Researchers to investigate method of growing new blood vessels

A new treatment for stimulating the growth of new blood vessels in the heart will be investigated by researchers at the University of Bristol thanks to funding of over £100,000 from national charity Heart Research UK.

A heart attack is caused by a blockage of one or more coronary arteries of the heart, which prevents blood and oxygen reaching the heart muscle.

Treatment for heart attacks include reopening the blocked coronary artery with stents or bypass surgery, though there are limitations with these treatments. Reopening coronary arteries is often insufficient to achieve a complete salvage of the heart, and the damage caused by a heart attack can lead to heart failure.

A potential new treatment is to increase the blood flow to damaged heart tissue by using drugs that encourage the body to grow new blood vessels.

The project will be led by Prof Paolo Madeddu, Chair of Experimental Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Bristol, who, along with his team, discovered that an excess of a protein called BACH1 can prevent blood vessel formation.

Prof Madeddu and his team hope to show that the use of BACH1 inhibitors can stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. If successful, this would be the first step in developing them into drug treatments for heart disease. This would result in improved quality of life and reduced risk of developing heart failure.

Also, this treatment may benefit people suffering from other diseases where new vessel growth is needed, such as poor blood circulation in the legs, or damage to other organs, such as the kidney, brain and eyes.

Prof Madeddu said: “The use of BACH1 inhibitors is a very promising area of study that promises to have a huge impact on the way that we treat a wide range of conditions.

“If we are successful, the door will be opened for a whole new method of treating people who have suffered damage to their hearts. The ability to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels will allow us to drastically improve the quality of life of patients who may be at risk of heart failure.

“We’re very grateful to Heart Research UK for allowing us to undertake this research.”

Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive of Heart Research UK, said:We are delighted to be supporting the research of Prof Madeddu and his team, which has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of people developing heart failure after a heart attack.

“Our Translational Research Project Grants are all about bridging the gap between laboratory-based scientific research and patient care – they aim to bring the latest developments to patients as soon as possible.

 “The dedication we see from UK researchers is both encouraging and impressive and Heart Research UK is so proud to be part of it.”

The £107,726 Translational Research Project grant was awarded to the University of Bristol as part of Heart Research UK’s annual awards for research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.

Last year, Heart Research UK awarded more than £1.6 million in grants for medical research projects across the UK. To date, the charity has invested more than £25 million in medical research via its grants programme.

Project to predict cardiovascular events at University of Manchester receives Heart Research UK grant

A project at the University of Manchester aiming to develop a new tool for predicting the risk of a cardiovascular event or death in patients who have already suffered a heart attack has received a grant of almost £150,000 from national charity Heart Research UK.

In the UK, around 7 million people are living with cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is responsible for one in four deaths.

People with CVD are up to five times more likely to have a stroke, are six times more likely to die compared to those without, and up to half of them suffer a second heart attack.

There are currently no methods to predict the risk in this group of patients, so there is an urgent need for such tools to help assess the risk of future cardiovascular events and deaths in patients who already have CVD.

The project, which will be led by Prof Mamas Mamas, Professor of Cardiology at Keele University and Honorary Professor of Population Health at the University of Manchester, will use medical data to develop a tool that predicts the risk of a future cardiovascular event or death, in people who have already had a heart attack with the aim of improving care of patients with CVD.

The development of such a tool would improve the quality of care for patients with CVD by helping GPs to identify patients at higher risk of future cardiovascular events and death, meaning that lifestyle changes can be made or appropriate medical treatment given to reduce their risk.

Prof Mamas said: “This is an incredibly exciting project that we hope will be able to make a real difference to survivors of heart attacks. If we can accurately predict the likelihood of them suffering another cardiovascular event, then we can intervene early and hopefully reduce their risk.

“This will not only help to improve their quality of life, but could ensure that patients receive care tailored to their condition, increasing its effectiveness and helping to reduce the strain on our health service.”

Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive of Heart Research UK, said:We are delighted to be supporting the work of Prof Mamas and his team, which has the potential to have a big impact on how effective we can be at preventing people suffering from a cardiovascular event.

