Too many babies born with drug addiction in NE Scotland

by Admin 7. August 2014 10:08

Recent figures have shown a high number of babies born with drug addiction in North East Scotland.

A report by Information Services Scotland has shown that between 2009 and 2012, 8.1% of babies released from hospital in the north east of the country had a recorded incidence of drug misuse.

While NHS Highlands region recorded 5% of neo-natal discharges having drug issues, NHS Grampian admitted that, in the past year, 46 new born babies had inherited addictions from their mothers.

Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said the findings were “extremely tragic” and urged health boards “to do more to ensure this is stamped out”.

“Heroin addicted mothers need to be helped at the very earliest stage, and have it made abundantly clear to them just how selfish and irresponsible a legacy they are leaving for their unborn child.”

In response to the criticism, a spokesman for NHS Grampian said: “Our aim is to identify women and their partners who abuse substances in the ante natal period, as a means of reducing harm for them and their unborn baby.”

“At all times, the safety of the child is paramount,” she stressed.

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News | NHS

EU approval for Roche's Avastin ovarian cancer indication

by Admin 6. August 2014 14:11

Roche’s blockbuster drug Avastin has been approved by the European Commission in a new ovarian cancer indication.

The Commission has approved Avastin’s use in combination with paclitaxel, topotecan or pegylated liposomal doxorubicin chemotherapy as a treatment for women with recurrent ovarian cancer that is resistant to platinum-containing chemotherapy.

This is the first new treatment option to be made available for this most difficult-to-treat form of ovarian cancer in over 15 years.

Data from the phase III Aurelia study showed that the addition of Avastin to chemotherapy offered a clinically meaningful benefit, nearly doubling the median progression-free survival rate.

Dr Sandra Horning, Roche's chief medical officer and head of global product development, said: "European approval of Avastin for recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer is good news, because Avastin can help women live longer without their cancer progressing, which is an important treatment goal in advanced disease."


Phone medical consults “don’t cut the pressure” on GPs

by Admin 6. August 2014 12:19

Over-the-phone medical consultations do not take the pressure off busy GPs, a new study has revealed.

They were reporting the findings of a two-year study into the effectiveness of telephone consultations, or triage, with a GP or a nurse in place of face-to-face appointments. 

Telephone consultations are being used more often in an attempt to manage GP workload in general practice and cut down on unnecessary face-to-face appointments. Around 12% of GP consultations are now done by phone - a four-fold increase over the last 20 years.

The study, carried out by researchers from University of Exeter Medical School and the Universities of Oxford, East Anglia, Bristol and Warwick, explored how many follow-up contacts were made with the GP surgeries over a 28-day period after a patient called to request a same-day appointment.

42 practices caring for nearly 21,000 patients were included in the study. Researchers found that instead of saving time and money, the phone service actually increased the workload. 

People who had received a call from their GP or nurse made significantly more contacts with health professionals at the surgery over the following 28 days (average 2.65 and 2.81 contacts respectively) compared with patients in the surgeries receiving the usual care (1.91 further contacts).

Following a call from the GP, there was a decrease in the number of face-to-face consultations with the GP, but the number of further telephone conversations increased ten times over.

Despite the failure of the phone service to reduce the workload for GPs, the study found that there was no difference in terms of quality of care.

The researchers concluded that telephone triage may well be useful in helping delivery of care in general practice, but the possible implications for the whole system should be assessed when considering introducing such a scheme.


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General | News | NHS

Roche acquires Santaris Pharma

by Admin 6. August 2014 10:03

Roche has announced the successful takeover of Santaris Pharma in a deal worth up to $450 million (266.62 million pounds).

The takeover deal will close later this month and will see Roche make an upfront cash payment of $250 million, plus additional contingent payments of up to $200 million based on the achievement of certain predetermined milestones.

The Danish biopharmaceutical company, based near Copenhagen, is best known for the development of its proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) platform, which has contributed to an emerging era of RNA-targeting therapeutics.

Roche plans to keep Santaris Pharma's current base in Denmark, but will rename it the Roche Innovation Centre Copenhagen.

John Reed, head of Roche pharmaceutical research and early development, said: "We believe the LNA platform provides the means to efficiently discover and develop an important new class of medicines that may address the significant needs of patients across multiple therapeutic areas."


Northern Ireland ‘worst’ for heart disease

by Admin 6. August 2014 09:49

A charity has warned that Northern Ireland is one of the worst regions for heart disease, blaming unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has released figures that show Northern Ireland is one of the worst regions for heart disease and stroke deaths, calling for more to be done to save lives.

Following nationwide research into the rate of heart disease deaths, the charity found more than 7,500 people die from cardiovascular disease each year in Northern Ireland – 35% higher than expected.

The BHF also raised concerns over health inequalities by region, with findings showing people in Belfast are three times more likely to die of heart disease than those in the south of England.

Jayne Murray, spokesman for the BHF in Northern Ireland, said: “Health inequalities play the major role. It is the lifestyle factors – smoking, obesity levels and deprivation.”

“Even if you look within Belfast you will find the pockets of deprivation that would suffer most.”

The warnings come as the charity launches a new strategy “aimed at taking scientific findings from the lab to the bedside as quickly as possible” explained Murray.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, added: “With the help of our supporters, we will increase investment and accelerate world-class research that could save the lives of more people that die prematurely.”

It is hoped this investment boost will help the charity achieve its aim of seeing a 25% reduction in premature death from cardiovascular disease by 2025.

