One in four in UK self-diagnose claims new research

One in four people in the UK admit to self-diagnosing illnesses rather than make time for a doctor’s appointment according to research published today.

The research (by on-demand video GP service reveals that 21.8 percent of people have chosen to diagnose their symptoms on the web because they were unable to get a doctor’s appointment (11 percent) or because their GP wasn’t available quickly enough (10.8 percent).

It also suggests that the UK is becoming a nation of impatient patients, who are not willing to change plans to accommodate appointments to see their GP.

Additionally, the research reveals that the internet is now the first place people go for advice when starting to feel unwell, more so than their partner or a medical professional. This is true for all age groups under 65 years old.

“The findings indicate the extent to which people are now using technology to manage their health”, said Dr Adam Simon, chief medical officer at “As well as health searches being on the rise, 58 percent of people now actively use technology to manage their health and wellbeing on a daily basis.  22 percent use devices to monitor exercise and activity, 15 percent use tech to track their daily calorie intake and 12 percent to monitor sleep quality.

“People feel good about how technology is helping them to keep track of their health. 70 percent of people say that new technology helps them feel more in control or more aware of how to manage their health and wellbeing.”

The research was published in the UK Digital Health Report.


[ Readmore. ]

MRC and EPSRC make multi-million pound award to develop molecular pathology

A joint award of £16m to develop molecular pathology tests to help deliver stratified medicine in a wide range of disease areas has been made by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

In 2014, the MRC warned that while UK investment in stratified medicine reached nearly £200m in the last four years, the UK capacity for molecular pathology needed to be increased in order to capture the potential patient and economic benefits stratification offers.

In support of molecular pathology, the MRC and EPSRC have supported six nodes led by the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham. Each node brings researchers, clinicians and industry together to develop molecular diagnostic tools, to enable stratification, in disease areas such as cancer, respiratory diseases, digestive disease, infections, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus.

The six nodes are collaborating with 20 industrial partners, including leading diagnostic and instrumentation companies and innovative technology and data SMEs.

“As an integrated healthcare system underpinned by our £1billion per annum National Institute for Health Research expenditure, the NHS is perfectly placed to pioneer this field”, said minister for life sciences George Freeman. “This £16m investment will enhance our UK-wide capability to deliver 21st Century diagnostics and complement initiatives such as the Precision Medicine Catapult Centre to make sure that ground-breaking medicines and technologies are adopted by the NHS and delivered to patients as quickly as possible.”

Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive at the MRC, added: “These new tools are critical for selecting the right treatment for the right patient. Being able to precisely target a treatment means maximum benefit for the patient – they receive a treatment that works for them and with fewer unpleasant side-effects.  But it also delivers economic benefit because money and time are not wasted on ineffective treatments.” 

[ Readmore. ]

London care home placed into special measures by CQC

The Precinct Road care home in Hillingdon, London, has been rated as inadequate and been placed into special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following an inspection in June 2015.

CQC found the provider was failing to provide care which was safe, effective, caring, well-led and responsive to people’s needs. Specifically, the CQC found that the provider had not taken action to address high water temperatures in kitchen locations; an exposed hot radiator and poor condition flooring in several areas which presented a high risk of residents falling over, and being scalded or burned.

Furthermore, appropriate processes were not in place to monitor service quality or day to day operations, and CQC inspectors were made aware of three incidents of residents with unexplained bruising between Jan to March 2015.

Placement into special measures means that the Precinct Road care home must now make necessary improvements or face action that could result in closure.

“It is essential that the Precinct Road care home takes action to address the concerns we identified during the last inspection”, said Segun Oladokun, CQC’s head of adult social care inspection in London. “The provider has a responsibility to ensure that people living at the home receive care that is responsive to their needs and protection from the risk of harm at all times.

“When we are faced with a residential or nursing home that is failing to care for residents, our first instinct is to work with the provider to ensure that the service improves.