“Our Translational Research Project Grants are all about bridging the gap between laboratory-based scientific research and patient care – they aim to bring the latest developments to patients as soon as possible.

 “The dedication we see from UK researchers is both encouraging and impressive and we at Heart Research UK are proud to be part of it.”

The £147,816 Translational Research Project grant was awarded to the University of Manchester as part of Heart Research UK’s annual awards for research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.


Last year, Heart Research UK awarded more than £1.6 million in grants for medical research projects across the UK. To date, the charity has invested more than £25 million in medical research via its grants programme.


Survey highlights growing concern for patient safety amongst theatre practitioners

  • 86% of theatre practitioners witnessed bullying within the perioperative environment
  • 39% of theatre practitioners asked to do things outside of their role scope
  • 86% of theatre practitioners concerned about patient safety due to bullying in the workplace

Poor mental health amongst nurses and the effect it has on patient care is one of the most talked-about issues in healthcare, but a recent survey carried out by the Association for Perioperative Practice has highlighted that these issues could extend far beyond nurses and in fact appear to be prevalent in an area where patient safety is equally as vital; the operating theatre.

According to the survey of just under 800 theatre practitioners, an alarming 86% feel concerned about staff wellbeing and the effect it is having on patient safety, with the results indicating that bullying is one of the major factors raising their concern.

Of those who took part, again 86% said they had witnessed bullying within the perioperative environment on more than one occasion, with 71% of these stating they had also been a victim of bullying themselves.

In addition, when asked whether they would feel able to speak up and report the instances of bullying towards them, whilst 73% said they felt they could, over a quarter of respondentssaid they felt they would be too scared to make a formal complaint.

Whilst bullying in the operating theatre was the biggest concern for respondents, the survey also indicated that an alarming number of theatre practitioners – 39% – are often asked to do things that fall outside of their scope of practice.

What’s more, 25% of these indicated that when asked to perform things they are not qualified to or allowed to do under their scope of practice, they felt too scared to say no.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Dawn Stott CEO of the association said: “We are all very aware of the concerns about poor mental health amongst perioperative professionals but it’s alarming to hear about the impact practitioners feel it’s having on patient safety.

“It’s more important than ever that we find ways to improve the negative culture within operating theatres and help practitioners maintain the high quality of patient care they expect and strive to provide.”

The independent, anonymous online survey was completed by 712 theatre practitioners from across the UK, all of who stated they were registered healthcare professionals and whose roles fell under the umbrella of operating department practitioners, theatre nurses, scrub nurses, anaesthetists or recovery nurses.

The results constitute phase one of AfPP’s survey analysis, which will be published in three phases as part of their Caring for those who Care campaign.

The campaign, which will look at how best to improve negative cultures within the operating theatre as well raising awareness of the impact on patient safety, will be a core focus for AfPP throughout 2020.

Charity Launches Nationwide Survey to Understand Challenges of Perioperative Workforce

The Association for Perioperative Practice has launched a nationwide survey in a bid to better understand the challenges faced by those working within the operating theatre and associated areas.

The online survey, which aims to identify the prevalence and effects of issues such as bullying, pressure and the level of support from senior members of the operating theatre, comprises a series of questions relating to best practice, culture, and behaviour within the perioperative environment.

Respondents will be asked to select whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the question they are presented with.

The Harrogate-based charity has purposely ensured responses will be kept completely anonymous so that theatre practitioners and students have a safe outlet where they can communicate their experiences and concerns honestly.

Dawn Stott, CEO of the association said: “We are continually looking for ways to support the perioperative workforce and understand how certain issues affect patient safety and outcomes.

“Whilst we know that working within the perioperative environment is an extremely rewarding profession, we’ve recognised that for some, it can bring challenges. Some of these challenges are perfectly normal and unpreventable, but some are considered unacceptable.

“We want to provide a safe space for people to communicate these challenges so that we can gain a better understanding of the severance and tailor the support we provide.”

As the leading membership organisation for the perioperative workforce, the Association for Perioperative Practice put patient and staff safety at the heart of all they do.

For almost 60 years they have worked to enhance skills and knowledge within operating departments, sterile services departments and associated areas.

