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  1. Map shows poor diabetes care

    A new interactive map allows patients and health planners to identify the regions of England with the worst diabetes care.

    The maps, released by Public Health England, also show progress across the country in tackling high blood pressure and in implementing health checks.

    The organisation says only a minority of people with diabetes meet their treatment targets - and, according to the map, this is worst across much of southern England.

    Visitors to the site can select areas and treatment areas, checking which areas manage blood glucose control, blood pressure or cholesterol control or overall treatment targets, for diabetes.

    There is also a range of measures of blood pressure control and the success of implementing the NHS Health Check.

    Across England, only a third of people with diabetes meet treatment targets - and the best area in the country achieves these targets for just 48% of people, the maps show.

    Professor John Newton, of Public Health England, said: “It’s estimated that 10 per cent of the population could have diabetes by 2034 and we know that there are already millions of people in the country with undiagnosed high blood pressure. 

    "We need to create a sense of urgency in dealing with these future health problems which are facing our communities."

    The project was welcomed by UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

    He said: “We know that diabetes can have a devastating impact on people and we want everybody to get excellent care and support, regardless of where they live."


  2. Three diseases are big killers

    Dementia, cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death in England and Wales, according to figures from last year.

    Cancer was responsible for 29% of all deaths - although experts say this is partly because of lengthening lifespans.

    The Office for National Statistics figures give an indication of the falling death rates in the UK - showing a 22% reduction in standardised mortality rates for men and of 19% for women.

    The biggest single cause of death among women was dementia and Alzheimer's disease - responsible for 12.2% of deaths. Ischaemic heart disease accounted for 15.4% of all male deaths.

    Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said: "Cancer remains a huge challenge.  Although we have made great progress against it, it’s still the highest cause of deaths in England and Wales, accounting for more than one in four of all deaths in 2013. This is partly because people in the UK are living longer – cancer is more common in older people because there is more time for faults in cells to develop – these faults trigger the disease.

    "Too many people still die from the disease and for some types of cancer, survival rates haven’t improved much - including lung, pancreatic, oesophageal cancers and brain tumours. There is still so much to do."

    Professor Peter Weissberg, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “These figures show that coronary heart disease is still the single biggest killer and continues to blight the lives of thousands of people and families.

    “We've made great progress over the last 50 years but we still need to fund much more research to stop people dying needlessly, and to help the increasing number of people living with heart disease.

    “The UK has committed to reducing premature deaths from cardiovascular disease by a quarter by 2025 and it will only meet this target if the government and health service make health prevention a priority.”

  3. Call to boost stroke prevention

    The NHS is missing a chance to prevent thousands of strokes a year by the writing of a simple prescription, experts said yesterday.

    The failure to give warfarin to many people with the heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation, is costing the service some £124 million a year, according to the agency NHS Improving Quality.

    Just over 50% of these patients get the drug - and if they all received it, some 11,626 strokes a year would be avoided.

    The condition affects about 900,000 people a year.

    The study involved some 1,000 GP practices that use an audit tool known as GRASP-AF, which is used by about a third of practices.

    Hilary Walker, head of the agencies Living Longer Lives programme, said: "We know that effective anticoagulation really reduces the risk of having stroke. Data from the GRASP-AF audit tool shows us that currently not everyone is being managed as well as they should be. This is putting patients’ lives at risk and costing the NHS and social care millions of pounds every year.

    "GP practices can use the GRASP-AF tool for free to quickly identify patients who have, or might have atrial fibrillation, and check their management plan."

  4. NHS creaking - survey

    NHS staff morale is under strain as the service creaks under pressure, according to a regular quarterly analysis published today.

    The survey of finance directors found the number concerned about staff morale doubled in three months, reaching 47% of all, possibly in the wake of launching of sustained industrial action over pay.

    The King's Fund analysis also shows delays in accident & emergency departments reaching a record level for the summer months. Some 5% of patients waited for longer than four hours between July and September.

    Similarly overall waiting times reached their highest level since 2008. Some 12.1% of in-patients had been kept waiting for longer than 18 weeks.

    Similarly more than 15% of cancer patients failed to start treatment within two months for the second quarter in a row.

    The survey found that 40% of NHS trusts finance directors expect to run a deficit by the end of the year - although most of their financiers in clinical commissioning groups expect to have a surplus.

    Richard Murray, of the King's Fund, said: "The NHS relies on the dedication of its staff, so the growing concern about staff morale is worrying. Given the close association between staff engagement and quality of care, this is a warning sign that should be taken seriously by NHS leaders.

    "The number of trusts forecasting deficits indicates that financial problems are no longer confined to a small number of organisations and are now endemic across the health system."

    The Royal College of Nursing said the findings were "no surprise."

    Chief executive Dr Peter Carter said: “For too long, legitimate concerns over the working conditions and the stagnant pay of frontline NHS staff have been dismissed.

    "They’ve cared for record numbers of patients through the most disruptive reorganisation in the history of the NHS and in the face of huge workforce cuts."


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