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NHS to increase screening provision

  PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN has outlined a programme of new screening processes for cancer, heart disease and other health problems.

Speaking to health professionals at King’s College, London, the PM stressed the importance of preventative medicine and of using new technologies for rapid diagnosis.

Brown announced a range of measures to improve access to screening tests and check-ups, including:

  • Offering men over 65 a simple ultrasound test to detect early abdominal aortic aneurysm (or Triple A).
  • Introducing a series of tests to identify vulnerability to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney failure.
  • Making blood tests, ECGs and (in some cases) ultrasound available in primary care.
  • Providing easier access to health checks.
  • Extending cancer screening, e.g. for colon and breast cancer.

At the heart of this programme is a call for the benefits of new medical technology to be made available to all patients. Brown identified the challenge of new technology as a key issue faced by the NHS.

Doris-Ann Williams, Director General of the British In-Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA), said: “The diagnostics industry is very pleased with the Prime Minister’s announcement on screening and diagnostic tests. We have been saying for a long time that a focus on preventative testing would both improve outcomes for patients and save the NHS money.

“We are particularly pleased with the emphasis on testing being made available in settings close to people – such as pharmacies or doctors’ surgeries. This is one of the main benefits of modern diagnostic tests.”

Meanwhile, a new study has revealed that cancer screening has reduced the frequency of deaths from breast cancer in East Anglia by 48%. These findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer just days after the PM’s announcement of plans to extend NHS screening.

Clinique helps to ‘Kiss It Better’

GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN, in partnership with Clinique, is celebrating its Valentine’s Day birthday with a Kiss It Better appeal this month to raise money for research into the causes and treatment of childhood cancer.

The hospital, which opened on February 14th 1852, aims to raise funds and awareness for the GOSH Children’s Charity with a range of activities throughout February.

Clinique’s franchises at House of Fraser and elsewhere offer opportunities to contribute to Kiss It Better this February by purchasing lipstick, lipgloss or the stylish Kiss It Better pin badge. Clinique at Harrods will donate its Valentine’s Day takings to the appeal.

You can text ‘KISS’ to 85222 (costing £3) and help raise a million kisses of support. T.M. Lewin stores and ASK restaurants are also involved in raising funds. Visit www.gosh.org/kissitbetter for further details.

 Television presenter Kirsty Young said: “The Kiss it Better appeal provides everyone with fun opportunities to show their support – from texting a kiss to glossing your lips. I urge all to take part and help support Great Ormond Street Hospital’s very important research into childhood cancer.

Covidien closes Hampshire site

COVIDIEN’S SITE AT GOSPORT, Hampshire, will close by the end of 2008 with the loss of more than 300 jobs.

The American healthcare company, formerly named Tyco Healthcare, has said the closure is necessary to maintain “competitiveness”.

Workers at the Gosport site were told they will all lose their jobs, in a move that came without prior discussion. The sudden announcement has been criticised by local politicians.

Covidien is based in Massachusetts, and manufactures a range of medical devices and supplies. Company spokeswoman Lisa Clemence said: “It’s not an easy decision to make, but it is necessary to ensure Tyco Healthcare retains its competitiveness.”

Improving rates of organ donation

  THE GOVERNMENT is backing recommendations from the Organ Donation Taskforce that could see a 50% increase in organ donation in the UK within five years, resulting in an additional 1,200 transplants a year.

The new measures, to be supported by an initial £11m of funding, could save the NHS over £500m in dialysis costs over the next decade – and save thousands of lives.

The Taskforce recommends the recruitment of 100 extra donor transplant co-ordinators, employed centrally by NHS Blood and Transplant. Together with other measures, this could result in a 10% increase in the donation consent rate. A stronger network of organ retrieval teams would also be established to work with critical care teams.

Elisabeth Buggins, the Chair of the Organ Donation Taskforce, said: “90% of the UK population supports organ donation and transplantation in principle, but too many people are dying because donation too often is not made possible in practice. The UK has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in Europe.

“Our recommendations are not only the right thing to do: they also make sound economic sense. They have the potential to save many more lives as well as making best use of NHS funding by reducing dialysis costs for people with kidney failure. This is a great opportunity to save more lives every year – I hope the NHS and the general public will seize it with both hands.”

The average cost for renal dialysis is approximately £25,300 pa, compared with an initial cost of £45,900 for a kidney transplant followed by annual maintenance costs of £7,100 pa. Over the next 10 years, there could be an extra 5,400 kidney transplants, saving the NHS over £500 million.

Ansell UK helps hospitals fight bugs

FREE ONLINE EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS provided by Ansell UK could help healthcare professionals improve their infection control procedures.

The Ansell Cares initiative aims to help NHS staff avoid hospital-acquired infections (and the fines imposed on hospitals suffering ‘superbug’ outbreaks) by providing resources to heighten awareness of infection control and hand hygiene among healthcare professionals.

Among the educational and training materials available free at www.anselleurope.com/medical/index.htm are: two educational videos; a factsheet on hand hygiene; and five lectures by infection control experts.

“The materials provided through the Ansell Cares programme have been developed with the advice and support of a Scientific Advisory Network comprising some of the world’s leading scientists, physicians, educators and researchers,” said Vanessa Colman, Clinical Advisor at Ansell UK.

 The Ansell Cares initiative also focuses on latex allergies, barrier protection and use of gloves.

GE develops Healthcare IT program

A NEW EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM from UK-based company GE Healthcare could help biomedical professionals improve their knowledge of healthcare IT.

GE’s new Healthcare IT curriculum moves beyond product training to support the whole biomedical community, regardless of equipment or vendor choice. It identifies IT skills that are critical to servicing and supporting integrated and networked medical devices.

Michael Reed, manager of GE Healthcare’s Global Education for Clinical Systems Service, said: “Biomeds know that equipment issues must be resolved quickly because patients’ lives can depend on it. Having the IT knowledge to differentiate an equipment issue from an IT issue, and taking the appropriate action, saves time and can positively impact patient care.”

The program’s foundation course, ‘Essentials of Healthcare IT’, explores the basics of connectivity. The follow-up courses ‘Wireless in the Healthcare IT Environment’ and ‘Securing the Healthcare IT Environment’ address the challenges of wireless patient monitoring and the handling of sensitive patient information.

More information on the Healthcare IT program will be provided at www.gehealthcare.com/hcit.


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