Lowdown stories and the editor’s pick from local media across the UK (15 November 2021)

The Health and Care Bill “a wasted opportunity” – Justin Madders MP gives and an insider’s view

NHS diagnostics losing out to the private sector

Kent campaigners fight on for stroke services

UNISON fights new subco plan

Private hospitals v NHS: study is not the full picture

More flaws exposed in ‘integrated care’

Antiviral approved as effective against Gamma, Delta, and Mu variants

NHS success in fighting cervical cancer


Thousands take part in NHS trial for cancer blood test

Thousands of volunteers are being invited to give blood samples as part of a trial for a test, known as the Galleri test, that detects 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.

The NHS trial aims to recruit 140,000 volunteers, who will give blood samples at mobile clinics around the country. The sampling began in Derby on 13 November. The trial is invitation-only, and the NHS is sending thousands of letters to people aged between 50 and 77.

After giving an initial sample, they will be invited back after 12 months, and again at two years, to give further blood samples.

The test works by finding chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumours into the bloodstream.

Full story BBC News, 13 November 2021

Teignmouth Hospital closure plans to be reviewed

Plans to close Teignmouth Community Hospital in Devon will be reviewed by independent experts after an intervention by the health secretary.

Campaigners have argued against NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) plans and said hospital beds were “desperately needed”. A petition entitled ‘Hands Off Teignmouth Hospital’ has been supported by more than 1,000 people.

Local MP, Anne Marie Morris, warned if the independent panel found the changes in South Devon were not in the best interest of residents, they would probably require the CCG to re-run the consultation process, not stop the plans altogether.

Full story BBC News, 13 November 2021

Closure at Crowborough Hospital Extended

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust has announced that the closure of the minor injuries unit at Crowborough War Memorial Hospital hospital has officially been extended. The closure began in August for eight weeks as what was announced as a temporary measure

A re-opening date has not been given but the Trust and body responsible for commissioning services in the county have agreed a review of arrangements in February 2022. Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust has said the closure is to focus staff and resources at Uckfield and Lewes.

Full story in Crowborough Life, 12 November 2021

Lowest paid NHS staff on track for another pay cut as pension rates skyrocket

The Government is planning to cut the real-terms pay of NHS workers once again as it proposes fundamental changes to the NHS pension scheme. Nearly a million of the lowest-paid NHS workers could see their pension contributions rise next year if the proposals are accepted.

A consultation document reveals that a band 2 healthcare assistant would see their pension contributions increase from 5.6% today to 6.1% in April 2022 then 6.6% in April 2023 – a real-terms pay cut of around £25 a month. Meanwhile a senior band 5 registered nurse would see their contributions jump in a single rise from 9.3% to 9.8%.

Full story in Nursing Notes, 8 November 2021

Ambulance trust’s comms system knocked out by system failure

On 10 November, East of England Ambulance Service Trust suffered a system failure severing the communications link between control room and crews, raising fundamental concerns about staff and patient safety.

The Trust had to re-route 999 calls to neighbouring ambulance trusts and enact a national contingency plan after its computer aided dispatch and telephony systems “experienced a failure”. The system was now back in operation a few hours later.

This type of issue is incredibly rare, as these systems are integral to safely run services – meaning the blackout raised both staff and patient safety concerns.

Full story in The HSJ, 10 November 2021

Mental Health Patients Stranded in Hospital After Rise in Delayed Discharges

New data reveals that mental health bed occupancy rates are high across the country, while waiting times for mental health patients before being discharged are rising.

The number of times mental health patients are stranded in hospital after they should have been discharged has risen by 50% in 12 months after falling during the Coronavirus pandemic, sparking fears that a shortage of care home and supported housing places is affecting the NHS.

Full story in Byline Times, 8 November 2021

Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge ‘ceasing to function as a hospital’ and may send patients to Birmingham or London, warns chief executive

The Chief executive of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Roland Sinker, has warned: “You’d have to be asleep to not realise the profound nature of the crisis we’re in.”

He said he is “anxious and scared” and that Addenbrooke’s “is ceasing to function as a hospital”.

The hospital is currently being forced to cancel operations daily and may have to restrict access to care if the situation does not improve. Patients could be sent to hospitals in Birmingham or London if Addenbrooke’s does not tackle its ongoing bed crisis, health chiefs have warned.

Full story in Cambridge Independent, 6 November 2021

Extended closure of Minehead MIU prompts MP’s fury

The closure of a Minehead Community Hospital’s minor injury unit overnight will be extended for six months until May 2022. The MIU stopped seeing patients during the night in July 2021.

At the time Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said it had concerns over the safety of the out-of-hours service. 

West Somerset  MP Ian Liddell-Grainger claims the NHS is ‘plotting’ to reduce services in West Somerset. He is convinced there is a plan on the table to permanently close Minehead’s MIU at night.

Full story in The Somerset County Gazette, 6 November 2021

NHS: Welsh nurses ballot on industrial action begins

A WELSH nursing union today begins balloting members on industrial action, weeks after pay talks with the Welsh Government fell down.

The indicative ballot by the Royal College of Nursing Wales will ask members whether they’re willing to strike in pursuit of a better pay deal.

Nurses will be asked whether they support striking, or action short of a strike, such as “working to rule” – in which staff carry out the minimum work required by their job contract and no more. 

The Welsh Government has awarded NHS staff a 3% pay rise, but as this is lower than the rate of inflation it represents a real-term pay cut.

Full story in The South Wales Argus, 4 November 2021

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