Their mission is to improve standards of care and patient safety within the perioperative arena by determining correct standards and promoting best practice, facilitating education and practice development, providing professional support services for perioperative practitioners, providing a forum for partnership with industry and shaping healthcare policy in the UK.

They developed the survey following worldwide claims that the environment in which healthcare workers are working is rapidly declining, causing severe burnout and a variety of preventable mental health struggles.

The charity believes that by obtaining first-hand knowledge of the issues those working in the theatre environment are facing, they can further enhance their support to members and the wider perioperative community.

Dawn added:  “As an organisation, we take patient outcomes and the wellbeing of all perioperative practitioners very seriously.

“What we want to do is obtain an accurate understanding of the issues they may be facing, but also understand the percentage of people they affect so that we can campaign for change.

“There’s a lot of negativity in the media at the moment, so we also hope to highlight that in some perioperative environments, many healthcare workers have very positive experiences.

“By also communicating the positives, we hope to raise awareness that a perioperative career can be extremely rewarding and enjoyable.”

Data collected from the survey will be analysed internally and used to drive a nine-month campaign focusing specifically on the importance of creating a positive perioperative environment and how this aids best practice, correct standards of surgery and leads to better patient outcomes.

Those working within the perioperative environment and associated areas are invited to provide their honest thoughts and feedback via the online survey here, throughout the whole of December.


Anaphylaxis charity offers guidance for families and young people living with allergies

Since the Anaphylaxis Campaign was founded 25 years ago hospital admissions for children and young people has increased sharply with latest figures from NHS Digital showing a 70% rise in children under 18 in the last five years.

Although there is no single cause for the rising prevalence of allergy and numerous possible reasons are still under debate, it’s important that the right support and information is available to those affected.

Living with the risk of anaphylaxis can be stressful for both parent and child and we receive a high number of calls to our National Helpline concerning children and young people, including questions on bullying and the psychological impact of having an allergy. We’ve created educational and supportive initiatives to make sure young people are not only safe but also feel supported throughout their development.

In schools, we believe staff should be regularly trained on how to deal with allergies and anaphylaxis. Medications such as auto adrenaline injectors (AAIs) should always be available and pupils should not be excluded from activities because of their allergies.

We offer free primary and secondary resources as part of our Making Schools Safer Project which include lesson plans and assembly presentations, and this year the number of downloads of these resources has increased by over half (52%) showing a growing interest in allergy awareness.

Parents and carers of young children, as well as school staff, can also take our free 45-minute online AllergyWise courses to gain a greater understanding of what anaphylaxis is and how to respond in an emergency situation.

16 to 25 year olds are a high risk group, disproportionately more prone to die from an allergic reaction than other age groups.  As they reach adulthood, they may engage in more risk taking behaviour including experimenting with new foods, travelling alone or with friends, reluctance to share information and resistance to carrying AAIs on them at all times.

Some young people can often feel embarrassed when speaking about their allergy, and working with the Food Standards Agency and Allergy UK, the #EasytoASK campaign aims to empower young people, make them aware of their right to safe food, and raise awareness amongst peers and food businesses.

University will often be the first-time they have to manage their allergies on their own and many face challenges living in shared accommodation and going on nights out. We provide more information on these subjects on our website.

In 2020, we’re planning to host our first Teen Away Days aimed at 11 to 17-year olds who have severe allergies. These events are designed to encourage individuals to share their experiences in a supportive environment and build confidence within their peer group.

Our Chief Executive Lynne Regent said:

“As young people are more at risk it’s very important that those who work closely or spend time with children and young people are knowledgeable on what to do in the event of a severe allergic reaction.

“It’s also not just about creating a safer environment, but ensuring young people aren’t excluded and that they feel supported and confident to discuss their allergies.”

The Anaphylaxis Campaign is the only UK charity operating solely for the people at risk from severe allergic reactions If you have an allergy or care for someone who does or if you work in education, healthcare or the food industry and need information or support on allergies, you contact our helpline team by calling 01252 542029 or email

Technology social enterprise Appt Health wins Innovate UK funding to improve population health

The UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, has awarded a promising technology start-up funding to ensure that people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while reducing health inequalities.

