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  1. Papworth heart transplant breakthrough

    The number of heart transplants could increase dramatically after the success of the UK's first operation involving a non-beating organ.

    The operation at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, was the first time a heart had come from a donor who had suffered circulatory death - rather than just brain stem cell death.

    Patient Huseyin Ulucan, aged 60, from London, spoke of the success of the operation yesterday.

    During the procedure the heart only stopped beating for five minutes and was then re-started in the donor before being removed and stored in a "heart in a box" machine.

    The device is reported to cost £150,000 together with another £25,000 each time it is used.

    Papworth Hospital says it has developed its own new techniques to make the procedure successful. This could increase the number of donated hearts by 25%.

    Surgeon Stephen Large said: "We had the heart beating for about 50 minutes, and by monitoring its function were able to tell that it was in very good condition."

    He added: "This is a very exciting development. By enabling the safe use of this kind of donor hearts, we could significantly increase the total number of heart transplants each year, saving hundreds of lives."

    Cardiothoracic Transplant Registrar Simon Messer added: "Research conducted at Papworth allowed us to develop a new technique not used anywhere else in the world to ensure the best possible outcome for our patients using hearts from non-heart beating donors."

    Mr Ulucan spent just four days in critical care after the operation and is now recovering at home.

    He said: "Before the surgery, I could barely walk and I got out of breath very easily, I really had no quality of life."

  2. Maternity review gets under way

    A veteran of health politics is to lead a major review of maternity care in England following the Morecambe Bay scandal, it was announced yesterday.

    The job has been entrusted to Baroness Julia Cumberlege, who was a junior health minister in the 1990s.

    Baroness Cumberlege is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a vice-president of the Royal College of Midwives.

    She is also a patron of the National Childbirth Trust and led a similar review in the 1990s.

    Her review group will include several senior clinicians, including RCOG president David Richmond and RCM chief executive Professor Cathy Warwick.

    The inquiry into the problems at Furness General Hospital, Cumbria, found that doctors and midwives were at loggerheads.

    Her review will make recommendations on safe and efficient models of maternity services, including units led by midwives.

    It will also investigate how women are supporting to make "safe and appropriate" choices of maternity care.

    Professor Warwick said there was also strong representation of users on the group.

    She said: "This is excellent as women and their needs and wishes must be at the heart of every decision made about services. This is a great opportunity to shape our maternity services so they are fit for the future and I very much look forward to being part of that process.”

  3. Success for new bowel test

    A new bowel cancer screening test has proved itself to be more popular than previous tests, it was announced today.

    Trials in several parts of England have found a small increase in the number of people willing to return samples.

    Bowel cancer screening requires members of the public to return samples - and the present test requires three separate ones.

    The new test, known as the Faecal Immunochemical Test or FIT, is also said to be more accurate than previously, allowing detection of low concentrations of blood.

    Tests have involved some 40,000 people and researchers say that male participation was 65.5% compared with 57% for the older test.

    The findings were being reported to a Cancer Research UK conference on early diagnosis in London by a team from Queen Mary, University of London.

    Bowel Cancer UK chief executive Deborah Alsina said: “Currently only around half of those invited take part in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme, meaning opportunities to detect cancer early are being lost. These exciting results clearly show that introducing the FIT test as part of the screening programme could help address that. Both by increasing participation and detecting more bowel cancers.

    "We therefore urge England, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow Scotland's lead and rapidly commit to implementation."

  4. Virgin to care for Staffs elderly

    Virgin Care is to take responsibility for care of the frail elderly in one troubled health district, it has been revealed.

    The £280 million, seven year contract has been awarded by East Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

    The deal puts Virgin into a potentially powerful position in Staffordshire as it is also bidding for a £500 million contract to provide end of life care across the county.

    Under the latest deal it will provide care for 38,000 people with long term conditions and about 6,000 frail elderly people.

    It will also be responsible for joining up care across other providers and for helping patients take control of their own care.

    The local CCG says the deal was the only way it could manage the anticipated growth in costs of providing these services.

    The CCG chair Dr Charles Pidsley said: "We are confident they will bring about the changes needed to improve care to local people, particularly those with long term health problems.

    “We chose Virgin Care as a like-minded partner with a strong track record and we will use its experience to help us tackle the local challenges patients and professionals have shared.”


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