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  1. Many deaths "avoidable"

    Nearly a quarter of deaths in England and Wales may be "avoidable," according to figures published yesterday.

    The Office for National Statistics reported that in 2014 some 116,489 deaths could have been avoidable through effective healthcare or public health interventions.

    It said neoplasms were the main cause of avoidable deaths, responsible for 35% of the total.

    According to the ONS, an even high proportion of deaths are avoidable in children and young people - some 32% of the 4,571 recorded in 2014. 14% of these were deaths from accidental injuries.

    Dr Anne Campbell, from ONS, said: “People who die prematurely from avoidable causes lose an average of 23 potential years of life. For children and young people, this figure rises to 72 years.

    "The biggest contributors to avoidable deaths are chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

    "In contrast, accidental injuries and complications surrounding childbirth are the biggest killers of children and young people.”

    * A second study published yesterday praised the NHS for achieving "significant" reductions in deaths from cancer and other causes.

    The UK has done better than other western countries in spite of tightened budgets, according to researchers at Bournemouth University.

    The study, reported in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found a 28% reduction in cancer deaths of those between 55 and 74 between 1989 and 2010.

    Researcher Professor Colin Pritchard said: “The NHS is clearly one of the most effective and efficient services in the world - achieving relatively more with proportionately less.

    “But here’s the warning, the recent figures on health spending hide a proportional cut.

    “In 2010 UK spent 9.4% on health, its highest ever. By 2013 it had fallen to 9.1%."

    Comparing UK & 20 Western countries efficiency in reducing adult [55-74] cancer & total mortality rates 1989-2010. Cause for cautious celebration. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine June 2016; doi:10.1177/2054427016635036

  2. Seven-day working challenges - RCPE

    Introducing more seven-day working in the NHS will need "multi-professional solutions," according to leading Scottish doctors.

    The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has called for robust research, data and analysis of the issue.

    In a report in its journal, the college says there is evidence of increased mortality rates at weekends - but the scale and causes of this effect is "uncertain."

    The report sets out the findings of a workshop, which found there would need to be access to specialty, mental health, community and social care at weekends.

    It warns of negative perceptions among patients and staff about weekend care.

    College president Professor Derek Bell said: “A truly seven-day NHS can only be successful if it is properly resourced and implemented across the whole system of care. It is essential that a broad, evidence-based approach is taken to seven-day working rather than simply focusing on increasing the number of doctors working at weekends.

    “Many services already provide seven-day cover and not all services need to be available 24/7, but understanding how all services interact is essential as we plan care. Looking at any aspect in isolation will not produce a sustainable solution."

    Dr Mike Jones, from the college, said: “Understanding this complexity is essential to delivering the correct solutions to improve patient outcomes and their experience of care."

    Consistent services throughout the week for acute medical care J R Coll Physicians Edinb 30 June 2016 [abstract]

  3. Membership bonus for returning GPs

    Former GPs are being offered an extra bonus for returning to practice.

    Doctors will get a year's free membership of the Royal College of GPs, worth £519, if they sign up for return to practice schemes in any of the four nations of the UK.

    The offer includes former RCGP members.

    It is being extended to UK-qualified doctors who have never been college members or taken its membership exam.

    These will receive free associate membership, along with EU doctors who hold the certificate of eligibility for GP registration.

    College chair Dr Maureen Baker said the college would be looking for more ways to encourage doctors to return to general practice.

    She said: "It makes absolutely no sense to put barriers in the way of trained GPs who want to work, delivering frontline patient care in our NHS, whilst we have an intense shortage of family doctors.

    “As part of our work with NHS England, Health Education England and the BMA to ‘recruit retain and return’ the thousands more GPs needed to deliver the safe care our patients deserve, the I&R scheme has been streamlined and the bureaucracy and red tape involved has been significantly reduced. We have been carrying out similar work in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    “There is still more to do but the updated schemes are vastly improved, and we hope that offering a year’s free College membership – with access to our many professional and developmental benefits – will be an added incentive to anyone thinking about returning to the profession."

  4. Staffing levels let down child heart surgery families - review

    Families distressed about children's heart surgery in Bristol were let down by poor nursing staff levels and "defensive" reactions by managers, an inquiry states today.

    But the review says there is no evidence to suggest that treatment and outcomes for children undergoing heart surgery in Bristol has been different from elsewhere in recent years.

    The inquiry echoed an earlier one which uncovered poor standards of paediatric care in the city at the end of the last century.

    Today's report says there is no evidence of the failures of the 1990s being repeated.

    Some of the problems were highlighted by a Care Quality Commission inspection in 2012.

    The report says that before that inspection nursing staff were regularly under pressure "both in terms of numbers available and the range of skills needed."

    It adds: "On occasions, the senior managers of the Hospital, failed adequately to understand and respond effectively to the concerns of parents and adopted an unnecessarily defensive position in the face of the CQC’s observations."

    Setting out 32 recommendations, review chair Eleanor Grey said: "Some received good care and had good outcomes. Others did not.

    "Our work has centred on the issues raised by the children whose treatment was complex and who experienced complications, and for whom in many cases the outcomes were poor."

    NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said the inquiry had been "independent and thorough."

    He said: “Children’s heart surgery is highly complex and technically demanding and carries with it significant and unavoidable risk. I know the team in Bristol will embrace this report and has already taken action to improve care for patients.

    "The hospital provides critical services and we want it to provide outstanding care in the future."

    Dr Jonathan Fielden, director of specialised commissioning at NHS England, said he would be announcing practical steps to raise standards soon.

    He said: “Over the past year we have built, with expert clinicians and patients, a clear consensus on the standards that need to be met to ensure a consistent level of care is available for every patient in every part of the country."


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