Appt Health plans to take on this Grand Challenge mission by working with care providers to increase the uptake of screening programmes in the UK, while ensuring their methods are accessible to all.

Currently, England has 11 screening programmes delivered by primary care providers. These range from bowel and cervical cancer screening to heart health risk factor identification programmes.

As it stands, screening rates are well below the national targets that were set out for them. For example, the NHS Health Check, which is designed to spot the early signs of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, has seen just 35% of those eligible attending an appointment.

Research suggests that inaccessible appointments, lack of understanding of their purpose, and difficulty for GP practice staff to efficiently invite patients is part of the underlying problem resulting in low uptake rates.

Working closely with healthcare commissioners and front-line care providers, Appt Health is in the process of building a software solution to the problem. They will create a platform that integrates into GP practice administration systems, automatically messaging eligible patients with a series of invitations designed to engage the public in their healthcare journey.

The social enterprise is currently utilising the Innovate UK funding to conduct an at-scale randomised control trial in 18 GP practices in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, one of the UKs most deprived regions.

The trial will provide evidence that Appt can deliver on their goal of consistently achieving 65% uptake of the NHS Health Check, with significantly less effort from GP practice staff.

The Appt Health team has provided us with an exclusive update on the first round of invitations sent to patients, which was an optimised SMS message that allowed patients to choose and book a suitable time for themselves by simply responding to the SMS.

The first SMS invitation achieved a 45% booking rate, meaning more than 600 people in Barking & Dagenham who received one of Appt’s special text messages booked themselves into an NHS Health Check appointment.

The full trial will be completed by April 2020, with a full report due to be released by the social enterprise and Barking and Dagenham local authority soon afterwards.

A source of inspiration for amputees!

Here’s a blog post by Lasse with the purpose of giving a source of inspiration that can be shared amongst open-minded people that might need a push in the right direction and a tiny bit of motivation.

I started this since I got contacted by people in different life situations with the question, “how do you do it (sports, yoga, running, etc.) in your situation?”. This made me write a book, “Landing on my feet,” focusing primarily on new amputees, which then lead me to start the Instagram with the same name full of videos, pictures, and how-to’s, which you can see here. I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the things I share, and it’s almost turning into a small community of both extreme sports amputees, normal amputees, normal people, and athletes as well.

Today Lasse is in a position where he can continually push boundaries and mindset to live with fewer and fewer limitations. As an example, he practices yoga, running, power tumbling/gymnastics, CrossFit, biking, and rowing every week, which he shares on his Instagram to inspire others.

If you have any feedback or ideas for collaboration, he would love to hear back from you! So feel free to check out both the Instagram and the book, and share it if you find it relevant 🙂


Lack of funding leads to people with Severe Mental illness struggling to access Support

It has been estimated that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year with the British Medical association describing mental illness as “the single largest burden of disease in the UK.” Despite government pledges to put mental health on equal footing with physical health it has been shown that mental health services are understaffed and underfunded. As a result, it has been shown that people with Severe Mental Illnesses are struggling to access treatment for their conditions.

Parity of Esteem

The Health and Social care act of 2012 created a legal responsibility for there to be a ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical conditions. This means that mental health would be valued as much as physical health. However, despite mental health problems accounting for 23% of the burden of disease in the UK it was found by the mental health dashboard that CCGs only spent 13% of funding on mental health services.

Reducing the Stigma surrounding Mental Health

In recent years there has been a reduction of the stigma surrounding mental health among the general public moreover not only are people more accepting of someone with a mental health condition, a survey into British social attitudes towards mental health found that people spend longer thinking about their own mental health and are more willing to seek help for problems they experience with their mental health. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) state

As we raise awareness, more people rightly ask for professional support’.

However, as mental health becomes increasingly destigmatised it is becoming clearer that there is a lack of resources for the amount and complexity of conditions people seeking support from mental health services require. One of the key reasons for this is that the NHS is significantly underfunded. Although the mental health services are currently receiving unprecedented funding and support from the government It has been found that if the NHS increased the proportion of people with mental health conditions it treats to 70% by 2033 then spending would have to increase by £27 billion.

