News round-up 11 November

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10th November 2022 about a 4 minute read

There’s some good news this week, as the NHS strikes a deal to provide a life-saving drug for patients with the most aggressive form of cancer. Better protection for those at risk of heart attacks and strokes may be on its way as a study finds that genetic testing can identify patients whose risk levels have not been picked up by blood pressure and cholesterol checks. The health regulator has launched a campaign to encourage reporting of side-effects and adverse symptoms through its yellow card system, with the aim of improving patient safety.

NHS funds life-saving breast cancer drug

NHS England is to offer a life-saving drug to patients with triple-negative breast cancer – the most aggressive form of the disease.

Triple-negative tumours make up 15% of all breast cancer cases (about 8,000 women a year), but are harder to treat, leading to poorer outcomes. The cancer cells lack the receptors targeted by other breast cancer drugs.

The new drug, pembrolizumab, can, if given alongside chemotherapy, help to shrink these cancers and stop them spreading. It blocks one of the proteins used by cancer cells to hide from the immune system.

Details of the deal NHS England has struck with the manufacturer, MSD, are confidential.

Medway goes live with electronic prescribing and patient record systems

Medway NHS Foundation Trust has implemented an electronic prescribing and medications management (ePMA) system, which is intended to improve patient safety, save money and ensure compliance with the Professional Records Standards Body (PRSB).

The trust has also extended the use of its electronic patient record (EPR), implemented last year in its adult inpatient wards, to its emergency department. The aim is to improve patient flow through the hospital, enabling faster admission to inpatient wards, more efficient discharges and greater oversight of patient data.

Medway deployed a multidisciplinary team, including clinical, operational, pharmaceutical and IT leads, to make sure the implementation was carried out smoothly.

Genetic testing could identify patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes, study finds

Genetic tests can identify thousands of middle-aged people at risk of heart attacks and strokes who have not previously been identified as being at risk, a pilot study has found.

Currently, checks on blood pressure and cholesterol levels are used by GPs to identify patients at risk of heart disease. As a result, about eight million people are taking statins as a preventative measure. An NHS study of nearly 1,000 people between the ages of 45 and 64, however, has found that about one quarter have a different risk profile if they are also given genetic tests.

If everyone in this age group received genetic tests, about 700,000 extra people would be offered statins.

More than 400 NHS England managers earn more than £100k a year

More than 400 senior managers in NHS England earn £100,000 a year or more, new figures show.

Of the 430 managers on six-figure salaries, 109 earn at least £150,000, with some earning as much as £260,000. There are also 53 employees earning more than £100,000 at the Department of Health and Social Care, 21 at Health Education England, 16 at NHS Digital and nine at NHS Resolution.

NHS England’s CEO, Amanda Pritchard, is one of the highest earners, with a salary of between £255,000 and £260,000.

Virtual reality shows nurses what it’s like to work in a prison

A new virtual reality (VR) app will enable nurses considering a career in prisons to experience what the role may be like.

The app, which can be used with a VR headset or on a phone with a cardboard headset, enables nurses to learn more about prison healthcare through interviews with a mental health nurse, a healthcare officer and a GP, as well as showing the challenges they might face.

It features five real-life scenarios based on interactions between patients and practitioners, enabling learners to test their skills and experiences by choosing the most appropriate action.

The app, a joint project between Health Education England (HEE) and NHS England, is available from HEE’s elearning for healthcare hub.

MHRA launches annual patient safety campaign

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has launched its annual campaign urging clinicians and patients to report side effects and adverse incidents from medicines or medical devices.

The campaign involves regulators from more than 80 countries and aims to promote involvement from both the public and the health sector to improve patient safety. Any incidents or side-effects reported to the MHRA Yellow Card scheme will lead to an investigation by the regulator.

The scheme, which has been in place since the 1960s, has played an important role in improving patient safety.