The BBC has reported that the NHS in London spent almost £13m on public relations in the last three years. A BBC London investigation has found the information and claims the costs are enough to recruit 600 nurses.
Around £9.7m was spent on press officers’ salaries at hospitals and primary care trusts (PCTs), while private PR companies were paid a further £3m.
Critics called for “medical doctors not spin doctors”, pointing to longer waiting times and cancelled operations.
Some trusts said PR spending was needed to educate the public on health issues. The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to all 33 London hospitals, in addition to the capital’s primary care trusts and NHS London.
The research revealed some 82 press officers on the public payroll, with an average salary of £37,278.
By stark contrast, in 1981 there were only eight press officers working in the entire NHS.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, said: “Far too many patients experience longer waiting times, cancelled operations and standards of care below what they deserve.
“These figures are a concerning example of the cost of NHS PR – it is sadly patients paying the price.
“Many will ask whether this funding would be better spent on medical doctors, rather than spin doctors.”
Yet the outlay on staff press officers was supplemented by millions of pounds handed to private PR firms.
Read the full BBC article here.
From the invention of the ultrasound scan in the 1950s to the world’s first computerised bionic leg in 2012, technology allows us to see the human body in new ways and to diagnose and map treatment and recovery with increasing efficiency. Sometimes developments have resulted from collaborations with other fast-developing industries such as engineering or computer software development.
Here is an overview of some widespread and groundbreaking technological developments in recent years.
Hospitals all over the globe are making a commitment towards achieving filmless radiology, which means, that when a patient has an x-ray or scan, the image is transferred directly to a computer screen. The benefits of filmless radiology include being able to distribute images quickly and use computer programmes to map out pre-operative plans including programmes for fracture management, which can apply electronic templates to x-ray scans to work out the right course of treatment for mending breaks without wasting resources. Advances in radiology allow us to see further into the body without resorting to surgery. Organs, such as the heart, which were once considered inaccessible by traditional one-dimensional x-rays, are now more easily examined.
Nanopore sequencing works by passing a single strand of DNA through a protein pore formed in a membrane (imagine threading a piece of hair through a thin piece of fabric). Next an electric current is streamed through the pore. ‘DNA bases’ are the building blocks of the double helix DNA structure and they disrupt the electrical current in different ways, which allows the sequencing machine to electronically read out the sequence and interpret DNA bases directly. The technology could make genome sequencing faster, cheaper, and even handy enough to allow doctors to order sequencing as they would a routine blood test, making the technology accessible to more and more patients. DNA sequencing can help to identify mutations in cancerous tumors and personalize a patient’s treatment.
An example of collaboration between industries can be seen in the development of the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) in the 1990s. NASA engineers in Houston worked with Doctors to develop an artificial heart pump, which was based on the space shuttle’s own fuel pumps. The pump helps to keep people healthy as they await heart transplants — and can, on occasion, remove the need for a transplant. In the UK in 2009, surgeons removed a donor heart from a toddler after her own VAD assisted heart had recovered.
In 2012 a Belgian company introduced the bendable microchip, which measures just 30 micrometers in length (that’s 3 hundredths of a millimeter) and can be inserted directly into the human body, where it can internally process and relay important information about changes in a patient’s physiological condition. These innovative microchips are made from ‘off the shelf’ computer microchips which are ground down to create their tiny flexible counterparts. This technology is still in prototype stage but could signal a major shift in patient monitoring and speed of diagnosis.
Unlike traditional surgery, cosmetic surgery is largely aesthetic and is performed for the purpose of improving a person’s appearance. Whilst we may be familiar with certain types of cosmetic surgery such as plastic surgery, breast implants, liposuction and the revision of scars, cosmetic surgery also includes the following:
- Surgery of the Eyelids
- Forehead / Face Lifts
- Laser Vein Treatment
- Hair Replacement
- Surgery of the Chin
- Surgery of the Ears
- Surgery of the Nose
- Surgery of the Face
- Thread Lift
- Skin Resurfacing
- Chin Reduction
It is now common knowledge that if you have been injured (physically or psychologically) in an accident that was not your fault then you could be entitled to bring a compensation claim against the negligent party where that party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care places an obligation on one party to act with sufficient care to ensure that the other party’s health and safety is not at risk and extends to medical professionals including cosmetic surgeons and their medical team.
As cosmetic surgery becomes more common so does cosmetic surgery negligence. Surgeons have a professional duty, as with other types of clinical care to assess the risks of cosmetic surgery including whether or not it is safe to perform the surgery and a prudent surgeon will have more than one consultation with the patient before carrying out the surgery. The purpose of the consultation is for the surgeon to find out the patients objectives and to explain the procedure but also to
advise the patient of any risks involved so that the patient can make an informed decision.
