A&E targets.

He said: “Of course he’s doing it, because he’s held accountable but what it all leads to is more money being put into A&E departments when that money should probably be put into primary and community care to stop people falling ill.”

Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: “The focus now needs to be on the winter crisis engulfing A&E. When Labour left office 98% of patients were seen within 4 hours, but the Government continues to miss its own lowered A&E target.”

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France Implants Its First Artificial Heart

France Implants Its First Artificial Heart

France Implants Its First Artificial Heart. An artificial heart that can give patients up to five years of extra life has been successfully implanted for the first time.

The heart, powered by watch-style batteries that can be worn externally, was put into a patient at Paris’s Georges Pompidou Hospital.

It uses a range of “biomaterials”, including bovine tissue, to reduce the likelihood of the body rejecting it.

Unlike previous artificial hearts, created mainly for temporary use, the design by the French Carmat biomedical firm is intended to replace a real heart for as many as five years.

French medics said the unnamed male patient who received the device was awake and responding well after an operation on Wednesday. Marcello Conviti, the chief executive of Carmat, said: “We are delighted with this first implant, although it is premature to draw conclusions given that a single implant has been performed and that we are in the early post-operative phase.”

The artificial heart, developed with the help of engineers from the Dutch-based European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), weighs 2lbs — almost three times as much as an average healthy human heart. It mimics heart muscle contractions and contains sensors that adapt the blood flow to the patient’s moves.

Inside the heart, surfaces that come into contact with human blood are made partly from bovine tissue instead of synthetic materials such as plastic, which can cause blood clots.

The new device could help thousands of people who die each year while waiting for a donor, including many in Britain. Nearly 100,000 people in Europe and the United States are in need of a heart transplant, according to Carmat. The company claims its device should enable hospital patients to return home and possibly even resume work.

Prototype of the artificial heart

Prototype of the artificial heart

Alain Carpentier, the surgeon who performed the implant, said: “It’s about giving patients a normal social life with the least dependence on medication as possible.”

“We’ve already seen devices of this type but they had a relatively low autonomy. This heart will allow for more movement and less clotting. The study that is starting is being very closely watched in the medical field.”

Heart failure affects more men than women, and the size of the artificial heart means it can fit in 86 per cent of men’s bodies but only about 20 per cent of women. However, Carmat says it can manufacture a smaller version to fit the more petite bodies of women as well as patients in India and China.

The artificial heart will raise France’s reputation as a country at the forefront of medical innovation.

In 2005, surgeons in France performed the first face transplant on Isabelle Dinoire, whose features were badly mutilated by a dog.

Marisol Touraine, France’s health minister, was quick to praise the operation as a sign of the country’s edge in the field of health care.

“This news brings great pride to France,” he said. “It shows we are pioneers in health care, that we can invent, that we can carry an innovation that will also bring great hope to plenty of people.”

Carmat won permission from the French authorities to test the human implants on four patients in three hospitals last September.

All were suffering from terminal heart failure.

While the intention is for each heart to keep a patient alive for five years, the success of the device in the trials will be judged on whether they survive with the implant for at least a month.

Carmat hopes to finish human trials of the heart by the end of next year and to obtain approval to market the devices in the EU by early 2015.

It is expected to cost €140,000 (£120,000) to €180,000 (£150,000) if and when it goes on sale in Europe. The company’s shares have risen fivefold since floating on the Paris stock market in 2010.

Among Carmat’s competitors in the race to perfect artificial heart implants are the privately-owned company, SynCardia Systems, and Abiomed, both of the United States.

The longest a patient has lived with a SynCardia heart is just under four years.

A spokesman for SynCardia said: “We’re very happy for them and we wish them the best in their pursuit.”

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