News round-up (21 April 2023)

man looking at online news headlines
20th April 2023 about a 5 minute read

MPs have called for faster progress in addressing the higher mortality rates amongst Black women in the weeks following childbirth. The stresses on the NHS are worsening, with thousands of people having appointments cancelled as a result of the junior doctors’ strike. Many patients, according to Labour Party research, are now unable to get a GP appointment and turn to A&E instead. There is, however, promising news for the four million people with Type 2 diabetes: a strict 800-calorie a day diet over three months can reverse the condition for at least five years.

MPs call for end to race gap in maternity

A report by MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee has called for faster progress in tackling the higher death rates in childbirth among Black women and women living in deprived areas.

The report said that racism played a key role in creating health disparities, but that the full causes were still not understood. It said that more funding and maternity staff were needed.

Black women are nearly four times more likely than white women to die within six weeks of giving birth, with Asian women 1.8 times more likely, according to figures for 2018-20, published in the MBRRACE report.

The government said it had invested £165m in the maternity workforce and was promoting careers in midwifery, with an extra 3,650 training places a year.

Junior doctor strike led to 196,000 cancellations

More than 196,000 hospital appointments had to be cancelled because of the junior doctor strike in England last week – the greatest number of cancellations so far in the NHS pay dispute.

The figures include people waiting for operations and other treatments as well as scans and follow-up appointments.

Some hospitals reported they were not carrying out up to half of their planned work so that consultants could be redeployed to emergency care to cover for striking junior doctors.

It brings the total number of appointments affected by all the strikes over the past five months, including those by nurses and ambulance staff, to more than 500,000.

Leaked report accuses integrated care systems of stockpiling supplies and driving up cost

A report commissioned by NHS Supply Chain, and leaked to HSJ, has criticised trusts and integrated care systems (ICSs) for developing their own warehousing and supply chain facilities.

Since the peak of the pandemic, many trusts and ICSs have tried to strengthen the resilience of their supply chain, but the report, which was carried out by consultancy firm Unipart, said that this was leading to waste and fragmentation.

The warehousing and investment plans created by ICSs have “no strategic connectivity to the national network in terms of storage, cost or capability,” the report said. It added that this would “lead to a duplication in cost and a division in supplier management” as well as a “proliferation of small, disparate local warehouses, replicating cost and lacking control.”

The NHS is broken, Keir Starmer says

The leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, has said the NHS is “broken”.

In an interview with the Telegraph, he said that research commissioned by the Labour party showed that 4.5 million patients in England attended A&E last year because they were unable to secure a GP appointment. Those patients represented nearly 20% of the total attending A&E, he said.

The Labour Party said its A&E data, based on a poll of 1,500 adults, demonstrated a poor use of taxpayers’ resources, with emergency hospital visits costing the NHS up to nine times as much as a GP appointment.

Sir Keir also accused the prime minister of “sitting on his hands” as the strikes by health care workers continued.

‘Soup and shake’ diet can reverse type 2 diabetes

A drastic 800-calorie a day diet of soup and shakes can reverse type 2 diabetes for at least five years, new research has shown.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition normally caused by obesity. Excess fat in the pancreas stops it from working properly to produce insulin, leading to excess glucose in the blood. Research by Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University had already proved that going on the diet for 12 to 20 weeks could reverse the condition, but this is the first study to show that patients remain in remission five years afterwards, provided they don’t regain the weight.

The findings could make a significant difference to the treatment and management of type 2 diabetes. Currently more than four million people in the UK are estimated to have the condition, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, blindness and kidney failure.

Pancreatic Cancer UK launches app to collect vital patient data

Pancreatic Cancer UK has launched a free app to help patients with pancreatic cancer.

The Medli app, produced in conjunction with Medli Health, helps patients have a better understanding of their symptoms and what their care plan should look like. They can track all their medications and appointments, as well as record the severity of their symptoms, enabling them to have a more informed conversation with health care professionals. It also collects vital data to support future research into the condition. This data could also be used in monitoring standards of care across the country to improve services and deliver better outcomes.

With the ability to track all medications and appointments, the app can help improve the quality of life for people with pancreatic cancer. It also supports them to track their symptoms and their severity, allowing for more informed conversations with healthcare professionals.