The types of injuries than can flow from cosmetic surgery negligence vary from minor scars and infections to disfigurement, amputation and in extreme circumstances can lead to death. The negligence can also extend to poor after care. The reasons for the negligence can vary equally from failing to obtain the patient’s medical history to not performing the operation in a safe and sterile environment.
A patient can be held contributory negligence i.e. be held partly responsible for his or her injuries due to the patient’s own negligence. This means that whilst the patient can still make a claim for compensation the amount of compensation that is
likely to be awarded will be reduced to take into account the degree of the patient’s own negligence.
Contributory negligence can be avoided by ensuring that your medical history is truthfully disclosed to the surgeon from allergies to smoking. This might sound unusual but it is not unheard of for patients to hide medical details to ensure that they are not denied access to cosmetic surgery. Patients should also ensure that the surgeon carrying out the procedure is registered with and regulated by the General Medical Council.
In order to make a cosmetic surgery negligence claim a claimant will have to establish that the standard to care provided by the medical establishment fell below that of the reasonable standard that would be expected of a competent medical professional.
Making a Claim
If you feel you should make a claim for cosmetic surgery negligence then you should ensure that you do so within three years of the date of the surgeon’s negligence otherwise you will be barred from doing so under the statute of limitation.
The amount of compensation you could be awarded following a cosmetic surgery negligence claim will vary depending on the seriousness of the injury and will be calculated in line with government guidelines and previously decided cases (case law). Some examples of possible personal injury compensation can be found here.
In addition to the compensation for any physical or psychological injuries a claimant can also make a claim for consequential loss such as medical bills, care costs, travel expenses, loss of income and any other reasonably foreseeable loss that flows as a direct result of the cosmetic surgery negligence
Today’s clinicians are bursting with knowledge, whether it’s updated information from the latest journal or data they read 30 years ago in a university classroom. These clinicians have to filter through their own knowledge base and continually tailor each decision they make to provide the best possible solution for every unique patient.
It can be hard for even the most senior doctors to stay on top of their specialism. For juniors it can be more than a little daunting – especially when senior staff are thin on the ground. In this information-rich environment, it is important to be able to offer those clinicians the support they need to provide appropriate and safe care.
The Health Service Journal is hosting an exclusive webinar* which will offer important insights so as to enable you to better support your doctors in making those critical clinical decisions and offering the best care.
This free HSJ webinar will look at the role clinical support software can play in hospitals. It is sponsored by UpToDate, the only clinical decision support system associated with improved outcomes. There is a growing body of evidence that clinical decision support can save clinicians time, reduce unnecessary tests, shorten lengths of stay, speed up diagnosis and treatment and prevent harm to patients. All of these benefits translate to efficiencies and cost savings form trusts.
In an environment where managers are fighting hard to deliver their QIPP goals, achieving the best care at a lower cost is a real ‘sweet spot.’
What you will hear about:
This webinar will explore the role that clinical decision support can play in helping doctors ‘on the ground,’ the evidence case for using this software in clinical practice, how it can contribute to better care and reduced length of stay and how you can build a business case for investment.
It will also take a closer look at how doctors across 12 Trusts in the north west of England have seen positive outcomes from using clinical decision support software. The research was only recently published in the Health Information and Libraries Journal, thus offering fresh and unique insight.
Webinar speakers will include:
Dr Rhidian Bramley, Chief Clinical Information Officer and Director of Radiology, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
John Addison, library manager at Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust
Dr Denise Basow, President and Editor-in-Chief of UpToDate at Wolters Kluwer Health, one of the leading software systems
The webinar will be chaired by HSJ editor Alastair McLellan
Who should watch:
- Clinical and Medical Directors
- Chief Executives
- Finance Directors
Managers with responsibility for QIPP programmes
How to register:
You will need to pre-register here to be an HSJTV user in order to attend.
Once you have registered, simply click ‘attend’ on the first webinar in the list on this same page. The webinar is entitled: ‘Can clinical decision support technology help hospitals deliver their QIPP goals’
Here in Britain we have a plethora of different perks not afforded to those living in other less – or even more – fortunate countries. The ability to seek whiplash compensation in the advent of a car accident is one of these and remains a safe haven for those unfortunate enough to suffer from a car accident. However a system of fraud has emerged which threatens the very gift of being able to seek personal injury compensation from insurance companies.
Up to £10,000 can be claimed off insurance companies for whiplash injuries. Such a hefty amount of money will no doubt entice fraudsters and charlatans and this has precisely been the case.
