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  1. Bullying was just a buzzword - managers

    Senior managers at an NHS trust dismissed repeated claims of bullying as a "buzzword," an investigation has found.

    Interviewers found many clinical staff felt their concerns about patient safety were being ignored at the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, which employs 5,500 people.

    And there were concerns about medical trainees reporting they did not always feel supported and part of their team.

    The inquiry from the Good Governance Institute was commissioned by the Trust Development Authority and has concluded that bullying policies in the Worcestershire hospitals group were "not fit for purpose."

    The anti-bullying document was inadequate and its administration flawed, investigators found.

    The investigators found that senior managers and board members felt staff were simply complaining of bullying when they did not want to be performance managed.

    The investigators say there is "insufficient evidence" that bullying was endemic in the trust - but most of the 800 staff interviewed did not feel valued. Staff members who complained found the process "draining and painful."

    The report says many clinical staff raised issues about lack of job plans, management of ‘on call’ rotas, appraisals and lack of engagement by the senior clinical leaders.

    It adds: "We were told that there was significant frustration about a lack of professionalism or direction and about the way that people were spoken to."

    Yesterday the trust said it would be accepting recommendations from the report, which calls for it to adopt an explicit policy of zero tolerance of bullying.

    The report also calls for staff to have an independent outlet for concerns.

    New chief executive Chris Tidman said: “My board colleagues and I will do everything in our power to ensure we listen to staff, take their views seriously and ensure they feel safe and supported when they bring ideas to us, or raise concerns.”

    Jayne Brown, from the Institute, said: "The Trust must make processes clearer, implement an organisational development plan and improve its leadership and management culture.”

  2. Growth hormone 'effective' against osteoporosis

    A course of growth hormone can provide post-menopausal women with protection against osteoporosis for a period of years, according to the findings of a major Swedish study.

    Researchers found that women seem to benefit from the treatment for a period of at least seven years - with rates of bone fracture significantly reduced and bone mineral density rates maintained.

    The findings come from a randomised double-blind trial involving 80 post-menopausal women with a follow up of seven years.

    The findings were reported yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

    The researchers say it is the longest and largest controlled study of the treatment so far.

    In the study, women received placebo injections for 18 months or growth hormone for three years. Some received a single unit of growth hormone while others received 2.5 units.

    The women were also compared with another 120 women who did not have osteoporosis.

    The researchers reported that the rate of fractures halved among the women who were treated during the total ten years of the study. At the outset, more than half these women had bone fractures.

    Researcher Dr Emily Krantz, of Södra Älvsborgs Hospital in Borås, Sweden, said: "Our study is the largest and longest controlled study of growth hormone treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women to date.

    "Years after treatment stopped, women who were treated with growth hormone still experienced improved bone density and reduced fracture risk."

    Effect of Growth Hormone Treatment on Fractures and Quality of Life in Osteoporosis - A 10-year Follow-up Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 27 August 2015 [abstract]

  3. Antibiotics use grows with diabetes risk

    People who are about to develop type 2 diabetes tend to have increased use of antibiotics, Danish researchers reported yesterday.

    The finding may reflect growing vulnerability to infection among these people.

    The researchers said it also raised the possibility that antibiotics could increase the risk of developing diabetes. This might be because the drugs interfere with the gut bacteria.

    The findings come from a population-based, case-control study.

    This involved some 170,505 people diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes and another 1.3 million people without the condition.

    The findings were reported yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

    The researchers say increased use of antibiotics was found up to 15 years before the development of type 2 diabetes.

    The research found that on average 0.8 antibiotic prescriptions were issued for each person with type 2 diabetes compared with 0.5 prescriptions for each control subject.

    Researcher Dr Kristian Hallundbæk Mikkelsen, of Gentofte Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, said: "In our research, we found people who have Type 2 diabetes used significantly more antibiotics up to 15 years prior to diagnosis compared to healthy controls.

    "Although we cannot infer causality from this study, the findings raise the possibility that antibiotics could raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Another equally compelling explanation may be that people develop Type 2 diabetes over the course of years and face a greater risk of infection during that time."

    Use of Antibiotics and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Population-based Case-control Study Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 27 August 2015 [abstract]

  4. Public unaware of radiotherapy advances

    The public remains mostly ignorant of advances in radiotherapy, a survey showed today.

    Even proton beam therapy - which has had massive recent media coverage - only struck a chord with 30% of people in a survey commissioned by Cancer Research UK.

    In some cases survey participants were more likely to claim knowledge of a bogus therapy - "Higgs-Boson radiotherapy" - than some of the latest treatments.

    Some 6% claimed to have heard of the Higgs-Boson treatment while just 4% claimed knowledge of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).

    Just 3% claimed to have heard of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy - and 9% to have heard of image-guided radiotherapy.

    Cancer Research UK said the findings were reflected in the relative priority respondents gave to radiotherapy against investment in chemotherapy. Some 57% said drug treatments should take priority for funding while just 9% said radiotherapy should take priority.

    The survey of some 2,081 people was conducted by on-line pollsters YouGov.

    The chair of the Radiotherapy Awareness Programme, Diana Tait, said: “We were shocked that only nine per cent of people think radiotherapy should be the highest priority for NHS funding into cancer treatments.

    “Patients don’t always get the most advanced form of radiotherapy that could give them the best chance. This isn’t acceptable.

    “We want to raise awareness of how advanced radiotherapy is a better, kinder treatment, so that all patients who need it can get it on the NHS.”

    * Proton beam therapy hit the headlines last year when a family took their five-year-old child out of an NHS hospital so he could get the treatment in Prague. The family of Ashya King were the subject of a police hunt, which led to Spain.

    * A second awareness campaign is to be launched next week to improve awareness of haematological malignancies.

    The campaign is being launched by charity Bloodwise, formerly Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

    A survey by the charity found that just 38% of people had heard of myeloma - and many confused it with melanoma.

    It said that lack of awareness contributes to the stress, uncertainty and worry that newly-diagnosed patients face.

    Diana Jupp, from Bloodwise, said: "Patients have told us that a lack of awareness has a significant impact throughout their patient journey – from confusion and uncertainty at diagnosis to being unaware of the organisations that provide the support and care they need.”


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