“We will re-inspect the home within six months to check whether sufficient improvements have been made. If sufficient improvements have not been made and there remains a rating of inadequate for any key question or overall, we will take further action which may include cancelling the registration of the service.”


[ Readmore. ]

Health Education England extends ultrasound workforce survey

Health Education England (HEE) has extended their call for information to help investigate and identify the extent of shortages in the ultrasound workforce.

Friday 31 July is the new deadline for organisations to submit their information.

The survey has been developed by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) to be completed by services or departments who perform ultrasound either as a direct service or as a tool within another service.

HEE recommends that the survey be completed by the department lead along with HR or the workforce planning lead.

By encouraging departments and leads to complete the survey, you will help ensure that the NHS has the right number of trained staff available to deliver both current and future ultrasound services.

Information is required for all staff groups who are involved in ultrasound service provision, not just sonographers. Departments are asked to provide numbers and levels of full-time equivalent (FTE) posts, including individuals in training, vacant or frozen posts, temporary/agency staff and any expected retirements.

The survey is available to complete on the CfWI website until Friday 31 July 2015.



[ Readmore. ]

Type 2 diabetes drug under investigation by EMA

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has launched a review into the safety of Type 2 diabetes medicines called SGLT2 inhibitors.

The review was requested by the European Commission following over a hundred cases of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in patients treated with canagliflozin, dapagliflozin and empagliflozin – medicines known as SGLT2 inhibitors.

The EMA says that patients who use these drugs should consult their doctor if they have any of the symptoms of DKA, which include excessive thirst, unusual fatigue, and confusion, or if their blood glucose levels go high.

Healthcare professionals who are treating patients with SGLT2 inhibitors are advised to: (i) inform patients of the symptoms and signs of DKA (e.g. nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, excessive thirst, difficulty breathing, confusion, unusual fatigue or sleepiness); (ii) test for raised ketones in patients with symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) even if plasma glucose levels are near normal; (iii) take appropriate measures to correct the DKA and to monitor glucose levels; and (iv) continue to report suspected side effects to SGLT2 inhibitors or any other medicines on a YELLOW Card.

“The number of reported cases of diabetic ketoacidosis in patients treated with SGLT2 inhibitors is very small”, said Simon O’Neill, Diabetes UK director of health intelligence. “However, it is important that patients consult their doctor if they feel unwell and their blood glucose levels go high. Patient safety is of paramount importance and we await the results of the European Medicines Agency investigation into the long-term safety of these drugs with interest.”

[ Readmore. ]

Dedicated fund needed to drive forward essential changes says new report

Health services in England need “a dedicated fund to finance and drive forward essential changes”, according to a new report launched this week by the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund.

The report – ‘Making change possible: A Transformation Fund for the NHS’ – arrives as the Department of Health releases its 2014/15 accounts which reinforce the financial challenges facing the NHS at this time.

The purpose of the Fund would be to enable the shift to new models of care as set out in the NHS five year forward view, as well as helping to unlock the efficiency savings required to balance the books.

The report explains that the Fund would not only deal with the current urgent need for service change but would, in the long-term, become a fundamental part of the NHS and the way it is funded.

Key findings from the report include: (i) the NHS needs a single body (whether within an existing organisation or newly created) to oversee the investment for transformative change in the NHS. It should have strong, expert leadership which is credible to clinicians and managers; (ii) the Transformation Fund requires £1.5–£2.1bn a year in dedicated funding between now and 2020/21.

“While we recognise that it is challenging to provide additional funding for the NHS in the context of other services receiving cuts, the alternative is to risk a decline in quality and safety in NHS-funded care and a reduction to the services currently available”, said Anita Charlesworth, Chief Economist at the Health Foundation. “Without more resources specifically for transformation, the NHS will be unable to become more productive and the bill for additional running costs will only get larger. The Transformation Fund should become a fundamental part of the DNA of the health service from here onwards.’

Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, added: “The fundamental task is to get a workforce of more than one million people to work differently. This would be a huge challenge at the best of times but is an even bigger task when services are under such intense pressure. This cannot be done within the existing resources – dedicated funding is required to deliver the changes needed.”

[ Readmore. ]

NHS launches new initiative to transform urgent and emergency care

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens alongside NHS Five Year Forward View partners today (Friday 24 July) announced the launch of eight new vanguards that will transform urgent and emergency care for more than nine million people.

The new vanguards, eight in all, are being introduced to build on recent success in improving trauma survival rates; they are tasked with changing the way in which all organisations work together to provide care in a more joined up way for patients.

It is planned that urgent care will be delivered, not just in hospitals but also by GPs, pharmacists, community teams, ambulance services, NHS 111, social care and others, and through patients being given support and education to manage their own conditions.

Another aim of the vanguards is to break down boundaries between physical and mental health to improve the quality of care and experience for all.

“Starting today, the NHS will begin joining up the often confusing array of A&E, GP out of hours, minor injuries clinics, ambulance services and 111 so that patients know where they can get urgent help easily and effectively, 7 days a week”, said NHS England’s Chief executive, Simon Stevens.

“That’s why we’re backing what our frontline nurses, doctors and other staff, in partnership with local communities, to radically redesign our urgent and emergency services.”

Today’s launch of the vanguards comes in the face of pressure on all NHS frontline emergency services, with increased A&E attendances and emergency admissions, and both ambulance and NHS 111 services facing rising demands.


[ Readmore. ]

New Swedish study finds missing one night’s sleep can affect health

A new study from Uppsala University, Sweden, has found that missing a single night’s, or suffering a bad night’s sleep, can have more serious implications than previously thought.

The study also reports that missing sleep can alter DNA molecules and change our cellular clocks.

“Sleep is vital for a variety of bodily functions”, says Dr Guy Leschziner, consultant neurologist at London Bridge Hospital. “We spend about 30 percent of our lives asleep, and without it death occurs in a few days. It is possible to survive longer without food than sleep.

“Sleep affects both psychological and physiological parameters. Lack of it, or disruption of it by sleep disorders, obviously affects sleepiness, but also has important consequences on fatigue, vigilance, mood, learning and memory, as well as motor coordination. It also affects immune function, cardiac rhythm, blood pressure, hormonal function, sensitivity to pain, and liability to seizures.”

Dr Leschziner also states that there is an increasing body of evidence that shows the role of sleep in heart disease, risk of stroke and risk of dementia. However, he is able to suggest a number of steps that can be taken at home to get a better night’s sleep.

He continued: “Keep your bed for sleeping. Don’t work, use a computer or watch TV in bed. Avoid exposure to bright light in the evenings – this lowers melatonin levels, your brain’s signal that it is time to go to sleep. Avoid caffeine after mid-afternoon. Exercise in the day, not directly before you go to bed.

“Avoid large carbohydrate-rich meals before bedtime – this can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels at night. Avoid excess alcohol – this can disrupt sleep directly, but also causes bladder distension at night and can worsen sleep apnoea. And try to keep your hours of sleep regular.”


[ Readmore. ]

NICE recommends use of device to reduce catheter-related infections

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended the use of a device to hold catheters in place securely, which reduces the risk of catheter -related infections and could save the NHS up to £10m a year.

The medical technology guidance advises using the 3M Tegaderm CHG IV securement dressing for critically-ill patients who need a central venous or arterial catheter in intensive care or high-dependency units.

The evidence considered showed that the Tegaderm CHG dressing offers better protection against catheter-related bloodstream infection than sterile semipermeable transparent dressings.

Professor Carole Longson MBE, director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation, said: “Catheters are commonly used in providing treatment or monitoring, so it’s important that they can be held in place securely while minimising infection risk to the patient.

“This guidance, developed by the independent Medical Technologies Advisory Committee, proposes recommending the use of 3M Tegaderm CHG IV securement dressings for catheters inserted into central veins and arteries. The guidance notes that this transparent technology enables the catheter insertion site to be seen clearly, and also provides antiseptic coverage.