This is how the system works. Patients pretending to be suffering from whiplash visit doctors who subsequently are fooled into diagnosing them with the condition. Claiming neck injury, and or trauma, these patients then use evidence of the diagnosis to claim large sums off insurance companies.
While many may argue that the huge charges laid out by insurance companies are justification to taking money back from them, it must be reminded that even if this were justification, it is not only the insurance companies which lose out financially due to this type of fraud. Court costs through processing and judging through the claims take money out of the taxpayer’s pocket.
Whiplash compensation fraud has developed to the state that many fraudsters go as far as orchestrating their own crashes for the purpose of strengthening their claims.
Furthermore, third rate doctors can even be sought to willingly give perfectly healthy patients a diagnosis of whiplash. Paid by dodgy claims management companies and personal injury lawyers keen on having more customers to work with, these doctors are further indication of how developed whiplash compensation is.
Preventing Such Fraud
More work needs to be done in educating the British people on the severe criminal nature of whiplash compensation fraud. In addition, perhaps tougher laws need to be laid down on those guilty of such crimes.
Lastly, third rate doctors and professionals need to be targeted greater by the state.
Robert Daniels is a freelance British writer whose work covers a range of topics from law, to health problems such as whiplash and contentious probate!
Around two million people in the UK use a hearing aid. It’s surprising fact also, that hearing loss affects more than 50% of over 60’s. There are many ways to help prevent and treat hearing loss and one such company is Amplifon.
Amplifon can offer information and advice to help improve hearing quickly. You’ll find general advice also on how to help combat tinnitus and prevent undiagnosed hearing loss. The infographpic below will help explain a little clearer how Amplifon can help.
Of all the things, persons and institutions we trust the most, our healthcare probably lies at the top. We literally trust our doctors with our lives and so, when things go wrong the mental effects can be intensely damaging. Add onto that the physical effects of course, caused by medical negligence and one can grasp the seriousness of being failed by our doctors. This article will provide some invaluable advice on dealing with medical negligence.
What You Can Do
Firstly, it must be noted that not all medical failings are to be defined as medical negligence. Sometimes, doctors try as hard as they can but simply fail in the task afforded to them. However, there are times when a lack of attention and care, or simple sloppiness can cause a medical mistake to be made.
As a patient, the first thing one should do in the advent of medical negligence is to inform the doctor and hospital management of the mistake made and seeking an apology. In situations where the affects of the medical negligence aren’t serious, most people simply seek an explanation and apology. You may find that receiving both goes a long way in soothing one’s anger and disappointment and reconciling oneself with the hospital staff.
However, many sufferers of medical negligence do not find an explanation and apology to be enough and rightly so. They should therefore move to sue the doctor and/or hospital for the mistake made. There are a range of specialist medical negligence solicitors who can help victims in their pursuit of legal justice.
You must never lose faith in doctors and health institutions in general due to a case of medical negligence. It must be acknowledged that the advent of medical negligence is very rare and so it is far more unhealthy and dangerous to shun professional healthcare, than it is to put yourself under the risk of being neglected medically.
In the advent of severe or embarrassing physical medical negligence effects, mental health problems such as depression can arise. Dealing with depression requires specialist medical help and it is strongly advised that one suffering from depression seeks this immediately; rather than delaying treatment and aid. Treatment of depression can involve both medication and verbal help.
A Growing Problem
The occurrence of medical negligence in the United Kingdom has risen in recent years. This is to the extent that the London Evening Standard recently reported that the medical negligence payout bill from London hospitals alone has totalled over £136 million.
Nevertheless, it is still highly unlikely for you to become a victim of medical negligence and you should therefore continue to trust health professionals and institutions.
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it’s likely you’ve heard about laser eye surgery – a common medical procedure to correct vision in one or both eyes. Laser (or LASIK, short for laser-assisted in situ keratomiluesis) treatment has become popular in recent years as it offers a convenient, relatively painless procedure that can reduce or eliminate the need for visual aids. However, as with all forms of surgery it’s not without its risks, and if you’re unsure of what to expect, this guide may help.
Put simply, LASIK surgery uses a laser to alter the shape of the cornea (the clear covering at the front of the eye that can grow out of shape, causing short- or long-sightedness). When you choose a LASIK surgeon (such as Ultralase) you will make an appointment with a doctor who will perform an eye exam to see whether you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. While LASIK surgery can be used to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, there are a number of conditions it can’t help with, and other pre-existing medical conditions may mean the treatment is too risky for you.