Waiting list backlog given £250m

by Admin 5. August 2014 11:14

Extra funding will be pumped into elective care to clear the backlog of treatments by September as the English waiting list tops 3 million.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that extra funding will be given to clear waiting list backlogs, with a “managed breach” predicted for the next few months before targets are met in September.

An announcement in June earmarked £250m for elective care to carry out more treatments and the Department of Health (DH) has since directed providers to use the money during July and August to ensure waiting lists are reduced by September.

The DH is also to commence a review into why patients are waiting a year for treatment and will make “treating these waits a priority unless there are strong clinical reasons for the wait or the patient chooses to wait for longer”.

Hunt, in a speech to hospital staff in Surrey, stressed that “no one – except in exceptional circumstances – should have to wait more than a year” for treatment.

“We need targets that help patients get treatment when they need it – not targets followed blindly with no regard for the impact on individuals”.

Foundation Trust Network chief executive, Chris Hopson, welcomed the effort to ‘manage’ the breach of targets but suggested it was “essential that the NHS moves away from short term injections of funding as it’s an inefficient use of resources.”

“Far better that we move permanently to new and sustainable models of care that are appropriately funded,” he said.

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News | NHS

‘Worrying reliance’ on antibiotics

by Admin 5. August 2014 10:46

A new study has called for improvements in prescribing as figures show a rising number of patients being prescribed unnecessary antibiotics.

According to the results from a study of 500 UK GP practices from 1999 to 2011, the percentage of patients given antibiotics for coughs and colds has risen by 40% despite the treatments having no proven effect.

The study, conducted by the University College London (UCL) and Public Health England (PHE), also revealed that during 2011 over 30% of patients receiving antibiotics were prescribed a treatment not recommended by national guidance.

Professor Jeremy Hawker, a consultant epidemiologist from PHE, said the study “strongly suggests that there is a need to make improvement in antibiotic prescribing”.

In response to the findings, Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the study “reinforces the message that we issued recently for front-line health professionals to   resist pressure from patients for unnecessary prescriptions and explore alternatives to them.”

Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, added: “Medical staff are on the front-line in our fight against drug resistance but everybody must act now to stop it in its tracks, including patients who put pressure on GPs to prescribe antibiotics”.  

Time and money saved with new blood cancer injection

by Admin 5. August 2014 10:13

Roche’s blood cancer injection is approved by regulators for use on patients in the UK, offering quicker, cost-effective treatment.

MabThera, Roche’s blood cancer injection, will now be available to around 2,400 patients with a common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma following approval by regulators.

The injection takes just five minutes to administer, offering a swifter treatment option as compared to the intravenous infusion, which can take two and a half hours.

The new injection has been heralded by one specialist as “liberating” for patients, “who will have more valuable time to spend with their family and friends.”

Dr Andrew Davis, consultant in medical oncology at the University Hospital Southampton, also added that the injection would help meet the rising demand for cancer services, as “the number of new cancer cases in the UK is expected to rise by 47% between 2007 and 2030”.

Roche estimate that the use of MabThera will save the NHS around £2.5m each year due to the national tariff and drugs costs and will increase the health service’s capacity for treating patients.

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Drugs | News

Bayer HealthCare receives new EU approval for Stivarga

by Admin 4. August 2014 11:38

Bayer HealthCare’s oncology compound Stivarga has received approval from the European Commission for a second indication.

The drug is already marketed as a therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer, with the new approval coming within a year of its original EU authorisation.

The product has now been approved for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable or metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) who have progressed on or are intolerant to prior treatment with imatinib and sunitinib.

Data from the pivotal phase III study GRID demonstrated that Stivarga was associated with a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival rates compared to placebo in patients with GIST whose disease had progressed after prior treatments.

Dr Joerg Moeller, member of the Bayer HealthCare executive committee and head of global development, said: "We are dedicated to exploring solutions for different tumour types and drive innovation to meet the unmet needs of both physicians and patients."


Race equality standard for NHS

by Admin 4. August 2014 10:39

NHS England plans to introduce a race equality standard to encourage diversity and reduce discrimination across the NHS.

NHS England has unveiled proposals to impose a race equality standard on the NHS from April next year as part of efforts to ensure staff are drawn from diverse communities and minority groups are better represented on trust boards.

The proposals, which were agreed by the NHS Equality Diversity Council chaired by chief executive Simon Stevens, will demand NHS providers make improvements across standards such as levels of black and minority representation on boards.

Providers will also be monitored via staff surveys and on evidence that black and minority ethnic workers have equal access to training and recruitment opportunities.

While providers will be “engaged and supported to make continual improvements” in regards to race equality, the proposal document makes it clear that “failure to make progress will result in contractual/regulatory action”.

Stevens, speaking to the Health Sector Journal, said the new standards was part of ensuring the NHS was “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

“Care is far more likely to meet the needs of all patients we’re here to serve when NHS leadership is drawn from diverse communities across the country, and when all our frontline staff are themselves free from discrimination,” Stevens said.

The introduction of a race equality standard has been welcomed by Middlesex University research fellow Roger Kline, who recently published a study that highlighted the “glacial” change in representation of minority groups in positions of leadership.

Kline said the proposal was “exactly the kind of decisive action we need to drive improvements and address inequalities in the sector”.

“This innovative approach could have an extremely powerful impact for staff and patients alike, and has the potential to change the face of the NHS,” added Kline. 

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News | NHS


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