“Bloodstream infections linked to central venous catheters increase patient illness, and increase costs for intensive care units. For hospitals and units that have a moderate rate of baseline catheter-related bloodstream infection, this technology could save an estimated £73 per patient instead of using a standard transparent semipermeable dressing. This saving is not possible if hospitals and units already have very low rates of infection.

“Hospitals should consider their infection rates to help them decide if investing in the dressing is right for them.”


[ Readmore. ]

MHRA issues warning over potentially faulty needles

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is asking people using steel cannula infusion sets to check them before and after use as the regulator believes there is a small risk of its needle breaking.

The needles are part of infusion sets, manufactured by Unomedical, which are used in hospitals and by people at home for the infusion of medicine through an external pump. They are primarily used by patients with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and for the treatment of chronic pain.

The following steel cannula infusion sets are affected: (i) SURE-T; (ii) SURE-T Paradigm; (iii) Contact Detach; (iv) Contact; (v) Sub Q; (vi) Neria; (vii) Neria Detach; (viii) Neria Multi; and (ix) Thalaset.

Users are being requested by MHRA to check the specific lot numbers of infusion sets prior to and after use and to follow our advice contained within the medical device alert. A healthcare provider should be contacted if a needle has broken off in-situ as medical attention may be required.

“This is a precautionary measure and the risk of the needle breaking is low”, said Dr Neil McGuire, clinical director at MHRA. “There are millions of these needles in use and we have had only a very small number of reports of them breaking.

“The manufacturer improved the design of the device over a year ago but we advise anyone who has had this problem or who is concerned to contact their specialist nurse or GP.”


[ Readmore. ]

MHRA told it can lead global drive to improve public health

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) can do more to place the UK at the forefront of a global drive to improve public health, according to a new report.

That’s the view of a new ‘Triennial Review’ of the agency which was tasked with investigating whether it remains fit for purpose and continues to deliver value for money for the UK taxpayer.

“There are some interesting challenges ahead, both domestically and globally, but the review has validated that we are well prepared to enthusiastically tackle them head on”, said MHRA chief executive Dr Ian Hudson.“Indeed, as the review highlights, we have already identified many of the areas where we can work smarter and strive for greater collaboration and efficiency, and we are already actively seeking improvements through our 2015/16 Business Plan.

“On behalf of all those who work in the agency, I strongly welcome the clear endorsement in the review of the agency’s fitness for purpose for the critical public health work that we do.”

The Triennial Review took place between November 2014 and May 2015 and was led by a small designated team within the Department of Health team working under the direction of an independent sponsor and project board.

[ Readmore. ]

Foundation trust sector ended the year in deficit says regulator

The foundation trust sector ended the year in deficit with over half of all foundation trusts losing money and a record one-fifth in breach of their licence according to health sector regulator Monitor’s annual report and accounts for 2014/15.

In his review of the year, Dr Bennett, Monitor’s chief executive, states that foundation trusts faced unprecedented demand for services, with a 6.5 percent growth in GP referrals and a 7.5 percent rise in ambulance calls.

“Experience has taught us that struggling trusts cannot resolve their difficulties alone: they need a concerted, long-term response from the various providers, commissioners and users of services who make up their local health economy,” he notes.

“Individual trusts, however, each need a reliable plan for the future and many are falling short on this. A review of trusts’ five-year strategic plans showed that only 30 percent would secure a sustainable future.”

The annual report also sets out how Monitor has developed capacity amongst foundation trusts to deal with the challenges they face and support them to prevent operational problems.

Dr Bennett continued: “Our priority has been to help local commissioners and providers redesign the way they deliver healthcare for longer-term sustainability while continuing to maintain their operational performance. All this has to be done by the sector in the face of increasing demand and constrained funding.”

[ Readmore. ]
This site uses cookies. Find out more about this site’s cookies.