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The primary care news roundup

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Vaccination

Measles numbers at an all-time high since 1994

Cases of measles in England are currently at their highest recorded levels since 1994. The total number of confirmed cases from January to May 2013 is 1,168 compared to 712 for the same period in 2012.

However, declining numbers of cases suggest that the MMR catch-up programme may be having a positive impact.

Preliminary figures released by PHE estimate that around 56,000 previously unvaccinated 10-16 year-olds in England have received a first dose vaccine as part of the catch-up programme.

A detailed study into who was unvaccinated, how many children have had one dose and how many have had two doses is expected to be completed by the autumn.

health visitors

Campaign to protect Scotland's health visitors

A campaign in Scotland aims to ensure that all families are entitled to health visitors.

A number of organisations including the RCN, the Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland and Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People are all campaigning under the banner Health Visitors for Scotland.

It is asking for the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill to strengthen the commitment to ensure that the named person for under-fives is a health visitor and new statutory entitlement to universal services from health visiting teams for under-fives.

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obesity

BMI standard altered for ethnic minorities

NICE has released a new set of guidelines stating that lower BMI levels should be introduced for those from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups.

It recommends that these groups aim for a BMI lower than 23 kg/m2 instead of 25 kg/m2, which is the original guideline for all UK adults.

The reason for the change is because certain groups are more prone to conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Excess body fat can also lead to a higher risk of certain types of cancers.

Diabetes UK says it is good to move away from the 'one size fits all' approach.

care in the community

New care proposals for elderly patients

Elderly patients will have a named clinician responsible for their care in the community say proposals from the DoH.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says these proposals are important to ensure that the vulnerable and elderly have the support they need to keep them in good health and out of hospitals.

The proposals will set out how to improve primary and emergencycare and how to ensure the NHS and social services work together.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN, has welcomed this consultation and says it is essential to provide resources for patient centred care and the RCN will work with the Government to make this plan a reality. The final plan will be published in October.

dermatology

Chemical ingredient may increase skin allergies

A chemical ingredient in everyday cosmetics and toiletries may lead to an increase in skin allergies say some experts.

The preservative, called MI, has been found in shower gels, hand lotions, washing-up liquids and deodorants. It is thought to be behind the rise in skin irritations. It can sometimes be added to paint and is put in products to prevent the unwanted growth of bacteria and yeast.

The substance is safe and non-toxic but European regulations now allow for stronger concentrations of the chemical to be added to products.

The British Association of Dermatologists will discuss the issue of MI this week.

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diabetes

MHRA warns against herbal supplements

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned people with diabetes not to stop taking their prescribed diabetes medicine if they take Vedagrin.

Vedagrin is an unlicensed herbal medicine, which has been advertised as an alternative to prescribed diabetes medication.

Libby Dowling, clinical advisor at Diabetes UK, says that no one with diabetes should ever stop taking their medication, as this can be very dangerous.

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midwifery

5,000 midwives needed to match childbirth rates

The government has not kept its pledge that pregnant women will receive consistent care from a single midwife, according to a Sky News survey.

Out of the more than 1,400 women who responded, 46 per cent said they had been cared for by several midwives during childbirth. They said that they felt the staff changes had made their childbirth more difficult. Around 83 per cent had not met their midwife before they went into labour despite proposals that women should receive most of their care during pregnancy from one midwife.

Professor Cathy Warwick, head of the Royal College of Midwives, has said that the ministers must speed up the introduction of 5,000 new midwives to match the rising birth rates.

However, the majority of women were happy with their care.

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healthcare assistants

Training needs to be more stringent for HCAs

Healthcare assistants (HCAs) have no minimum standard of training before they can work unsupervised, states an independent report.

The Cavendish Review, carried out by journalist Camilla Cavendish, has found that some staff were only given a training DVD to watch before starting work.

She said that HCAs should have to earn a 'certificate of fundamental care'. The review also recommends that HCAs be renamed 'nursing assistants.'

Minimum training standards should be available by Spring 2014.

Healthcare reform

Reform redundancy count more than 10,000

More than 10,000 redundancies were made during the healthcare reforms according to statistics from the National Audit Office.

These redundancies accounted for 40 per cent of the costs at the end of March 2013, with an average pay-off of £43,095 per person. Around 2,200 of those made redundant were then re-employed between May 2010 and September 2012.

The reforms were reported to have cost £1.1 billion to 31 March, which is 15 per cent more than was expected at that point. The DoH is confident that total costs will not exceed £1.7 billion. All services were implemented by 1 April although not all of them were operational.

organ donation

Wales to adopt 'opt-out' organ donor system

Wales will become the first country in the UK to adopt a system where people are presumed to be organ donors unless they opt out.

The Human Transplantation Bill (Wales) was passed by the Welsh Assembly and will come into force by 2015.

The Welsh government hopes that this will raise transplant rates by 25 per cent. Organs will go to recipients all over the UK, not just in Wales.

Additionally the RCN has said that nurses will need to be educated about the legal change and develop skills to enable them to correctly advise potential donors.

medication

Codeine can have serious side-effects in under-12s

Medicines containing codeine should not be used in children under 12, says the MHRA after completion of a European review.

For children over 12, they should only be used to treat acute, moderate pain and only if it cannot be relieved by other painkillers.

This is because some patients may be at an increased risk of rare but serious reactions such as breathing difficulties, sleepiness, and lack of appetite.

Breathing difficulties can also be experienced in children under 18 whose tonsils have been removed.

research

Nurses should watch more medical dramas

Student nurses and their educators should watch more medical dramas say researchers.

Although they often portray a stereotypical view of nurses, the researchers argue there is 'value' in these TV programmes.

The study involved 484 nursing students in Australia, asking them about their TV viewing habits and opinions on the image of nursing in dramas with a clinical theme.

The students said that the programmes portrayed ethics and professionalism positively, but said that the shows suggested that doctors do the majority of the work.

Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs and House were the three most popular clinically-themed programmes.

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