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DH takes the initiative on home healthcare

Tony Jewell

THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH has developed two new initiatives to promote healthcare at home: funding for extra care housing at 25 sites across England, and the launch of three demonstrator sites in Wales to support people living with long-term conditions.

Health and Care Minister Ivan Lewis has announced 25 sites that will benefit from £80million of Government funding over the next two years to build extra care housing, enabling more people with dementia or long-term conditions to live independently at home. Extra care housing makes available homes with a range of care and support services provided on-site.

The schemes that bid for funding were assessed on a number of qualities, including the use of e-health and other assistive technologies. The 25 successful sites are spread across all 10 Strategic Health Authorities.

Ivan Lewis The first of three new Welsh Assembly Government-funded national demonstrator sites to develop better care for patients living with chronic conditions has been launched. The demonstrators, in Carmarthenshire, North Wales and Cardiff, will test and accelerate the delivery of improvements in care for people living with conditions such as arthritis and COPD. A key goal is to develop integrated healthcare IT systems.

Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, commented: “This type of community care needs to be well co-ordinated. New models of care need to be tested and evaluated – and the demonstrator sites are a crucial step towards building on and strengthening care pathways that will provide better care to patients, while also improving the way the NHS and its partners work together across Wales.”

Industry challenges laser deregulation

THE GOVERNMENT’S DECISION to deregulate laser treatment from 1 October 2008 has drawn widespread criticism from the cosmetic surgery industry.

The plan to remove non-surgical laser treatments, such as depilation and skin treatments, from healthcare regulation has been condemned by trade and healthcare organisations.

Paul Stapleton, Managing Director of Mapperley Park Clinic and a member of the Independent Healthcare Advisory Service (IHAS), said: “The proposal by the Government to deregulate laser and IPL services in the private sector means that anyone could purchase low-cost, low-quality, non-CE approved equipment and operate them anywhere without any training or safety considerations on vulnerable adults as well as children.”

Chris Khoo, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), expressed the trade association’s view: “BAPRAS is concerned about the rapid growth of potentially harmful cosmetic treatments without proper regulation. We urge the Government to reconsider its decision to scrap the introduction of a regulatory framework for cosmetic treatments, and call for a proper debate that puts patient safety at its centre.”

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, commented that deregulation could “pose a serious health risk to patients and damage confidence in the industry”.

Vital Signs to thrive at GE

Omar IshrakUK-BASED CORPORATION GE Healthcare is to acquire US-based medical device company Vital Signs, Inc.

The transaction will expand GE’s monitoring, anaesthesia and respiratory care offerings. It has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and is expected to close in the last quarter of 2008.

Vital Signs is a global provider of medical products for therapy areas including anaesthesia, respiration and sleep therapy. Its products have CE Mark approval. The company will become part of GE Healthcare’s Clinical Systems business, making complementary product and service offerings available.

Terry Wall, CEO of Vital Signs, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to further develop the Vital Signs business. We are proud of our innovative single patient use technologies and the contribution they have made to reducing patient mortality through limiting hospital-acquired infections. By joining GE Healthcare, we see a huge opportunity to bring these products to many more hospitals.”

Omar Ishrak, President and CEO of GE Healthcare’s Clinical Systems business, commented: “Vital Signs has an outstanding track record as a product innovator. Vital Signs’ product offerings are highly complementary with our Clinical Systems business. We believe that combining the skills and knowledge of the two companies will create significant added value for our customers, bringing new technologies to healthcare professionals worldwide.”

Fertility promised in the East

MORE NHS FERTILITY TREATMENT will be available to couples in the East of England, following a decision by the region’s Specialised Commissioning Group. Access criteria will be standardised across the region.

This decision makes the 14 PCTs in the East of England the first to implement the recommendations made by NICE in its 2004 guidelines on fertility treatment.

Clare Brown, Chief Executive of Infertility Network UK, said: “In 2004 NICE recommended that eligible couples should receive up to three full cycles of treatment, including frozen embryo transfer. Surveys have seemed to indicate that most PCTs are providing at least one cycle. However, the access criteria can be hugely restrictive, meaning that very few couples can access treatment.

Clare Brown“The decision made by the East of England is a huge step forward and we congratulate them. We would urge other PCTs and Specialised Commissioning Groups to perhaps look at how the East of England managed this change of policy and learn from them.”

Following the success of National Infertility Day on 19th July, which this year celebrated 30 years of IVF, Infertility Network UK emphasised that the majority of British couples are still denied access to a treatment that was pioneered in this country.

News in Brief

New NICE guidelines recommend using drug-eluting stents to treat coronary artery disease only where the artery is less than 3mm in diameter or the affected section is longer than 15mm, and where the additional cost of the DES over the bare-metal stent is £300 or less.

Independent health provider Ramsay Health Care UK is to invest over £12 million in its UK business, providing additional theatre space, bed capacity and diagnostic imaging capability at six of its UK hospitals and clinics. As a member of the NHS Choice programme, Ramsay offers NHS services at its 24 acute hospitals in the UK.

Chester-based homecare provider SureCare has introduced a structured fi nance package that allows franchisees to spread their payments over 18 months. The new package has attracted two new companies in its fi rst month. SureCare’s franchise system delivers home-based healthcare services nationwide.

NHS e-health supplier acquired by t+ Medical

TECHNOLOGY COMPANY T+ MEDICAL has acquired Vivatec Ltd, a supplier of telehealth and telecare services to the NHS.

Tim CloverBoth companies are based in the UK. t+ Medical is a global supplier of mobile phone based technology for capturing patient data for clinical trials and management of long-term conditions. The purchase of Vivatec will enable it to offer an integrated solution covering medical devices, communication technology and nurse call centres.

Vivatec is one of 13 companies selected as a supply partner to the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency for e-health products and services. The company supplies two of the three DH-funded Whole System Demonstrators, which are evaluating remote monitoring technologies across 6,000 UK patients.

In a joint statement, Tim Clover, CEO of t+ Medical, and Andrew Hall, founder and Managing Director of Vivatec, said: “The combination of two successful companies creates a complete solution for both healthcare and drug discovery organisations. The synergy between the two companies provides an ideal base from which to further deliver the benefits of mobile telephones in healthcare.”

On Target notes with great sadness the death of Ann Green, Ward Manager at Solihull Hospital. Ann was among the first NHS professionals interviewed in On Target, back in September 2006. Ann’s premature death, from complications following a C. difficile infection, reminds us of the challenges faced by healthcare professionals everywhere. Our thoughts are with Ann’s husband and family.

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