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  1. NHS told to spend more on mental health

    Local health commissioners in England are to be banned from cutting funding for mental health services in the coming year, it has been announced.

    The order came as details were revealed of how nearly £2 billion in extra cash is to be allocated to the NHS.

    Some £1.5 billion will go directly to local clinical commissioning groups.

    Under the deal, groups will have to increase funding for mental health by at least as much as average growth.

    NHS England said another £110 million will be handed out nationally to improve care for people with severe mental health problems – especially children and adolescents.

    It said £480 million of the funding allocation will be used to support “transformation” in local areas as well as in primary care and mental health.

    NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Frontline nurses, doctors and other staff are working incredibly hard – including over this holiday period – but with a growing population and an aging population it’s clear the health service can’t just keep running to catch up.

    “Instead we need to begin to radically reshape the way we care for patients, which is why there is such widespread support and enthusiasm for the NHS Five Year Forward View.”

  2. Emergency trainees set to leave

    Britain is set to lose up to a fifth of its emergency medicine trainees in spite of efforts to boost specialist numbers in A&E, according to a new survey.

    Trainees see that consultants have a poor work-life balance and say this is off-putting, according to the College of Emergency Medicine.

    Its latest survey of trainees found that 13% plan to work overseas – and another 7% say they will leave the specialty.

    Trainees indicated they would “pick and choose” posts and would be influenced by the team and consultant colleagues – together with pay. They reported also being interested in continuing to work in “familiar” departments.

    A college spokesperson said: “The College has been calling for improved terms and conditions for all those working in acute specialties and this survey underlines the need for NHS employers to focus urgently on retaining talent in Emergency Medicine. “

  3. Eye stem cell treatment gets backing

    An eye treatment is set to be the first stem cell therapy approved for routine use in Europe, it has been announced.

    The treatment has been developed for limbal stem cell deficiency, a condition often caused by physical and chemical burns.

    The European Medicines Agency says the stem cell therapy should be agreed as a first-line treatment for the disease and as an alternative to donor tissue transplant.

    The treatment, known as Holoclar, involves taking a biopsy to collect cells from an undamaged area of eye. These are then grown in the laboratory using cell culture.

    The European Medicines Agency says the treatment should get conditional approval as there is not yet comprehensive proof, from trials, that the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.

    Enrica Alteri, of the EMA, said: “This recommendation represents a major step forward in delivering new and innovative medicines to patients.

    “It is an advanced therapy medicinal product that has been designated as an orphan medicine.”

  4. Pay dispute stepped up

    The NHS is to face a “winter of discontent” over pay grievances, it has been announced.

    Unions have set days in both January and February for strikes – with ambulance staff planning a two day strike.

    The coordinated strikes have involved a range of unions, including – for the first time – the Royal College of Midwives.

    Union members have been angered by the government’s refusal to award an across-the-board 1% pay rise.

    However strikes during the autumn have so far had limited impact.

    Unions said there would be other action between the strike days of January 29 and February 24.

    Christine McAnea, who chairs a joint trade union committee, said: "NHS workers, as ever, are putting the safety of patients first by not taking industrial action over the Christmas and New Year periods when staffing levels are already stretched because of their concerns over patient safety.

    “But the Government and NHS employers are showing a total disregard for patient safety by refusing to enter into any meaningful negotiations to try and resolve this dispute. We have no option but to escalate the industrial action by taking longer strikes.”


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