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News round-up 15 July 2022

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15th July 2022 about a 3 minute read

Some good news for patients in this round-up. England’s first-ever patient safety commissioner, appointed last week, will focus on improving how the NHS listens to patients. Two new drugs have been made available for breast cancer patients, following a U-turn by NICE. But a fresh wave of Covid has seen the numbers admitted to hospital increase, while 3m remain unvaccinated.

First patient safety commissioner appointed

The government has appointed Dr Henrietta Hughes, a GP, to be the first-ever patient safety commissioner for England.

The new role was created in response to a recommendation in the 2020 Cumberlege review, First Do No Harm.

Hughes will act as a champion for patients and lead a drive to improve the safety of medicines and medical devices. Her remit will be to will improve how the health care system listens to patients.

The government said it sees the new commissioner as “an independent point of contact for patients, giving a voice to their concerns to make sure they are heard”.

NHS England restricts spending at five ICSs

Five integrated care systems (ICSs) have said they cannot submit a balanced financial plan for 2022-23, and will face additional restrictions on spending from NHS England.

According to HSJ,  Norfolk and Waveney, Devon, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, and Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin have submitted deficit plans to the regulator, despite a stated requirement that all integrated care systems must break even.

Their combined deficits amount to approximately £100m.

Mindfulness lessons are a waste of time, study finds

A major UK study has found that giving school pupils mindfulness lessons to improve wellbeing is a waste of time.

The technique, which encourages people to meditate and live in the moment, offered no benefits beyond schools’ existing initiatives to improve mental health.

Many pupils who took part in the study, published in the journal Evidence Based Mental Health, described mindfulness as “boring”.

Hundreds of teachers and thousands of pupils at 85 different secondary schools took part in the 10-week study. They were given a course of mindfulness lessons during school hours, and asked to practise at home. One of the researchers, Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University, said that, on average, pupils only practised mindfulness once during that time.

3m adults in England still without Covid vaccine

Nearly three million adults in England have still not come forward to receive a Covid vaccine, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows.

Most elderly and vulnerable people have already had several protective shots. Cases have been rising rapidly in the UK in recent weeks, however. The latest figures from ONS  show an estimated 2.7m people – or one in every 25 – is thought to be infected. The number of people in hospital in the UK who have tested positive for Covid has also been rising for weeks.

A total of 13,336 patients were in hospital in England on 11 July.

NHS makes two new breast cancer drugs available

Thousands of breast cancer patients in England will benefit from two new drugs available on the NHS following a U-turn by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

About 3,500 women a year will receive the life-extending drugs Alpelisib and Trodelvy, which were rejected earlier this year by NICE.

Alpelisib, made by Novartis, is used in combination with the hormone therapy Fulvestrant, to target the gene that causes fast-growing tumours. The drug, also known as Piqray, when used with Fulvestrant works by blocking the gene’s ability to help cancer cells to survive and grow.