Displaying items by tag: Health
Health bosses say that patients will be put at risk unless the NHS receives an extra £10bn next year to recover from the pandemic. A five-year settlement will see the funding increase by £33bn by 2023-24, but Covid has added to costs in a way that could not have been envisaged when Theresa May's government agreed the settlement in 2019. NHS leaders say the pandemic has led to pressures never seen in the history of the health service. Hospital layouts have had to be overhauled, services moved off site into new buildings, extra infection control procedures have been brought in, and the scale of sickness being seen means extra staff are needed to care for patients. At the same time, there is a growing backlog of traditional care such as hip and knee operations. Instead of budget growth by £4bn under the existing settlement, NHS leaders need almost £15bn.
Optometrists across the country say they are diagnosing higher numbers of children with short-sightedness (myopia) since the start of the pandemic. They put this down to less time spent outside due to Covid restrictions, more time spent looking at computer screens, and a drop-off in numbers of eye tests. The College of Optometrists is calling for parents to get their children to play outside for two hours a day, as this has been proved to prevent or stop the development of myopia. It is also recommending parents to take their children for eye tests. Optometrists are also asking for more funding for research in the UK population into the impact of the pandemic on children’s eyesight.
Remembering her early school years, Princess Beatrice said, ‘I remember feeling really confused - an overwhelming sense of “Why does this all feel a little bit muddled?”’ She was reflecting on her childhood coping with dyslexia, as she prepared to welcome her first child with husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, who is also dyslexic. It was the language she chose to describe her dyslexic experience that has sparked media and internet discussion. The pregnant princess referred to the language-based learning difficulty which can affect reading, writing, spelling, and speaking as a ‘gift’ that any of her future children would be lucky to have. ‘I think that having dyslexia and reflecting on where I am right now in my career path, and also as an older person looking back, has definitely allowed me to look at things in a new way and come up with solutions’, she said.
Minister for health Stephen Donnelly said that the government will continue to lift Covid-19 restrictions ‘as quickly as possible’. There would still be public health advice for situations where infection rates are higher. When asked if he thought that all restrictions on indoor capacity limits would be lifted before Christmas, he said, ‘Yes, I do. The road to freedom lies ahead, but things may still get worse before they get better. What we want to do is to provide real certainty for people. It’s been a brutal year and a half’, he added. The government is currently working on a roadmap on the lifting of all restrictions, which will be published next week.
Thousands of people could be risking their lives by delaying seeking medical help. Tummy pain or a cough that does not go away could be caused by cancer, so these symptoms should be checked out. Cancers detected early can often be treated quickly and easily. But three in five people don't want to bother the NHS, while others are not aware of the common symptoms. NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said cancer services were now ‘running at full speed with new, innovative ways of working in place’. NHS TV advertisements are warning people not to ignore signs. Over the past year 10% fewer people have started cancer treatment; they are being encouraged to come forward now. Abdominal, throat, stomach, bowel, pancreatic, ovarian, prostate, kidney and bladder cancers account for 44% of all diagnoses, and two in five deaths from cancer in England.
In April the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned the department of health that consumers could be ripped off by the fast-growing Covid PCR testing industry and that the competitions watchdog had not done enough. The Government said it was provided with general market analysis from the CMA on potential implications for the PCR testing market, and that advice informed government approaches on private provider lists. There has been a summer of complaints from travellers who mention tests listed on the government's list of providers that don't exist at the price advertised, and poor service. At the start of August, the health secretary asked the competitions watchdog to investigate ‘excessive’ pricing and ‘exploitative practices’ among Covid test firms. In a letter to the CMA, Sajid Javid said it was time for a ‘rapid high-level’ review to protect consumers. The travel industry also demands action to remove the barriers to passenger recovery.
Paul Whiteman of the school leaders' union says UK policy on jabs for children should be led by clinicians. Schools should not be responsible for promoting, enforcing, or policing pupil vaccinations. A record 1.13 million children in England were out of school for Covid-19 related reasons towards the end of term. Pupils will return to schools next month, and the Government needs to take every possible step to prevent transmission of the virus amongst people in school communities, no matter what their age. Vaccine decisions for teenagers will be guided by data from other countries. The reason to roll out the vaccine to children is to break the transmission chains in households and in schools for the autumn term, while we know the winter is going to be especially difficult with seasonal respiratory infections. Mr Whiteman recommends everyone over 12 should get the Covid vaccination, which is safe and effective. Israel is vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, feeling that protection from vaccination outweighs the risks.
On 16 June Parliament rubber-stamped extending lockdown rules in England until 19 July. Scientists say Covid is growing - with much of it being driven by younger people who are not yet immunised. However, tentative signs in the latest daily data suggest growth may be beginning to slow. The rollout of vaccinations to younger people is key to reducing further spread. Rising infections have boosted a seven-day average to 7,888 cases. The UK recorded 9,055 cases on 16 June - the highest number since 25 February. Hospitalisations have also increased, but daily deaths remain low, with a weekly average of nine deaths within 28 days of a positive test. The Government has clearly announced that it wants to vaccinate all adults in the period between now and 19 July. That will make a very big difference and increase the overall population immunity.
Scientist and government advisor Prof Ravi Gupta sees signs of early stages of a third wave. Although new cases are ‘relatively low’, the Indian variant spreads faster than the winter variant. All waves start with low numbers grumbling in the background before infections explode. New infections with the Indian variant are rising daily in both the north and south of England. Very few hospital patients have had two jabs. See Also an evolved version of the Indian strain, 'Nepal' Covid, has so far been found in twenty Britons. It is closely related to the Indian variant, but has new mutations. The Nepal variant has also spread to several European countries. Its detection in Portugal could put their green-list status at risk. SAGE experts warn that the UK cannot panic every time it spots a new strain. The Government is waiting for more data before making a final decision on whether restrictions will be lifted in England on 21 June. That decision will be announced on 14 June.
Parents with Covid, unable to look after their children and living in Gaza, have problems bigger than childcare arrangements. One such couple sent their children to their grandparents' apartment, then two days later the worst violence in years erupted on their doorstep between Israel's military and Palestinian militant group Hamas. Rockets and mortars flew everywhere. The couple have no access to health services, despite their worrying symptoms, and they are struggling with the separation from their children as Israeli airstrikes pound nearby. Less than 2% of Gaza's population had received a dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of April, and thousands are evacuating to shelters, the above couple included. Medical staff and humanitarian agencies are worried the enclave could be hit by a third wave of Covid-19 as dozens of schools are transformed into shelters. The health ministry believes the wave has already started, with 30% of people being tested proving positive and over 100 in intensive care units.