Friday Five

Measles, enzymes and Janet Davies – this week’s Friday 5

Measles cases hit record high in Europe

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that measles cases in Europe have hit a record high, with more than 41,000 people infected in the first six months of 2018. This has led to 37 deaths from the disease. In England, there have been 807 cases so far this year.

This follows an emerging pattern – after cases last year rose to 23,927 compared to just 5,273 the year before. Experts blame this sudden rise on a drop in the number of children being vaccinated against the disease. The MMR vaccine can prevent infection, but has become distrusted after research linked the vaccine to autism despite it being discredited since.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that spreads by droplets in coughs and sneezes. The infection lasts for up to 10 days, and can cause serious complications such as meningitis, pneumonia and hepatitis. Symptoms include fever, tiredness, aches, conjunctivitis, and red, raised spots.

Read more on the BBC.


NMC Health moves into UK market

Emirates-based private hospital group NMC Health has bought British healthcare provider Aspen Healthcare from £10m, making its first move into the UK healthcare market.

Aspen operates nine facilities across the country, including four hospitals – three of which are based in London and one in Edinburgh. Aspen is particularly prominent in orthopaedics and oncology, which make up 50% of their revenue.

NMC Health has also signed operations and management contracts for two hospitals in Nairobi and have plans to extend their IVF business in Sweden, Latvia and Kenya. This follows NMC’s global expansion strategy set out by its chief executive, Prasanth Manghat, last year, around the time the company joined the FTSE 100.

Read more in the Telegraph (£).


NHS “not prepared” for Brexit, leaked email suggests

In a leaked email to Simon Stevens, chief executive NHS England, NHS Providers have warned that leaving the EU with no deal would put health services at immediate risk.

NHS Providers, which represents acute, ambulance, community, and mental health services, warned that a no-deal Brexit would make it harder to stop the spread of disease and that there could be shortages of medicines and medical devices.

The group expressed concern about lack of engagement with government ministers, with chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson writing that there has been “no formal communication” to trusts from NHS England or NHS Improvement. In response, an NHS England spokesperson has said that “we will be working with our colleagues and partners across the NHS to ensure plans are well progressed, and will provide the NHS with the support it needs”.

Read more on the BBC.


RCN chief steps down

Janet Davies will step down as chief executive of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN), a trade union and professional body that represents over 400,000 nurses, midwives and students, following a petition signed by over 1,600 members.

Davies had issued an apology last month after telling members of the RCN that they would receive an immediate pay rise of 3%, however only workers in top pay bands received this raise. On average, nurses only saw their pay increased by 1.5%.

Davies joined the RCN in 2005 and had been head of the organisation for the past three years. She will be replaced by Dame Professor Donna Kinnair.

Read more in the Independent.


Enzyme found to turn blood into type-O

Researchers at University of British Columbia believe that they have found a reliable way to transform donor blood into the universal type needed for emergency blood transfusions.

The enzymes from gut bacteria can efficiently turn type-A human blood into type-O by removing markers on the surface of the red blood cells, meaning that the immune system does not attack them. Giving someone the wrong blood type can be fatal.

While type-O patients can only receive type-O blood transfusions, their blood can be donated to any other blood type patient. About 7-8% of the UK population have type-O blood, but demand for this group accounts for about 13% of all hospital requests.

Clinical trials could begin soon.

Read more on the BBC.


Quote of the week

Our quote of the week is from Izzi Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association’s wellbeing board. LGA led analysis that found that the number of children with diabetes caused by obesity has increased by 41% in just three years.

“We have collectively failed as a society to tackle childhood obesity, one of the biggest health challenges we face.”

Read more in the Independent.