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Two weeks in primary care...News Roundup

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Alzheimer's Disease

Blood test can predict onset of Alzheimer's

A blood test that can accurately predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease has been developed by researchers in the US.

The researchers analysed blood samples from 525 people over the age of 70 as part of the five-year study. The blood of 53 participants who developed Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment was compared with 53 people who had stayed mentally agile.

They found differences in the levels of 10 lipids between the two groups. The test was able to predict the risk of the disease developing in the next three years. Its predictions were 90 per cent accurate.

The researchers, from Georgetown University in Washington DC, are now investigating whether the test works earlier than three years.

Dr Simon Ridley from Alzheimer's Research UK called the results 'encouraging.'

The research was published in Nature Medicine.

Prescriptions

20p increase in prescription charges

NHS prescription charge in England will increase by 20p from £7.85 to £8.05 for each quantity of a drug or appliance from 1 April 2014, the Department of Health has announced.

It is also intended that the single charge will increase by a further 20p to £8.25 in the following year.

However, for the next two years the cost of a prescription prepayment certificate will remain at £29.10 for a three-month certificate while the cost of the annual certificate will remain at £104.

Diabetes

Lower death rate after flu jab for diabetes patients

People with Type 2 diabetes who are vaccinated against flu are significantly less likely to die in the next 12 months than those who have not been, according to a new study.

The study, which used the Clinical Practice Research Database, an observational data research service run by NHS England, included 124,503 patients with Type 2 diabetes. Adults with Type 2 diabetes registered with 300 GP practices between 2003/2004 and 2009/2010 were enrolled in the study and were observed over seven years.

The researchers acknowledge that the difference in risk may not be entirely due to the vaccination, as people who choose to get vaccinated may tend to manage their diabetes better. But according to Diabetes UK, it does provide further evidence to support its recommendation that all people with diabetes should be vaccinated against flu every year.

Having flu can upset diabetes control and cause blood glucose levels to fluctuate. This can leave people with diabetes open to many health problems, including complications of flu such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

Elderly Care

Social care funding for elderly has dropped

The amount of money spent on social care services for older people has dropped by at least £769 million since 2010 in England, stated a report from charity Age UK.

Even before the cuts in government funding for social care between 2010/2011 and 2013/14 funding for older people's social care had been stagnant since 2005, the charity said.

Age UK said that these cuts were made despite the fact that the number of people aged 85 and over, the age group most likely to need care, has risen by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2014 (from 986,000 to 1,280,000).

The charity believes the consequences of this tight rationing are that between 2005/6 and 2012/13 the number of people aged 65 and over in receipt of social care services has dropped by 27.2% - from 1,231,000 to 896,000 - even though the population in this age group has grown by more than 1 million.

The Age UK report was published as the Care Bill entered its final report stages in Parliament this month.

Cancer

Cancer charity trials community care

Macmillan Specialist Care at Home has launched a scheme trialling teams of doctors, nurses, support workers and other professionals to provide flexible and personalised care for cancer patients in their homes.

It is intended that people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions will be referred for specialist hospital care at the earliest opportunity, and offered as much medical treatment and support in the home as possible. The team will also collaborate with a range of local health and social care organisations to join up and co-ordinate the right support for the individual and their family.

Macmillan Specialist Care at Home, which will be introduced in six locations across the UK, will start in April 2014 and run until 2016.

Shingles

Nearly half of shingles patients vaccinated

GPs and practice nurses in England have vaccinated nearly half of all eligible patients aged 70 and aged 79 years for shingles a provisonal report by Public Health England said.

They have vaccinated 46.6 per cent of the routine cohort (aged 70 years)and 45.5 per cent of the catch-up cohort patients (aged 79 years) between 1 September 2013 to 31 January 2014. GPs and practice nurses have seven months remaining to vaccinate the remaining population at risk of developing shingles before 2013/14 is complete. The campaign will end on 31 August 2014.

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