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The fortnightly roundup of key political and clinical news for primary care and community nurses.

Professional support

British Heart Foundation launches alliance

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is encouraging those involved in preventing or managing cardiovascular disease to join an Alliance for processionals, which the charity launched this week.

Benefits of joining the Alliance include access to regional events, a bespoke online discussion forum, an annual learning and development allowance, and best-practice learning and development materials, among other things, the BHF said.

Kimberley Brown, heart failure advanced nurse practitioner and Alliance member said: 'I feel part of a much bigger team which is supportive and the national networking enables me to share best practices with colleagues. This promotes good care but also can be very reassuring from a professional perspective.'

Heart Disease

Effective treatment sees CVD deaths decline

Improvements in treatment for blood pressure have prevented thousands of heart attacks and strokes, a study by Imperial College London has found.

The study, published in The Lancet, recorded the mean blood pressure levels of men and women from five Health Survey of England surveys between 1994 and 2011. Data was collected from the general population and from patients treated for hypertension that progressively improved.

Awareness, treatment, and control rates among patients improved significantly across each stage of the 17-year period, with control among treated patients increasing from 33 per cent in 1994 to 63 per cent in 2011. The report states that if the same systematic improvements continue until 2022, 80 per cent of patients with treated hypertension will have controlled blood pressure levels. This could prevent approximately 50,000 heart attacks, strokes and deaths caused by hypertension. The study can be found at:

Mental Health

Applications for dementia fund sought

Healthcare professionals in the North East and Cumbria can now apply for funding that will help those living with dementia.

The North East and Cumbria Dementia Fund will accept applications from organisations looking to develop new ways of supporting people with dementia and their carers, and those aiming to identify models of best practice that could be adopted across the UK.

The fund is also interested in supporting projects that help people with dementia who live alone, are from minority communities, have learning disabilities or are experiencing early onset dementia.

The fund, worth £900,000, has come from The Northern Rock Foundation in association with Comic Relief and Ballinger Charitable Trust.

The deadline for applications is 7 July and details can be found at:


Prize fund for district nursing students

The QNI has introduced an annual national educational prize scheme for district nursing students.

Fifty pounds and a certificate will be awarded to the top-performing student on a specialist practitioner in district nursing programme at every eligible university in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The first awards will be given to students in classes graduating this summer.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI, said: 'The prize recognises outstanding performance among district nursing students, potentially the Queen's Nurses of the future. It also aims to raise awareness that district nursing is a brilliant career.'

The award was created in memory of Philip Goodeve-Docker, who died raising money for the QNI on a polar walk in Greenland.

For more information, visit:

World Health

Middle eastern respiratory syndrome warning

Awareness of the symptoms of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) will be necessary to advise those travelling to the Middle East, the HPA has said.

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and nausea. The recommendations come as many Muslims make a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia during Ramadan.

Ebola outbreak in West Africa

The outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa continues to spread, the WHO has said.

On 29 May, 50 cases had been reported in Sierra Leone, including six deaths. The outbreak originated in Guinea, where 291 cases and a total of 23 deaths had been reported. Ebola carries fatality rates of up to 90 per cent.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and both external and internal bleeding. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission.

Measles cases in USA reach a 20 year high

The numbers of cases of measles reported in the USA has reached a 20-year high according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nearly 300 cases have been reported in the first five months of 2014. Measles was eliminated in the USA in 2000.