Short Staffed

Many mental health roles are being left unfulfilled with it being found that 1 in 10 consultant psychiatrists roles are vacant and although there has been an increase in the number of people being able to access talk therapies such as CBT there are not enough people in specialist positions that can provide support for people with more severe mental health illnesses. As these people have more complex mental health needs they often have to wait the longest to receive help.

Waiting Times

It has been shown that in recent years increased funding has allowed 89% of people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety to access psychological therapy within six weeks of referral. However, the British Medical Association has found that people with more severe mental health illnesses had to wait longer with some people having to wait up to two years for treatment. The British medical society says

Without the right therapy, some patients deteriorate and become more vulnerable, being passed from GP surgeries to emergency departments unable to find the most appropriate treatment for their illness.”

Unfortunately, it is often the case that the health of people with a mental health condition deteriorates before they are able to receive help. The charity young minds recently found that three quarters of young people’s health deteriorated while waiting for treatment. Indeed, in a survey of mental health surveys users by the royal college of psychiatrists and the mental health charity rethink found that one user was told that they would have to wait six months before to access child and adolescence mental health services unless they went to A & E the user commented:

you shouldn’t be told [that]. Why should I have to reach that point?”

Preventing the worsening of mental health conditions is particularly important in light of evidence that suggests early intervention is the best way of reducing the severity of the condition for example with schizophrenia it has been suggested that an effective way of preventing someone with schizophrenia having later psychotic episodes is to prevent the first psychotic episode from occurring. However less than 0.1% of total annual NHS budget is spent on prevention and it has been found that when people with severe mental health illnesses first went to their GPs they were unable to access treatment because although they were showing some symptoms of a condition they did not yet meet the criteria for a mental health condition.

There is also the problem of people having to travel far from their home to receive treatment with it being found that at end of June 2018, there were 645 inappropriate out-of-area bed placements. this can delay recovery and make it more difficult for families, carers and friends to visit. Yet again the people most affected by this are those with more severe mental health illnesses. All this evidence shows that although there has been significant attention and funding directed towards mental health more needs to be done so that people with severe mental illnesses can access support.

Article by University of Birmingham intern Natasha Osborn Patel

First evidence-based online service launches to empower cancer patients to help themselves after diagnosis

Cancer patients now have access to evidence-based information about how their lifestyle and other choices can affect both the quality of life and outcomes after diagnosis, thanks to a new online service developed in the UK.

The service, developed by (, is the end result of a major collaboration between leading oncologists, exercise and wellbeing experts, nutritionists and patients. Content on the site includes the latest scientific evidence, put in easy to understand terms, about how patients can empower themselves after diagnosis. There is particular emphasis on how exercise, diet and mental health can improve the quality of life, reduce the risk of recurrence or, in some cases, extend life expectancy.

The website features a course of specially commissioned animated videos outlining measures cancer patients can take to help try to improve their position alongside conventional treatment – advice usually not given by specialists.

Following diagnosis, many patients and their families turn to ‘Dr Google’ in an attempt to seek further information on what more can be done to improve their position. Resorting to the internet can be overwhelming, negative and, in some cases, result in worse outcomes if conventional treatment is shunned in favour of alternatives, or if patients try experimental therapies that are dangerous.

Curve seeks to address this knowledge gap and encourages patients to take an active role in their treatment whilst working collaboratively with doctors during their treatment.

Placing physical exercise and diet as potential major influencers on outcomes for cancer patients, the service is the first of its kind to provide an online destination for patients to help them not only feel better but also live longer, whatever the prognosis.

For example, exercise has repeatedly been shown in observational studies to reduce rates of recurrence, improve wellbeing and significantly reduce treatment side effects, yet it is not recommended as a matter of course in cancer treatments or as part of the accepted NHS ‘pathway.’

The online videos, designed to help and empower cancer patients, are hosted and voiced by the Scottish born comic and former host of ‘The Late, Late Show’, Craig Ferguson* who donated his involvement fee to fund further research.

The service is the brainchild of entrepreneur, Jed Coleman. Jed Coleman founded after trying to help his father deal with metastatic cancer and quickly realising that there were many things his father could do alongside his medical team to help himself.

