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  1. Comic fame for pioneer woman doctor

    A woman surgeon who defied convention to set up a hospital in pre-revolutionary Russia is to be immortalised in a comic strip.

    Dr Elsie Maud Inglis was a female surgeon who founded the Scottish Women's Hospital.

    She provided medical support for the British army in the First World War but was turned down. The women instead offered their service's to the UK's allies with more success.

    Eventually she took a team to Russia and provided care for the Russian army.

    The hospital was caught up in the revolution and the staff escaped back to the UK - but shortly after returning Dr Inglis died.

    Now the story has been retold by comics expert Selina Lock, an employee of Leicester University, working with the artist Arthur Goodman.

    The comic book is to be sold partly in aid of Medecins Sans Frontieres.

    Ms Lock said: “When I started researching women in the First World War I came across several accounts from women who had been involved in the Scottish Women's Hospitals and thought they were an inspiring group.

    “There is an underlying message of feminism to the story because the SWH evolved from the suffrage movement. They wanted to support the war effort, while showing that women could contribute many different skills.

    "But mainly I wanted to tell their story because I had no idea there were British women out in Russia running hospitals during WW1 and I thought other people would also find that interesting."

    To End All Wars: the Graphic Anthology of the First World War. Soaring Penguin Press. £18.99

  2. Row as defence industry targets GP services

    A major defence manufacturer is bidding for a major contract that will provide backroom services for GPs, it has been revealed.

    Lockheed Martin has expressed an interest in the £1 billion project, which is being put out to tender by NHS England, alongside companies such as KPMG and Serco and G4S.

    Anglian Community Enterprise, a social enterprise that emerged from the NHS, also attended a meeting for potential bidders, the Health Service Journal reported.

    The deal is due to run for ten years and is expected to cut the cost of providing services. It will undertake tasks such as maintain practice lists, administer prescription payments, keep pensions and medical records and run screening programmes.

    Nick Bradley, of Unison, said: “This huge privatisation of essential backroom services to the NHS is an absolute disgrace. For several months the staff and the trade unions that represented them were involved in detailed discussions to modernise and reorganise these services.

    “The contract has been advertised in a way that means that no NHS body can bid for the work. Only a huge private company able to raise funds or have funds to pay for redundancies and reorganisation can possibly bid for the work.”

    * Private companies are on course to collect £9 billion worth of NHS services in the last 18 months, it was claimed yesterday.

    NHS run services have gone to the private sector after local commissioners were required to put a limited number of services out to tender.

    The latest analysis comes from campaign group the NHS Support Federation.

    It said that so far some £2.6 billion worth of NHS services have gone to the private sector since April 2013.

    The Federation says another £13 billion worth of services have been put out to tender - and it expects about 50% of them to go to the private sector.

    British Medical Association chair Dr Mark Porter said: “These figures show the extent of privatisation in the NHS following the pushing through of the Health and Social Care Act - an act that the government denied loud and long would lead to privatisation, has done exactly that."

    A Department of Health spokesman said: “The figures quoted in this sample are highly misleading. Use of the private sector amounts to only six pence in every pound the NHS spends, an increase of just one penny since May 2010."

  3. Inquest hears how worm killed transplant patients

    A surgeon has been explaining his decision to undertake kidney transplants which led to the deaths of two men from a rare and deadly parasitic worm.

    The operations involved organs from an alcoholic man who died after treatment for meningitis.

    His kidneys were rejected by several hospitals before being accepted by the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

    The two patients, Robert Stuart and Darren Hughes, went on to die from the parasitic worm halicephalobus, which later investigations revealed was responsible for the original meningitis.

    The deaths are now the subject of an inquest in Cardiff.

    Surgeon Argiris Asderakis told the inquest he believed surgeons should have access to expert advice in deciding whether to take such organs.

    He said: "In hindsight, in cases of great difficulty, we should try to find the most expert advice on the night."

    He told the hearing he wished he could turn the clock back.

    He said the organs had showed signs of functional problems but he expected them to recover.

    He said: "This case highlights that no-one could have predicted the first human-to-human transmission of a bug that no-one knew of before."

  4. Alarm as cancer waits lengthen

    Cancer campaigners have expressed alarm at a steady increase in waiting times faced by patients starting treatment.

    According to the latest statistics, more than 16% of patients beginning treatment for cancer in the last quarter had waited for longer than two months - 62 days - after urgent referral by a GP.

    The target is to keep this proportion to 15% - but it has been breached throughout 2014 as the NHS struggles with growing pressure.

    For diseases such as lung cancer and bowel cancer this proportion rises to more than 26% - and more than 20% of patients with urological cancer also waited this long for treatment.

    The figures were published by NHS England as new guidelines were issued for GPs to help them recognise cancer and improve speed of referral to specialists.

    Sarah Woolnough, of Cancer Research UK, said: "These breaches have become a trend and they are worsening, which is why urgent action must be taken to support the NHS.

    “This isn’t just about missed targets – consecutive breaches mean thousands of patients are being failed. Today’s figures show that more than a third of all NHS trusts in England have breached the 62 day target.

    “These targets exist to ensure swift diagnosis of cancer and access to treatment, which is vital if we’re serious about having the best survival rates in the world."


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