Lowdown stories and the editor’s pick from local media across the UK (8 May 2022)

NHS regional breakdown – ICS update

New book: NHS Under Siege

‘Integrated Care’ set to be a system of austerity and crisis

Push for virtual wards an opportunity for the private sector

Parliament finishes with the Health and Care bill, but what does it look like now?

Move to Palantir for leading NHS tech people

London medical students say they cannot live on NHS bursaries 

Medical students in London are reporting being unable to prioritise their studies as they have to work in part-time jobs to make ends meet. Students have begun the #LiveableNHSBursary campaign on Twitter where they are sharing the financial realities of studying.  

One medical association representative said students were being “forced to choose between eating or passing finals”. The government have said there are hardship grants available for those struggling the most.  

Khadija Meghrawi, co-chair of the BMA medical students committee, said: “It is deeply worrying that students are facing financial hardship because the support they are given during their degree is not enough to pay for their basis needs.” 

BBC News – 5 May 2022 

NHS rolls out lifesaving arthritis drug to treat severely ill Covid patients 

A new life-saving treatment for the most seriously ill Covid patients has been rolled out in NHS hospitals. The Recovery trial of 8,000 patients, carried out through the NHS, discovered that 13 per cent fewer severely ill patients died from the virus when treated with arthritis drug baricitinib compared to exisitng treatment options. 

Health officials say this drug is the latest in “an armoury of Covid treatments” that the health service has at its disposal. This now includes three re-purposed arthritis drugs that have treated more than 32,000 of the most severely ill Covid patients in hospital. 

The arthritis drugs work by reducing inflammation caused by Covid-19 by blocking signals to the immune system that are causing it to attack the body. Patients given baricitinib will receive a daily dose for 10 days, or until they are discharged from hospital, whichever comes first. 

Baricitinib is the seventh Covid treatment approved for use on the NHS, and will be used to treat hospitalised patients in line with MHRA guidance.  

INews – 6 May 2022 

Patients’ lives being ‘put at risk’ by NHS hospitals ‘crumbling in disrepair’ 

A lack of investment in NHS infrastructure has led to collapsing ceilings, power cuts during operations and ‘massive’ water leaks in maternity units in hospitals across England. The number of clinical incidents linked to a failure to repair crumbling buildings and fault equipment has tripled in the past five years. 

Freedom of Information requests reveal dozens of cases of collapsed ceilings in the last 3 years. Other incidents include an unconscious patient on a ventilator trapped in a broken lift for 35 minutes and sewage leaks through ceilings.  

The poor state of crumbling hospital buildings, many of which date back to the Victorian era, has led to hundreds of NHS operations and appointments being cancelled. Recent analysis by the Health Foundation found that the UK would have to double its capital spending on the NHS to meet the average of other OECD nations.  

The backlog in maintenance costs, resulting from lack of investment in NHS infrastructure and failure to replace equipment, has soared to £9.2 billion in the last five years. 

Metro – 3 May 2022 

NHS backlogs: ‘majority’ of retiring doctors won’t heed call to stay amid ‘unbearable’ conditions, says GP 

NHS England has recently sent a letter to hospital trusts asking that retired and recently retired doctors be requested to continue working part-time or from home to help clear health backlogs. 

The letter suggested that those nearing retirement or who had recently retired, but are still registered, could help train student doctors and nurses to free up current staff to carry out more procedures. 

However, a GP has claimed that the “vast majority” of retiring doctors will not heed the call to remain in the NHS amid “truly unbearable” working conditions. Jackie Applebee, chair of doctors’ Unite branch, said the lack of a long-term government plan to resolve staffing shortages would likely deter older medics from remaining in the profession.  

According to the General Medical Council, 21,000 doctors are due to retire in September 2022, while the NHS has an estimated staff shortfall of around 110,000. 

INews – 5 May 2022 

Face masks may soon be recycled into prosthetics under NHS green scheme 

Plans considered by one of London’s largest NHS trusts include surgical face masks being turned into prosthetics, bed pans, syringes or clogs for theatre staff. Imperial College Healthcare is investigating the feasibility of separating the “hundreds of thousands” of masks being used across 5 hospitals each month to allow them to be recycled. 

NHS-wide regulations require IIR disposable masks to be worn throughout the hospital, including by visitors, despite easing of the pandemic restrictions. These are the light blue, fluid-resistant masks with elasticated ear bands that differ from the advanced FFP masks used in higher risk environments. Currently, contaminated masks are disposed of alongside other medical items and taken to be turned into energy at a plant near Heathrow. 

Dr Bob Klaber of Imperial said the trust is determined to minimise waste in commitment to sustainability and reducing “carbon footprint”. This project is one of the first to address growing issue of plastic waste in the NHS since the pandemic. He said: “We may discover that collecting all these things isn’t worth it and we are better off sending them to be burned into energy but it feels promising.” 

Evening Standard – 5 May 2022 

Pledge of 50,000 more nurses fails to have any ‘substantial impact’ 

The NHS is on track to recruit 50,000 more nurses by March 2024 but this will have little impact on the number of unfilled posts and recruitment is not keeping up with demand, according to a new report by the King’s Fund. 

The report also suggests that their findings were not explained by worsening retention rates but the demand for nurses rising more quickly than new nurses can be trained or recruited.  

This comes as earlier this month, MPs rejected a plan for the second time to publish regular healthcare workforce analysis designed to identify and help tackle the shortfall in staff. There are currently still around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies across NHS England. 

Jonathan Holmes, policy adviser at The King’s Fund commented: “It has been too easy for successive governments to duck the health and care workforce challenge. The regular publication of workforce supply and demand projections would create the much-needed impetus to tackle the staffing crisis.” 

Nursing Notes – 4 May 2022  

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