Lowdown stories and the editor’s pick from the rest of the media (22 November 2020)
________________ EDITOR’S PICKS FROM THE HEALTH NEWS________________________________
COVID-19: NHS now facing biggest vaccination campaign in UK history
The Oxford vaccine prevents 9 out of 10 Covid cases and may reduce transmission of the virus. With 100 million doses pre-ordered by the Government, there is a lot riding on the success of this vaccine.
The reduction in asymptomatic infections from this vaccine is significant. The vaccine is showing 90% efficacy, which although is lower than the Pfizer and Moderna trials, this only shows interim data.
The company is confident on getting the green light from regulatory authorities and is planning for a full-scale global rollout. The NHS now faces the challenge of the biggest vaccination campaign in UK history.
Full story – Sky News, 22 November 2020.
NHS ‘workforce disaster’ threatens a million operations and could cost lives, royal college warns
Widespread shortages of anaesthetists in the NHS could delay more than a million patient operations – with 9 out of every 10 hospitals reporting at least one vacancy.
More than 140,000 NHS patients have already waited over a year for treatment with waiting lists exacerbated by the coronavirus.
The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) told The Independent the scale of the vacancies was getting worse and labelled it a “workforce disaster” that could cost patients’ lives and have a widespread impact on hospital services.
Full story – The Independent, 22 November 2020.
Government paying £1m a day to store mountain of PPE – but NHS staff still short on supplies
Nearly 10,000 shipping containers full of vital PPE is sitting in storage in ports, despite warnings that many NHS staff in need of the protective gear still not receiving it.
Fees at the shipping container site at Felisxstove attract high rate fees so to deter use of facilities for long-term storage, according to The Telegraph sources. The payments could be avoided if PPE supplies were quickly moved on, allowing empty shipping containers to be returned.
Unions are warning that continuing logjams, and guidance restricting use of PPE, means many frontline workers are still being forced to carry out high-risk procedures without protection.
Full story – The Telegraph, 22 November 2020.
GPs to deliver just one fifth of Covid vaccines
Provisional plans, obtained by Pulse, reveal GPs in primary care networks in London will only deliver around 13% of coronavirus vaccines.
8% will be delivered by ‘roving units’ – 171 cars staffed by primary care. The vast majority – 700,000 a week – will be given at mass vaccination centres.
A leaked copy of NHS England’s national plans reveals 33.9 million vaccine doses – the largest proportion – will be carried out at ‘community mass vaccination sites’, understood to be designated GP practices open 12 hours a day, according to HSJ, which has seen the proposals.
Full story – Pulse Online, 23 November 2020.
NHS faces action over illegal transgender healthcare delays
NHS England is set to face legal action over the “persistent and long-standing breaches of the law,” within Gender Identity Development Services.
The legal action has been launched by a legal team on behalf of a teenager who has been denied access to the services. The action is supported by The Good Law Project based on NHS England’s statutory duty to ensure patients are seen within 18 weeks, after a referral from their GP.
However, transgender clinics have extraordinary wait times with some waiting up to 4 years for treatment. The Good Law Project says on average young trans, and non-binary people are waiting 18 months or more.
The legal action is also being backed by several charities including Stonewall, Amnesty International UK, Liberty and Gendered Intelligence.
Full story – Forbes, 23 November 2020.
NHS patients at risk as ICUs routinely understaffed, doctors warn
NHS intensive care units across the country are so routinely understaffed that patients are at risk of poor care, warn doctors working in them today. As many as four in five intensive care consultants report worrying shortages of doctors and nurses.
The unprecedented demands that Covid has placed on ICU staff across the country means that 1 in 7 ICU consultants are thinking of quitting or switching roles. Stress and burnout among medics who have borne the brunt of the pandemic is widespread.
The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) said the findings, from the UK-wide survey it undertook last month of senior ICU doctors and shared with the Guardian, showed that lack of staff in ICU is worryingly common.
Full story – The Guardian, 22 November 2020.
Student nurses on Covid placement in UK call for return of paid NHS contracts
Student nurses across the country are calling for the reinstatement of paid contracts for those on placement in UK hospitals, saying they feel “forgotten about” during the second wave. The original scheme for this ended in September.
As admissions to hospitals rise this winter, many student nurses are now being drafted in to help on Covid wards. In England and Scotland, their student status also means they are not automatically eligible for the death-in-service benefits that paid NHS staff receive.
Emily Cooper, a student nurse in Leicester said: “Death rates are higher and the cases in hospitals are higher, and we’re in lockdown again, so we feel hard done by because we’ve not got any protection or any kind of financial payment. We’re still out there on the frontline, and it’s a really scary time.”
Full story – The Guardian, 22 November 2020.
NHS to offer free flu jabs to over-50s from December
From 1 December, anyone over-50 will be able to get a free flu jab from their GP or pharmacist. The new scheme has been introduced in an effort to combat the “twin threats” of Covid and the flu this winter.
A number of people qualify for a free NHS flu jab, including the following:
- Those aged 65 or over, including those who’ll be 65 by 31 March 2021
- Those who are pregnant
- Those with certain medical conditions (the NHS has a full list)
- Those living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facilities
- Those who receive a carer’s allowance or who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person
- Front-line health and social care workers
- Children aged two or three on 31 August 2020
- Children over the age of six months with a long-term health condition
- All primary school-aged children (reception to year six)
- Those who live with someone at high risk from coronavirus
- All year seven children (those aged 11 and 12) in secondary school
- Those aged 50 to 64, but only from Tuesday 1 December onwards
Full story – Money Saving Expert, 20 November 2020.
Go-between paid £21m in taxpayer funds for NHS PPE
A document filed in US court has revealed a Spanish business man received £21m in taxpayer funds to act as a consultant for a PPE contract earlier this year. He was also set to receive a further £20m.
The legal document reveals the American supplier of PPE described the deals as “lucrative”.
A legal dispute is ongoing in Miami regarding the amount of money some companies have made supplying the NHS with PPE during the pandemic.
The deals are also set to be challenged in UK courts by The Good Law Project. They accuse government ministers of not paying “sufficient regard” to tax-payers’ money over a contract with the firm.
Full story – BBC News, 18 November 2020.
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