The procedure itself is very quick – patients are usually in and out of surgery in less than an hour, during which they will be awake the entire time. This is something that may put people off, but there is very little pain involved: most people report mild discomfort for a few days after the procedure. Patients are given anaesthetising eye drops and a retainer to keep their eyes open, and will be asked to stare at a light while the laser does its work. This part takes typically around five minutes per eye, and after a short rest the procedure is complete.
One of the advantages of LASIK is the low recovery time. Depending on their job, patients may be able to return to work the next day, although your doctor may recommend a few days of rest. Most people notice the benefits immediately, but with others their vision improves gradually over the next few days. It’s important to let your doctor know if you have any negative side effects, such as blurred vision or “halos” around lights – these can usually be corrected with post-operative treatment.
The efficacy of LASIK surgery has improved dramatically over the past few years, and the treatment is now appropriate for more people than ever. If you are still unsure, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists has a more detailed breakdown of the risks and benefits on its website.
On Wednesday 1 August 2012 the Health Professions Council (HPC) changed their name to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The decision to change the name was made by government and is being brought about by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which will also see the HCPC taking on the regulation of social workers in England. Although not everyone registered with the HCPC works in ‘health’ or ‘care’ the new name will better describe the diverse range of professions the organisation regulates.
Although the name was chosen by government, the HCPC had the opportunity to offer suggestions. To help the HCPC with this, they commissioned independent quantitative and qualitative research to gauge perceptions of possible names, which included telephone and online interviews with around 2,500 individuals, and discussion-based focus groups of between seven and eleven members.
The HCPC were particularly keen to understand the perceptions of members of the public, who are the potential service users of the professionals they regulate. One poll showed that 81 per cent of the general public felt that ‘Health and Care Professions Council’ could best reflect the role of a regulator of many different professions; another showed that 76 per cent of the general public associated the term ‘care professional’ with ‘social worker’. In the focus groups ‘Health and Care Professions Council’ was the preferred option with both the public and the professionals the HCPC currently regulate. Both groups viewed it as the most suitable name to cover the range of professions to be regulated. This was a unanimous outcome.
The HCPC have previously used the strapline ‘Protecting the public; Regulating health professionals’ on a number of their communication materials. This will no longer be appropriate and instead they will use ‘Regulating health, psychological and social work professionals’. In developing this strapline they considered both the diversity of professions that they currently regulate (including practitioner psychologists who joined the Register in 2009) and the groups that the HCPC may regulate in the future (including public health professionals and healthcare support workers). It was not felt to be appropriate to name any one profession in the HCPC’s strapline; instead they have referred to some of the broad categories in which the professionals that they regulate work.
The HCPC will use this new strapline on all the materials which currently bear their strapline, including their website and social media platforms, public information posters and leaflets and on the banners and display materials which they take to professional and public-facing conferences, exhibitions and events. The HCPC will use the strapline on their most public and prominent materials, with particular emphasis on materials which will be accessed by members of the public, to reinforce who they are and what they do.
The HCPC will be the same organisation and will continue to undertake the same functions. Current registration certificates and cards will remain valid and the HCPC standards will be unchanged.
The new HCPC web address will be http://www.hcpc-uk.org and their email addresses will end in ‘@hcpc-uk.org’.
The change to the organisation’s name – and taking on the regulation of social workers in England – is not being funded from registration fees. This means that registrants are not paying for the necessary amendments to their materials due to the change of name or the work to allow social workers in England to join the Register. The HCPC has received a grant from the Department of Health to cover the cost of this work.
Article by Simon Lucas
The BBC reported recently about new medical research in the fight against bowel cancer.
A report claims that Curcumin (a chemical found in curry spice ‘Turmeric’) is being tested to see how successful it could be in helping kill bowel tumours in patients.
It is already known that Curcumin has a range of other health benefits and the latest research is generating excitement amongst those involved with the fight against cancer.
The BBC reports that “Studies have already shown that it can beat cancer cells grown in a laboratory and benefits have been suggested in stroke and dementia patients as well.”
The spice is set to be trialed in Leicester, England along side chemotherapy drugs to investigate the possibility of a combined treatment.
Bowell cancer is one of the most common cancers found in the UK and roughly 40,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year.
In some cases, if the disease is not caught early enough, the disease can spread through the body making the disease more difficult to treat. Advances in chemotherapy and surgery are helping prolong life expectancy of patients though, and in some cases patients can go into remission, cancer is still major problem for the NHS in the UK and tumour surgery comes with risks, as with any major operation.
The BBC report that Forty patients at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital will take part in the trial, which will compare the effects of giving Curcumin pills seven days before starting standard chemotherapy treatment.
More information on the BBC article here: Curry chemical’s ability to fight cancer put to the test
Article by Simon Lucas.