Jed Coleman commented: “There is substantial evidence in favour of exercise and improved outcomes in treating chronic illnesses and cancers. Yet frustratingly, it’s still not standard practice to recommend exercise for cancer patients, let alone help them actually exercise or even make it part of the standard of care. It’s often dismissed and not even touched upon as a legitimate form of treatment that can begin on diagnosis. The reason for the reluctance to push exercise among many health professionals is that they say more evidence is needed which we believe perfectly highlights the point that patients need to think for themselves.

“Any rational cancer patient reviewing the current evidence on exercise would conclude that they ought to be exercising because it will not only make them feel better but will probably also make them live longer too. This can make all the difference to patients with cancer who are being told that more evidence is needed before it can be said with certainty that exercise will definitely help. Patients, who don’t have the luxury of time, don’t require certainty – they require reasonable evidence that exercise can help and the evidence supports this conclusion.”

Dr. Jonathan Krell, an expert advisor to Curve, notes a good support network is key when dealing with cancer: “Evidence shows that those with poor social ties fare much worse overall, and this is related not just to cancer but all chronic diseases. This is what we are trying to achieve with Curve, encouraging self-help, personal research and insight and the sharing of information that might be helpful to people on their own cancer journeys.”

Jed Coleman added: “Curve’s sole aim is to help cancer patients do better whatever their prognosis. Doing better means beating the average outcome by a long way. We want to encourage patients to take an active role in their treatment and work collaboratively with their doctors as complementing treatment programmes with lifestyle and other interventions can help improve the quality of life and outcomes. This is, in our view, the best way that patients can maximise their chances of beating average cancer survival rates by a long way.

“The bedrock of cancer self-help is diet, exercise and stress management, which evidence shows all have a significant role to play and can help. They are also all factors within easy reach of all patients. Curve helps fulfil a key aim of the NHS which is to activate patients to help themselves and better manage chronic conditions such as cancer. It’s not just in prevention that patients have a key role to play – after diagnosis it’s just as important.”

Visit for more information.

Two Cannabis-based Medicines Approved but Other Sufferers Left in Limbo

Two cannabis-based medicines used to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis has been approved for use by NHS England. The move is a welcome step forward following repeated campaigns by the families of two children, Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley. The guidelines approved by NICE will help MS and epilepsy sufferers but any cannabis medicine that contains active THC as a painkiller – remains banned. Many charities say thousands of people have been left in limbo, Need2Know Books explains why.

Change in the law in 2018 made it legal for doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis however many GPs have still been reluctant to do so, citing a lack of clear guidance. NICE, the drugs advisory body, has stated, “People with chronic pain should not be prescribed drugs containing THC, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.” These restrictions leave thousands of people with a range of conditions in limbo.

The Essential Guide to Cannabis by Need2Know Books helps to demystify the stigmas that surround cannabis. It includes chapters covering risks and addiction; the legal status of cannabis and a comprehensive guide for parents. Whether the reader is a ‘user’, ‘concerned parent’, ‘teacher’ or just an ‘interested party’ the book covers all aspects of cannabis use in easy to understand language.

Cannabis is widely available in the UK. It can be bought on almost every street corner albeit, illegally. The 2018 change in law recognised, after much campaigning, that there is conclusive evidence of medicinal benefit for patients who use cannabis-based medicines containing both THC and cannabidiol (CBD).

Clinical trials for Children with epilepsy have shown the oral solution, which contains cannabidiol (CBD), could reduce the number of seizures by up to 40%. Unfortunately this evidence has been ignored and those who suffer with pain, MS, epilepsy and a range of conditions are forced to buy from abroad which is expensive and risks a criminal record.

Missie Hinton, from the campaign End Our Pain, said, “This restrictive guidance is condemning many patients to having to pay for life-transforming medicine privately, to go without or to consider accessing illegal and unregulated sources.”

“It is particularly devastating that there is no positive recommendation that the NHS should allow prescribing of whole-plant medical cannabis containing both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC in appropriate cases of intractable childhood epilepsy,” she said.

For further information and to receive a press copy of The Essential Guide to Cannabis please email: